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Recent Work

Bavaria 55 Cruiser, Hamble

Bavaria 55 Marine Survey

This Bavaria 55 Cruiser Marine Survey was conducted by Guy Nicholls at the Michael Schmidt / Impression Marine office at Hamble Point Marina, Hamble.

This particular vessel was previously based in Antibes at Port Vauban and looked after by a full time professional skipper. She had arrived at Hamble by sea having been delivered by a professional delivery crew, requiring only a quick spruce up before being ready to sell. The owner was buying a larger Hanse from this company.

Hanse 470e Hamble

Hanse 470e ashore in Hamble for a marine survey

A Hanse 470e in Hamble for a pre-purchase marine survey by Guy Nicholls. The Hanse 470e, the “e” standing for epoxy, are incredibly strong – built with a vacuum bagged prepreg epoxy/Corecell foam sandwich construction which is then post cured. They feature a huge galvanised steel grid connecting the keel and chainplate loads, which is fully laminated into the hull structure, together with fully laminated in bulkheads rather than the common use of adhesive epoxy paste as a means of bonding the vessel’s bulkheads and tray matrix. A very strongly built vessel, they don’t make them like that anymore!

Beneteau First 405

Beneteau First 405

A Beneteau First 405 in the slings at Berthon in Lymington for a pre-purchase survey. These Jean Berret 1980s design are very pretty and sail beautifully. It was arguably Beneteau’s best era and these are becoming classics. I’ve sailed on most of this era of design over the years, skippering a Beneteau First 345 for Island Sailing in the 80’s, sailing with a friend on his Beneteau First 325 based in Corfu, and racing on and against a Beneteau First 375 and another 405 around the Solent. All very pretty yachts that have really stood the test of time.

Nautitech 40 Open Catamaran

Nautitech 40 Marine Survey

This is a Nautitech 40 Open catamaran, in the hoist slings in Hamble for a pre-purchase survey by Guy Nicholls. I love these open style cats, with the accommodation and cockpit all merging into one fantastic living space, ideal for warmer climates such as the Med or Caribbean. This one was being sold though Key Yachting, the main UK agent for this now Bavaria owned boat builder based in France. Capable of cruising at 17 or so knots, as can be found on youtube!

Bavaria 42 Chichester

Bavaria 42 Survey, Chichester

A Bavaria 42 Cruiser at Chichester Marina for a pre-purchase survey by Guy Nicholls, Solent Marine Surveys. This 2001 model had been very well looked after, a marine surveyor can quickly spot tell tale signs of good maintenance when approaching a survey. This one, from the polished, deep lustre to the topsides, clean running rigging and canvas work, plus immaculate interior was clearly much loved by the vendor. As with all Bavaria yachts, this one was constructed with a closed cell foam sandwich to the topsides and deck, coachroof and cockpit, with a solid skin of monolithic laminate to the hull below waterline.

Hallberg Rassy 43 Berthon

Hallberg Rassy 43 Marine Survey

A beautiful Hallberg Rassy 43 at Berthon, Lymington for a pre-purchase survey. The purchaser was looking for a blue water cruiser suitable for a trans-Atlantic to the Caribbean then up to Boston via Chesapeake Bay and possibly to the Artic Circle.

The Hallberg Rassy marque is a high quality Swedish cruiser designed and built very much with blue water cruising in mind – PVC foam cored hull and deck for additional insulation as well as rigidity, lead keel, teak decks and a long list of additions to make life that much more enjoyable!

Hanse 400 Port Solent

Hanse 400 Marine Survey

A Hanse 400 in the slings at Port Solent for a “hoist and hold” during a pre-purchase survey by Guy Nicholls, Solent Marine Surveys.

The Hanse are a range that are known particularly well by this surveyor as I have recently bought one myself! I’ve been impressed with the build quality for a production vessel, the deck in particular being too thick for a standard electric winch that when fitted, required an extra spacer as the deck was too thick for the standard one to engage the spindle correctly! They also sail better than some other production cruisers which is important to me.


Beneteau Oceanis 40 Hamble

Beneteau Oceanis 40

A Beneteau Oceanis 40 Marine Survey by Guy Nicholls, Marine Surveyor Hamble.

The Oceanis range from Beneteau are very popular providing great accommodation at reasonable cost. Constructed of single skin (monolithic) GRP to the hull and a cored deck, these boats make extensive use of internal mouldings including a tray matrix or grid, to provide rigidity.


J/109 Marine Survey Hamble

J/109 Marine Survey in Hamble at Key Yaching, the J Boat UK distributor

A J/109 Marine Survey at Key Yachting, Hamble by Guy Nicholls, Marine Surveyor Hamble.

I’ve done several of this particular model over the last years, and dozens of others in the J Boat line up. As with others, an end grain balsa cored hull, originally these vessels also had balsa cored decks and superstructure, this was later changed to a closed cell pvc foam in the superstructure. This type is generally seen in the top sections of the results sheets, both inshore cans racing and offshore. This particular one is off to Holland, where the European buyers seem to keep on coming, given the favourable EUR/GBP rate we’ve had over the last several months.

Nautor Swan 46 Survey, Lymington

Nautor Swan 46 Marine Survey at Berthon, Lymington

A gorgeous Nautor Swan 46 – A Marine Survey at Berthon in Lymington by Guy Nicholls.

I’ve surveyed a good number of Nautor Swan models over the years, from mid 1970’s S&S designs to bang up to date German Frers models. This one, a Swan 46 MkII, a 1990 German Frers design, had cruised across the world, had benefitted from a refit including a new teak deck in New Zealand, and been returned to Berthon in Lymington for the sale process.

Fast 40 Survey and Tonnage

Fast 40, HH42 by Hudson Marine in China

A marine survey and tonnage measurement for British Part I Registration, in Cowes, Isle of Wight by Solent Marine Surveyor Guy Nicholls.

These Fast 40 designs are really taking off in the UK, this one having being built in China by Hudson Yacht and Marine Co Ltd. Cored throughout and constructed with pre-preg carbon fibre, the vessel in total weighs less than 5 tonnes! I think it should go pretty well!

Hallberg Rassy 36 Hamble

Hallberg Rassy 36 Marine Survey Hamble

A marine survey of a Hallberg Rassy 36 at Transworld Yachts in Hamble by Guy Nicholls, Marine Surveyor.

I’ve surveyed dozens of this well known brand in the last year or so. Well constructed, pvc foam cored topsides and partially cored below the waterline for insulation, leaving key areas such as the centreline and around skin fittings to transition to monolithic construction. Generally these types have little structural issues, but often when the bonded on teak decks have been scrubbed or worse, pressure washed, these will require refurbishment or even replacement. Prior to the last 90’s, the teak decks were through fastened, allowing any worn areas to potentially loose the dowels and allow moisture down the fastening to the cored deck; thankfully now with modern adhesives this is no longer an issue.

Grand Soleil 46 Hamble

Grand Soleil 46 Marine Survey in Hamble

A marine survey of a Grand Soleil 46 at Key Yachting in Hamble by Guy Nicholls, qualified Marine Surveyor.

These performance cruiser racers are well known on the IRC racing circuit and can also be cruised short handed when required. With a low centre of gravity and a pvc foam cored construction to both hull and superstructure, they are well optimised for weight distribution and are built to a good standard by Cantiere Del Pardo srl in Italy.

Hanse 445 Survey Torrevieja

Hanse 445 Marine Surveyor Europe

A Hanse 445 survey in Torrevieja by Guy Nicholls, Marine Surveyor Spain & Europe.

The Hanse range have increased production significantly since the turn of the century, with the brand being very popular both in the UK and in the Mediterranean. Like other production builders, Hanse have worked hard to reduce cost during the build, however have also done a good job in keeping the quality up and this becomes apparent when a surveyor is testing for structural defects during a survey. Often the range use a Coremat type bulking material within the hull laminate, reverting to the more commonly used end grain balsa core for the deck and superstructure.

Windy Khamsin 34, Lymington

Windy Marine Surveyor Lymington

A Windy Khamsin 34 Survey at Berthon, Lymington. I’ve surveyed numerous vessels in the Windy range, these high quality Norwegian high speed sports boats are very well constructed using the latest materials and with a PVC foam core to the hull and superstructure.

Berthon brokerage, where this vessel was located, are the main UK agents for Windy Boats, and usually have a good selection of these vessels for sale.

Oyster 72 Survey Lymington

Marine Surveyor Lymington

An Oyster 72 Survey by Guy Nicholls Marine Surveyor Lymington for Solent Marine Surveys. I’ve done several Oysters over the last few months, they generally have a fairly similar pattern of equipment layout and design, tankage, generator, hydraulic arrangements and so forth. This one was built at Landamores, the range can vary in where the vessels are fitted out, several being completed at Southampton Yacht Services at Saxon Wharf. Weaknesses can include corrosion to the mast and fittings, hatches and machinery in the bilges, and on some models the GRP work can require careful inspection.

Sunseeker Portofino 47 Survey

Sunseeker Marine Surveyor Poole

Sunseeker Portofino 47 Survey by Guy Nicholls, Marine Surveyor Poole for Solent Marine Surveys. This Sunseeker was equipped with twin Volvo Penta D9 diesels, giving around 31 knots boat speed at 2300rpm during the sea trial which was conducted before the hoist for the full pre-purchase survey. I worked in parallel with Golden Arrow Marine who where able to access the engine history and run full diagnostics which on modern engines such as these requires a marine engineer to facilitate.

Hallberg Rassy 40 Survey Hamble

Hallberg Rassy Marine Survey

A Hallberg Rassy 40 marine survey by Guy Nicholls, Marine Surveyor Hamble for Solent Marine Surveys. The Hallberg Rassy range are of cored FRP (GRP) construction which helps insulate the hull and deck from Swedish temperatures! The cored construction also allows lighter construction that would have been the case with single skin or monolithic construction, while in this case, the PVC foam core cannot absorb moisture as can happen when end grain balsa is used for the core material.

Beneteau Oceanis Lymington

Beneteau Marine Surveyor Lymington

A Beneteau Oceanis 31 Marine Survey in Lymington Yacht Haven by qualified Marine Surveyor and GRP specialist Guy Nicholls, AMRINA.

This Beneteau Oceanis was in great order thanks to a diligent owner with careful use. One interesting point on this model was the navigations lights, which at the time of purchase were and optional extra! This one having a tri-colour and steaming light, but no lower navigation lights, therefore unable to comply with international COLREGS when motoring at night!

Hanse 385 Port Solent

A Hanse 385 survey by Marine Surveyor Guy Nicholls at Port Solent. Solent Marine Surveys regularly cover the areas of Lymington to Chichester, with surveys further afield including Europe, having recently surveyed in Holland, Spain, Greece, France.

The Hanse range like many modern cruisers are built on a production line basis, often using a tray matrix or grid to stiffen the hull and connect the keel and chainplate loadings. Like many modern yachts, the Hanse range use modern resins making osmosis and moisture related defects a thing of the past. Areas however that are often found in this type of production yacht include moisture within the end grain balsa cored deck, and bulkhead attachment issues. This particular example however was free of any significant defects.

Oyster 72 at Berthon, Lymington

Oyster 72 Marine Survey at Berthon, Lymington

An Oyster 72 in the hoist (she only just fitted between the bottom of the keel on the ground and the boom under the hoist beam!) at Berthon Shipyard, Lymington for a marine survey by Guy Nicholls, Solent Marine Surveys.

This 4 year old Oyster 72 was given a full sea trial then a full condition survey at Lymington, the exact scope of the survey for a vessel like this can vary depending on the requirements of the purchaser – in this case a fairly standard pre-purchase survey was chosen, with a full day allowed for the comprehensive sea trial.

A blue water cruising yacht of this size often has multiple systems in addition to the structure of the vessel to inspect, from generators and air conditioning to freezers, water makers, underwater lighting and no less than 55 through hull fittings on this model.

I have surveyed several Oysters recently, ranging from a Holman and Pye Oyster 37, an Oyster Heritage, and the more racy Lightwave 395 all below 40′, through to an Oyster 62 and this Oyster 72, both at Berthon in Lymington. With the exception of the Lightwave, all are constructed from a monolithic hull type (meaning a solid skin, not a cored construction) and are fitted out to the highest standards of joinery internally.

Delta Marine 38m, Palma

Delta Marine 38m Superyacht, Palma

A Delta Marine 38m (126′) Motor Yacht – an Exploration type Superyacht at the STP Shipyard in Palma.

This stunning displacement type superyacht, professionally skippered by an Englishman and 6 crew including two chefs, was ashore at the STP Shipyard in Palma and the skipper required a hull survey. Guy Nicholls of Solent Marine Surveys – a GRP specialist was booked to attend and conduct the work.

This vessel is equipped with long range fuel tanks, allowing her to travel the Atlantic Ocean under her own steam – as she has done several times, including a passage for a  refit at her original builders in Seattle, USA. Her large bulbous bow, capable of having 22 tonnes of water pumped inside for trimming purposes, is laminated from conventional glass and polyester resin, of up to 75mm thick scantlings.

Her stunning interior has always evaded the photographers, none that I know of are published online, although several shots of her externally both ashore and afloat can be found . She is based in Palma, Majorca, where the majority of her permanent crew reside when she is not in commission.

Bavaria 38 Ocean, Deacons

Bavaria 38 Ocean Survey, Deacons Hamble River

A Bavaria Ocean 38, surveyed at Deacons Boatyard for Whyboats on the River Hamble by Guy Nicholls, Solent Marine Surveys Ltd.

The Bavaria range has risen dramatically in profile since the turn of the Millennium, the German based business tooling up a highly efficient production line to rival that of Beneteau, Jeanneau and other established names of mass produced vessels. Bavaria generally use a single skin GRP construction below the waterline, transitioning to a cored (sandwich) construction using a pvc type core for above the waterline in the topsides and the deck superstructure.

The Ocean range is a centre cockpit derivative, with increased specification including far more joinery inside than the aft cockpit variants, giving a very cosy feel internally with the benefit of a large owner cabin aft with full headroom.

Princess 56 in Hamble

Princess 56 Marine Survey in Hamble

A Princess 56 designed by Bernard Olesinski and built by Marine Projects in Hamble.

These favourites, together with the Princess 45’s and others are all time classics with a phenomenal reputation for sea kindliness and handling. Very well built and might possibly outlast several more modern rivals, this fine craft is powered by 610 bhp of  twin Volvo Penta TAMD-122P-B diesels.

The new owner was indeed upgrading from a Princess 45, which demonstrates the brand loyalty that these marques instil into their owners. A quick spruce up of carpets and curtains, a few safety items to update, an engines service and she was ready to go again – a fine testament to a 19 year old vessel.

Beneteau Oceanis 323, Lymington

Beneteau Oceanis 323 Marine Survey

A Beneteau Oceanis 323 ashore for a marine survey by Guy Nicholls, Solent Marine Surveys at Lymington Yacht Haven, Lymington.

The Beneteau Oceanis 323 is one of Beneteau’s best –  a great pocket cruiser built in hundreds and used by private and charter companies alike for good value, good accommodation, practical cruisers. I own a similar Oceanis, which pre-dates this particular model, the Oceanis 311, so I am very familiar with both the build and the systems.

As with most modern Beneteau yachts, internally the company has used an extensive tray matrix, sometimes referred to as a grid, to tie in keel and rigging loads. This grid is epoxy bonded to the hull at build stage, and forms a vital part of the yacht’s structure and rigidity. It is essential that this tray matrix remains well bonded and careful inspection is needed to ensure that the structure remains as built, any cracking or moisture within the grid must be carefully assessed by a surveyor.

S&S Classic, a Nautor Swan 44

S&S Classic - Nautor Swan 44 Marine Survey

This beautiful Sparkman and Stephens (S&S) Classic from 1974, a Nautor Swan 44 was surveyed in Hamble by Guy Nicholls, Qualified Marine Surveyor.

This Nautor Swan had been cruised and then raced across the Atlantic to the Caribbean by her previous owner and completed successfully in several key regattas, including the RORC Caribbean 600 race. The previous owner, updating to a Swan 48, had recommended Solent Marine Surveys for the survey to her new buyer, having already surveyed the Nautor Swan 48 for him.

This classic yacht will no doubt turn many heads after her minor refit in Hamble by Yachting Sports Ltd, before she heads down to Sardinia for some family cruising there as well as some racing.

The Nautor Swan range are fantastic vessels to survey, with a single skin (also known as monolithic) hull and good access to most structural areas, the Marine Surveyor can inspect all the key structural areas. The high quality of build and the materials used rarely result in major structural defects on these types.

Windy 35 Khamsin, Lymington

Windy 35 Khamsin Survey, Berthon

A Windy 35 Khamsin Marine Survey and sea trial at Berthon Brokerage in Lymington. These Norwegian built top quality sports cruisers are a pleasure for a marine surveyor, with beautifully finished workmanship of the highest standards both inside and out.

I have never found a serious structural defect on one of these vessels, this is a significant statement given the fairly high speed of these craft, powered by twin Volvo Penta D4 diesels. Some might hold the Sunseeker marque in this class of vessel in the highest regard, my experience of these craft suggests the Windy range is at the very least equal, and in my opinion, the superior of the two.

A deep v hull gives impeccable handling and manners, giving very precise control at high speed.

Dufour 375 Marine Survey

Dufour 375 Marine Survey Port Solent, Portsmouth

Dufour 375 Marine Survey at Port Solent. These Dufour built yachts are well finished and sail well, with good accommodation.

Dufour are generally well built craft from France, with modern Iso resins and a single  (monolithic) hull take everyday knocks and bumps as well as most. This one boasted a lowering bow thruster, offering in some ways the best of both worlds – easy manoeuvring in port and no extra resistance when sailing!

Interestingly these craft do seem to attract blistering to the rudder sometimes though, the cause of which is difficult to determine. Possible causes might be contaminatiuon of the mould at the build stage, or contamination of the matt or resin used within the rudder build, or the humidity being too high, the list of possible causes can be endless

Moody 31 Marine Survey, Chichester

Moody 31 Marine Survey Chichester

A Moody 31 Marine Survey for insurance renewal purposes at Chichester Marina. These Marine Projects built Moody yachts are now of an age where the vessel’s insurers will ask for a basic survey every 3 to 5 years. The insurance survey can be a cut down survey compared to a full condition survey, also known as a pre-purchase survey, details can be found on the scope section.

Items for a marine surveyor to particularly watch out for on these Moody yachts, while well built, can include corroded keel studs, the access on these twin keelers can be difficult, and possible moisture ingress into the end grain balsa core for the deck and coachroof, particularly if any enthusiastic owner has added new deck fittings and not sealed the fastenings well. Overall, sturdy vessels that are now reaching an age when maintenance requirements will increase, but proving to be generally well built.

Mark Mills 40 Survey, Hamble

Mark Mills 40 Marine Survey, Hamble

This King 40 IRC racer designed by Mark Mills and built in Argentina by King Marine was surveyed in Hamble; with then further investigation using ultasound (NDT) to the hull.

Ultrasound can be useful on high tech (exotic) structures such as carbon with accurate results, it works less well on conventional FRP such as E Glass as the returns are not as clear. Thermal imaging is another technique that can be useful for less high tech boats where further investigation is called for – by gently heating the surface any voids can heat at a different rate to the laminate without voids, thus showing up clearly. The traditional methods of hammer sounding the hull for voids and/or debonding are very valid and used by all Marine Surveyors still as the first stage investigation to the structure.