PLEASE NOTE: This ’crib sheet’ is only intended to offer some basic assistance to the less experienced purchaser by giving a very general, not exhaustive, idea of the sort of things to look out for when buying a small second-hand GRP yacht or cruiser.
It is not intended to obviate the need for a survey by a qualified surveyor which, should you purchase, may well be mandatory from some insurers.Starting on deck
Is the stem plate secure? Are there any signs of corrosion or impact damage? Are bow rollers/fairleads in order? Is the forestay taut and unblemished? Similarly all other stays/ shrouds. Do the chainplates appear visually sound? With stainless steel rigging, all you can really do is visually inspect it for obvious damage or corrosion; similarly with mast fittings. Is the pulpit/pushpit secure? Is the anchor/winch of adequate size and in good condition. Is the rode of suitable size and length and in good condition? Is the ‘bitter end’ secure? Is the chain locker free of corrosion and properly drained? Are any windows cracked, opaque or obviously patched against leaks? Do hatches seal properly? Are there any signs of corrosion around fittings on mast and boom or at the base of the mast? Are there stress cracks around any fittings or stanchions on deck? Are winches free and pawls engaging properly? Do rope clutches work properly? Are the halyards free-running and in a reasonable condition? Are deck cleats of adequate size, properly positioned and firmly fastened? Shake the sails out.
Are they in reasonable condition and, just as important, the correct sails for the boat. (This may seem obvious, but yachts have been bought only for the new owner to discover that the sails have just been put there from a different yacht and probably bought at an auction somewhere).
Wander over the entire deck, cockpit and cabin top, putting a bit of weight on your feet. Are there any spots that feel a bit soft or spongy? Do all the navigation lights (including any on the masthead) work properly? Are any cockpit electronics/gauges working correctly? Check the steering, wheel or tiller. Does it feel positive? Does it rattle if you shake it around? Take a look at the steering in more detail. If a tiller, shake the top of the rudder post to check for movement in the bearing. If a wheel, do the same thing with the quadrant and at the same time look for corrosion and damage in any wires if it is cable steering. If hydraulic, looks for leaks in the pipes and fittings. If there is a lazarette, open it up, get inside if you can. Take a look for damage or corrosion - or anything else that looks out of place.
Take a look at any timberwork on deck. Feel it. Are there any signs of a quick patch-up or of filler having been used? If in doubt give a gentle tap with something hard, you will soon hear the difference between solid timber and patched or rotten bits.
Starting to get the idea?
Next week: Part 2 - below deck.