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The Importance of a Follow-Up Survey
The Worth of a Follow-Up Survey
After a long, tightly scheduled trip like this one that tests the boat and all of her systems, it’s hard to overestimate the value of having someone with a practiced eye and good tools like a phenolic hammer to make sure that she is as healthy as she appears to be. Consider it a “trust, but verify” operation. At a cost like the $340 that Robert Noyce charged for this survey, it’s cheap insurance to make sure that this well-traveled Beneteau 34 Swift Trawler continues to maintain both her cruising capability and her value.
What You Can Learn
Our surveyor, Robert A. Noyce, showed that a marine survey provides more than a suitability-for-service report and a measure of quality: Maintenance tips and repair history are also revealed.
On the Job: The Second Survey
To refresh your memory, we hired Robert A. Noyce of marine survey firm Robert A. Noyce and Associates in Annapolis, Maryland, to conduct both surveys. Noyce has worked with Lloyd’s of London and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). Both surveys were conducted at Annapolis Yacht Sales, Beneteau’s flagship dealer, with Capt. Patrick Hopkins serving as liaison. A complete survey report can contain as many pages as an issue of Boating.
Notes From the Boat Shed and Second Sea Trial
How can a cruising boat be so healthy after being run hard through a 5,000-plus-mile voyage by 12 crews? Quality control by Beneteau is one reason. Annapolis Yacht Sales’ Capt. Patrick Hopkins, a former Coast Guardsman, detailed another: good “owner” care.
Hopkins required the crews to use a daily checklist along with a detailed, three-page Captain’s Handoff Checklist that each outgoing captain had to sign and go over with the incoming captain, who also signed. This procedure ensured that details as diverse as fluid level monitoring and galley stores were regularly addressed. In addition, he prepared three pages of captain’s instructions and a detailed, illustrated 17-page Captain’s Manual. He also arranged scheduled service from Cummins and Beneteau. In short, he laid out a plan for fastidious ownership. Was there a payoff?
One daily check picked up a potentially deadly problem: an exhaust leak. This was on the Mississippi River above St. Louis, where some carbon showed on a paper towel wiped over the engine’s Walker Airsep air cleaner. A red line in the sight glass of the filter confirmed the problem, and a Cummins technician was immediately called to fix it.
Noyce also cited Beneteau for equipping the Swift Trawler 34 with a centrifuge-type filter for helping to minimize fuel-related problems, and easing access to the raw-water strainer for visual checks and clean-outs, essential for preventing overheating.
One surveyor’s trick Noyce shared was checking the sill around the engine hatch. If the air intake for the engine is clogged or inadequate, the diesel will suck in air around the hatch, causing trash to accumulate around the sill. This time, though, the hatch was as clean as a pin. Kudos to Beneteau for matching the vent size to the engine’s air draw.
While making way, we crawled into the forepeak, as we had during our first survey, to check how this “spear-point” fared. As before, it was solid, with no movement or distortion.
To double-check that the exhaust leak had been fixed, Noyce put on earmuffs, picked up a flashlight and, with Hopkins continuing to run the boat at speed, climbed back into the engine room. We closed and latched the engine hatch for 20 seconds and then opened it to a thumbs-up sign from the relieved surveyor. Before he climbed out, he checked the sight glass in the Airsep valve with the engine running. All was clear. Surveyors take their work seriously.
The last stop was the Cummins Onan genset in the lazarette. Noyce checked the voltage output at start-up and found 123 volts. Under load from the air-conditioning system, the output dropped to 122 volts, with the unit running quietly and smoothly inside its sound shield, even with the hatch open. Its hour meter showed 379 hours.
After completion of the survey sea trial, we helped clean the boat, a great way to notice detail. In spite of heavy use and some rough passages in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, Noyce noted, “everything still fits and swings freely.”