The Good, the Bad
The Beneteau Swift Trawler 34 is a quality boat. And since we tested it, inspected it ourselves and have a surveyor’s report in hand, we’re confident in stating that fact. It’s designed with great attention to detail, it’s built well, its systems are solid and well installed, and it performs efficiently at both trawler and fast cruising speeds. It’s an eminently capable Great Loop cruiser.
But the survey still raised questions, in addition to those already mentioned. Though this boat is a coastal cruiser, it will have to weather rough water like that in the Chesapeake, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. We were surprised that the only handhold in the salon was a (sturdy) vertical stainless pole over the galley. It should be easy to add a grab rail around the back of the pilot seat. Also the “pump village” under the vanity in the head is less than easily serviceable. Fortunately, Beneteau has labeled all of the pumps and hoses, as well as included flow diagrams in the extensive owner’s manual.
“The book is enough to get you started,” Noyce explained, “though reaching around inside there may require some contortions. No 34-footer has a truly easy pump village.”
Finally, although the fit and finish of the cabinetwork in the salon and cabin were nicely done, we observed slight gaps in some of the computer numerical control (CNC) cut pieces. We’ll revisit those locations when the boat returns from her voyage.
The Value of a New-Boat Survey
The value of a new-boat survey is in having a practiced eye double-check a builder’s quality control. Consider it a “trust, but verify” operation. Noyce charged us $340 for this survey, cheap insurance for a buyer who wants to ensure his new boat leaves the showroom “right.”
These results prove the value of a new-boat survey; since if we were prospective buyers, we could either negotiate to have the dealer or manufacturer beef up these features or make our offer based on having to take care of them ourselves. Check back on Part II to see how all of the Swift Trawler 34’s features hold up.
How to Find a Surveyor
Robert Noyce sums up his function as “observe and report.” He suggests getting a third-party recommendation, and checking credentials, and also asking "What have been your boating experiences in design, construction, repair and time on the water? How did you become a surveyor? Can you give me a sample survey?"
We’ll add that, since members of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (marinesurvey.org) and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (namsglobal.org) have a commitment to integrity and continuing training and education, those organizations are top-notch sources for surveyors.