OK so there was no chance for a sea trial, but I was hoping for an engine start at least. So I paid an additional fee to have the mechanics that had previously installed the Yanmar engine run the engine on the hard as part of the survey; this meant hooking up a hose to the raw water intake and doing some prep work before starting the motor. I would have expected this to mean cranking the engine with the fuel pump switched off (its electric so easy to do) , and the raw water seacock off. This would allow the engine to circulate the oil without starting.
Well that was the theory, the reality was that the starter battery was flat (not surprising?!), and the mechanics did not bother to bring a spare battery. They did have a battery charger however, though none of the yard’s power outlets were working that day. Apparently power outages are not unheard of, and are considered to be part of ‘island life’; an expression I was sure to hear more of whenever difficult questions were asked. The mechanics left for the day passing on feedback that the engine ‘should be ok’ as they remember installing it a few years earlier, and hours should be low, and it was still a bit shiny in places. OK so that was 150 USD well spent.
Now on to the rigging… The surveyor’s vision for the rigging inspection was for the rigging to be brought down from storage and presented on a stand near the vessel. This would allow for an easy inspection. On the day however, the instructions from the yard was that rigging inspections were purely self-service; therefore the onus was on the surveyor to locate the mast and rigging in the storage shed, and then climb a ladder to inspect it in the rafters. This would not do for the surveyor however, and a Mexican standoff (apologies to the people of Mexico, there must be a better expression?) between the survey and the yard began, with myself and the broker trying to negotiate a compromise and offering pragmatic advice on how to complete the job….
The surveyor then dropped yet another bombshell, that he had heard firsthand from a marine contractor that the main fuel tank was leaking, and moreover a sleeve had been fabricated and inserted into the tank below the inspection port purely to trick the buyer into thinking the tank was full of fuel !?? This further strained relations between the broker and the surveyor, the broker contacted the owner (who was ill and not in a great state of mind) to confirm. Feedback was that this sleeve was manufactured as a test tank when the new engine was installed, to assist in running the new engine??
We spent the next few days going around in circles on the fuel tank, the question of the leak, and the purpose of this fabricated sleeve. If the fuel tank was leaking, repairing it would be a massive job. The fuel tank is located in the bilge beneath the engine. The engine would need to be lifted out and the fibreglass moulding cut back to reveal the tank. It could then be lifted and repaired. If this sleeve was made to bypass the leak, it would still work; as the secondary fuel tank would feed into this. The fuel pick up line would then take fuel from this capsule.
I asked the surveyor to open the inspection port and see for himself, but apparently the inspection port was well submerged underneath bilge water. I then asked the surveyor to unscrew the plug in the bottom of the bilge to drain the water, in order to access the inspection port. This was not something he was prepared to do unfortunately. So short of getting on a plane for 12 hours to drain the bilge (in order for the surveyor to do his job), there was nothing much more I could do.
Finally the broker made it into the loft to locate the mast and rigging and did his best to send me photos. This inspired the surveyor to take a look, and the feedback was that the rigging was in fact in a fair state.
My 4 days were now up, I either had to take it or leave it. I considered the worst case; two new sails, GRP repairs to the hull & topsides painted, new teak caprail, new batteries, rewiring, 90 litres of fuel in the secondary tank and no main tank, rat taming/removal etc etc. I dropped my price again by a further 30% and was prepared to walk away disheartened, however the revised offer was quickly accepted without too much noise.
Now I had to move her…