Sunday, May 17, 2015


"So, you are the surveyor who is supposed to know what he is doing..”

Some might suggest such was not the best way to start a survey. But there was method to my madness. Before me stood the second surveyor we had contacted about getting Kintala a new rap sheet. The first was someone with whom we had been talking for several months. One who assured us he would be available to get the job done before our current insurance policy ran out. Just days before that deadline said surveyor disappeared into the vapor. Emails were ignored and phone message provoked no response. Yet another marine professional measuring up to the customer service standards of the industry. Deb was concerned about the deadline. I was downright unhappy.

Short on time we asked JB for a recommendation. He came up with Art Johnson Marine Surveyors. Deb called, explained our dilemma and shared some of our history with those practicing the surveyor's black art. With no alternative we set up an appointment for just two days before heading west.

The message behind my greeting should have been obvious to anyone paying attention. "Let us tolerate no illusions here. Deb has shared our history of surveys and explained the resulting insurance difficulties. I am short-tempered, skeptical, and do not intend to be trodden on again."

Kintala's was not the only survey being done. I hoped Mr. Johnson was paying attention.

After our introduction and with some preliminary paperwork finished, Mr. Johnson started at the keel, methodically working his way forward and up. He moved his moisture meter along the hull, the needle jumping when waved over the bottom paint. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself, fearing another round of Universal Hydraulic Migration.

“Just out of the water I see, the bottom paint hasn't dried out yet. This is a good, sound, dry hull.”

He made no mention of the small repair I need to do at the keel joint. He looked at it; looked at me. I nodded. He moved on. We talked about the various through-hulls. What were they for, when were they serviced last. Partly, I think, he was just checking to make sure I knew something about my boat. The idea made me smile. He checked the size and pitch of the prop, mentioned that the cutlass bearing had a couple of hundred hours of run time left in it. Spinning the prop he looked up, “V-drive?”

“Yes, and less than five years old.”

“Thought so. That much lash would be worrisome if was just the transmission.”

I smiled some more.

Outside bottom done he climbed the ladder to the deck. “Forward and to port” I called “is the deck repair I did last summer.” It is one of the things from the last survey that is killing us with the insurance companies. Mr. Johnson moved forward and to port, looked, and nodded. Then he added, “Why was this in the last survey? It isn't structural. I would mention it to an owner, but it is only an issue when a wet deck it at the mast or the hull/deck joint, sometimes under or near a cleat."

My smile was almost a full grin. Full grins are not in my normal repertoire of facial expressions when dealing with anyone from the marine industry.

He said the standing and running rigging, except for the jib sheets, looked good and pretty new. I suggested that the jib sheets had some life left in them and stated that the standing rigging had been done right at Oak Harbor less than two years ago. “Thought so,” he replied. “They do good work here.”

They do indeed. Mr. Johnson, it was becoming clear, actually did know what he was doing.

Deb joined him when he moved below. Things were examined, part numbers got checked and verified, he poked and prodded with the deliberate cadence of someone with long practice. Later he mentioned a small electrical item in the engine room that I know about. (Every one says rubber cover boots can be found everywhere. I have yet to find one that fits the starter relay.) He insisted we toss a depleted fire extinguisher directly into the dumpster, a good idea when one thinks of it. He was pleased to see how many good ones we had stashed around the boat. “Too many people,” he added, “go off shore with the absolute minimum number allowed. It isn't the kind of thing I can put in a survey, but I mention it to boat owners all the time.”

A few hours later and it was done. Mr. Johnson collected a reasonable amount of money from us, shook hands, allowed again that we had a good looking boat, and went about his business. After he left Deb brought up one item uncovered, one that sets the tone of this survey. It is a minor thing really, and more than a little embarrassing for me. (Feel free to make some fun at my expense, it is well deserved.)

Every mention I can recall about the Tartan 42 is that she holds 79 gallons of diesel.  It says so right in the Manual.  I know the broker and former owner used that number, and both of our previous surveys say the same thing.

The faded tag on the tank itself says “64”.

Mr. Johnson was the only one who caught it.


Unknown said...

A propos of not much: we're driving through Carlisle, Il, today and thinking about you. Hope you're having a good day. Kinda hazy and warm here - 82°.
Your friends the Lindners, Jeff and Paula. :-)

Unknown said...

Art did the survey on my "new to me boat" two years ago. Very nice and knowledgeable man. I am glad he worked out for you.

Unknown said...

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