Cross Systems 2016
Does the owner or seller of a vessel ever try to mislead the buyer? With over thirty years of marine surveyor experience logged, I can say with certainty that most sellers and owners make very little effort to divulge all the of the pertinent information about their vessel, especially any possible defects. There are occasions when the owner, usually because of lack of experience, is not aware of many subtle faults with his vessel. There are also many occasions when the owner tries to deceive the buyer. A couple of examples follow. Not long ago I inspected, with the buyer and owner present, a five year old runabout with a raw water cooled, four cylinder MerCruiser engine, which was newly painted and looked like it had been used very little. The vessel was on  a trailer in the owners back yard and he was prepared to run the engine for us. It is my normal practice to have a sea trial, but in this cast the buyer was happy just to know the engine sounded OK. The owner had him convinced that the vessel looked and ran like new. So the sea trial was out. The owner told me the vessel, including the engine and running gear  were in excellent condition and ready to go. The owner hooked up the garden hose, started the engine, and let it run for a few minutes. The engine sounded very good, and except for some excess exhaust smoke appeared in good shape. To make a long story short the boat checked out fine and the sale was consummated. The new owner used the boat for a week or so and noticed the engine becoming more noisy with each use. Finally the engine failed and was taken to a mechanic for diagnosis and repair. The mechanic told the new owner the exhaust manifold was shot and would need to be replaced. The owner called me complaining that I should have picked up this problem during the survey and what would I like to do about the repair cost. I met the owner at the vessel the next day and re-inspected the engine. I found a small hole in the side of the exhaust manifold, between the manifold and the head, just beneath a fresh coat of black paint. After poking around the small opening I discovered a much larger hole and evidence of a badly rusted manifold that had been repaired with Bondo, sanded and then painted. The manifold looked like new and except for the part along the inside edge,  sounded fine when tapped with a hammer.  The seller had removed the manifold and attempted to repair it.  He seemed like a pretty  good fellow when I met him, so I am not sure whether he thought he was making a good repair or just hiding the hole. He was employed as a computer technician and appeared to lack any type of mechanical background when we met. This fellow probably spent more effort, time, and money making this faulty repair than he would have if he purchased an after market manifold and installed it himself. He did mention to us during the survey that the vessel was original. His quote was, "Just like it came from the factory".  He did a pretty good job of concealing the defect.