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A kick up the proverbial
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Friday,11 April, 2014
4:45 pm
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I am wondering why I bothered with the survey. It cost me £395 and although it did tell me the hull density it excused itself of committing to the density test as the survey only had limited access even though the dry-dock cost £245. It did tell me that the boat was of a good construction and, said the surveyor (though he didn’t write it down) the narrowboat restored his faith in narrowboat owners because the boat was well looked after. Costs for the survey were therefore: £640 including docking.

But – it didn’t tell me that any of the amenities were working such as pumps, this was because (they said) the boat had been winterized and access to water was not available at the time of the survey – would I buy a car without driving it…I think not so why was I prepared to buy this boat without knowing if it worked in the way it should – other than actually floating on the water.

As we now know I proceeded to pump water into my boat because the shower pump-out pump was not properly sealed and was pumping water out of itself and directly into the boat instead of out of the boat.

Wouldn’t a house survey note if the boiler, taps, shower etc were/were not working…why did I accept this useless survey and for the money.

I have since the survey been advised that the Morso is in a dangerous place, fitted dangerously in a confined space in the back cabin and that it has been fitted without a proper fire-board around it. Especially at the back there is no fire proofing – I allowed the (gun-ho) Marine Engineer to lead me in what was required and what was safe…and he extended the bed (at my request) to make it a more appropriate liveaboard but has now left me with a Morso that is in danger of setting the bed alight it is so close – why didn’t he point that out when asked to make the bed a little wider?

The surveyor did point out that the Morso probably would not meet the new requirements for fitting namely; BS 8511 2010 and in his opinion any plan considered to move the Morso forwards was a good idea. Given the latest appraisal regarding a number of aspects including extra work done by the original Marine Engineer (shall remain nameless both engineer and marina until I have taken legal advice) I have had from a local Marine engineer I cannot understand why, for the money the surveyor did not state EMPHATICALLY that the Morso was dangerous and should not be used in its current location – this would have had a direct impact on my decision to go ahead with purchase.

The chimney piping for the Morso is of the wrong diameter and therefore more prone to blocking, there is no fire-board behind it and it is dangerously close to the bed in the first place but since the bed extension it is now dangerous full-stop.

The survey said that the systems and engine were all in excellent condition…what pray are the systems and does this not include the pumps…?

The extra work I had done by the marina included an inverter that apparently does not need an isolator because it has a split charge relay however, I don’t understand why that means I do not have an isolator designed to protect the starter battery from running flat. The starter battery has been running flat (3 occasions to date) all because the Marine engineer wired all the batteries through the same isolator therefore all my batteries including the starter battery are wired in parallel, so when my leisure’s go flat so does the starter battery…they’re all charging the same and all discharging the same…bloody useless.

When I took the boat out at first the sockets fitted by the (so-called) marine engineer failed to work and I had to put up with a very grumpy and rude marine engineer coming out to sort that problem. Now can you believe and I’m sure you can the newly fitted bilge pump doesn’t work either….

Personally I am very upset about the extra work I paid for, the standards of the pretty bloody useless survey I paid for, the limitations for the survey brought on by inadequate docking arrangements and the appalling standards of work applied by the (so called) Marine engineer at the Marina in question.

I intend a strongly worded letter to the Director of this organization supported by the statements of the Marine Engineer where I am having the work a) assessed and rectified and b) upgraded to a safe and acceptable standard.

It feels like an industry in the dark ages like a poor car garage rather than organizations that deal with peoples safety, peoples lives – allowing themselves to get away with shoddy work, bodging, limited safety towards boat owners and purchasers and maverick arrogant (so called) marine engineers who basically need a kick up the proverbial.

Friday,11 April, 2014
5:17 pm
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Not wanting to get into any arguments here but the surveyor did tell you that the Morso doesn’t comply with the current regulations. The extension of the bed was presumably done after his inspection. I doubt that many boats built before 2010 would comply. Certainly ours wouldn’t. The lack of fireboard doesn’t necessarily mean there is a fire hazard as many boats don’t have it. On average 3/4 boats catch fire each year but this is from all causes including boaters hanging their socks to dry to close to the stove.

Yes, an inverter is supposed to be fused and have an isolator. Ideally this would be separate to the standard domestic isolator so you would have 3 in total. Not having seen your boat and wishing to question the second engineer but do you perhaps have one of those isolators that does all of them on one switch? That is a rotary one that is marked Off, 1, 2 and both which needs you turning it to the correct position each time you stop or start.

You say the bilge pump doesn’t work. Is it just automatic via a float switch or does it have a manual override bor is it only manual? If only automatic they need quite a bit of water depth before they kick in. Mine is about 50mm.

Having worked in the motor trade all my life I would agree with your comparisons. That’s probably why most of us have an engineer we trust and will cross the country to him rather that allow someone else to work on our boats.

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Friday,11 April, 2014
7:45 pm
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pearley said
Not wanting to get into any arguments here but the surveyor did tell you that the Morso doesn’t comply with the current regulations. The extension of the bed was presumably done after his inspection. I doubt that many boats built before 2010 would comply. Certainly ours wouldn’t. The lack of fireboard doesn’t necessarily mean there is a fire hazard as many boats don’t have it. On average 3/4 boats catch fire each year but this is from all causes including boaters hanging their socks to dry to close to the stove.

Yes, an inverter is supposed to be fused and have an isolator. Ideally this would be separate to the standard domestic isolator so you would have 3 in total. Not having seen your boat and wishing to question the second engineer but do you perhaps have one of those isolators that does all of them on one switch? That is a rotary one that is marked Off, 1, 2 and both which needs you turning it to the correct position each time you stop or start.

You say the bilge pump doesn’t work. Is it just automatic via a float switch or does it have a manual override bor is it only manual? If only automatic they need quite a bit of water depth before they kick in. Mine is about 50mm.

Having worked in the motor trade all my life I would agree with your comparisons. That’s probably why most of us have an engineer we trust and will cross the country to him rather that allow someone else to work on our boats.

I am not really arguing with the surveyor and have not approached the person in question but i think if i were contemplating forking out a significant amount of cash for a boat ever again I would insist on a test-drive including using all parts before parting with my dosh…no test drive no sale

Thank you for your response to this…there’s no question of arguing with you as to date and now included I find your posts most informative and knowledgeably and you raise some interesting and pertinent points. If you saw the Morso you would probably ‘freak’ it sits some 8 inches from the bed, the bed gets worryingly hot and the memory foam mattress has now deformed from the heat…my biggest fear has always been re: the bed though the current marine engineer says it is also dangerous at the back as it is just not far enough away from the wooden wall – 4 inches…but it was the initial marine engineer who extended the bed and I would have expected him to say NO this should not be done as you risk setting fire to the bed – this factor alone would have made me think twice about whether this boat was for me.

I asked the Marine engineer at the marina in question if I should move the Morso – he said live with it see how you go and for this reason i think he has been negligent as to my safety. But i wish the surveyor had been emphatic about the risks involved rather than vague after all I paid him for his expertise, he knew about the intended bed-extension and has not even mentioned it…my only question was at the beginning why bother with the survey…but to be fair the surveyor did say if there were plans afoot to move the morson then he thought this to be a good plan

It was the initial marine engineer who went on about the need to isolate the starter battery from the other batteries if i were to be living off the grid – so that if my leisure batteries failed I could still start the engine and charge the batteries. But all he has done is link all the batteries to the existing isolator causing them all to be on the same circuit in parallel. My understanding was that an isolator would separate the starter battery from the leisure batteries and not simply switch off or on all the batteries together. It is of the later kind you suggest one isolator switching them all off or on (only 2 positions) but when they are all wired through it they are all on the same circuit – the current engineer is saying the starter battery should have its own separate isolator switch so it can remain disconnected from the leisure batteries or connected should the starter battery become too weak to start the engine and could therefore be linked to the leisure batteries providing an additional option to start the engines assuming the leisure batteries are up to the job.

The bilge pump is both automatic and has a manual switch…it may be that it still works when ‘x’ amount of water builds up in the bilge (though I have no way of testing it short of drilling a hole in my boat – lol) all I know is the switch fitted no longer operates the bilge pump where previously it did.

This just leaves me thinking that all the work i had done was not up to a high standard despite the cost involved, some of the work has left me vulnerable and fortunately my own paranoia has caused me to question the standard of the work and have it checked. I should perhaps mention that when i asked the original engineer why my starter battery was going flat he said he did not know and that i should have it checked by a qualified marine electrician – honest perhaps but giving me little confidence in his work. Thanks for your responses – i cannot deny i am very upset about having forked out for work that I have to have checked by another group of marine engineers.

I just feel let down by the surveyor and question the value of the survey for the money and mislead by the original marine engineer…my starter battery has been flat on three occasions (lucky to have a mate with a trike who took his battery off for me and another mate I’ve recently made with a starter pack)…not so good a system wired in such a way that would leave me stranded save for mates.

 

Friday,11 April, 2014
8:03 pm
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You do seem to have had not the best of service.

I can only add re the bilge pump – I thought mine was not working but chucking a few buckets of water down proved it was.  As Pete said, the level may need to be quite high before it kicks in.

Retired; Somerset/Dorset border when not out and about on Lucy Lowther

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Friday,11 April, 2014
8:06 pm
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Alan said
You do seem to have had not the best of service.

I can only add re the bilge pump – I thought mine was not working but chucking a few buckets of water down proved it was.  As Pete said, the level may need to be quite high before it kicks in.

but the manual switch which originally worked should still work…

 

Friday,11 April, 2014
8:09 pm
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also I would chuck a few buckets of water down there but since the bed-bodge accessing under the floor has become a major event and should it not actually work it would be a pain in the rear-bits to get the water out again…anyway am having it all sorted in the not too distant future and shall make a complaint to the original Marina re: the work I paid to have done

Friday,11 April, 2014
8:51 pm
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Vaguehippo said
also I would chuck a few buckets of water down there but since the bed-bodge accessing under the floor has become a major event and should it not actually work it would be a pain in the rear-bits to get the water out again…anyway am having it all sorted in the not too distant future and shall make a complaint to the original Marina re: the work I paid to have done

…answering my own post again…you know that film, which wire shall I cut and/or connect is it the blue or the orange one…I decided to look to see if a wire had come off the bilge pump switch and as one’s mum used to say…low and behold…it had but given its like a spaghetti shop in that cupboard which wire is it…the one with the blue connector or the one with the orange connector I mean i don’t want a nuclear thing to explode do I…I might have the whole world to worry about like in that film or is it a movie these days or was it the last Sherlock Holmes thing…which wire is it and does it really matter if I put the wrong one on…if anyone feels a tremble in the water you’ll know i hooked up the wrong one

which-wire.jpgImage Enlarger

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Friday,11 April, 2014
9:52 pm
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At this stage I would probably whimper and look for the nearest boat yard but, given your recent experience, maybe that won’t be your preferred remedy.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Friday,11 April, 2014
11:09 pm
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Paul Smith said
At this stage I would probably whimper and look for the nearest boat yard but, given your recent experience, maybe that won’t be your preferred remedy.

You don’t mean the knackers yard do you shhhhh she might hear you…what sold for glue…I have found a boat yard and a recommended group of marine engineers and am having the required work sorted, also its the blue wire ‘she’ told me herself whispered it to me…

 

Saturday,12 April, 2014
1:07 pm
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Whatever you do do not attach the blue wire!!!

 

 

Only joking. Sorry, I can’t help.

Retired; Somerset/Dorset border when not out and about on Lucy Lowther

Days without name and hours without number

http://thelovelylisanarrowboat.blogspot.co.uk
 
Saturday,12 April, 2014
2:02 pm
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Alan said
Whatever you do do not attach the blue wire!!!

 

 

Only joking. Sorry, I can’t help.

lol too late it was the blue wire and now its sorted…

 

Saturday,12 April, 2014
6:57 pm
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Well done.

Retired; Somerset/Dorset border when not out and about on Lucy Lowther

Days without name and hours without number

http://thelovelylisanarrowboat.blogspot.co.uk
 
Sunday,13 April, 2014
4:04 pm
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I read this post because it was the top link of the list on the web site and found it utterly astonishing.

I know we now live in a ‘blame culture’ ashore but the bottom line with any boat is that the skipper/owner is totally responsible for the boat’s safety and for the safety and well being of those on board. Take advice, learn all you can, employ others to do tasks beyond your skill levels, but the final decision and responsibility is always yours and yours alone. If in doubt look up accounts of serious boating incidents (professional and leisure), when there is a loss of life it is the skipper/owner who is charged and in court.

Regarding the stove and bed, would you place furniture at home so close to a similar heat source? If not why did you instruct someone to do so for you on your boat? The laws of physics stay the same wherever you are. The engineer you so malign was following your instructions and probably learnt a long time ago that it was advisable not to contradict a boat owner unless asked for an opinion.

Buying a second hand boat is always an interesting experience,  we all do things differently and some owners are botchers, most have odd ways of doing things, and many boats for sale have been neglected. Its only on close aquaintance that some of the problems come to light. My most amusing (in retrospect) was a gear lever connected the wrong way round, pull it back to go ahead, push it forward to go astern – an interesting experience getting out of a marina berth and through the locks the first time. Other first trip experiences include: stripping down and rebuilding a sea toilet at sea (twice), sails jammed full out in a rising wind (twice), fresh water systems pumping water into the bilge, having to bail out the engine compartment by hand before being able to start the engine, starting an engine with a jammed bendix by putting a screwdriver across the starter terminals (melting the end of the screwdriver in the process), loosing the rudder, fuel return pipe pumping diesel into the bilge, engine refusing to start when entering harbour (having sails saved the day) and lots of other fun things over 39 years and a number of boats. Then there were all the things that needed doing once on my home mooring before moving the boat again.

It takes me about three seasons to get a ‘new’ (pre owned) boat sorted and the way I want it.

With a boat don’t take anything for granted, double check, and then expect the unexpected. Its not a house and its very different to a car.

Incidentally, I am on this site because my last boat will probably be a canal boat – at the moment I can still handle (and maintain) my offshore sailing yacht and bought my first one in 1975.

 

Sunday,13 April, 2014
4:18 pm
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Well done.

Many thanks for yr kind support, continued humour and wealth of information…I guess though a point here is what we can do for ourselves – as time goes on it seems more and more am I capable of. Looking back I wish i had just taken the boat and not had any work done on it at all…found a reputable marina with engineer after speaking with narrowboat owners and/or bought a better boat for the money rather than a boat that required work to be a liveaboard. Hindsight…shucks, can’t live with it and just can’t live with it…

Sunday,13 April, 2014
4:35 pm
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Yes, its a very good idea to use a boat for a season before make any serious changes. That way you see what does and does not work for the way you want to use it.

The more you can do for yourself the more satisfying, and cheaper, owning your boat becomes.

Sunday,13 April, 2014
8:35 pm
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I read this post because it was the top link of the list on the web site and found it utterly astonishing. I know we now live in a ‘blame culture’ ashore but the bottom line with any boat is that the skipper/owner is totally responsible for the boat’s safety and for the safety and well being of those on board. Take advice, learn all you can, employ others to do tasks beyond your skill levels, but the final decision and responsibility is always yours and yours alone. If in doubt look up accounts of serious boating incidents (professional and leisure), when there is a loss of life it is the skipper/owner who is charged and in court. Regarding the stove and bed, would you place furniture at home so close to a similar heat source? If not why did you instruct someone to do so for you on your boat? The laws of physics stay the same wherever you are. The engineer you so malign was following your instructions and probably learnt a long time ago that it was advisable not to contradict a boat owner unless asked for an opinion. Buying a second hand boat is always an interesting experience,  we all do things differently and some owners are botchers, most have odd ways of doing things, and many boats for sale have been neglected. Its only on close aquaintance that some of the problems come to light. My most amusing (in retrospect) was a gear lever connected the wrong way round, pull it back to go ahead, push it forward to go astern – an interesting experience getting out of a marina berth and through the locks the first time. Other first trip experiences include: stripping down and rebuilding a sea toilet at sea (twice), sails jammed full out in a rising wind (twice), fresh water systems pumping water into the bilge, having to bail out the engine compartment by hand before being able to start the engine, starting an engine with a jammed bendix by putting a screwdriver across the starter terminals (melting the end of the screwdriver in the process), loosing the rudder, fuel return pipe pumping diesel into the bilge, engine refusing to start when entering harbour (having sails saved the day) and lots of other fun things over 39 years and a number of boats. Then there were all the things that needed doing once on my home mooring before moving the boat again. It takes me about three seasons to get a ‘new’ (pre owned) boat sorted and the way I want it. With a boat don’t take anything for granted, double check, and then expect the unexpected. Its not a house and its very different to a car. Incidentally, I am on this site because my last boat will probably be a canal boat – at the moment I can still handle (and maintain) my offshore sailing yacht and bought my first one in 1975.  

 

I am surprised you found it ‘utterly astonishing…’ at the point of having the survey done and at the point of being advised by the marine engineer I did not own the boat. So I’m not altogether sure who yr speaking about. Most skippers who end up in court for their negligence have some experience of being skippers, responsibility in that position etc…I had none and they knew it, perhaps they saw me coming. Where some of what you point out makes sense and i agree I should have used more of my daily savvy (despite you point out how different boats are from houses and cars), I think you are expecting an awful lot from a complete novice, none boat owner, non-skipper and allowing those who said they were in the ‘know’ off the hook too easily.

I paid good money for a survey (and the point of the post was to question why i did that) for a good reason mostly to do with getting value for money and an understanding concerning the boat and the fact that I did not know about boats. I paid good money for work by a marine engineer that turned out to be bad value as the work now needs revisiting by another marine engineer and as to my responsibility as a skipper…I wasn’t the skipper, nor was I the boat owner so again I am perplexed as to what you mean, nay even I am ‘utterly astonished’

How amusing your story re: the gear lever but not life threatening, nor expensive, nor dependent on the expertise of another…the engineer I so malign is an engineer charges £40/hr and should have advised me…he did on so much else why that could not extend to aspects involving safety prior to me becoming the skipper/boat owner remains beyond my understanding…save he had a vested interest in me buying that boat.

I take your advice now…take nothing for granted, take time to learn and understand and be prepared to apply ones own existing knowledge etc…but as you point out boats are not houses nor are they cars and it is for this reason I paid for an expertise that i did not get or an expertise that falls way short of the mark for the money.

You sound very knowledgeable – but I think the industry needs a kick up the proverbial as many people buying narrow-boats rely on the expertise of others for surveys and work provided by (so-called) experts and given we pay good money for it then I think we should get it.

Sunday,13 April, 2014
8:58 pm
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Very interesting post mate as we are in a similar situation do we spend nigh on £1000 for dry dock/survey on a 3 yr old boat of which there is a fantastic web site which I have followed for 3yrs or trust our instincts & buy anyway your post raises very interesting points which like you as NEWBIES we are struggling to come to terms with.

Sunday,13 April, 2014
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Very interesting post mate as we are in a similar situation do we spend nigh on £1000 for dry dock/survey on a 3 yr old boat of which there is a fantastic web site which I have followed for 3yrs or trust our instincts & buy anyway your post raises very interesting points which like you as NEWBIES we are struggling to come to terms with.

If I had my way again I would pay for someone who was in the know to come and pick holes in the boat for me other than the recommended surveyor. Pay for a marine engineers time like getting an AA/RAC report on a vehicle i intended to purchase. I would also insist on checking all the systems, pumps, pump-outs, lights all electrical kit and all engine systems etc too and even take it for a burn…any resistance to this would have me walk away and no-sale.

If ‘Sean.cruising’ says anything useful it is do not suspend your common sense nor suspend what you already know about health and safety but at the same time make sure that any expert advice you are paying for is worth the money.

To be clear i would not buy this boat again for the money I paid for it nor would I have any work done by the selling-marina as i believe there is a conflict of interests between them wanting you to purchase the boat and the problems that come with the boat and (I feel) it is unlikely you will get the best advice from them.

All the best and I hope it works out well for you and at least better than it appears to have worked out for me.

Monday,14 April, 2014
10:25 am
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Alan said
You do seem to have had not the best of service.

I can only add re the bilge pump – I thought mine was not working but chucking a few buckets of water down proved it was.  As Pete said, the level may need to be quite high before it kicks in.

Which is why its a good idea to have a manual override switch.

Redundancy if the auto level switch fails (which I agree on my Rule pump seems to require a good depth of water before activation) and the piece of mind of knowing the bilge is (almost) completely dry.

If operated manually regularly, you can see how much water is dripping from a stern gland for example and so judge if it needs tightening.

Regards – Richard –
Ecky Thump

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