Surveying a ferro-cement boat

Surveying a ferro-cement boat

After owning several fiberglass sailboats I am now seriously considering a Ferro Cement Boat. Being fairly unfamiliar with the specifics and differances I am depending on a good surveyor for inspection. What credentials and qualifications should a marine surveyor have specificly to qualify him to survey Ferro Cement boats? What are some things specific to Ferro Cement boats that a Good marine surveyer should include in his inspection? What are some items that a prospective owner should look for on a preliminary inspection of a Ferro Cement boat that is differant than a fiberglass boat?

There are a number of different sections to a boat survey, which are in turn modified, omitted or added in part, according to the reason for the survey. For example, it may or may not be necessary to have an approximate value assesed. Without listing all that is to be surveyed, the sections can be basically described as 1/ The hull. 2/ The hull fittings and attachments. 3/ The deck. 4/ All deckworks, deck fittings and attachments. 5/ The interior. 6/ The rig. 7/ The machinery. The boat owner/prospective boatowner has much to consider when contemplating the services of a surveyor....there are two kinds ...those that have come from college...and those that have come from being boatbuilders. They can be broken down further into subsections....a/ The 'rivet counter'. b/ The 'hull tapper'. c/ The qualified naval architect with little or no boatbuilding/repairing experience. d/ The 'time served', experienced boatbuilder/repairer. (There are of course many combinations of those mentioned). Then bearing in mind that the main construction material can be either steel, wood, fibreglass, ferro-cement, aluminium, etc.....and I haven't met a specialist in all mediums...yet ! So where do you begin ? Let's work through the numbered sections that I listed in the first paragraph 6/ The rig...most of the rig is the same regardless of what material the hull is made of. 7/ The machinery...that is similar again in all kinds of hull construction. 5/ The interior...this is where the differences in technique start. Layout and fitting out is similar except the positioning and the way bulheads are positioned vary according to hull material, as well as lining (ceilings and deck head), and other items in direct contact with the hull. 4/ and 2/....the fixtures and fittings, the way they are designed as well as the way they are attached to the hull or deck, vary dramatically according to the hull and deck construction medium. For 1/ and 3/ will of course have very different requirements for different construction materials. Before making the final summary, I will enlarge on some of my earlier statements of 'surveyor types'. 'The rivet counter'....he's the guy who gives you 30 pages of report listing every screw, nut, bolt, shackle, type of wood or metal used in every part....end of story. What use is that ? You neither want to know nor really need to know if it's a 'brass countersink No8 x 3/4 inch screw', and the 56th one from for'd port side on the rubbing strake has a damaged slot ! You wan't to know whether the boat was designed properly, built to the designers specs properly, what state of deterioration the vessel is in, and either how or whether it is necessary to repair and how much !! 'The tapper.....he's the guy that comes along to inspect your ferro hull armed with a small hammer, and proceeds to tap it all over, making notes as he goes (as well as crushing the paint and sealer, and often damaging the outer layer of plaster that's protecting the steel armature). When challenged he will retort 'I'm checking for voids'. You will then need to follow up with the questions 'If you find any, will you be able to identify why it is there and is it of any structural importance'. 'And if it is, will you be able to advise me on how to repair/correct it'. If you are engaging the services of a surveyor, ensure that he is experienced in the medium of construction, and really able to advise on how to repair/correct any deterioration or damage he may find (as well as knowing how to find it). Don't ever accept the answer 'oh I have surveyed dozens of ferroboats', etc. And finally....the older the ferroboat, the easier it is to find any problems there may be with the hull. And you neither need, nor acan you use an x-ray machine to achieve it, as one idiot suggested in a recent newsgroup.


Thank you Colin for your work in educating us in ferro boats. If you could elaborate more on what to look for in checking the hull of a ferro boat so that as an owner we can spot and repair problems as they occur. P.S.> I am looking forward to reading your book on ferro boat repair and maintenence. Clay Earley, S/V Earleybird.

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The information and comments given on this 'World Of Ferroboats', website are based on first-hand experience gained by the contributors over many years of use, designing, surveying, building and repairing ferro-cement boats.