Links to informtion on this page:
Subject of the Month "Hard Spot" cracking
News & Views from the South
Common survey faults.
Prevent osmosis .


Yacht Surveys

Pre-purchase- insurance- damage assessment-osmosis surveys on GRP Timber- Ferro cement (some)- steel Partial surveys/ Damage surveys. Free & unbiased advice via email or phone on any aspect of yacht & boat construction. For a sample survey, be it for Timber or GRP or Steel you will find several sample surveys here. For a free survey template to help you survey your own vessel or possibly carry out an informed inspection of any vessel you might consider purchasing, the you can use this guided list to help you decide whether or not to pursue with a professional inspection here. Much more information here covering Moisture Meters/Osmosis/ Ultrasound thickness testing/ Saving costs on insurance surveys/ Find the right surveyor & so much more



Fishing vessel surveys

The fishing industry is very closely regulated, particularly with regard to the fishing vessels themselves. At this time there are only two agencies authorised by the MCA for the checking and surveying of existing fishing vessels and the same two agencies for the in build inspections that all new fishing vessels have to comply with. SCMS & Mecal have a limited number of approved MCA surveyors for this work. More information here



Shipwright Work

We carry out shipwright repairs to all types of vessels including timber & GRP hulls . For more information on what we can do go to this page


Timber construction & joinery for wooden & GRP yachts. Grp hull damage repairs & finishing to invisible standard.

Buying a boat

Buying a boat is possibly one of the most expensive things that many people do and this article might help avoid the pitfalls.

for sale

for sale




Hi I'm John Lilley at SeaSurveys.

yarmouthWe are professional marine surveyors & shipwright based close to Dorchester in Dorset. We cover an area from: Plymouth to Littlehampton on the South Coast and the Bristol channel. We carry full public & professional liability insurance to ensure customer satisfaction and peace of mind. We are approved and authorised by the MCA , Mecal & SCMS to carry out surveys/inspections on New-Build & existing Fishing vessels. The first step is to give us a call so we can talk about any concerns you have prior to commissioning a survey. Without committing a penny you can find out what we know about a particular class of vessel. It is possible we may have surveyed the vessel before. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by contacting us.

Feeling confident in your choice of surveyor is the start of the process. The only way of achieving that is to speak to them directly and don't be afraid to ask questions, after all it is your money. All boat construction details & wooden boats in particular have a language of their own & too many surveyors will use confusing terminology when questions are asked causing an owner or buyer to hesitate asking further for fear of appearing uninformed. I will try to explain everything in plain language at all times.

Timber Yachts & surveys

Timber construction is not something that many surveyors feel particularly confident in undertaking as there are so many possible issues that can be extraordinarily expensive to overcome, and many surveyors do not have the experience & knowledge to advise correctly, even sometimes giving the seriously wrong advice. See here for Timber Construction. This photo shows what goes wrong when anodes are fitted..anode damageGo to this page for more information or for a free survey template for timber or sample survey on timber try here.


GRP yachts & surveys

Grp construction is much simpler but nevertheless there are numerous areas where a lack of understanding can make a huge difference. Hard spot cracking is one area that is often misdiagnosed by surveyors.


Although not clear on the photo, these are hard spot cracks in the laminate & a previous surveyor put them down as scratches in the gel coat. This page give a few example of GRP construction problems. FREE SURVEY TEMPLATE HERE
Sample surveys for GRP HERE

Subject of the Month

Stern Gland seals
PSS gland seal
Recently on a few surveys there have been potential stern gland issues on the internal end of the stern tube.
A bit of explanation firstly though. Scroll down.

The stern tube is generally a length of plain bronze tube bonded through the hull skin on GRP or an interference fit through a timber hull as the deadwood is usually quite wide at that point
.Sometimes it might be a GRP tube bondeded to the GRP.Each end of the bronze tube is threaded for around 3 or 4 inches & to this is the stern gland housing which is then fixed to the hull with removable fastenings. This unscrews both ends quite often. Externally a support bearing is fitted, more often than not a cutlass bearing (also known as a cutless bearing for obvious reasons) This is replaceable when it wears. On older vessels this might be a white metal bearing or even a form of packing gland which takes the place of a bearing. Internally there are various choices.. conventionalConventional packing gland
An adjustable packing gland as part of the stern tube inner gland housing. These are the most reelable & easily maintained type. Fitted with a greaser.flexible Flexible stern gland
Most GRP vessels were fitted with a short flexible rubber connection attached the the end of the stern tube & with the adjustable packing gland housing on the other end. Greaseable. This allows the prop shaft to align more easily if the engine vibrates without stressing a fixed stern gland on the stern tube. Eventually this rubber connector fails due to grease causing softening and delamination, They then start leaking.
driplessDripless Seal
The alternatives are dripless gland seals & PSS gland seals. Both are designed never to leak & water lubricated. The PSS seal is the more elaborate & expensive but few owners realise that these two items have age replacement requirements set by the manufacturers and in the event of a failure resulting in an insurance claim, the insurers can legitimately void that claim if the item was beyond the required manufacturers replacement age.
PSS seals have various requirements when fitted as they are water lubricated & have to have some form of water feed/air bleed. Depending upon the design & vessel these will vary quite considerably.
The other frequent problem is that they can leak significantly if they are not fitted "perfectly" or are accidentally distorted when in position. Other issues with some of the flexible stern gland seals is that I have seen many cases where the shaft alignment was so far out that the shaft was hitting the inside of the stern tube, particularly when the engine was started because the engine will move on the flexible mountings quite substantially as it fires up., The noise is alarming.

Common survey faults

This page outlines common faults that appear in all construction types, many of which can be serious.gate_valve This photo shows a typical corroded gate valve but other valves can often give problems, particularly with pipe work connections & clips. Read more here.

See these & do something soon

Timber Boats:
Deck leaks are freshwater & freshwater will eventually cause rot. Notice a deck leak or paint/varnish that is darkening or lifting for no obvious reason, then stop the leak as soon as possible.

Anode & anode wires: see any build up of white crud around the anode bolts or where the anode wires connect to any part of the system then be aware that this is possibly electrochemical damage occurring. This can destroy parts of a timber boat. Disconnect it or check for stray currents.

rotted_plywood_deckNotice a part of the structure where the paint or varnish keeps lifting....there is always a reason, & usually not a good one. Investigate & sort it out early. Often found on external planking around chain plates & other places where freshwater can accumulate unseen. It is also an early indicator of electrolytic damage due to mixed metal contact or corroding fastening, particularly below the waterline both inside & out.

GRP boats:
Deck leaks through mast wires & rigging fittings will cause freshwater decay to bulkheads if left. Anywhere discoloured varnish or peeling paint is seen for no obvious reason may be a sign of water leakage. Eventually decay will set in. Sort the leaks out

water-damageU bolts through decks can appear perfect externally but on occasions these can suffer from unseen corrosion where they pass through the deck, particularly if they have been leaking long term. When they fracture might be a bit too late to investigate...

Look in the bilges & under the saloon berths at the keel support areas. Many vessels will have signs of movement &, in some cases cracks in the grp reinforcements as well as corrosion stained bolts or nuts. Do not confuse gel wash cracks, which are quite normal, with laminate cracks which are not desirable. On first sight they can appear to be similar.

failoed-bondingsWhere bulkheads fit against the hull, on close inspection you might find that the bonding has either come loose on the plywood or there might be a fracture in the laminate right in the corner of the hull/plywood connection. Don't ignore either of these.

Deck stanchion bases come loose and allow water leaks. If you have a cored deck this could be serious so be vigilant & attend to loose stanchion bases early if you do not want a big later expense. Also check alloy bases for vertical fractures at the socket due to corrosion expansion. Not easy finding new crew when they have gone over the side.

News & Views from the South
August/September 2021
At last some decent weather arrived, albeit for limited times. The used yacht market still seems quite lively with vessels getting sold quite quickly IF they are in clean condition and ready to go & if they are priced right, although many vessels getting close to asking price in many cases. Timber vessels might be making a bit of a comeback provided they too are in sound condition, the difficulty is that as timber vessels get older, the number of well maintained vessels decreases. . A 13 ton Hillyard, one of the last to be built was virtually given away a short time ago but had suffered sad neglect, but then a GRP Bavaria 33 made the full asking price because she was very well presented, + there were more buyers lined up to purchase.. September has arrived & now nearing the end of September , thoughts run to laying up. Guess time to look up the tides to get back to Wareham for lay up...
June/July 2021
Thus far the summer does not seem to have arrived, Rain has, Wind has, but sun....not yet, at least not in the South. Boat prices appear to be very strong for the right boat, but beware of these prices as I personally do not think they will be maintained for many more months as , for some, having a boat was not what they thought it was going to be when freedom to travel anywhere finally returns. Then there will be too many boats for sale. Supply & demand will then dictate the new values.. Demand for fishing vessels has really escalated with many new builders unable to supply the demand. Above photo a new build Catamaran from Aqua Marine in Southampton following the MCA approval survey.
Late April/ May 2021

Well, the season arrives., our own Dalryymple was launched at the beginning of May (See video HERE taken by a good friend when Dalrymple left Ridge Wareham for her Poole mooring) and now the middle of May and every weekend since launch has been wind, rain and cold. Even the future forecast is for more gales as I write this.
Still quite a lot of vessels still ashore bearing in mind we are now well into May.
Boats are getting sold, for, in some cases, well & truly over inflated prices which will come down with a bang when some buyers realise that having a boat is far from the dream they thought it was going to be. Boats that need work are , in some cases almost being given away. A 13 ton Hillyard, built 1973 and a beautiful ketch that has been neglected just been sold for virtually the cost of storage ashore.Once upon a time only a few years ago would have been worth £35000! .
February/March 2021
Well, some news on relaxing the lockdown in the next few weeks will probably mean that most of us will be able to start to get the boat ready for launching, possibly a bit later than some might usually get in the water. Just have to be respectful & careful not to rush off to the yard before the new rules are in force.
February 2021:
The yards are very quiet generally with only a few owners willing to brave the weather & risk the lockdown regulations. What can you do to protect your boat? Firstly if the boat is afloat in a marina then if you are not allowed to visit, try and ask the yard staff to check on her. Pretty obvious I guess, but it should put your mind at rest. If laid up ashore most yards will be doing the rounds to ensure the hull props are still secure and nothing that would cause an issue to surrounding boats.
In boat club storage then ask the club boatman or permanent staff to check for you.
Other than that the options at they moment are somewhat limited. Things will get better.

January 2021:
This year is going to be a bit uncertain at this time. Vaccinations are just beginning to accelerate which hopefully will lead to a safer environment for all. Bad weather is forecast for the beginning of next month so we'll have to wait and see.

Links to useful pages on this site

Yacht surveys
Yacht surveys timber & general info
Fishing vessel inspection for the MCA
Survey faults & photos
Shipwright info
More contact info
PDF Articles on all subjects
Links to useful sites.
Selling a boat tips
Repair Timber & GRP boats
Buying a Boat - administrator : Tel 01258 837153 - Mobile 07501 144631