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

Hard Spot Cracks
Most grp vessels will suffer from gel coat cracking here and there eventually. However, are they important? Well much depends upon where they are and, unfortunately, some surveyors are inclined to dismiss some gel coat cracks as scratches or unimportant whereas, occasionally this can be quite the opposite. The obvious reason that gel coat cracks appear is that there has been some flexing of the structure. This in itself is of no major consequence as thick gel coat is very brittle and slightest flexing will crack it.
The most common areas for gel coat cracking are around stanchion bases where the deck has flexed and around moulded corners of the superstructure or cockpit for instance where the builders originally built up these corners in the mould with thick gel coat in order to make the laminating easier as laminating a sharp corner is not particularly easy. The vessel twists in a seaway & the stresses focus on corners where three planes meet. A thick layer of gel coat smooths out the corners. However, as the boat flexes in normal use these areas crack
hull cracks Here is gel coat cracking around a keel recess in a large Moody. (open the photo for clearer image)In this case it was due to excessively thick gel coat (in excess of 10mm) which had cracked but no damage to the laminate. . Some surveyors will refer to cracks as hard spot or hinge effect cracks, sometimes these look innocuous as they usually take place over bulkheads and sometimes horizontal stiffeners. They can sometimes be almost invisible with just one visible crack and not particularly profuse however, if you gently tap the hull along its length you will locate these bulkheads by the different sound and it is these areas where gel coat cracks can appear. These can also appear on decks for the same reason. It is also where some surveyors mistakenly suggest they are scratches or relatively insignificant. In some cases they may well be insignificant however, they always need to be further examined as they are caused by the vessel flexing over the bulkhead or stiffener and continued flexing over a hard point such as this does eventually cause laminate damage. Hard spot cracking over a bulkhead, more prominent because of the dirt in the cracks. previous impact damage forcing the hull over the hart spot & cracking the gel coat & perhaps laminate One off star cracking caused by localised impact such as an anchor fluke dropping onto the deck or hitting the hull can sometimes look far worse than the hard spot cracks but quite often is less significant. A good surveyor can interpret these stress cracks & the underlying reason & whether or not they are of concern.

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
March April 2021
Suddenly now at the end of March, good weather temporarily arrives and the Boatyards have become hives of activity even during the week. So many boats have to be got ready for launching in such a short time. I guess there will be inevatable delays but perhaps the season can at least start despite it being a little later than "normal". I anticipate there will be a backlog of surveys, so if you need one, I suggest arranging one with your chosen surveyor quite soon now.
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
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