Rhapsody General Survey and HauloutFeb 26, 2007

The survey was supposed to start at 11:00 a.m., but the surveyor couldn't make it until noon. I hired George Jarvey of Christian Brothers, the same guy who surveyed Mandala for me. We spent the best part of four hours opening every compartment, tracing hoses and wires, examining thru-hulls and valves, and in general, evaluating the internal systems. Steve, our agent from YachtFinders/Windseakers, joined us for the Survey, and so everyone was looking hard at everything. George will provide me with a complete written report about the survey, but he was able to impart the most important items to me verbally in person.

Being Hauled out of the Water

The interior upholstry is shot and will need to be redone. A number of the thru-hulls should be replaced at the next haul out. Many of the valves on the thru hulls should be replaced. The main thru hull is this honking thing called a "water chest" that has 4 valves coming out of it. It has minor cracks showing and should be taken off and repaird (welded). He recommended replacing some of the hosing connecting the water systems together. For instance, some of the fresh water hoses were dark, and should be clear.

The waste hoses should be replaced, along with at least two of the toilets. One of the toilets is not hooked up and should be. There were some hoses used in flushing the water-maker that were open to the sea and only sealed with rubber corks! We at least closed the valves under these , yikes. There was a dangling pipe leading to what must have been the transom shower that was removed, but just left hanging on the end of it's valve in the aft bildge. One of the fuel lines was using hosing that was only graded for carrying water and needs to be replaced with fuel hosing.

What it really amounts to is that I have to diagram and understand all of the plumbing systems, and repair whatever isn't up to snuff. For instance, just the fresh water system has four water tanks, with filler lines, vents, and supply lines to a manifold valve system that then runs to a water pump, pressure holding tank, water heater, and then back thru hot and cold water lines to each of the heads and the galley. And that whole system is hooked up to the watermaker, which has 4 or 5 valves, pipes, an intake and outflow thru-hull, as well as going into fresh water system thru another set of valves that also allow it to be flushed and cleaned. And that's just the fresh water system.

Looking Under the Boat

The refrigerator, two air conditioners, genset, and the motor ALL use sea water in their cooling systems. And all of the toilets also have sea water inlets (below the water line). And all of the sinks have sea water outlets tho those are above the water line ... it's mostly the holes under water that you worry about. So each of these will be checked and replaced as necessary after I buy the boat.

However, as complex as all that sounds, it might not cost gobs of money if done correctly, in a single haulout at the same time as one had, for instance, the bottom painted. Having all of the new thru-hulls, water chest, and valves on hand, so that they can all be replaced at once, means that it's really only single days work in the yard. Then I could replace the hoses myself, once the boat was back in the water (and the valves were closed).

Likewise, the electrical system is very complex and will need some figuring out. We tested the inverter and generator and one of the air conditioners. The inverter is not fused and should be. One of the air conditioners is not hooked up and should be. The solar panel seems to work. There is an extra 220V invertor (for European Current) that is of questionable connection and usability. Most of the wiring was ok. The instruments and stereo work. We did not try the TVs. The batteries will probably need to be replaced before commencing a long journey. They're already 4 years old and not well taken care of (surprise). There are THIRTEEN of them. Ten 6V golf cart batteries making the house bank, two engine starting batteries, and one genset battery. (Figure $1500 for batteries at some point). We couldn't get some of the overhead lights to work, either burnt bulbs or we didnt hit the right switches.

It took me several days to diagram Mandala's electrical circut. I would expect it to take me two weeks just to diagram the plumbing and electrical systems on Rhapsody, before deciding what, of many possible improvements to make. And although I had hoped to spend my money on more obvious improvements (which we'll still need, like a "full enclosure", dinghy, etc), these core systems should be in top notch order if you are seriously going to sail a boat. So they shall be.

Then, finally, at about 4:00 pm we hauled the boat out of the water. It's a big boat. Factory Specs say 32,000 lbs. The Travellift said 40,000 lbs! Must be all those batteries and full tanks of water. And yes, she has a 6' draft. Not 7'8", but a nice shallow 6' which should get us into some of the better spots (Mandala drew 6'6" by comparison). Not much noticable blistering. A few places should be sanded to primer, filled and repainted, but she's got a sound hull throughout with no delamination (George taps on it all over with a small hammer to check it). Rudder and bearing are in good shape. The self-feathering propeller is in good shape. However, the propeller shaft is pitted and needs to be replaced. The 1.5" shaft (about 6 feet long) and the cutlass bearing should be about $1500, installed at the haulout.

After that, as the sun was setting, Steve and I left George to finish up the general survey. He actually worked on it again the following morning, doing the deck and crew cabin portions of the survey while Steve and I rounded up Rigging and Engine Surveyors.

Engine Survey
Feb 28, 2007, 9:00 a.m.

We were provided with receipts showing that the previous owner had installed a complete remanufactured Perkins Longblock in 2002, and the engine looked great, but we wanted a qualified mechanic to have a look at it and tell us what he thought. The seller told us there were about 200 hours on the rebuild, but I estimate more like 600 hours based on what I know of his usage pattern. So Steve called Phil Jones, who is supposed to be San Diego's foremost Perkins Diesel Mechanic, to do a survey of the Engine.

Rhapsodys Engine

He went thru the expected steps of starting the motor up, checking the transmission in forward and reverse, and then examining the engine in some detail while listening to it for sounds that might indicate problems. He also checked the fuel, fuel filters, and cooling systems. He ran the motor up to max RPMs and listened to it. He shut it down, and started it two or three times.

His overall opinion was that the engine was just as it looked, a very recent factory rebuild, and that it was in very good shape and there was no reason to do more sophisticated tests (like compression tests, etc). He did point out that there had been a small leak from the water pump and recommended that we have the water pump re-sealed and/or rebuilt while at it, and that there was a very small leak around the transmission seal, but otherwise, the motor was in nearly show-room shape. He said that he rarely sees motors this nice since they never have problems, and that by and large we could expect years of trouble free service from it, and that it should take us anywhere we want to go.

So, it's nearly a brand new motor, and with only a small portion of it's expected 5000-10000 hour lifetime used up, it looks like it's good to go!

Rigging Survey
Feb 28, 2007, 1:00 p.m.

The final picture in the puzzle before signing off on the boat was to have Kasey Campbell, from Performance Rigging here in San Diego, come by and do a rigging survey.

He first inspected all of the standing rigging (the mast and the steel wires holding it up) using a wire brush to clean off all of the stainless steel connectors and the examine them minutely for cracks, corrosion, etc. He took his bosuns chair up to the very top of the mast and inspected everything up there, including the wiring for the lights and radar, as well.

At the time of the inspection, the biggest concern we had was that the mainsail was stuck inside the mast furler and we could not get it out. He said that the sails were old and that when they get old they get "puffy" and tend to "wrap" incorrectly, and that the mainsail was probably just wrapped wrong and can most likely be coaxed out of the mast by pulling on it and working it out. He said that the furler itself was ok, and not likely to be damaged, but that a new mainsail (or resewing the current sail to take out some of the puffiness) would go a long way to preventing the wrap from happening again. The sails need some minor repairs in addition (some fraying hems, etc), but overall he didn't seem very concerned about the sails as a problem tho, more of a regular maintenance issue. So we moved on.

Kasey only found one or two things that might require attention. He was most concerned with some hairline cracks in the port main shroud connector, that he described as "barely visible stress lines, not even really cracks yet", and suggested that we replace the connector and shroud at some point. He also pointed out some mast wiring that could cleaned up, and suggested that the easiest thing to do, overall, would be to have the mast stepped (taken off) and the rigging done when we have the boat hauled out for the bottom paint.

He also said we should add an 8" spacer to the top of the headstay to prevent the jib from getting a "halyard wrap". This is something that I can add myself, so it's not a big deal. Finally, he said that he wasn't thrilled with the kind of backstay insulator that was used for the SSB, but that was more a matter of personal preference than a real issue. The one that is there will work fine for our trip, but is not the best brand made.

Otherwise, apart from needing regular maintenance and lubrication, he felt that the running rigging (the ropes) was in good enough shape (with minor exceptions), and that the standing rigging could be easily brought up to off-shore standards.

So at this point I was satisfied that I understood the rigging issues, even if it wasn't all perfect, and so I felt like Rhapsody had "passed" the inspection to my satisfaction


Later that day, I signed off on the surveys and became committed to purchasing Rhapsody. When all is said and done, it may sound to the reader like I'm buying a bunch of problems. In reality, I feel that this is a really nice boat that has just not had the kind of care it should have, and that once I'm done with the myriad of projects, it will be transformed into one of the nicest yachts around, with lots of room to grow into, with the fullest array of reliable systems providing the most luxurious comfort all the while, and that she will sail as safely and nicely as one would expect from a flagship French yacht.

It is clear that this boat was not loved, but used rather hard. Yet she appears to be very well founded (the engine was recently rebuilt and looks clean) and full of top-quality features. With love and care (hard work and some bucks) I think this boat can become my "dream yacht" and take me anywhere we want to go, including places I havent even imagined yet! And it is truly large enough for friends and family to join up in complete comfort anywhere along the way.

After all, I already know that she has been sailed from France starting in 93', likely thru the Caribbean, to San Diego, where she then cruised the Mexican coast several seasons (she was on the ba-ha-ha roster in both 97 and 98, and went at least as far south as Ixtapa on one of these trips) with her second owner. The current seller Mark, the third owner, has apparently only used her for a few weeks a year making a specific trip about 300 miles south (600 mile round trip) and doing the least amount of maintenance possible while installing the most expensive equipment he could find. Strange but true.