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Nut screws washers and bolts!

This was an actual headline in a well known UK newspaper.

With the appropriate punctuation it can be read in many different ways, and as it turned out the editor desk on that particular day missed the blunder and there-after it became printed history.

It is though a subject within a marine survey that becomes debatable. How in depth should a survey really go. If a simple punctuation mark can make the difference a missed corroded bolt could also be thought about in the same terms. It can make all the difference.

Of course it depends on the function of the bolt and its location. In reflection had the punctuation been placed incorrectly on publication the sentence takes on even more drama.

Nut screws washers, and bolts!

Fasteners of all types make up the fabric of a vessel. Depending on the age of the vessel all moving and non moving parts will eventually fail from the test of time and the salt water environment. I hear the smirk of the fresh water sailor from here, but even your metal bits will eventually rust.

The greater the importance it seems of the screw, washer or bolt, the more hidden the fastener becomes. This is the un-written rule of all boat manufacturers. As from a surveyors perspective does he or she has to point out every single one, or just the collective? Especially if the client is new to boating it could be quite daunting in a report all ready bristling with information.

However, the surveyor is tasked to report the facts. "Sir - you have surface corrosion on the deck fasteners" which is roughly translated into - "sir - there is a lot of rusty bits that need attention in different degrees of deterioration". But thats OK, as seasoned sailors expect that and further explanations are not always required. For the new buyer horrified just on the level of aesthetics it could prove to be the turn off and the end of purchase.

Its the unseen fastener that is always the worry. An area thats hard to access that typically has a function of importance. My general rule of thumb when approaching any vessel is every thing has a story to tell. So if one part is saying something obvious, there will be another part with a hidden tale.

The deck to hull joint on a mass production french yacht has a rather bad habit of shearing its screws from impact. I know this as a fact, but there will be no visual evidence to ratify my words, as the evidence hides below a teak toe rail, and the only test is to draw a screw from the deck.

Take heed of what your surveyor may mention, for the above issue of shearing screws (unless circumstance prevails for more in-depth scrutiny), will not appear in your report, as x-ray eyes are not standard issue nor are assumptions welcome in a report.

Lastly, I have hinted on the importance of not only checking the obvious, but the lesser prominent parts, you may come across some thing that looks like the photo. This example is a forestay chain plate which was on a charter vessel in use, having done multiple years of service and previous survey inspections. Always check nut, screws, washers and bolts!

Forestay chain plate  bolts corroded in the chain locker
Corroded chain plate bolts

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