Wooden Boat Survey

Out of all craft the wooden boat is the most elaborately built, most complex and requires special background knowledge of the surveyor who carries out a wooden boat survey. Building a wooden boat has many steps, from selecting the timber to preventing and curing rot.

wooden boat survey

1. Assessing the Timber for Wooden Boats

Wood is a highly “oriented1” material. With other words, wood’s properties along and across the grain are very different. A piece of wood, very suitable to bear highest of load along the grain can be easily cracked across the grain. Timber is produced from many kinds of trees. Every kind of tree provides timber of different properties. Some are stronger than the others, some are rot resistant, some have straight grain, some are knotty, some provide “crooks” as required for knees, floors, breasthooks etc. Some timber is excellent but costs dearly. Some timber is chosen due to aesthetic preferences. Furthermore, even the same species can show varieties. Anatolian oak is vastly different from, say, Swedish oak. Some timber is available as naturally grown, a style superior to the plantation grown variant of the same timber.

2. Has the Timber been treated properly?

Timber becomes only suitable for boatbuilding after it has been “seasoned”. Seasoning is a time consuming and critical process. If it is rushed, it will do more harm than good. If it is not done properly the timber will remain instable for all times.

3. Shaping, joining and fastening of Members

Good wooden craft have been built with suitable timber for every member. However, even the best of timber will not perform if not shaped, joined and fastened properly. Firstly, the design of each member makes a significant difference between a good boat and those which will cause continuous headache. In particular end grain, which remains exposed to drip and moisture is avoided in a good design. Then there is a variety of ways of joining timber. Proper joining is labour intensive and results in wastage. Quality fasteners are expensive and hard to get by.

4. Surveying the Coating

Wood has to be coated carefully and knowingly. Either one keeps timber fresh and “breathing” or one encapsulates the seasoned and shaped timber and avoids ingress of moisture. Both ways have their advantages and are acceptable to avoid or slow own decay.

5. Decay

The foremost disadvantage of wood is that it is welcome nutrition to many organisms. Timber softenes, rots, is attacked by marine borers, termites and other organisms, which can and eventually will compromise the timber’s structural properties if not checked in time. The above headings are a small selection of reasons, why surveying wooden craft is particularly challenging.

6. Wooden Boat Survey

We at marineSOLUTIONS® have a historic relation with all kinds of wooden boats. When assessing such craft we address, among others, the following questions:

  • Are the design details of the vessel adequate to the purpose? Are there fresh water pockets? Unventilated volumes?
  • Are the timber’s species, quality, and treatment suitable for the requirement?
  • Has the timber been shaped, joined and fastened properly?
  • Has the timber been coated adequately? Is the coating still serving its purpose?
  • Is there decay? Has there been decay in the past? If so, can it be treated?
  • Last, not least, we are knowledgeable about the nomenclature of wooden boats. This makes our reports readable for people of the trade.

Wooden boats are great. If you have in mind to buy a particular one, let us help you to decide, whether she is sound and “well found”, or whether she has the potential to ruin your pleasure. Alternatively, if you are experiencing problems with a particular wooden craft, be it due to maintenance issues or be it due to damages, please contact us for a wooden boat survey in order to tap into our expertise.

Yusuf Civelekoglu

Cert. Marine Investigator

1 Anisotropic

Wooden Vessel Sample Survey Report