The first impression anyone has of a boat is the exterior cosmetics. There are many reasons for purchasing a boat – one being the beautiful lines. From a distance almost all boats are beautiful. As you begin to approach the boat you notice the difference between a well-maintained boat and an average or neglected boat. What should you look at when judging the cosmetics on a boat?
Gelcoat has a useful life. This lifespan can be maximized by proper care. Boats that have been protected by wax and indoor / covered storage during lay up will have better gelcoat, more shine and better “curb appeal.” Some boats with dull, lack-luster gelcoat can be revived through compounding and polishing with the proper equipment, materials and technique. As a last resort, a boat can be Awlgripped to bring back a high shine with little future maintenance requirements.
Lots of teak appeals to some, those with the traditional boat in mind, others would prefer less maintenance. You should decide whether you are prepared to spend either lots of time or lots of money to maintain varnish before choosing a boat. On many Grand Banks they have eliminated the teak rails in favor of stainless. On newer models you will find less “nuisance trim” which has been replaced with plastic-type materials which require no maintenance. When inspecting a boat, look at the condition of the varnished wood. Yellow spots are signs of water penetration and the release of the bond between the teak and the varnish. When you find a lot of water damage you will need to consider the cost of stripping and bringing the varnish back to “Bristol Fashion.” If you find the perfect boat but are not satisfied with the teak trim, much of it can be replaced with other materials by a yard. This investment can be recouped after a few seasons of savings on the varnish bill. One desirable feature is canvas covers for the handrails and caprails. These will keep varnish bills at bay and pay for themselves over time.
On a Grand Banks you can expect to repaint the windows on a somewhat regular basis. Look to see if the paint is separating at the joint between the frame and the cabinside. This is the point where water can enter and start the paint lifting. Also check the window tracks and interior. The window tracks have a drain hole. If this gets plugged, water can overflow the track to the interior. This can be seen as water damage under the windows in the cabin. While you are checking this, be sure the windows open and close easily. We have found many boats with less that optimal sliding windows just need a little “tweaking.”
One of the most important exterior inspections you can make are the teak decks. Replacing teak decks is very expensive. Decks should be smooth with all rubber between the planks firmly attached. First look at the teak itself. Decks which have been cleaned with harsh acids and two-part cleaners or with brushes that are too stiff will not be flat. Cleaning decks with these chemicals actually drives out the soft wood and leaves the grain, creating a rough surface. Next inspect the rubber between the planks. The rubber should be level with the surface and not “proud” as in the picture to the right. If you see gaps between the rubber and the wood, water can enter and travel beneath the deck. It will find a place to escape – unfortunately, it will be somewhere you don’t want water to be. Also look for missing or loose plugs. Once again, water will enter at these holes. The thicker the deck, the more successful repairs will be. If the decks have been sanded a couple of times, it will be more difficult to perform successful repairs.
As a rule, canvas is an optional item based on personal preference. If there is canvas, make sure that it is serviceable. Look for loose fasteners both in the canvas and on attachment points. If the boat has an enclosure check the condition of the Isinglass (clear plastic). If this is not stored properly or has been cleaned with the wrong chemicals, the glass will need to be replaced. Less canvas is desirable if you wish to change the appearance of the boat because you will not be paying for something you will be discarding. Changing the color of the canvas lends your personal touch and can dramatically change the appearance. The addition of window covers as in the picture at the top of the page can help protect the interior of your boat from UV rays.
Does the boats exterior appeal to you after close inspection? Does the equipment such as windlasses, boom hoists, wipers, exterior showers, etc. work as planned. Is there enough locker space for the gear you will be carrying? If there seems to be a lot of cosmetic upgrading, you can tackle it one project at a time to bring the boat up to the level you would expect it to be. We can help you prioritize upgrades to make sure that the most important items are taken care of.
OYA T&T Suggested Exterior Enhancements:
- Textaline Window Covers
- Electric Boom Hoist
- Rail Covers