Steering issues and marine surveyors…

It must be July, as once again we rebuild the steering. In truth, more like replace. This goes back to last summer when the helm pumps and ram were failing, which goes back to the previous fall when, prior to our ownership, a mechanic, while replacing the cutlass bearing, reinstalled the rudder with the tiller arm upside down. This was done after the initial survey and days before we picked up the boat to move her from Salem to East Dennis in horrendous November seas. This was reportedly inspected by Rob Scanlan, CMS/MMS Master Marine Surveyor, both before and after the initial survey, but was clearly overlooked.

This was just one of many issues, such as our well documented keel problem Rob Scanlan failed to note in his initial survey, as he was supposed to inspect the cutlass replacement and was reportedly present while the skeg was removed. I would like to note Mr. Scanlan NEVER sent me a final, complete survey following the sea-trial, even after numerous polite requests, all made prior to our realizing any of these overlooked issues. This oversight allowed the tiller to overswing the rudder stops, which in turn left the ram cylinder completely misaligned and allowed it to move far beyond the proper 30 degree angle, causing it to alternately bleed hydraulic fluid and draw air into the lines. This lack of hydraulic fluid contributed to the ultimate failure of both helm pumps, as well as the hydraulic fluid ‘burping’ from the upper helm destroying the mastic bedding on the bridge deck, which in turn caused leaking into the cabin and damage to the interior joinery. Needless to say, it was one very costly, and potentially critical oversights.

When I consider the conditions we travelled through with steadily failing steering, I realize we were fortunate things hadn’t turned out worse. Far worse. We hired Mr. Scanlan, a “Certified and Accredited Master Marine Surveyor”, as an agent to inspect the boat thoroughly, a boat many hours from our home, and we paid for a full survey, not just the ‘insurance’ survey, knowing we’d be travelling a good distance in an unfamiliar boat late in the fall as the weather went from bad to worse, only to find oversights such as this.  Mr. Scanlan’s site was filled with glowing praise and testimonials, and it seems oddly surprising that his survey missed a number of critical points. It is unfortunate that Rob Scanlan never returned my calls or sent me a final survey, and it is unfortunate that ultimately I’m left wondering whose interests he was serving; the buyer, who he may likely never meet again, or the yacht broker with whom I’m sure he’s had past dealings with and will likely see again through his career.

So back to the present, as in last weekend. Frank knew last year’s rebuild of the old pumps and ram cylinder weren’t permanent fixes, but they carried us through the summer while we waited for the new parts to arrive. Maybe we’d get another season out of them. Maybe not. The bridge helm was starting to act up, so we decided to be safe and swap it out for the new one. I suggested if we were going to open the lines, we might as well just do it all and leave the old parts packed as spares. Of course, there were the usual issues of one or another random bolts that needed replacement, which ate up hours of running around looking for the right hardware. By Sunday night all was installed and the bleeding had begun, but it’s likely there’s still a bit of air to clear out. A good day or two of chop should do that.

Update: I have since discovered  a discussion on the Wooden Boat forum where another dis-satisfied customer with a boatload of problems states “beware of a surveyor named Rob Scanlan…” and “if I ever do get the survey I paid $1500 for, I will show that to anyone who wants to see it.”

And this little tidbit recently came to my attention and I found it rather interesting. I’ll let the article speak for itself:

Massachusetts resident Rob Scanlan advertised himself as an accredited marine surveyor, using the acronym “AMS” to the chagrin of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS), which alleged it owned the certification mark “AMS.”Odd, that wasn’t on Rob Scanlan’s resume.

SAMS sued Scanlan in Florida and a U.S. District Court there found Scanlan in default. SAMS then tried to enforce the judgment in Massachusetts before Judge George A. O’Toole Jr.

O’Toole held SAMS failed to provide proof of proper service in the Florida action. On the merits, Scanlan counterclaimed to cancel the “AMS” mark. O’Toole granted SAMS summary judgment on that issue since Scanlan failed to prove “AMS” was generic. Soc’y of Accredited Marine Surveyors, Inc. v. Scanlan, 2005 WL 670541 (D. Mass. 2005).

2 responses to “Steering issues and marine surveyors…

  1. Rob Scanlan certified marine surveyor review: I also got scammed by marine surveyor Rob Scanlan (Scamlan) as well. He did a purchase survey on a mid 80’s trawler for me seeing I lived several hundred miles away. I knew the boat was going to need a bunch of work but asked just to make sure it was a good sound purchase with no major problems or previous glass repairs and sound engines. Preliminary Survey showed up 2 weeks after boat was surveyed and already purchased and delivered. He did tell me it was a very sound boat and to go ahead with the purchase. He never caught the 3 large fiberglass repairs, hull damage and missed a bunch of other stuff. 2 of the major glass repairs are top side so I am not to concerned but 1 is bottom side. I received the vessel in the evening and didn’t get back down to her for 2 days. As I was walking down the dock to the boat I noticed a bright glare along port side behind the bow facing windows and realized it had been poorly repaired and painted a totally bright white instead of the 80’s off white beige. Looks like spray paint with over spray and no line off any sort just sprayed it wherever. And when I went to board the boat I realized it had been repaired on the starboard side as well. Also hull repair along now water line. Looks like a pro did this one. As a certified surveyor how do you miss these and a bunch of rotted out wood? Any way thought I would share and feel free to contact me.
    Sincerely, John Schuld

  2. Totally unprofessional marine surveyor. We hired him to survey a sail boat in Boston, MA and once called him to check if survey was done, he accused us that we called him and said that “we hired another surveyor” which we didn’t do. I tried to explain and he hung up on me. Unreal!!! Don’t call him he takes wrong medications I guess, be careful!

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