Of  Boats and Mice

 As we know, not all boats are created equal. Many small runabouts and ski boats have wood decks covered with carpet. Almost anyone would think the manufacturer would use a good quality waterproof plywood in this type of structure, especially as exposure to the elements, insects, and small animals is imminent.

I received a call for an insurance survey and the new owner said he just needed a short form as his new acquisition, although a few years old, was like new, and it had been kept in a garage for the past two years. I arrived at the boat in the company of the new owner and found, from all outward appearances, what looked like a new boat. The new owner mentioned he paid top dollar for it because of its great condition. He also mentioned there was a minor soft spot in the deck right near the engine cover. By the way, an insurance survey is just as thorough as a pre-purchase survey, so this fellow could have saved a lot of heartache by calling for the survey before he made this purchase. As usual I checked out the outside, bottom, and various attachments before climbing aboard. Everything did seem fine from the outside. When I stepped onto the deck my foot penetrated the deck and carpet, all the way to the hull below. What a surprise. Now this fellow tells me that he never actually got into the boat before right now, what a surprise. What we found during the next half hour was truly amazing. The deck material was the original particle board covered with regular carpet. As I had already made a hole in the deck I began my inspection at that hole. There was very little particle board left and most of the stringers and frames were gone. What could have been the cause? The new owner said letís pull up the carpet and see what we can find. After removing quite a bit of the carpet and what was left of the deck we found the residential dwellings of several mouse families. I thought I could hear some squeaking and other scurrying about when I stepped through the deck, but I never imagined such a large number of mice in one place. Further inspection indicated that the mice had, for sure, been living in, and dining on this boat for the past couple of years. The owner said there was no use in me finishing the job. He paid me and off I went. I felt bad for the guy. He called me a few weeks later with another survey opportunity. This one turned out o.k.. He tells me the seller of his other boat moved to Florida and refuses to answer his mail. Gee, I canít imagine that.

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