“Hey, Dave, I finished Whisper’s survey yesterday. Did you notice the rudder?” Well, of course I noticed the rudder. I won’t claim to have a surveyor’s eye, but I know enough to make sure the rudder turns smoothly and the bearings are tight.

“Yes, Shawn, I checked the bearings, looked fine to me.”

“Did you notice the crack on the trailing edge?”

“Say what????”

“The broker didn’t notice it either.”

There had to be an explanation. Neither the broker nor I were such novices that we wouldn’t notice a split rudder! The answer turned out to be rather simple. RCR Yachts in Buffalo has a neat arrangement to show used boats. Two 40 foot shipping containers had a deck built over them and boats are backed up to the containers as if they were in a Mediterranean mooring. Accessing the boats is easier, no ladders to climb and buyers can have a “dockside view” of the boat. Good marketing.

Since Whisper was backed up to the container the view of the rudder’s trailing edge was blocked. On closer inspection I found that the entire trailing edge was not split, just the lower half; starting just below where I had grabbed the rudder to check the bearing. This is why we pay surveyors.

The rudder suffered from a common ailment, water intruding through the joint between the rudderstock and the rudder. Water leaks in, freezes, thaws, and eventually the seam splits. Be there, done that, on Identity Crisis. The cure is relatively simple, especially on a freshwater boat; dry the rudder out, fix the split seam, seal the rudderstock joint. Since Whisper had been on the hard for two years and it was likely that the rudder split the first winter, it was already dry. And during the repair this was confirmed. Not a big deal, maybe.

As the story is told, in 1997 a Sabre 362 that had “seen hard service” had a rudder stock failure. A Coast Guard recall was issued in October 1997 and a year later Sabre reported that all rudders had been replaced, or had they?

The purchase offer required an acceptable survey. Save for the rudder surprise and a known keel issue, the survey was acceptable, a few problems, not unknown on older boats and none worthy of a deal breaker. Deal still in play.

The backstory on the rudder recall, at least according to members of the Sabre listserv, saltwater had leaked into the rudder, crevice corrosion set in and the rudder failed during an offshore race. The fix was a carbon fiber stock with a stainless steel sleeve. Sabre confirmed that Whisper’s rudder had been replaced.

Score two for purchasing a Sabre: customer support for a 20 year-old boat and an active user group of some 800 members.

Back to the negotiating table we went. Emails flew for a week or so. How to affect the repairs? Who to complete the repairs? And most important, who was to pay for them.

The seller paid, the yard repaired. Deal on!

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