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Inspecting a Used Dolphin for Sale  

Your webmaster has had many inquiries from prospective Dolphin buyers regarding what to look for when looking at a Dolphin. It seemed that a checklist would be useful so one has been developed. A lot of the following is basically common sense, personal experience based on restoring 2 Dolphins, and input from many owners restoring their Dolphin.

Keep in mind that there are basically 4 builders about which we have some information Marscot/O'Day, Lunn, Yankee Yachts and Pacific Dolphin. Marscot and O'Day boats are built to S&S design # 1497 issued April 19, 1959, and are similar but different. Yankee and Pacific built boats are built to S&S's updated design #1497.2 issued in 1966. The principle changes to all but the early Yankees were:

1) lower displacement -196 lbs 2) higher ballast +210 lbs 3) double lower shrouds 4) a higher efficiency rudder, standard power a transom well outboard instead of an inboard.. At some point, after its early boats, Yankee went to an internal ballast system with the keel encased in fiberglass, and Pacific Dolphin, which used the same tooling and molds as Yankee, had the same system. Marscot/O'Day and Lunn boats had bolt on lead keels.

Important parts were not standard - centerboards (cut bronze, fiberglass wrapped steel, stainless steel), rudders (aluminum. fiberglass wrapped wood or foam) and spars - both wood and aluminum ( heavier/lighter wall thicknesses, different sections, screwed on tracks, molded track grooves). Interiors were not standard - especially with the Marscot/O'Day and Lunn built boats, many of which were supplied as stripped out shells with the owners building out the interiors. Except for early Yankees, most Yankees and Pacific built boats are similar, although some visible, and not so visible, changes were made.

All hulls are fiberglass but some Marscot/O'Day boats and some early Yankees had wood decks, houses and cockpits. Most Marscot/O'Day boats had wood combings as did some Yankees, Later O'Day's, most Yankees and all? Pacifics had fiberglass combings. Marscot/O'Day boats had single lower shrouds (although the original S&S design shows double lowers) but some owners added a second set of lowers, and/or a baby stay. Except for the very first Yankees, all Yankees and Pacific built boats have double lowers.

Many, if not most Marscot/O'Day built boats had Palmer 27 inboards although some were ordered or retrofitted by owners with outboard transom wells; several have been converted to outboards on a bracket off the transom. Most Yankee and Pacific boats were built with transom wells, although some were built as inboards, or later converted to inboards.

So, this is an effort at a 'standardized' checklist (not a qualified surveyor's checklist), for what is obviously not a standard boat. They all have that same, highly efficient underbody, and that sweet sheer line which is why we have them. These questions and their answers should not necessarily be interpreted as negative because most everything can be fixed. The sum of the answers should give a buyer some idea of what's ahead, and what a particular boat may be worth to him, or her. 

> what is the hull number, builder, year built? Does it have a name? Any history? Get pictures.

> hull painted?, or original gel coat? any evidence of large blisters, filled or not below waterline; barrier coated?

> cracks, gaps at keel/hull joint on Marscot/O’Day and Lunns; stress cracks in fiberglass along turn of bilge in Yankees/Pacifics.

> check out the sheer clamp - deck to hull joint (particularly Marscot/O'Day and Lunn boats), chainplate attachment points; also lifeline stanchion and deck fitting backing plates - look for punky wood

> check for soft decks, particularly Lunn built boats, and any wood deck boats

> has the boat been 'under water? or had water above the cockpit sole? look for heavy mold/mildew under sole, soft and/or delaminating sole

> if there is a support strut under the mast, or a bulkhead support under the mast, check support pad under sole (if possible to see through access hatch in sole)

> Look for corrosion at bottom of mast, boom gooseneck area, spreader bracket area; gooseneck fittings and boom slide track, if any. Bent boom? corrosion around vang fitting and end fittings?

> check for discoloration at ss shroud wire; discoloration at terminals: sharp wire points on shroud wire

> Look for 'dents' in keel leading edge area, under keel; repair evidence on bow near waterline

> does rudder shaft moves freely, not wobbly, corrosion at rudder strap or heel fitting. Any cracks in the rudder and its seams, or along its attachment surfaces to the rudder shaft"

> check 'composite' centerboards for delamination. Check ss wire and centerboard pennant fitting - corrosion/broken wire

> Punky wood in combings, especially at cabin juncture and/or in winch pads, also in the companion way step on bridge deck; toe rail; in and around the top, sides and bottom of main bulkhead

> condition of hatches, main hatch tracks, washboards, fittings

> check fiberglass tabbing of main bulkhead to hull; stress cracks and/or corrosion at bottom of mast strut, or under mast step - on top of house and inside

> integrity of lazerette bulkhead in transom well boats

> condition of portlights (cracked, crazed, cloudy) and frames, leaking?

> condition of winches (slipping, worn cogs?), turning blocks, bow and stern chocks

> power - does the engine run? When did it run last? Can you test run it now? heavy rust? condition of shaft, cutless bearing and prop; condition of mounting rails/beds; type of fuel tank - fiberglass? integrity of fuel lines and fuel fittings

> electrics - battery, panel and wiring condition; interior and running lights

> below waterline seacocks - cockpit drains and hoses, water, head and cooling water intakes - look for corrosion and structural integrity of installation of fittings.

> sails - often these are old and perhaps in marginal condition. However, if you have at least a main and jib you can go sailing without putting out $2-3K just to push off from the dock. And after you get the boat you will likely have a few months of work to do - time to educate yourself on what you may really want in new sails.

> accessories - radios, book hook, flag staff, spinnaker pole, fenders, sheets and halyards, anchors, anchor line and rode, dock lines, dodgers, fire extinguishers, winch handles, blocks, etc. Taken together they add up to $$$. You can buy new or find stuff on line or in a used marine parts store - shopping can be fun - but its better to have this stuff in the boat when you buy it.

> Trailer - a decent one can sell for more than the boat you are looking at. If the boat is sitting on a serviceable one you can get her home and get to work... Having one is a big plus

We will add to this list as necessary, and as input comes in. Everything, practically, can be fixed - just $$$ and time. At the end you want a boat that both looks good and performs well, and the satisfaction of bringing her back to life..

In weak moments remember these words from the top designer of the middle 50 years of the last century, and then from arguably the most successful designer of the last 35 years:

Olin Stephens

..we have always thought of the Dolphin as one of our best designs…”

Rod Johnstone

"...she is a beautiful boat .... "







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