"Mid Size Power Boats" - Buyers' Guide by David Pascoe

Mochi 50

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Mochi Craft. Italy, 1988. Detroit Diesel 8V92TI @ 750 HP.
There are happy stories, and there are sad stories. This is a sad one, as most stories about a "good deal" are. In fact, we've heard quite a few sad stories about this builder from surveyor scuttlebut over the years, but its not our policy to spread rumors. Its an import boat, but we hadn't seen one up close. Now we've had the opportunity to see with our own eyes.

Its hard not to be taken by racy Mediterranean styling, designer labels, lots of polished stainless steel, lacquered cabinetry, burled walnut, leather upholstery and all the other glitz you find in yachts these days. You'll even find the designer's signature right on the face of the instrument panel here. And its also hard not to be captivated by a good deal, one where the price is 30 or 50% or so less than comparable models from domestic builders. This example is going to show you what can go so very wrong when you fall victim to vanity and price leaders.

Unfortunately, there is so much wrong with this boat that its hard to know where to begin. There's no point in telling what's right with this boat, since the negative outweighs it all.  Now on its tenth anniversary, this boat is an unmitigated disaster. Start with the fact that so much of what looks like molded fiberglass is really glass over wood. When you step into the cockpit from the starboard side, there is only one place to step, and that is on a cover panel for the sliding hatch to the aft cabin, which normally has a cushion on it. It is glass over wood, was badly rotted on the underside, and I was afraid my foot would go right through it. If you have to enter from port, your only choice is to walk on the seat cushions (Do you let your kids walk on the furniture at home?). The rear deck, an area about 8' x 10' is all upholstery which was water soaked and weighs a ton. Plus these cushions are raising up blisters all over the surface.

The next step is into the cockpit deck where it was the same thing all over again. The cockpit deck that looks like all fiberglass is really glass over plywood panels on a wood frame that, well, you guessed it.  It was all rotten. And to make matters worse, the deck was leaking badly, pouring water onto the engines and electrical apparatus below. More about that in a minute.

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Most of the structures you see here are glass or vinyl over wood.

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This instrument panel looks great . . . until you get some water on it. It is, after all, an open cockpit.

It was raining lightly, and near as I could tell, the exterior was just more or less straining the water as it poured through just about everywhere.  The number of leaks inside was appalling. Especially the aft cabin where much of the interior structure was rotten, including bulkheads, cabinetry, cabin soles, and on and on. Mostly all in places you couldn't see unless you know where to look. But the smell of rotting wood told you it was there somewhere. It was so bad that the furring strips holding the vinyl headliner were rotted and the headliner was falling down. There were mushrooms growing on the insides of cabinets; the odor of rot was awful, despite attempts to cover it up with deodorizers. The fact that they saved money on sump pumps by draining the two showers directly into the bilges didn't help matters any.

There were fewer leaks in the forward cabin, with most of these coming through the Italian style stanchion bases (shown below) which anyone can see are going to cause trouble because the bases are too small. Yep, there's so much leverage on those small bases that, like a can opener, they all prized holes in the deck where . . . . you guessed it .. . . . water is getting into the deck core. There is a huge crack spanning across the width of the foredeck. We couldn't determine what was happening there, but a big crack across the deck can't be good.  Then we looked up in the anchor locker and found fungus growing out of the underside of the deck. That  pretty much tells the story.

Both of the sliding cabin doors required nearly all my strength to open and close them. Most of the seating structures in the cockpit were also made of wood, upholstered in vinyl, and had already been replaced once. The present owner apparently got a good deal on the replacements because these weren't doing too well either. On a four-legged cabinet, they felt two legs were enough, so the thing had already gone cockeyed. This is usually the result of accepting the lowest estimate. Some people never learn.

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Electrical equipment mounted in an area that traps water. Notice that someone painted right down to the water, but didn't feel the need to do anything about this situation.

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The headliner in the aft cabin fell down, revealing the glass over wood construction. The discolored are is fungus growing, a condition found all over the interior.

The engine room? Granted, this engine room has not been well maintained, but its obvious from what we see down there that its not possible to keep it well maintained. The installation of the systems are just an awful mess. Clearly, there was no installation plan at all; they just put stuff in there wherever there happened to be space for it. There could not have been a wiring plan because the wires are strung everywhere.   Even an amateur could have done better. The plumbing is a mess, with a mish-mash of mismatched materials. It is completely unintelligible with hoses strung everywhere. It doesn't look like there are two hoses alike among the dozens of them strung helter-skelter. Basically the systems look like they're assembled from stuff obtained from a salvage yard.

There are no expansion joints in the exhaust system so the heavy hose and piping are breaking the two halves of the turbochargers apart, resulting heavy black exhaust soot damage throughout the engine room.  It would have looked like a coal bin, except that they tried to paint over the soot. And of course no one will ever get that stuff out of there. The rear of the engines were a ball of rust because the gutters around the engine hatches are wood and not properly constructed. Never mind that they are also rotted. Add to this the fact that they glued foam insulation all over the place, foam that is now aged and crumbing and falling all over everything, and what you have here is an engine room that looks more like that of a 50 year old tug boat. And with the cockpit deck pouring water all over everything, corrosion has taken a major toll on the engines and electrical components. It really couldn't be much worse if they had just taken the systems and thrown them in through the hatch, its that sloppy.

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Does this look like a professional installation? With systems installed like this, repairing anything becomes a costly nightmare. There are so many standards violations here we couldn't begin to count them all.

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The most important aspect of rail stanchion bases is that they must be stylish and look good. It is of no importance that they can-opener holes in the deck and ruin the boat's interior. Some extra caulking applied here didn't save the day, what with stanchions that still wiggle.

The electrical system is a veritable nightmare, as you can see in the photo above. You know, they have an electric code for homes that does not permit a builder to make a sloppy electrical installation. They don't permit the routing of wiring with water pipes, yet alone fuel or oil lines. They require conduits for exposed wiring. So why is it that when it comes to yachts, which go to sea (at least we've heard that they do)   builders feel that they can just string wires wherever they feel like? Never mind that boats slam off waves and all that stuff can get damaged as a result of high G forces. The wiring installation on this boat ranks among the worst I've ever seen on a production boat. Its so bad that there is no possibility of ever tracing out a circuit. So naturally, with such a bad system, as things went wrong, the only thing the owner could do was clip wires and string new ones. And it was obvious from the dozens of dead end wires and splices all over the place that a lot had gone wrong. A lot.

Another interesting feature was that the dual shore power receptacles are mounted on the angled face of the transom. What this means is that the shorepower receptacles, which angle upward,  trap water inside the connectors and short them out. That's probably why only one side of the dual leg shore system worked.

And the generator, well it was right under one of those nice cockpit deck leaks and was kaput.

We never got as far as a sea trial because the client rejected the boat before the survey was finished.

And the batteries? Well they just stuck 'em down there outboard of the engine with no boxes or covers, so the deck leaks water onto them also, and shorts them out across the terminals. What the heck, they're only $300 a pop.

There is a deck located outboard of, and below the tops of  the stringers that forms sort of a well. Pumps, motors and other electrical apparatus were mounted in this area. Problem is, there are no limber holes so that water leaking from the deck above filled up the well and submerged all this electrical equipment.  Including the autopilot drive motor.  Neat, huh?

Much of the interior hull was not accessible, but it could be seen that in many places interior grade plywood was used for framing. Yes, you heard right; plywood made with water soluable glue. In places where there were holes cut in the plywood, or the plywood was exposed, it was found it to be badly delaminated and/or rotting. In the aft section, a delaminated section of hull stringer was found. Oops again.

Ten years does not for an old boat make, but this one is already destined for the boneyard. What happens with boats like this is that people buy them because they get a good price on it, only to find that the thing eats them alive with never-ending problems. There's no way to straighten things out and do it right, because basically nothing is done right. The problems are endless. The only thing to do is to rip everything out and start over again. And so it goes into an accelerating downward spiral and becomes a black hole for dollars for everyone who owns it. By the time its 10 years old, its already had 4 or 5 owners, and all the haphazard repairs and all the jury-rigging that goes along with such a situation.

The Magnum 52 is a comparably sized and styled boat to this. It sells for at least double the price, new or used. Get the picture? You get what you pay for. Oh, I know, you think that for 250 grand you should be getting a lot for you money. Not so.

This is the true story of a good deal.

Post Script:

Many people get into boats like this thinking that it would make a fairly simple refurbishing project. The fact is, we never see anyone who tries something like this successfully complete the job. They underestimate the extent of the job, and when they start tearing things out, much to their chagrin they discover how truly massive and costly the project really is.  What happens is that every problem leads to the discovery of another problem, and the degree of difficulty snowballs to the point where the owner is financially overwhelmed. For anyone interested in a project, beware that you need to start with a well-designed and constructed boat in the first place. For the most part, boats that are built as shabbily as this one, it is not economically practical to attempt to correct all the problems.

David Pascoe Power Boat Books

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David Pascoe - Biography

David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.

Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:

In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from nearly 80 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.

In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.

On November 23rd, 2018, David Pascoe has passed away at age 71.

Biography - Long version

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Power Boat Books

Mid Size Power Boats Mid Size Power Boats
A Guide for Discriminating Buyers
Focuses exclusively cruiser class generally 30-55 feet
With discussions on the pros and cons of each type: Expresses, trawlers, motor yachts, multi purpose types, sportfishermen and sedan cruisers.
Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats
Selecting and Evaluating New and Used Boats
Dedicated for offshore outboard boats
A hard and realistic look at the marine market place and delves into issues of boat quality and durability that most other marine writers are unwilling to touch.
Surveying Fiberglass Powewr Boats
Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats
2nd Edition
The Art of Pre-Purchase Survey The very first of its kind, this book provides the essentials that every novice needs to know, as well as a wealth of esoteric details.
Marine Investigations
Pleasure crafts investigations to court testimony The first and only book of its kind on the subject of investigating pleasure craft casualties and other issues.
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Last reviewed February 6, 2020.