Pricing is an issue that I should address up front. I bill all of my work at an hourly rate that is competitive for my profession and the metro Boston area. While I believe that there is a limit for what "the market will bear" with minor, uncomplicated jobs, I am hesitant to offer flat rate plans for inspections. It just seems to be an approach that ultimately affects the report. Good work takes time and costs money. In the end, I'd like to think that the long term benefit of quality products offer the best value for any educated consumer. I wish I could be more specific, but since I've never had any complaints, I've left it at that. Drop me a line and I'd be happy to pass along client references if you'd like an idea of my track record and billing practice.

If you'd like to know more specifics about my background and qualifications, please contact me for a copy of my CV and samples of my work product.



 

 

 

 

Failure Analysis is at the heart of any technical approach to damage appraisal. It's all in the details, and that's where I'm at my best. Whether it's metal, wood, or composites, there are common approaches to determining where the failure initiated, how it spread, and when it may have started. Specific knowledge of materials and failure modes helps piece the puzzle together to construct an accurate and defensible cause of loss. ^ Back to Top

 

 

Upper row This series shows a failed crankshaft from a Yanmar diesel. The fracture surface shows classic progression marks typical of fatigue. The initiation site is at a minor defect at the surface of the part in the journal fillet (4:30 in the detail).
Lower Left This is an example of electrochemical deterioration of wood. Note that the stuffing box is bonded with copper wire. Cathodic protection of the bronze part forms hydroxl ions on the surrounding wood. This in turn creates a concentration of sodium hydroxide, a caustic alkali, that attacks the wood.
Left middle The short breaks in the wood fibers are caused by loading in compression. This is a directional clue in how the part was overloaded when it failed.
Left The outer fiberglass skin of this hull has delaminated due to shear failure of the Coremat under the surface. This could indicate significant hidden damage.

^ Back to Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Investigation poses one of the greatest challenges in claims investigation. The scene is always a mess, much of the vital evidence is incinerated, and whatever useful information that is left must be sifted out from under mounds of debris. Yet, there's usually a lot of money riding on the line. It's not unusual to spend several days digging through muck in order to find one vital clue that is the answer to the mystery. I work in conjunction with Certified Fire Investigators as the scene is delayered in order to reconstruct the accident. Often times, the CFI may not have the specific marine background to work through the incident and vessel systems alone. This is why the team approach builds the most accurate picture of what really happened. ^ Back to Top

 

 

 

Far Left This was a controlled burn at an IAAI meeting on Cape Cod in 2004. Aside from being just plain cool, the exercise was very helpful in showing how the combustion was retarded until there was a significant introduction of oxygen when the portholes blew out.
Left These two sets of cords explain millions of dollars of damage in a marina fire. Note that the two cords on the left have matching burn marks- damage that occured simultaneously. However, the cord at the lower right shows no signs of melting that coincides with the two melted connectors in the cord above it. This is a sign that
the boat had an overload incident prior to this fire.
Below This is the sad sight at Crosby's Yacht Yard the day after a devastating fire.

Accident Investigation often involves significant property damage as well as the potential for serious personal injury. Obviously, this translates to huge amounts of money staked to determine liability for the loss. However, reconstructing the events is not that easy. The saying that best sums it up is, "there are no skid marks at sea." Proper investigation requires specific knowledge of the physics involved in how boats react in an accident as well as the ability to recognize and record critical evidence that narrows down relative speed and vessel orientation at time of impact. These cases can be made or broken based on the interpretation of minor gouges and paint transfer. ^ Back to Top

The series above is an example of a case that was thought to be "open and shut" based on witness statements, yet the evidence did not support the allegations. The plaintiffs had made the case that this boat had been traveling at slow speed when struck head on by another boat. A closer look shows that the foredeck is only collapsed on the outboard side of the tear- a head on ramp over would have left evidence on both sides of the tear. At the same time, the impact mark from the other boat's outdrive on the starboard midship (third photo) could not have been caused in a head on collision. In reality, this was a crossing situation- and the defendant's boat had the right of way. The witness evidence on the plaintiff's boat demonstrates that it was traveling at significant speed. The last photo shows that the boat's electronic speed gauge is frozen at 33mph. The case didn't turn out to be nearly as simple as it first appeared- and there is significant shared liability for the cause of the accident. ^ Back to Top

 

Salvage is one of those assignments that requires a drop everything commitment to get on scene, assess the situation, allocate resources, and mitigate the problem. The circumstances naturally involve heightened liability risk- be it the potential for an environmental spill, property damage, or personal injury during any salvage attempt. Handling the situation properly involves not only broad experience in how to extract boats from non boating settings, but also how to juggle all the personalities at the scene. My experience as a member of the Boat/US hurricane catastrophe team has taught me a whole new set of "coping skills." ^ Back to Top

Far Left Plucking a sailboat from behind a sand dune with a Sikorsky chopper in Mattapoisett, MA after Hurricane Bob in 1991. Airlifts require expert rigging and can be very high risk.
Middle A crane barge pick after a fall Noreaster.
Left Skidding a house boat out of a snake infested swamp on the Pungo Creek in North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd in 1998.
Above This 42' offshore spotfisherman sank after the swim platform support tore out of the transom- the laminate wasn't even 3/8" thick!^ Back to Top

 

 

Left An eviscerated Pearson 35 on its way to the last boatyard in the sky. There are times when the "extent of damage" portion of the assignment is very, very easy. Above left The surveyor as a young man at Black Point Marina in Homestead, FL after Hurricane Andrew 1992. Above right A tranquil scene after Hurricane Eduard stirred up all the scallops in Nantucket Harbor . Right Colleague, mentor, confidant and former boss Dan Rutherford marking the "Big Red X" on a submerged Aquasport just outside Beaufort, NC after Hurricane Floyd. ^ Back to Top

 

Litigation support seems to be a larger part of my business in recent years. I don't know if there is any social significance in this or if I'm just one of the guys they call when the going gets sticky. I try to prepare every report with the mind that it could be called in discovery by opposing counsel. While I enjoy working as part of a team for attornies, I realize that we have distinct goals that may not always coincide. Although I fully expect an attorney to be an advocate for their client, the same is not true for an expert. If I'm to maintain any shred of integrity, I've got to be an advocate for the facts themselves. I know, it sounds pretty naive, huh? It's not to be taken for granted, though. "Expert" opinions aren't worth much if there's no substance backing them up. If my review of the evidence turns up some serious liability for my client- I feel it's my duty to point the land mines out immediately. No one likes surprises, least of all in court. If you have a case that looks like it could get messy- give me a call to see if it's in my realm of expertise. ^ Back to Top

 

 

Reporting is really where the rubber meets the road in this business. The surveyor is not hired merely to identify damage- he/she's hired to find it and to communicate these findings to the client. Years of experience mean nothing if you can't write well. I pride myself in providing an articulate product that presents technical information in a clear and concise format. My reports are fully illustrated with diagrams, speadsheets, and any other tools that help illuminate the discussion. Naturally, detailed photographs of evidence are critical in supporting arguments. I'm confident that my skills in forensic macro photography are amongst the best in the industry. The ultimate test is what will happen when your report is put in the hands of opposing counsel. This doesn't mean that the report summary should be vague enough to afford a convenient switch of opinion mid stream. I believe that if experts have opinions, they should have the backbone to state it and stand behind it. I can't guarantee that my conclusion will be what my client wants to hear, but it will be the truth, supported by facts, to the best of my ability. ^ Back to Top

 


Damage Claim Investigation is the bread and butter of this business. Working your way through the claim to determine Cause, Nature, and Extent of Damage can require finesse and forethought to predict potential problems or complexities with the handling of the claim. The job requires a lot more than simply looking at damage and passing along repair estimates. It's my job to act as the eyes and ears in the field for company adjustors so they can make informed decisions for final claims settlement. Although it may not be my job to interpret policy language- I better well know it and be aware of issues such as liability, comparative negligence, and subrogation. ^ Back to Top

 

Fraud and Theft has been a growth segment in the marine industry for some time now. Until the formation of the International Association of Marine Investigators, there was no organized means of training law enforcement or private investigators how to catch up to the bad guys. As long as there is money involved, there will be some people who want to steal it. A forensic approach to identifying and documenting evidence is the best way of proving criminal intent. ^ Back to Top

Left The far left photo shows what appears to be a conventional impact to the nose of an outdrive from striking a submerged object. However, the middle photo clearly lacks the "entrance and exit" paint scrapes that are typical in an impact. The last photo shows the paint cracks highlighted with fingerprint powder. The hemispherical cracks indicate that the case was struck perpendicular to the centerline. A boat travelling 20mph would strike an object at over 29 feet per second. This demands that any strike must show evidence of a glancing blow.The evidence proved that the owner punched a hole in the outdrive case with a tool to mask an internal mechanical failure.
Below The owner claimed that he struck something while out fishing, which resulted in the boat being holed and sunk. [note- the bow of the boat is facing to the left in these pictures]. A detailed view of the gouge (middle)from the first picture shows hemispherical fractures from right to left. These stress fractures indicate that the gouge was made from the stern to the bow, so could not have be made while the boat was moving forward. Additional evidence proved that the damage could not have been accidental. The last picture shows fragments of paper towel stuffed in the crack. The owner punctured the hull when the boat sat on its trailer, stuffed the hole with paper towel, then launched the boat and drove it out to where he scuttled it. The case was dismissed with extreme prejudice- chalk one up for the good guys. ^ Back to Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Services | Privacy Policy | Contact | ©2005 Jonathan K. Klopman Marine Surveyor