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10 Things a Marine Surveyor Wants You to Know : 2019

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Buying a boat can be a significant investment, sometimes second only to your home. For this reason, getting a Condition and Valuation Survey before purchasing really makes sense. If you are financing your purchase, it might even be a requirement. But, do you know what to expect during a survey and how to prepare for it? These tips will help make your next Condition and Valuation Survey a breeze.

Know What Kind of Boat You Want

A surveyor can tell you many things about a boat, but the one thing they can't do is say if this is the right boat for you. If you are not sure about the type of boat you want - power or sailboat, for example - then having other crafts surveyed will be a waste of time and resources.

Instead, do your research, work with a good Buyer's broker and shop around for some models. Once you have it narrowed down to only one and have that boat in contract, then get the surveyor involved.

You should also take a little time to research which surveyor to hire. Understanding the different surveyors in the area will help you select the right surveyor for your needs.

What Types of Surveys are there?

There are three types of surveys:

  1. Condition and Valuation (also called Marine Survey), which could be in-the-water or both in and out of the water.
  2. Mechanical (also called Engine Survey)
  3. Rig Survey (only for sailboats).

Your insurance company usually requires an out of the water survey, which inspects the bottom of the boat and running gear, as well as the interior and exterior of the boat. The mechanical and rig survey are not required, but are highly recommended


The Condition and Valuation survey will include an inspection of all systems onboard to be sure they are functioning properly. The surveyors will inspect the hull to check for soundness and water intrusion, running gear, electronics, electrical system, plumbing, heat and air conditioning and all other items of the boat. They will do a cursory review of the engine and mechanical systems.

The Mechanical survey will take an in-depth look at the engine, generator and other mechanical systems. Although the surveyor will not get into the interior of the engine, they will take oil samples for evaluation. Oil samples are an important tool to understand the interior condition of the engine.

The Rig survey should be performed by an experienced rigger to inspect the entire rig, including mast, standing rigging, running rigging, sails and the structurally integrity of the entire rig.

Talk to a Broker talking with someone with experience goes a long way.

The Survey Has a Limited Lifetime

A boat survey should be considered a snapshot in time, good for only the day that it is done. Weather, water excursions, and even dry dock damage can change the condition of a boat.

You should never rely on an old survey to accurately represent the condition of a boat, and you certainly shouldn't expect a financing company to do so either.


Stay Out of the Way

Believe it or not, most surveyors actually like it when their client is present at the survey. They can answer the client's questions, and even point out findings and discuss issues that are outside of the final report.

But, as convenient as that is, be sure to give the surveyor room to work. The last thing you'll want to do is slow down the surveyor by hovering too close. You need the surveyor to see everything, so don't be an unnecessary distraction.

The Surveyor Only Works for You

When you get a boat surveyed, that surveyor works only for you. You will be the one paying the bill, so this makes perfect sense. But that also means that any findings or reports will come only to you. If you want the surveyor to share his information with a broker acting as your agent, you will have to instruct him to do so.

Don't Let the Price Lead Your Judgment

You'll want to pick a surveyor that you think will do an accurate survey for a reasonable price. Shopping around for a bargain can lead to inaccurate findings and potentially big problems after the purchase. The survey is the single best tool you have to make a wise financial boat decision, so make sure you have the surveyor doing the job.

Expect to pay for the survey on the day that it takes place. This makes sure that you receive the report in a timely fashion, and the surveyor will appreciate it. Make sure that the price is agreed upon prior to the day of the inspection, and don’t try to negotiate once on site.

Also, remember that whether you buy the boat or not, the surveyor stills needs to be paid for services rendered. You can expect most pre-purchase surveys to run about $18 to $24 per foot.

Talk to the Surveyor

Surveyors spend most of their time on, under, or around boats so they may use a lot of terms unfamiliar to many potential boat owners. Don't hesitate to contact them if you have questions before or after the survey.

If this is your first boat survey, let the surveyor know. They will be able to explain the process to you, making it a smooth transaction for all parties involved.

Build a Relationship with the Surveyor

Every time you ask someone to survey a boat, you are asking them to put their reputation on the line over the quality of the vessel in question. In return, treat the surveyor with respect and understand that they may be an independent shop that wants your future business.

For the surveyor, their business is founded on relationships. If there is a problem with the survey, don't hesitate to bring it up. By the same token, if a surveyor does an excellent job, be sure to recommend them to any friends or associates needing a survey done.

Buying a boat can be a gateway to fantastic adventures with family and friends. While the process can be overwhelming at times, a quality broker can make the experience a painless one. Contact us to see how we can help put you in the Captain's seat of your dream boat.


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