A pre-purchase marine survey is an in depth examination of the vessel you wish to purchase. Usually, an offer is made and accepted on a boat subject to the “survey.” This is where you find out the exact condition and value of the vessel so you can make an educated decision on its purchase. All surveyors should conduct an extensive systems analysis of your boat. This necessitates ascending the mast and a visual inspection within all cabinets and access ports of the vessel. A thorough survey will evaluate the condition of the engine, wiring, plumbing, tanks, electronics, pumps, through-hulls, etc. In addition, it is important that you have your marine surveyor inspect the vessel out of the water to assess the condition of the boat’s wetted surface. A good yacht surveyor will supervise a thorough sea trial in order to examine the performance of the boat underway and then take oil samples once the engines have been properly loaded. You need to hire a conscientious surveyor who will take the time to fully investigate the vessel. Your safety and large amounts of money are at stake. Ask to see examples of your surveyor’s reports. You can download my sample reports on the next page.
An insurance or financing survey is usually required by your existing or potential insurance or financing company. It depends on the insurance company but usually every five years they will require you to submit an up-to-date survey on your vessel. Yes, this is an unwelcome expense but it is also an opportunity to have a professional spot potential problems on your boat. Don’t jump to hire the surveyor who is the cheapest in town. Even if you are the most meticulous of boat owners, a good surveyor will always catch something of potential concern on your vessel.
Normally, a surveyor will not go aloft to thoroughly examine your standing rigging. It is hard to find a boat surveyor who will ascend the mast, but it is a very good idea to have your entire rig surveyed especially if you frequently sail offshore or are setting off for an extended cruise. Your rigging should be inspected by an experienced rigging surveyor with a quality dye penetrant system to find even microscopic cracks in the rig and chainplates.
A consulting survey is a specialized inspection of a vessel with or without a report. Many times a potential buyer will find a listing for a vessel that is out of state or even in a different country from which they reside. In this case, a consultation survey may be the best option. A consulting survey can be preformed for a vessel at an hourly rate to establish if the vessel is in deed in the represented general condition reported by the seller or broker. In order to save the cost of a full Pre-Purchase survey, detailed photographs within an email with written descriptions of the general condition of the vessel will allow the potential buyer to know if this boat is worth pursuing. Generally, just two hours of inspection are needed to establish the general condition of vessel. Hourly rates are worked out on a case by case basis.
A pre-cruise survey is a great investment, not only in peace of mind but also in the enjoyment of your voyage. Even a seasoned cruiser will benefit from fresh, professional eyes examining the systems of the boat. If you are new to cruising, it is essential to have your boat thoroughly checked by an experienced cruising surveyor before going to sea.
You bought a new boat and they gave you a one-year hull warranty, pretty standard. Also pretty standard is all the problems that arise the month after the warranty expires. A warranty survey completed a month or two before your warranty expires will provide you with a list of work the manufacturer will legally need to perform at no cost to you. Often manufacturer flaws won’t show up until it’s too late. A timely vessel survey is prudent and in your interest.
The damage survey is usually required by an insurance company to assess the extent of the injury to the vessel. It is also the job of the damage surveyor to ascertain the reasonable cost of repairs. If you do not have insurance, it is a very good idea to hire a surveyor as a project manager to help you mitigate the repairs to your vessel. A good surveyor will know which repair facilities can be relied upon and insure you will pay a reasonable price.
There are several circumstances that require an appraisal of your vessel. A bank will require an appraisal to borrow against your assets; estate settlements need a current value assessment of boats. Non-profit organizations will provide an excellent tax write off for appraised vessels and many legal cases including divorce and bankruptcy will require a current appraisal.