Q: Why Survey?

A: A Marine Survey is similar to a Real Estate Inspection. Insurance companies and lenders require a thorough inspection of the dwelling prior to issuing a policy or granting a loan. Likewise, a comprehensive pre-purchase survey by a qualified professional is essential since no boat is perfect and completely free of flaws, regardless of the manufacturer. 

A Marine Survey is a process of discovery that helps educate the client as to exactly what he’s getting into and the financial considerations thereof, thus enabling him to render a more informed purchase decision. Remember, many owners are either unaware of the boat’s condition or are reluctant to fully disclose current or past problems. It is the surveyor’s primary function to inspect the vessel and render an independent, professional opinion on its current condition and value.

Q: What is a Pre-Purchase Survey?

A: Typically this is the most comprehensive type of survey inspection. Such a survey includes a non invasive, non destructive visual inspection of the vessels structural integrity and accessible components with the aid of sounding and probing of suspect laminates, die penetration of stress cracks (if requested), moisture meter testing, digital photography, and often digital video documentation. 

Where the integrity of the hull-to-deck join is in question, moderate water pressure is directed at the suspected areas. In addition, deck fittings, helm station, props, shafts, cutlass bearings, rudder, skeg, keel and ballast, through hull fittings, sea-valves, cockpit and superstructure components, deck-level spars and rigging*, in-bag sails, AC/DC electrical systems, propulsion systems**, drive train on exterior surfaces, fuel system, navigation and communication systems, machinery, plumbing, domestic service systems, accommodation and furnishings, safety equipment and cosmetic appearance are also carefully examined. 

*For safety and insurance purposes, a sailboat survey does not include an inspection of the rigging above 6 feet. The client is advised to seek a qualified rigging specialist and/or sail maker
**It is advised that comprehensive engine survey be conducted by a qualified specialist.

Q: What are the limitations of a pre-purchase survey?

A: A survey is not a guarantee of the boat’s current condition or an extended warranty against any breakdown in the future. It is an evaluation of the completed product and not an engineering evaluation of the vessels design, material specs, construction process, investigation into the vessel’s history of usage, damage, repairs or rebuilds. As mentioned above, a survey is a process of discovery; however, its scope is limited. It is based on what is possible to reveal without completely dismantling the vessel or otherwise causing structural or significant cosmetic damage. Materials commonly used in the vessel’s composite construction (plywood, glues, resins, metals, fasteners, reinforcements and other components) are subject to hidden deterioration and failure from causes that cannot be discovered by the techniques described above. Additionally, much of the vessels structure, (bulkheads, liners, stringers, frames, soles, wiring and plumbing, chain plates, etc.) as well as mechanical and electrical equipment is often encased by the manufacturer for safety, functional or cosmetic reasons. Therefore, the surveyor can prove the existence of defects, but cannot guarantee the absence thereof.

Q: What is an Insurance Survey?

A: Especially on older boats, such an inspection is commissioned so that the insurance underwriter can determine whether the vessel constitutes an acceptable risk. Their primary concerns are structural integrity, safety for it’s intended use, and fair market value.

Q: When do I need a Marine Appraisal Report?

A: A Marine Appraisal Report required to obtain financing, determine the selling price, estate settlements and donations.

Q: Can the Surveyor be retained as a Purchasing Agent?

A: As indicated above, the surveyor’s role is to render a professional and objective evaluation of the vessels current condition and market value. The surveyor does not make the purchasing decision for the client. He or she can, however, offer perspective on the deficiencies at hand and as they relate to other vessels in it’s price range, outline the possible consequences in his report and suggest qualified repair specialists.

Q: How should I prepare for a Marine Survey?

A: Adequate preparation of the vessel prior to survey saves time and additional expense. It should be clean and free of clutter, with all ships papers readily available and in proper order. Lockers, lazarettes, cabin areas, etc., should be cleared of any items not part of the sale. All cabinet’s, drawers and storage compartments should be free of non-essential gear as well. If a below waterline inspection is requested, haul-out should take place in advance and all marine growth should be removed via power-washing. This will provide the surveyor with the best possible conditions to adequately inspect propellers, trim-tabs, p-brackets, rudders, thru-hulls, transducers, galvanic isolators, look for osmotic blistering, and to completely sound out the hull. Additionally, if a sea trial is requested, arrangements should also be made prior to the surveyor’s arrival. 

Written authorization from the owner may be required to board and/or remove any part of the vessel.

Survey Process

Fee Schedule

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