Marine Surveyors - How to Choose

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Senior Member
Oct 6, 2007
Buying a used yacht/boat is always a stressful process with offers and counter-offers, sea trials, lien checks, documentation and insurance.* Once a potential boat is located, a marine survey is always recommended to make sure you are getting what you are paying for and there are no hidden surprises.

But anyone can hang his shingle out as a Marine Surveyor; there are no laws governing or restricting their operations. *So how do you choose a surveyor to check out your new boat?* Let me give you some pointers.

For starters, if you are dealing with a reputable Yacht Broker such as me, he will guide you through the process.* I know several marine surveyors that I will recommend as Ive had experience with them in the past and I know their capabilities.* I will not choose one for you however, as I dont want any suggestion of a conflict of interest.* The surveyor works for you!

There are several types of surveys but for you as a buyer, the Pre-Purchase Survey is the one you will want. It will be the most comprehensive type of inspection, and is usually requested by lenders and insurance companies when purchasing a used vessel. The yachts condition and overall operation of the vessel will be thoroughly examined. *The value of the yacht will also be estimated by the surveyor.

If your Yacht Broker gives you the names of surveyors, ask your Broker questions about the surveyor, then check them out yourself. Although not required, surveyors typically belong to one or more certification boards.* SAMS, the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors is probably the one used most often in the US.* SAMS provides training to surveyors and certifies them as to inspecting specific types of boats and yachts.

Step 1 - Go to the surveyors website if he/she has one.* Read what his/her qualifications are relative to your chosen vessel.

Step 2 - Contact the surveyor personally; ask him/her about his qualifications to survey your chosen boat; how many yachts like yours has he performed surveys upon?* Can he provide customer references?

Step 3 - Ask him how he conducts his survey.* For example, how does he evaluate deck moisture readings, how does he evaluate bonding systems, how does he evaluate hull hydrolysis, will he climb the sailboat mast to inspect rigging if you are buying a sailboat, how does he evaluate engine mechanical health, oil sampling perhaps?* Does he check the Hull ID to make sure the boat is not stolen; request that a rubbing be made to provide to the insurance carrier?* Ask how long the survey will take and how much it will cost; how long it will take to get the final report.* Will the report be handled electronically or by mail?* Ask enough questions to get a good feeling that the person you are hiring to evaluate your boat is competent and has your best interest in mind.

Surveys provide good information on the vessels' condition, but they are not total guarantees as to the complete condition of the vessel.* To perform such a survey would require disassembly of the boat and we know thats not practical. The surveyor reports the condition of accessible areas only as it exists at the time of inspection.
MT, I will tell ya one thing. I am immediately suspicious of a surveyor that is recommended by the listing broker. Brokers know who the Santa Claus surveyors are and you can also see the look of disdain on their face when you show up with the opposite of that.

Strangely, the surveyors that I have come to know and like are the ones that have done surveys on the boats that I AM SELLING. It is interesting to watch somebody comb over a boat that you know way better than they do to see if they find everything.
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