Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Marine Surveyor?

A Marine Surveyor is defined as:
“A person who uses their skills and experience, (based on established competence of ships, boats, cargoes and the sea) to look at and report on the factual condition of any ships, boats, cargoes or thing appertaining to ships, boats, cargoes and their respective environments” (International Institute of Marine Surveying) ”

When do I need a Marine Surveyor?

A marine surveyor is highly recommended if you are considering buying a new boat. The surveyor will give you an objective, factual opinion of the condition of the boat. It is not unusual for a client to save the cost of the survey many times over when negotiating the price based on the survey report.
A survey is also required for insurance purposes.

Who pays for the survey?

In a typical sailboat purchase, the buyer of the boat pays for the survey.

Who does the surveyor work for and who gets the report?

The marine surveyor “works for” the individual or business entity hiring him. That individual or business entity which commissioned the marine survey will receive the surveyor’s report. Marine surveyors will not provide the survey or share any survey results with anyone other than the individual who hired him, unless instructed to do so by that person.

Should the buyer be present during a pre-purchase survey?

While a survey can be performed without the buyer being present, it can be helpful for the buyer to be there during the survey itself. The surveyor may be able to point out certain items and explain their meaning more easily while on the boat itself. Surveyors may also make comments or observations that aren’t significant enough to be included in the final report, but which may add to the buyer’s understanding of the boat’s condition. The buyer also has an opportunity to ask the surveyor questions and ask for clarification of the surveyor’s comments.

How long does a marine survey usually take?

The survey itself can generally be completed in a few hours to a full day. The surveyor may need several days after the physical survey to complete his written report. The larger the boat and the more systems it has, the longer the survey and report will take. Your surveyor can give you a more precise estimate of his schedule and time frame.

Who else should be present for the survey?

The owner of the boat, an authorized representative, or a qualified captain should be present to operate the boat and its systems. The surveyor must be able to focus his attention on inspecting and evaluating, not on operating unfamiliar equipment. The owner or his representative should stay out of the survey process except to operate the boat and its equipment as needed.

Should the boat be afloat or ashore for the survey?

Ideally, the surveyor should get to inspect the boat when it is ashore, to get moisture readings from the hull and to examine all the fittings below the waterline. However, surveyors also like to have an opportunity to evaluate the boat while it is operating in the water, particularly to evaluate the functioning of the engine and the running rigging of a sailboat. Most marine surveyors consider a survey incomplete if they are unable to evaluate the boat both in and out of the water.

Who pays for the haulout fee?

The buyer of the boat (the person who is commissioning the survey) is responsible for all costs associated with the survey, including the haulout fee.

What should be done to make sure the boat is ready for surveying?

If the boat has been winterized, or is in storage at a marina or at the broker’s yard, the seller or the broker should re-commission the boat as would be done at the beginning of the boating season. Gear stowed elsewhere should be returned to the boat. Batteries should be charged. Water and fuel tanks should be filled. The engine and generator should be started and tested. In general, the boat should be made ready for taking out on the water as if for a day sail. These preparations are not the surveyor’s responsibility, and should be completed prior to his arrival at the boat. See our preparation checklist for more details.

How are the rigging and sails surveyed?

All surveyors visually inspect the rigging from deck level. Since most of the moving parts and the most corrosive effects of salt water occur at this level, the most serious problems are likely to be observable during this inspection. If the surveyor is required to go aloft, there will be an additional charge. The mast can be unstepped to allow for a more complete and thorough inspection without the surveyor going aloft, but this is rarely done.

Sails will be inspected as part of the pre-purchase/condition survey. Bagged headsails can be removed from the bag. If an in-water survey is conducted, the surveyor can inspect a mainsail and a roller-furling jib when they are set out for sailing. For racing or cruising sailboats with many different expensive sails, the sails can be inspected separately in a sail loft.

Can a boat be purchased without a marine survey?

If the buyer doesn’t plan to finance or insure the boat, the decision to engage a marine surveyor is entirely up to the buyer. A survey is generally required when financing the boat’s purchase, or to insure the boat. A survey is strongly recommended for older boats and boats with multiple complex systems, such as plumbing, electrical systems, generators, and other systems. The newer the boat, and the smaller and less complex it is, the less a survey is needed.

Is a marine survey needed for the purchase of a new boat?

Buyers who commission the construction of a custom boat often retain a professional marine surveyor to monitor the construction process and provide professional insight into the quality of the construction procedures and their compliance with recommended and required guidelines and regulations. Less commonly, buyers may hire a surveyor to perform a survey prior to closing on the boat purchase — but since any defects in the boat will generally be covered under the new boat warranty, and there’s no possibility of damage from previous usage, buyers are far less concerned with surveying a new sailboat and generally forego the expense. Some boat owners, who buy a new boat like to use their new boat for a season, then have it professionally surveyed before the warranty expires.