Professional Marine Surveys Buy Peace Of Mind

Professional Marine Surveys Buy Peace Of Mind

By HMY   May 2, 2016

If you are looking for guidance in selecting a marine surveyor, contact us today.


Conducting a marine survey is one of the most important factors in the equation of buying a yacht. To ensure that you are making the most intelligent decision when it comes to this incredibly exciting investment, you must first conduct a careful, thorough inspection. Not all serious problems are obvious, which is why hiring a professional surveyor is simply a must. You’ll learn what will be necessary to maintain the vessel in the future and keep your family and your investment safe.


What To Expect From A Marine Survey

Marine surveys apply a three-part process which consists of an in-water inspection, haul-out to inspect the hull and running gear, and a sea trial. The sea trial is a time where the performance of the vessel and its engines will be put to the test but also when many major operational systems are simultaneously observed and verified. Testing of steering, controls, shaft alignment, engine mounts and exhaust systems as well as electronics will take place during the demo. The sea trial will offer an opportunity to feel the performance and confirm that you’re purchasing the right boat for you. It is recommended that you schedule an entire day for the survey regardless of the size of the vessel. The time involved is generally influenced by the yacht’s condition rather than size or age although you should expect the survey of a larger yacht to take multiple days. Don’t try to rush the process. The weather is always a contributing factor and be aware that there are instances where the vessel inspection and sea-trial must take place on different days due to scheduling variables. An inspection can involve many people besides the surveyor: owner and/or owner’s representative, brokers, prospective buyer, buyer’s family members, even friends.

Your surveyor will arrive with a comprehensive checklist, as well as an array of unusual tools, including a spike, pocketknife, small rubber or plastic hammer, mirror and torch. Most surveyors will start with the hull exterior, checking for cosmetic damage and previous repairs, which will require additional inspection inside. Using the hammer, the surveyor will “sound” the hull by tapping it and listening to the tone, this is known as percussion testing. On both wood and fiberglass hulls, problematic sections of material will produce a distinctly different sound that can signal dry rot, de-lamination, or water absorption. Wooden hulls, in particular, will get the spike or knife applied to areas where dry rot is suspected. Some surveyors will inspect the external condition and appearance of the engine and stern gear, but it is not a condition report. Loose wires, bad hoses or belts and other external items will be noted, but a smart buyer should separately hire an engine surveyor to perform an oil analysis and check the actual internal condition of the engine.

Upon completion of the survey, your surveyor will be able to give you a verbal recap and possibly a walk through. Before making any final decisions it is advised that you wait until you reviewed the full-written report which is typically turned around within 2-4 days. The report will contain recommendations which will detail everything he feels is necessary to ensure the yacht is in its ideal condition. These items should be ranked by importance and given a completion timeframe. Two distinct values will be assigned to the vessel: market and replacement. The market value is based on the condition of the yacht and the prices asked and paid for similar ships. The market value should be fairly similar to the price you are going to pay for the boat, and it should be adjusted to reflect needed repairs itemized in the survey. Replacement value is less of a useful number since it indicates the estimated cost to build the identical boat at today’s prices. To remain neutral your surveyor won’t tell you to buy or not buy the boat … that remains to your discretion. His job is simply to provide you with an expert analysis of the boat’s condition and with report in-hand you’ll have to be the judge for yourself.


Marine Survey Haul Out

Hault-out portion of a marine survey


The Importance Of Choosing A Good Surveyor

Protecting your interests is a main priority when making any significant purchase and as a prospective yacht buyer, it is up to you to hire the best surveyor possible. A good surveyor will be meticulous and spend hours observing and testing all major systems, electronics, galley equipment, and other items important to the function and fit of your future yacht. All marine surveyors have different backgrounds so keep that in mind as you look for one that matches with your yacht and needs. Typically, a good surveyor is going to be familiar with most models and be able to advise you on the long term suitability of your intended purchase an its equipment in relation to how and where you will be using it. A survey is of course the best tool for price negotiation which is one more reason why you need to get a marine surveyor who truly knows his stuff. The most important tools that a surveyor possesses actually have nothing to do with his many surveying instruments, but rather lie in his knowledge, experience and scrutiny. The more educated, experienced, and detail oriented your surveyor is, the higher caliber work you can expect.

There is no licensing program in this profession so it is recommended that you find a surveyor who is a member of Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors or the National Association of Marine Surveyors. Each of these organizations attempts to regulate the level of expertise among its members, who themselves have various qualifying criteria and require recommendations from other surveyors before they are accepted for membership. Both have strong bylaws and a strong code of ethics. That code includes a surveyor’s duty to be professionally competent, to honestly present all relevant facts to the client and to avoid conflicts of interest. Your yacht broker can serve as a great referral source for a reputable surveyor but the choice should remain your own. Have your yacht broker send you a list of qualified surveyors, then go through an interview process.

The marine surveyor you hire is ultimately the one who will give you peace of mind in knowing whether or not your potential new vessel is in shipshape and more importantly if it’s safe for use. Selecting a qualified and reputable professional surveyor will result in a higher level of confidence when it comes time to decide if the yacht is truly the right one for you.


 If you are looking for guidance in selecting a marine surveyor, contact us today

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