What is a marine survey?
A marine survey, in its simplest form, is
an appraisal similar to that performed on real estate or
other items. The survey normally provides a complete report
on the subject vessel, and references complete identification
of the boat (including year, make, model, hull identification
numbers, engine information and so on). The report also
gives detailed information about the vessel including description
of the superstructure, fittings and equipment, electronics
and safety equipment, galley (if applicable), engines, electrical
system, fire fighting equipment, and fuel systems.
An engine survey is a separate report that
specifically reviews the boat's power and analyzes such
areas as general detailed description, filters (fuel and
oil), fuel and oil lines, exhausts systems, cooling systems,
fresh and raw water systems, emergency stop and alarm systems
and transmission data. This report should also include compression
testing and oil analysis.
What should I expect in a marine survey
You are hiring the marine surveyor for his
or her objective opinion of the condition of the boat and
its value. You may not agree with their final findings in
either regard, but you have benefited from their professional
The marine surveyor you hire should complete
a thorough visual inspection of the boat you intend to purchase.
Some nondestructive testing such as sounding the laminate
with a hammer, or testing with a moisture meter may be included.
You should have the bottom inspected, so if the boat is
in the water, you will need to arrange for it to be hauled
at the time of survey. You may request engine testing and
sea trials; these services may command additional fees.
The survey report will cover the areas inspected and include
recommendations regarding problem areas. It will also include
a current market value and/or replacement value estimate.
You should be aware of the guidelines a marine
surveyor uses for his comparisons, such as: "The mandatory
standards promulgated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG),
under the authority of Title 46 United States Code (USC);
Title 33 and Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR),
and the Voluntary Standards and Recommended Practices developed
by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and the National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have been used as guidelines
in the conducting of this survey. "
This tells you the exact information the
marine surveyor used as a baseline for his comments and
recommendations. Also be sure you understand how the marine
surveyor determined the market value and/or replacement
value for the boat and what those values mean.
Do I really need a marine survey?
If you are intending to invest several thousand
of your hard-earned dollars in purchasing a boat, a marine
survey may be the least expensive and most valuable tool
you have to assist you in that purchase. A boat operator
who knows the condition of his vessel is better prepared
to handle adversity than one who isn't. The marine surveyor
you hire to inspect the boat should have the knowledge and
expertise to determine if it has been properly maintained
and in safe condition. A prudent buyer should make his final
acceptance of the boat subject to the findings of a marine
Should all pre-owned boats have a
From a boat owner's point of view, you should
assess the risk of operating the vessel by having the boat
surveyed to determine its general health and that of the
operating systems, as well as fair market and/or replacement
values. Most marine insurance companies and marine lenders
will require a survey be reviewed and accepted (based on
the surveyor, the findings in the report, and associated
risks) prior to approval of the insurance or loan request.
How do I find a marine surveyor?
Ask for a referral from your marine dealer
or broker, your insurance agent, your marine lender, other
boaters, and do your diligence to ascertain you are hiring
the right surveyor for your situation. In the recreational
boating community a marine surveyor's services are sought
out to provide you with a comfort level about the safety
and value of the boat being purchased.