Ensuring a Quality Survey

The quality of marine surveys differs widely.  This is primarily due to the knowledge and experience of the surveyor.  To help ensure a high-quality survey, start by selecting an accredited surveyor.  The two major accrediting organizations in this country are the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS).  Captain DeRemer is an accredited member of SAMS, receiving his initial accreditation in 1998.  Both organizations have similar requirements for receiving accreditation; both require extensive experience in the field, passing a rigorous accreditation exam, and continuing education.  Their websites list surveyors by location.

Once you have identified possible surveyors, spend some time on the phone with them, discussing the survey, your experience, and the vessel being surveyed.  The right surveyor for you will be someone you feel you can trust to help you make some very important decisions.  He should also be a teacher and coach when appropriate.

Once you have selected a surveyor, you can help ensure you receive the very best survey possible.  Be sure there is a clear understanding of what you need from the survey and what the scope of the survey will be; what will, and what won’t be inspected.  Try to ensure the vessel is ready for survey; see “Preparation for Pre-purchase Survey” below.  The survey will include a dockside inspection and, if a pre-purchase survey, a bottom inspection and a sea trial.  A thorough pre-purchase survey inspection, of a typical 35-foot power or sail boat, will take most of a day.  After the inspection, a quality report, something more than a computer-generated checklist, takes time to write.  Keep this in mind if timing is tight.

We do all types of surveys; pre-purchase, insurance (C&V), and appraisals.  We also perform surveys in preparation for offshore cruising, for both power and sail.  We specialize in FRP (fiberglass) and wooden vessels, both power and sail.  We encourage the buyer/owner to attend the survey inspection and take the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the vessel.

We also perform damage surveys for owners or insurance carriers.  Once you have retained our services, we work only for you and report only to you.  We are working for you to protect your interests.

The types of surveys are described below.  The level of detail varies with the type of survey as described.

The Pre-purchase Survey

This is the most extensive inspection and is appropriate for the purchase of a new or used vessel.  The entire vessel, including hull, machinery, and equipment will be inspected.  Normally a sea trial will be conducted to evaluate the performance of all systems while underway.

The inspection will be primarily a visual inspection, aided by non-destructive and non-invasive tools, instruments, and procedures where appropriate.  Due to the nature and construction of the vessel, not all areas and equipment can be accessible for inspection.  The inspection will normally be conducted without removal of bulkheads, paneling, ceilings, or other portions of the vessel’s structure and without opening of propulsion machinery, auxiliaries, tanks, or fittings for internal examination.

The following areas will be inspected and evaluated with respect to condition, function, and compliance with regulatory requirements, voluntary industry standards, and generally accepted industry practices:

  • Hull exterior, bottom and underwater gear
  • Deck, deck structures and cockpit
  • Deck gear and equipment
  • Helm and steering system
  • Spars and rigging (where appropriate) inspected from deck level only
  • Sails, sail covers, and canvas (where appropriate)
  • Interior structure
  • Accommodation spaces and amenities
  • Galley
  • Heads and sanitary system
  • Freshwater system
  • Communication and navigation electronics
  • Electrical systems
  • Propulsion and auxiliary machinery
  • Fuel system
  • Safety, fire and USCG equipment requirements
  • Additional gear and equipment

Additional services, such as inspection for offshore sailing, or inspection of the sailing rig from aloft, are available by prior arrangements.

A summary statement of overall condition of the vessel will be given, as well as an estimate of the fair market value and replacement cost.

Preparation for Pre-purchase Survey

It is in everyone’s best interest to have the vessel clean and orderly, with batteries charged, water tanks filled and all systems operational.  This will result in a more thorough survey inspection.  The vessel’s papers and all other pertinent information should be onboard for the inspection.  Any of the vessel’s systems that are winterized (toilets, engine, freshwater system, etc.) cannot be operationally tested unless you make arrangements to have the systems commissioned for testing, and re-winterized, if appropriate, at the end of the inspection.

See an example of a Pre-purchase Survey Report for a fiberglass motor vessel.

Insurance Survey

This is sometimes called a Condition & Value Survey (C&V) and is often required by insurance carriers to insure, or continue to insure, an older vessel.  This survey focuses on the structural integrity and safety of the vessel for its intended use and provides a fair market value of the vessel.  An insurance survey usually does not require the operation of any gear or equipment; a sea trial is usually not required and the survey can usually be accomplished without a haul-out.  Check with your insurance carrier to find out what they require for your insurance survey.

See an example of an Insurance Survey Report for a fiberglass sailboat.

Appraisal Inspection

An appraisal is performed to determine the fair market value of a vessel; usually required for donations, estate settlement or financing.  If donating a vessel and taking a tax write-off, be sure you have the proper IRS form for the surveyor to complete at the time of the inspection.

Offshore Cruising Survey

The requirements for structure and equipment, for both power and sail, are significantly more stringent for offshore cruising than for inshore.  The vessel structure must be capable of handling just about anything the weather throws its way.  And the vessel must be outfitted to survive equipment failures and still remain functional.  The typical inshore sail or power vessel will require extensive additional outfitting, and sometimes structural modification, to be safe offshore.  Your insurance carrier may require an offshore survey before extending your coverage beyond nearshore.

We base our offshore inspections on the guidelines published by the International Sailing Federation, US Sailing, Cruising Club of America, International Organization of Standardization (ISO), as well as the extensive offshore experience of our team of surveyors and captains