If you’re a boat owner, you’d already know the importance of boat surveys. The safety, value, and longevity of your boat depend quite considerably on how regularly and precisely your boat is surveyed and (based on survey findings) serviced. The value-add boat surveys bring will, of course, depend on the skill of the surveyor, which makes their role very critical, see Marine Surveyors Earn Their Fee. Those in-between times when you aren’t paying for a professional to survey your boat, you are your boats surveyor and inspector.

Although some long-time private owners know quite a lot about boats, most owner-operators are not familiar with all the technical nautical terminology. But how much do you really know? Enough to believe that you probably won’t need a surveyor to inspect your boat? Forgoing a survey could save you a few hundred or thousand dollars or it could ultimately cost you many times the price of a surveyor’s bill.

Used boat survey:  If you are buying a used boat, you can do it without a survey, but you’ll probably have a tough time arranging for finance and getting insurance without a survey report to produce. The last thing you want, after already paying the seller, is to have a surveyor inspect your boat for financing and insurance only to find out it won’t pass the survey. In other words, it wasn’t fit for purchase.

In reality, a vessel doesn’t actually “pass” or “fail” a survey. At the end of a survey, the surveyor usually provides the owner with a report containing his findings and recommendations (if any). Surveyors usually would not advise whether to buy the boat following their survey, rather their job is to simply provide an accurate and honest list of findings on the boat, which naturally helps you decide whether to make the purchase (or not).

Finding the right surveyor: When it comes to finding a good surveyor, reputation is key. The old-school, yet most effective way to find the best surveyor locally is to ask others for their honest recommendations. Avoid taking recommendations from yacht brokers or anyone else who may have a conflict of interest.

Surveyors are not approved or certified by the US Coast Guard. In the USA, marine surveyors are members of the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). NAMS and SAMS are recognized and respected marine surveyor professional associations that hold their members to a strict code of ethics. They also regulate the level of expertise among members, requiring recommendations from other surveyors before a new surveyor is accepted for membership. Moreover, marine surveyors require continuing education credits to maintain membership.

The cost of not having a survey done: Results of a surveyor’s report can lead you to buy or not buy the boat—either way, it can save you a lot more money than the cost of the survey. This is something a colleague of mine learned the hard way last year. He decided to hurriedly buy a used 40ft Sea Ray Freshwater Express Cruiser without having it surveyed. It seemed to be in great condition, and his idea was to refurbish the cosmetic bits and upgrade the upholstery to have it out in the water for the coming season. But what the surveyor he later hired brought to his attention left him with a terrible, sinking feeling!  Something terrible was hidden under those well-waxed gel coats. The boat seemed to have had suffered an impactful collusion. The hull and the deck had been repaired and forced together, leaving what he could see as a “clearly visible” gap between the hull and the deck that could easily get stressed and create leakage points. The boat has been lying on the dock ever since because to repair it, it would cost him about the same amount of money that he paid for buying the boat itself.

The case for new boat surveys: Most marine surveyors would recommend buyers get a new boat surveyed before signing the deal, and this recommendation is in good faith, not a ploy to mint money! Often, new boat surveys will reveal as many defects as used boat surveys. Surveyors can not only help new boat buyers establish a boat’s build-quality, they can also help buyers identify issues with the vessel so they can get them fixed before taking delivery to avoid warranty problems.

Surveying techniques: There is no doubt that a surveyor’s advice and recommendations can potentially save you a lot of time and money as well as spare you serious headaches in the future. Because the surveyor’s role is so critical, how the survey is performed makes a huge impact. So much depends on the surveyor’s tools, techniques and overall quality of service. To help surveyors produce more accurate and reliable surveys, technology is here to help!

An innovative surveying and yacht issues management software: VesselWise brings an innovative software tool to yacht surveyors in the form of an easy-to-use and powerful iPad App. Surveyors can quickly capture images and video clips of issues, provide their comments and recommendations and create concise, accurate survey reports. In addition to empowering surveyors, the application also allows yacht owners, captains, managers and dealers to more efficiently resolve warranty and service-related issues with their yachts.

You can learn more about VesselWise by visiting vesselwise.com. You can learn more about Prospus’ involvement in the VesselWise project by visiting prospus.com.