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Boat Surveys

Before you purchase a boat you'll want to have it surveyed.

Unfortunately, you're the one who will have to pay for it. You may not think it's necessary. After you visually inspect the boat you may feel good about the vessel and believe it's a good buy. And the owner may not particularly want the survey. But if you plan to finance the boat and/or insure it, the lender and the insurer will demand it.

Even though the lender and the insurer are the two people who absolutely require it, the prospective buyer is the person who has to pay for the service.

Unless you're that unusual buyer who has extraordinary knowledge of the structure and systems of boats, you should get a survey performed by a qualified marine surveyor. The lender and insurer will require the survey is performed by a full time surveyor.

You should understand at the outset that a survey is not a guarantee of the boat's condition, or a warranty against its future breakdown, or of its performance. The work done for the normal boat purchase is called the "Standard Valuation Survey." It's done to meet minimum requirements to set a value of the boat. So you can't expect it to uncover every potential problem that may exist. The Standard Valuation Survey isn't designed to disassemble sections of the boat to perform a full thorough inspection. That can be done, but it's very expensive.

People usually get surveys for pre-purchase or appraisal. Although some people may think that there's a difference between the two, a good surveyor will perform the same thorough work on each type of appraisal.

What you usually won't get in a survey without extra cost:

  • Sea trials (involves extra time by surveyor)
  • Thorough engine inspection (the surveyor is not a mechanic)
  • Going aloft to survey mast and rigging (surveyor usually won't go aloft on subject boat's rigging-- he engages the services of a third party)

How expensive is the average survey? Surveys are priced per foot. They average 6--8 hours plus the writing of the report.


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