A Ranger 23' could be a nice little pocket cruiser for you. We regularly race with one in our Tartan 27' (both have PHRF of 240) and the Ranger 23' impresses me (by beating us fairly regularly).
An Associate Surveyor is just someone who is a more recent member of SAMS or NAMS that does not have the time on the job or educational credits for full membership.
The bottom line here is that YOU should go look at the boat yourself before calling a marine surveyor of any stripe. If, after looking at it you still want to buy it then it is time to think about getting a survey done.
$1500 sounds like a fair price but perhaps a little cheap. Does it have a working outboard? Cradle or trailer?
Perhaps the SA will give you a break on the price of the survey. You never know until you ask nicely. I think the last survey we had done on our T 27' cost around $400 - 450 and since the price is (or should be be the foot) your boat should cost less to survey.
You should use a surveyor to inspect the things you do not know how to inspect yourself. You don't say what year this Ranger 23' is from but given the relative age of that model I would be concerned about the chain plates, mast step and rudder fittings.
It is a nice boat if it was well cared for.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen
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