Re: What to expect from a survey
Generally a good surveyor will inspect structural details, look for evidence of leaks (both hull related and deck/portlight related), evidence of good care and maintenance, visual/cursory inspection of deck level rigging, inventory of required equipment, esp safety compliance issues (fire extinguishers up to date and present, etc.). They will recommend priority items to be addressed/repaired and often 'nice to do' but not urgent items too. You'll get a written report, nowadays with photos. This report will be used by you to evaluate the deal and possibly renegotiate based on flaws/issues found, it will also be needed by any financing institution and insurance provider.
It's very important to be present and you'll glean a lot of info as the survey progresses. Try to book a seatrial on the same day and take the surveyor along.. If the surveyor doesn't want you there, look for another one. Few surveyors will actually, properly inspect rigging or machinery like engines and generators. Many buyers commission such inspections by separate experts.
Expect to pay between $10-20 per foot OAL.. with probably 10-12 the average. Tough to say if you'll get a 'better' survey from a more expensive one.. try to get some recommendations from locals (not the seller's broker)
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"