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markxwagner 11-08-2006 02:05 PM

questions about surveys
I'm hoping to learn a bit more about surveys. For example:

1. I assume that you get a written report. Does anyone have an example of one that I could actually read. I'm curious how much detail there is.

2. Does the surveyor actually suggest a value or is it simply "information" for you to consume.

3. If one were considering the purchase of a new boat (i.e. a boat that a dealer bought on spec as opposed to a boat that you had ordered) would you get a survey done?

Note that my main point of comparison is the report that most/all homeowners get when purchasing a house. In my experience they're only marginally useful but you sort of have to get one just in case they find something really important.

Also, what is the typical price one should expect to pay for a survey.


-- Mark

JakeLevi 11-08-2006 02:23 PM

Most insurance companys wont touch a boat without a survey. Likewise banks. Not sure on a new one, doubt I'll have that concern.

Surveys establish a lot of things, one of the main being seaworthiness, whether you can take her out with some assurance she'll bring you back, not something thats a concern with most houses.

Price is usually based on per foot. I've heard varying rates from different areas. Someone here might help you on that if they know what area that you live in.

Theres a couple good books on this,

Surveying Small Craft by Ian Nicolson

Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats by Henry Mustin

they give a lot of details on the process.

Gene T 11-08-2006 02:50 PM

A survey on a new boat is not a bad idea. It is a different kind of survey, however. Everything on a new boat is untested, from the manufacturer and the commissioner. Do the sinks drain, autopilot mounted correctly, gel-coat stained, wiring done correctly? There are more questions than I can write.

mike dryver 11-08-2006 03:25 PM

mark i had one done 2 yrs ago this month. if done correctly it will tell just about every detail as to construction, rig, mast, engine, shaft, strut if there is one, rudder, skeg, electrical, every thing that is on the boat should be checked, extras you name it. you should be there so the surveyor can talk to you and so you can see what he/she is doing. not to second guess them but if they were like our suveyor he explained alot about the construct details and what to watch out for later on. they earn their money if they are any good. my survey took 9 hrs for a 37' boat. i also had to set up a escrol account because we bought in late fall boat was hauled and engine could not be run and checked.
regards mike

camaraderie 11-08-2006 03:26 PM

Get the survey. We had close friends that accepted delivery of a quite expensive new boat without one and they had all kinds of problems which took 3 years and lots of lawyers to resolve. The survey would easily have discovered the issues and they would not have taken posession.
This link will give you a good idea of the detail in a survey and you can click on the rates link as well.
In my experience, most sailboat surveyors don't do a very good job on engine analysis and I would recommend a diesel guy also be brought in to check engine performance in an older boat. Some folks also do an oil analysis on older engines but I personally would only do this if the diesel guy suggested it.
Most insurance companies and loan companies will want to see a survey on any boat that is not a factory purchase.
Aside from new boats, I will also say that every survey I've had done over the years has saved me more $$ in purchase price than the cost of the survey.

Cruisingdad 11-08-2006 03:29 PM

The detail of the report depends on the surveyor. In general, they go through most of the systems on your boat, do a sounding on the hull, and basically give you as the buyer their opinion on the vessel and what issues you might see. Values are ALWAYS subjective, but it is typically a fair appraisal if you use a good surveyor.

Now, that being said, let me warn you on a couple of things:

1) Not all surveyors are created equal. I cannot emphasize this enough. Get a really good, reputable surveyor.

2) Almost all standard surveys do not include the engine. A basic run-through, yes. But the indepth is not part of a surveyors typical routine. You will need to pay for an engine survey that will likely be more than the rest of the boat survey, in my experience (if it is a good one).

3) There are no guarantees. Just because you had the survey done, it does not mean that 5 seconds after you sign the papers, the whole thing won't fall to pieces. Gweedo might be a solution for revenge, but I do not think there is a legal recourse... if I am not mistaken.

4) No, you typically do not have to get a survey on a new boat. I never have. You have warrantys through the manufacturer and distributer.

5) Yes, they charge by the foot with many having a minimum charge.

I am not a surveyor, but know a good one who is a very knowledgeable sailor. I have done a fair amount of sailing with him and would highly reccomend him, but he mostly works Florida & Texas. If you want to PM me, I can give you his name & number and if he cannot help you, maybe he can reccomend someone that can.

Hope that helps. Fair winds.

- CD

capt.stu 11-08-2006 03:31 PM

Yes, you should get a detailed written report covering what ever areas of the boat you want surveyed. Be specific when hireing the surveyor. Be there when he does the survey! Some guys don't like it, but if you watch what they do you will have more confidence in the job. Yes, a new boat can have problems from the factory. Get it checked over.

Cruisingdad 11-08-2006 03:38 PM

You know, to comment on the new boat part - ALL NEW BOATS HAVE PROBLEMS. Period. If a dealer is selling you a boat and told you you will not have problems, he is LYING!!! No way!!

Don't think that by buying a new boat you will be trouble-free like a car. It is not a car and it does not work that way. The deciding factor is the reputation of the manufacturer and especially the reputation OF THE DEALER: The dealer makes the difference. Better make sure they really stand behind their warranties becuase many just want to sell and dont want to really do the hard and heavy warranty work becuase there is little or no money in it (from what I have heard). Also, theoretically if you buy a Hunter or a Catalina or Bene, you can take it anywhere to get your warranty work done. I am pretty experienced here and I will tell you that other dealers are not always that interested in doing the warranty work on another dealers boat!!!! Again, it is NOT a car!

Little reality for ya,

- CD

primerate84 11-08-2006 04:00 PM

I just went through the survey process for a Catalina 30 that I bought. The price for the survey was $17 per foot or $510. It was an extensive survey, but as mentioned above, it did not include the engine. It does require you have the boat hauled out if it is currently in a slip and that is an additional charge. This enables the bottom, rudder, prop, cutless bearing, seacocks, etc to be inspected. My survey included many photos of each area and a recommendation summary for repairs. Fortunately for me, it did not uncover anything major and I was able to get insurance coverage. (My boat is an 1983.) Although, it seems to be an expensive proposition, it may save you significant money in the long run. Ans as was mentioned, you probably can not get insurance coverage without one, and therefore, you could not get a bank to finance you without a loss payee clause on your insurance. (Kind of a Catch-22.) If you would like to read my survey, e-mail me with your e-mail address and I'll forward a copy for your review. My e-mail is

Good luck.

T37Chef 11-08-2006 04:29 PM

"Most insurance companys wont touch a boat without a survey. Likewise banks. Not sure on a new one, doubt I'll have that concern." JakeLevi

I'm with you on that one Jake, I had to laugh at that comment. I'll never have to worry about anything to do with a new boat. Come to think of it I dont think I have ever met anyone whom purchased a brand new boat.

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