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castoff 01-25-2007 11:52 AM

Survey questions
Is it better to do a survey when the boat is on the dry or when its in the water.

Is it a good idea to have a seperate engine survey (the boat is a 1985 with original engine, unknown hours).

With a boat intended for use offshore do I need to find a surveyor who has special qualifications.

What happens if a surveyor misses something important.

Are there different levels of survey?

sailingdog 01-25-2007 11:59 AM

There are different levels of surveys... there is an insurance survey, which is generally less comprehensive than a buyer's survey. Not all surveyors do insurance level surveys...and if you're buying, you wouldn't want one anyways.

Yes, it is a good idea to get a separate engine survey.

Whether it is better to do a dry or wet survey is a crapshoot. Some things are better seen with the boat in the water, others with the boat out of the water. For instance, checking out the rudder, keel and hull condition is far easier with the boat out of the water... but checking the packing gland and thru-hulls for leaks is easier to do in the water.... and so on...

I am not a marine surveyor, and will let those who are answer you more in depth... Hey CardiacPaul... n00b has questions for ya.

Cruisingdad 01-25-2007 12:10 PM

I am not a surveyor. Cardiac Paul and some others are pros at this, but let me ansewr your questions here, yielding to any professional advice:

1) Always pull the boat on a survey. You need to sound the hull and see what you have under the waterline. I would venture to say, percentage wise, this is the MOST important piece of a survey.

2) Engine survey. Many people choose to do without a seperate engine survey. I think this is a mistake. A good boat surveyor is typically NOT a good engine surveyor. He may be able to tell you basics of whther your engine is headed for a rebuild... but not the depth a true mechanic engine surveyor would (and I cannot overstate this enough). On a boat that old, give about 12-15 k for a new block, I would get a sepearte engine survey unless the value of the boat did not warrant the 1000-2000 extra.

3) Offshore surveyor. You need to find a good surveyor that is very knowledgeable on boats. If they have done surveys of your specific make/model, that is even better. Really good surveyors stay booked solid and will tear a boat apart. That is what you want. You need someone that is VERY skilled on large sailboat surveys. As far as the offshore piece of it... nah, just follow the advice above. Most surveyors are not previous career circumnavigaors... they are just damned detail oriented and KNOW THEIR BOATS!!

4) Missing something important? Well, that possibility is always there, even with the best surveyor. Can you sue them? Maybe. Would you get anything? I doubt it. You are paying them for an opinion, not a omnisicent knowledge of your exact boat. That is why it is important to get a good surveyor... even if you have to wait and pay more.

5) We already discussed the engine aspect, which is seperate. A survey is a survey... and that is a FULL, in depth, survey from top to bottom. Do it, do it right, do it right the first time.

- CD

camaraderie 01-25-2007 01:04 PM

A good question to ask if your boat is fairly common is "Are you familiar with this model boat....Have you surveyed one before?"
Most surveyors contracts preclude any responsibility for missing anything in their survey. That said...I had one refund my survey cost after missing an important flaw. My experience says that in most larger boats...a surveyor WILL miss some stuff regardless of how competent. As long as they don't miss IMPORTANT stuff...that is OK....they are human and bots are complicated.
A boat on dry land FOR A WHILE is better for a survey with regard to measuring moisture levels in the hull. You still need to do a sea trial AFTER the survey so the in water stuff can be checked.

PBzeer 01-25-2007 01:09 PM

Just to add to CD's comments. A good survey includes a haulout (at your cost) and a sea trial. The sea trial should be as rigorous as possible and all systems should be checked for how they work underway. By all means do an engine survey if you intend to be out of sight of land. It also wouldn't hurt, given your intentions, to have the rigging gone over by a compentant rigger. Money spent at the start is wiser than money spent later.

Faster 01-25-2007 01:29 PM

Here's the typical survey scenario in my experience:

Surveyor arrives, the boat is afloat and a general inspection of rigging, deck and interior is undertaken. At some point the boat is lifted .(Often a lower priced "half-lift" over the yard's lunch hour with the boat left in the slings)
The surveyor then inspects below-water issues, prop/shaft/strut, keel attachment, blisters etc. and sounds the hull for delam and problems. A pressure wash at this time can be useful, allowing a better look at everything. If things are looking promising this is a good time to change zincs too.
The boat is then refloated and the survey completed. All in all typically this should take 4-5 hours (for a typical 30-ish footer), plus the time required to generate the report.

An engine survey can and should take place in the water so that the engine and gear can be run and tested.

With the advent of digital photos, survey reports can be very specific and detailed. While content is key, these days you do receive a nice-looking report.

Do try to be present - a lot of questions will be answered and you will get personal impressions that may not be evident in the report itself.

sailingdog 01-25-2007 03:02 PM

Yes, you definitely want to be present for the survey if at all possible.

Also, it wouldn't hurt to read up how to inspect a sailboat—Don Casey has a section on doing this in several of his books, and IIRC has a book specifically about this. That will give you an idea of what you're looking for, what you're looking at, and what the surveyor might have missed. Also, gives you an idea of what questions you might want to ask specifically.

One other thing is you might want to look at the boat model you're interested in buying in the Practical Sailor Boat Buying Guide. It has owner reviews and also mentions the known weak points and what to look out for specifically for different boats. Many boats have known issues that need to be looked at.

Pamlicotraveler 01-25-2007 03:23 PM


Originally Posted by castoff
What happens if a surveyor misses something important.

I think what is most helpful on a survey is a good surveyor who will feel comfortable giving you honest opinions on the boat. I suppose technically they may be liable if they miss something major, but I think that's one reason for a lot of CYA boilerplate in boat surveys anyway. I would get the best surveyor you can find and then live with the results.

TrueBlue 01-25-2007 03:27 PM

The Friday before our scheduled Monday morning survey, we had the boatyard schedule the boat for the last haul of the day - a shorthaul, left on slings. This enabled the hull to dry out for at least two days. Not ideal for moisture meter readings, since it takes weeks for a hull to fully dry out, but certainly better than an hours time "during lunch".

As it turned out, they put in on stands & blocks, charging us only for a shorthaul. This was even better for our surveyor to reach areas otherwise covered by slings.

cardiacpaul 01-25-2007 10:08 PM

Jeez, I can't add a thing.. y'all gave straight up info.
Castoff, listen to these folks. :)

I've said this a dozen times... Have you ever bought a home without an inspection?

Usually the loan company will want one, the insurance company will want one too.

I need a nap.

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