...Brokers and sellers hate it when you want to survey the boat before entering into a P&S. So it must be the right thing to do.
The surveyors must love you!!
But I couldn't disagree more with the advice.
Why would an owner let a stranger with whom they have no contractual relation send a surveyor aboard their vessel?
As an owner, that one would not even pass my giggle test.
Also, as a prospective purchaser, I would not rely on a surveyor's opinion to determine whether I wanted to place an offer on a boat. I would rely on my own inspection and research first. As likely as not, the answer will be that I don't want to make an offer. When and if I do make an offer that is accepted, I would then hire a surveyor to confirm the condition of the vessel and rule out the possibility of hidden defects as part of my caveat emptor due diligence.
If you are worried about the cost of travel, a good approach is to focus on boats in your geographic region that do not require expensive travel arrangements to inspect.
If your dream boat is in a distant location -- some surveyors will agree to do a quick "drive-by" for a minimal fee and let you know whether it might be worth the trip to see it for yourself (we also have a list of folks here at Sailnet who have agreed to do the same.)
Except in very unusual circumstances, I would not hire for a full survey sight-unseen, and of course not until a P&S agreement had been accepted by both buyer and seller.