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post #11 of 13 Old 01-28-2008
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IMHO, a surveyor is certifying the seaworthy qualities of a vessel (or lack thereof). That is why the insurance is so high. If you don't get personal liability insurance, you are risking your entire life savings every time you issue a report of survey. Unless, like the late Ken Lay and a few others, you live in Florida and have most of your wealth tied up in your house. According to state law, "they can't take that away from me...."

If you are just going into it on a part time (is that the same as half assed?) basis, your customers may want to look elsewhere for professional advice.

Not to sound too harsh, you may be better off living in Florida year round and offering a service to go around once a month to check the houses of the snow birds. There are a lot of people who supplement their incomes that way down there, and you only have to check the dehumidifier and a few other systems. No life safety issues.

Good luck
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post #12 of 13 Old 01-28-2008
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CP is speaking from experience...but he was a cranky old cuss no one listens to before he was a marine surveyor.


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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #13 of 13 Old 01-29-2008
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The first rule of being.

In my opinion the first rule of being a good surveyor is to KNOW, KNOW, KNOW boats. I mean literally hundreds of models, construction methods, trouble spots, spar manufacturers etc. etc.. My surveyor, for instance, grew up around boats, worked in many boat yards building boats, built Hinckley's at Hinckley and now owns his own boat shop. You can't hide anything from this guy! Close to HALF of the surveyors I interviewed before hiring one had NO CLUE that many of the production builders of the 70's & 80's laminated plywood into keel stubs! That was the end of the interviews for me. Of course most boat buyers know even less than most mediocre surveyors so they of course DON'T interview and surveyors before hiring one like one should. I actually want a surveyor that knows more than me and I've usually done my own survey with full soundings and gone over the whole boat with my own moisture meter before he even gets there to rule out wasting $700.00 on a survey..

Unfortunately, all the stuff you don't already know, from 30-40 years in the marine business, will make you at best a mediocre surveyor, in my opinion, regardless of the "schooling" you do and who wants to be mediocre at anything.

Sure, Westlawn or one of the schools can teach you basic theory but knowing many, many boats and how they are actually, not theoretically put together matters more than what Westlawn can teach you. This kind of experience only comes from DOING the work on many different types of boats (hands on). Replacing keels, removing rotted deck core and re-laminating it, rebuilding a rudder, re-building a mast step, replacing rotted stringers, repairing wet core bellow the waterline on and on and on are what makes a good surveyor good..

In my opinion there are more BAD marine surveyors out there doing business than bad used car salesman! Every one of the surveyors I interviewed when hiring mine were SAMS (Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors)or NAMS (National Association of Marine Surveyors) and none except one actually knew anything about keel stub construction on any of the production boats built in the 70's & 80's. Hell one of them insisted that the Catalina 30, I was buying at the time, had a full balsa cored deck??!! That's SCARY !!!!!

Do you know why many Cape Dory's suffer from of deck crazing??
Do you know the real cause of the Catalina smile?
Do you know when certain companies switched from marine plywood to aluminum plates beneath deck hardware?
Do you know how or where to look to inspect the centerboard pin on a Tartan 37?
Do you know what to look for when inspecting the stem head fitting of a Catalina 27?
Do you know how to visually and physically inspect the spar on a Nonsuch or what to look for?

These are all realistic questions that will come up during surveys and most if not all of these things are learned from experience and not taught in a book..

becoming a yacht broker is a safer bet. Inspecting boats is NOTHING like inspecting houses!!

Money: Can you make 50K? Well let's do the math..

OK you are going to work half time so 2.5 days per week. The average survey will run about $500.00, some more some less, and a good survey will take the better part of a full day if it does not something is wrong.

So for the sake of it will give you that .5 day as a full survey. So 2.5 multiplied by $500.00 is $1250.00 per week exclusive of taxes, insurance and overhead. So we'll now divide that $1250.00 in half to cover insurance, taxes and overhead and we're left with a net income per week of roughly $625.00. Now lets figure that you're semi-retired and you'll take some vacation so we'll figure on 44 work weeks (which may be heavy) multiplied by $625.00 gives you a real income of closer to $27,500.00 figuring you are fully booked.... Fully booked as a surveyor is a misnomer in the North East because you can't take moisture readings with a frozen deck and therefore really can't do full surveys for about a full 25% of the year! Now keep in mind that the majority of boats are surveyed in spring and summer when you'll actually be turning business away that you can not necessarily re-capture an d you'll be begging for it in the of season...

Just being logical based on the data given....

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-29-2008 at 09:17 AM.
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