FREQUENTY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT DOES A MARINE SURVEYOR ACTUALLY DO?
Generally speaking, a marine surveyor is being hired to inspect a vessel, be it a powerboat, a sailing yacht or a superyacht to go through all the exterior, the systems and the interior with an eagle-eye and a good set of ears, to find out what is in proper working order and what is not. After receiving a detailed report about the survey conducted, the client will then be able to make a decision on whether the vessel is worth investing his/her money in or whether it would be best to look for a better alternative.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS & CHARACTERISTICS OF A MARINE SURVEYOR?
The surveyor has no interest whatsoever in any of the parties involved, neither financially, nor personally. A surveyor has no prejudice and does not get involved in the sale of the vessel at hand, except for surveying it and reporting on his findings. The surveyor's job is to find and to comment on facts only and not to make any assumptions. A such, one could say that the Swiss should be the perfect surveyors as they have to be neutral.
HOW IS A PRE-PURCHASE CONDITION & VALUATION (PPC&V) SURVEY CONDUCTED?
Typically a Pre-purchase Condition & Valuation Survey should start with an onboard inspection whilst the vessel is afloat, preferably in a marina and connected to shore power. Following the in-water inspection the vessel is being hauled out either on a slip, with a trailer or by means of a travel lift to inspect the entire wetted surface, the drivetrain, the steering gear etc. The last step is to conduct a sea trial to make sure the engine(s) perform as per manufacturer's specifications and, in case of a sailing yacht, to check the entire running rig and the sail wardrobe.
WHAT DOES A PRE-PURCHASE CONDITION & VALUATION SURVEY COMRISE?
To make it short and to the point... During a Pre-purchase Condition & Valuation- or Insurance Survey the vessel is being inspected from head to toe, from top to bottom, from forward to aft and inside & out. All the findings will then be reported in the survey report.
Exterior hull - Topsides & wetted surface
Interior hull & structural sections
Main deck, superstructure, upper Deck & Flybridge
Navigation & communication equipment
Safety & fire fighting equipment
Anchoring & mooring equipment
Other equipment such as tender, outboard engines, water toys etc.
DC- & AC electrical system
Bilge pumping system
Fresh-, salt-, black- & grey water system
Fuel system, engine space, main engine(s) & gears
Steering system, props & shafts/Saildrives/Sterndrives/Surface Drives
Stabilizer system, thrusters & trim tabs
Fuel-, hydraulic-, air-conditioning system
Spars, standing rig, running rig & sail wardrobe (unless it's a specific sail & rig survey, the rig is inspected from deck level only)
Cooking Gas System
Interior and Cosmetics
WHAT IS PART OF A PPC&V SURVEY REPORT?
Some surveyors use specific software for their reports and have the tendency to overdue their reports. The report then ends up being overly long and becomes difficult to read. Our reports are to the point and are written in an English our clients will clearly understand. There is no point in receiving a report and then not understanding half of what is written in it...
Our reports come with a series of embedded photographs and typically comprise 30 to 45 pages or so, depending on the size and kind of vessel that was surveyed. The reports describe all of the above mentioned items at the time of inspection in short, brief sentences.
If we find any issues it does not mean that the vessel is of inferior quality but it simply means that we have found certain problems. At Waterborne Experts - Marine Surveys & Consulting we use two grades to list deficiencies in our reports. These are listed at the end of our report:
Major Deficiencies: Urgent issues to address, requiring immediate attention for reasons of safety, urgent maintenance or to avoid violation of regulations.
Minor Deficiencies: Not urgent yet but could become urgent if not addressed. Issues that are related to long-term maintenance and good nautical standards and to preserve the long-term value of the vessel. These recommendations could be carried out at the next refit or dry-docking.
The report is finished off with conclusions such as the condition of the vessel as well as a valuation on the fair market value and in cases of newer vessels, the estimated replacement cost of the vessel.
HOW LONG DOES A PPC&V SURVEY TAKE TO COMPLETE?
That very much depends on the size & type of the vessel. A 15 meter monohull onboard & systems inspection, the haul-out for the wetted surface inspection & approximately 2 hrs. of sea trials typically takes about 1.5 to 2 days.
The report writing would take another 2 to 3 days to complete.
The survey report is normally being sent to our clients within three to five working days, depending on our workload and how many vessels we have "in progress".
WHAT IS THE PRICE OF A PPC&V SURVEY?
Prices vary depending on the surveyor, the size of the vessel (LOA) and whether it is a mono- or a multihull. Just like in any other industry, we strongly believe that you get what you pay for and it is therefore advisable to compare quotes and not necessarily go for the cheapest option. Custom made vessels or one-offs have no fixed rate and are by quotation only. The same applies for wooden hulled vessels as they take up a significant amount more time than steel, aluminium or fiberglass yachts.
Our rates are very transparent and listed on our website under RATES & FEES.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE PRIOR TO A SURVEY AND SEATRIALS?
We find a surprisingly high amount of vessels which are not ready for a survey. It should be in the interest of the seller to present his or her yacht in the best possible way. The preparation to make a ship ready does not take too much time and is crucial for a successful outcome of the survey and the subsequent report. It just does not look good when it says "Vessel was found cluttered" or "The bilges were littered with debris" etc.
Here are some suggestions we send to the boat owners prior to conducting our surveys:
Vessel owner, captain or engineer in attendance.
Vessel connected to shore power with battery chargers on.
Do not run engines and generators prior to the survey. Engine space should be cool.
Air-conditioning turned on OR windows & hatches open. Deck awnings in place.
All interior and exterior lights turned on.
Clean and un-clutter the vessel, including bathrooms.
Whilst vessel is in a marina:
Declaration of conformity.
Receipts for recent repairs and upgrades.
Make sure everything works OR is marked "not operational".
Make sure the batteries are charged.
Check fuel, machinery oil- & coolant levels, fan belts etc.
Do not run any machinery just before the survey.
Easy to find. No treasure hunt.
Deck equipment uncovered.
Stored equipment laid out in one place.
All fire extinguishers lined up.
Sail inventory showing brand, material & year.
Working sails raised during sea trial.
Stored sails inspected on deck or dockside.
Tender & outboard:
Inflated & fueled up.
Stored for easy deployment, NOT inside the vessel.
Do's & Don'ts
Do install the speed log transducer before the sea trial.
Don't start engines and generators just before the survey.
Do try to keep the vessel interior cool, including the engine space.
Don't bring children and other non-essential personnel along.
Do bring a good supply of drinking water.
HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER A MARINE SURVEYOR IS WORTH HIS SALT?
Unfortunately for us certified surveyors, the marine survey industry is pretty much unregulated. That basically means that anyone can claim to be a marine surveyor and set up shop. Yacht brokers, even though they should remain impartial, will normally make recommendations on at least two or more surveyors. Web searches may also identify marine surveyors in your region. Having said that, a good looking, flashy website does not necessarily mean that the survey company behind it is good, except ours of course :-)
Things you could be asking your potential surveyor:
Do you hold a Diploma in Marine Surveying or any other qualification?
Do marine insurance companies accept your surveys and reports?
Have you surveyed this type of vessel before?
Would it be possible to get a your statement of competence?
Can I tag along during the survey in order for me to get to know the boat well?