Whether this is your first time purchasing a boat or you have owned several in the past, having a second opinion about a boat is important. Since a boat is a huge investment, you want to make sure you are making the right choice. That is why boat surveys and valuations matter—even when they seem unessential. However, finding out whether a used boat can be taken on the water right away, or if there are any major issues, can save you from disappointment in the long run.

Here is everything you need to know about boat surveys.

What is a Boat Survey?

Once your offer is accepted by the seller and your deposit is received, you can then schedule a surveyor to inspect the boat. Be sure to select a certified surveyor – most are NAMS or SAMS certified – and talk to them beforehand to get an idea of what will be done at the survey. A good surveyor will inspect the structure, deck, and all boat systems as well as a sea trial or test run to ensure the engine is functioning properly.  A survey will also include an out of the water portion so that the surveyor can inspect the hull and running gear below the waterline.

The survey should also include a fair market valuation of the boat, based on the condition of the boat and recently sold comps.  If you are financing the boat, your lender will want to see this included in the survey to make sure the value of the boat is there.  

Things Covered By a Boat Survey

Here is a list of things generally covered during a boat survey:

  • The boat is verified via hull identification number (HIN), as well as registration numbers
  • Hull is inspected for damage or flaws, both visually and audibly
  • Use of a moisture meter to check for damages and leaks
  • Hull-to-deck joint is inspected inside and out
  • Compression tests on the engine
  • Inspect the running gears or propulsion system
  • Inspection of seacocks and fittings
  • Navigational electronics and lights are tested for functionality
  • Verification that washdown pumps, commodes, and all other plumbing systems are working correctly
  • For sailboats, the standing and running rigging are examined

Different styles of boats may have more or less steps to the inspection. At the end, the boat surveyor will create a report on the condition of the vessel, as well as the appearance and level of maintenance needed. They may recommend repairs that have to be done to ensure the safety of the boat.

Why You Should Consider a Boat Survey

If you are financing your boat purchase, the lender will most likely require that a professional survey be done.  However, if you are paying cash for the boat or your lender does not require one, getting a survey on any used boat is highly recommended. Here are two reasons why you should consider a boat survey:

1. You receive a safety net when buying a boat

Whether you are buying privately or through a broker, it is always a good idea to have some assurance. By paying for a survey or valuation, you are putting yourself in a better position.

A boat survey can cost around $25-$35 per foot on average, but it is worth the cost. If anything is wrong with the boat, for instance, you can potentially ask for a lower price from the seller, since you will be making those repairs. Or, you can decide that the purchase isn’t for you, and you can go find a better option.

2. You can have peace of mind when purchasing your new boat

You always want to know what you are getting into. The same is true for buying a house or car. Knowing if a boat is good value for the price you are paying is important, especially if you have to make improvements and repairs on the vessel. Also, you cannot overlook safety.

It is crucial that you know what a boat is worth and if it is safe. Surveys not only detect problems but also give you some leverage. Is there an issue with the hull that needs repairs? You can use the survey to negotiate the price.

Moreover, the inspection is done by a professional who tells you if the boat is in good condition, so you can feel good about the purchase. Not only that, but the survey lets you know exactly what has to be improved. If you handle all those things, the value of your boat may increase.

Selecting The Right Boat Surveyor

Just as there are many surveys you can choose from for your boat, there are also surveying organizations. As a buyer, you have options. You could choose a full condition survey for a complete inspection of the vessel and a safety report. Others depend on the kind of boat you are looking to buy.

This also means you have to choose the right surveyor. Go with an accredited individual or company, such as The International Institute of Marine Surveyors (IIMS), MECAL, Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS), National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS), Royal Yachting Association (RYA), and Yacht Brokers, Designers and Surveys Association (YBDSA).

Do some research and see which organization or individual has experience with the boat you are looking to buy. Contact the surveyor first and ask them about their experience, but do not expect them to have precise answers for a boat they have yet to see.

Let Us Help You Buy or Sell Your Boat

If you are looking to purchase a boat, don’t underestimate the power of a survey! Having peace of mind that your boat is ready for the water is essential. Looking to buy a new boat or get advice on the buying process? Contact Yacht Brokers of Annapolis today. We have experience in living the boating life and many satisfied clients. Give us a call today at 410-206-2755. We look forward to assisting you in your process.