How do I choose a Marine Surveyor?


There are no Governmental regulation for Surveyors of recreational vessels.  Certain marine surveyors are permitted to use a designation denoting the level of membership in accrediting organizations.  These organizations subject potential members to a thorough peer review and successful completion of a written exam. Members are required to attend annual continuing education and to meet strict professional, technical and ethical standards. The most recognized accrediting organizations are The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) with a designation of Accredited Marine Surveyor (AMS), and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) with the designation of Certified Marine Surveyor (CMS).

Surveyors should provide you with a professionally prepared written report that will be accepted by your lender and/or insurance company, in a reasonable amount of time.  Contact and speak with prospective surveyors and ASK QUESTIONS !!!  Have they received professional training in inspections and do they participate in additional training? What experience does the Surveyor possess?  Owning a boat or being a licensed Captain should not be considered solely as being a competent Marine Surveyor.  What does the survey inspection / report include and what type of reporting format is used?  Do they use ABYC, NFPA and USCG standards in their surveys? How much will the inspection cost? How long will the on-board inspection take? What equipment do they possess to perform a thorough inspection?



Most all PROFESSIONAL Marine Surveyors are proud of their work product and will provide a sample report in advance if requested.

A thorough inspection will not be rushed and will depend on the type of survey required based on vessel size, equipment and on-board systems. There may be additional services available such as engine surveys, oil analysis, galvanic and stray current corrosion testing, ultrasonic testing, moisture testing and other non-destructive tests. There may be additional charges for these and other services.

Well conducted surveys can provide excellent information on the vessels condition, but they are not guarantees. The surveyor accurately reports the condition of accessible areas of the vessel only as they exist at the time of inspection.

What is a Marine Survey?

A Marine Survey is the inspection of the Hull, Deck, Structure and/or Systems. There are various types of Surveys performed on vessels, depending on client requirements.

Why do I need a Marine Survey?

Most insurance companies and financial institutions will require that you have a survey performed, especially on older vessels. They will need to know the overall condition and fair market value in order to finance or underwrite the vessel. It is also recommended that a survey be performed on any prospective vessel purchase, whether new or used.

The most important reason to survey your vessel is for the safety of the passengers and crew. I recommend that a survey be performed every two to three years.

What types of Surveys are there?

The Pre-Purchase Survey

This is the most commonly requested type of Survey, and is the most thorough. This type of Survey consists of a complete and thorough visual inspection of all readily accessible areas of the hull, deck and structure. Support systems, such as AC and DC electrical, navigation, water systems (potable, gray and black), fuel, propulsion, running gear and climate control, are inspected for proper operation and installation. Components that are readily accessible are visually inspected. Tanks are inspected where visible, but are not hydro or pressure tested.

Percussion soundings and electronic moisture testing is generally performed on FRP and composite constructed craft. A bottom inspection and sea trial is generally performed during a Pre-Purchase Survey. An indication of fair market value is also included.

The Condition and Valuation or “Insurance” Survey

This type of inspection is typically performed so that an insurance company can determine whether a vessel is and acceptable risk. Insurance companies are generally interested in the structural integrity and safety of the vessel for its intended use. The vessels fair market value is included. Generally, the vessel is surveyed afloat, the systems and equipment are not operated, the bottom and running gear are not inspected and the vessel is not sea trialed. However, an insurance company may require additional inspections, depending on their individual policies and the vessels age. THIS TYPE OF INSPECTION NOT INTENDED AS, AND SHOULD NOT BE SUBSTITUTED FOR, A THOROUGH AND COMPLETE PRE-PURCHASE SURVEY.

Appraisal Survey

This type of inspection is performed to gather enough information about a vessel to determine or justify the fair market value. This type of survey it typically used for donations, estates and other settlements.

Findings: What are they and how are they determined?

Findings are the listing of discrepancies and observations obtained during the course of the survey. These are grouped into three categories:

  • Items that should be corrected immediately and before further use as they are issues of non-compliance with USCG or State requirements and/or affect the safety of the vessel, passengers and crew.
  • Items that should be corrected as soon as possible and
  • Items that are upgrades, improvements and affect the value of the vessel.

Recommendations are made for correcting the findings or referral to a specialist for further inspection. The mandatory standards promulgated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) under the authority of Title 33 and 46, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR’s) and the voluntary Standards and Recommended Practices developed by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are used as guidelines for our reports.

Additional Findings, Recommendations and Comments that are of the opinion of the attending surveyor may may also be included within the written report.  Many of these pertain to good marine practice, recognized industry standards or general common sense.

How should I prepare for a Marine Survey?

Please arrange that the vessel is clean, shipshape and in operable condition. Any gear and equipment should be ready for inspection. All papers, records and manuals to the vessel, should be made available. Lockers and cabin areas should be clear of clutter and miscellaneous gear. You must make arrangements for the owner or a captain for sea trials and machinery operation, and schedule a marina to haul the vessel for bottom and running gear inspections. Any disassembly of the vessel to gain access to suspected areas should be performed by qualified personnel and the responsibility of the person ordering the survey. A written authorization may be required by the vessel owner before a survey is performed.

How much does a survey cost?

The cost of the survey is dependant on several factors. The vessel type, age, power, construction, type of survey required, location, time frame and the requirements of the client.

How long does the survey inspection take?

The time it takes to perform a thorough inspection, depends on the size and complexity of the vessel, yard scheduling conflicts and other factors and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. However, most surveys require a full day to complete.

How long until I receive the written report?

We will review most findings with the client once the inspection has been completed. Typically, the written report will be available within 48 hours, unless there are and excessive number of findings or other unusual circumstances.

Written reports are delivered to the client via email as a .PDF attachment.