Marine Survey: Why Do You Need One?

marine surveys give peace mindWe highly recommend that every prospective buyer of a pre-owned yacht get a marine survey done before any money changes hands! A marine survey is a detailed inspection of a yacht by an accredited marine surveyor to determine its current condition. More importantly, it will determine the yacht's seaworthiness and whether the vessel is safe to operate in the conditions for which it was designed.

A good surveyor will be able to point out major problems, e.g., delamination or blisters and smaller deficiencies like gelcoat repairs or hatch leaks. With this list in hand, one can make a good determination of what it costs to take care of the major issues and whether the smaller issues are easy enough to deal with over time. Once you determine that the major stuff is not a deal breaker, you can move on to figure out from the survey results, what else is needed to put the vessel in good working order as well as repairs / maintenance / replacements likely to be required in the near future such as new sails or new lines.

So the survey will give you a good evaluation of the general condition of the yacht and give you a good insight into the maintenance required to keep the boat in good shape. Most buyers are not experienced enough and cannot make an adequate evaluation of the condition of the boat and therefore need a survey.

A marine survey is buying peace of mind. Not only will it give you a good idea of exactly what you are getting into with your boat purchase, it is unlikely that you will be able to secure insurance or financing without providing the insurance company or lender with an acceptable survey. So it totally makes sense to pay for that survey. It is cheap at the price for your peace of mind!

For more interesting reading about marine surveys, try reading this great article, Marine Survey 101, Understanding boat surveys: What is pre-purchase or Marine Surveyors Earn Their Fee and here is a pre-survey checklist to help you weed out the good ones from the bad ones BEFORE you spend any money.

Where To Get A Survey

The National Association of Maine Surveyors (NAMS) and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) are professional organizations that have instituted rigorous examination programs for their membership. Marine Insurance underwriters will accept value surveys or pre-purchase surveys from these surveyors. More general information on marine surveys can be found at the websites of the SAMS, or NAMS. These are the organizations that most marine surveyors belong to, and they’re full of useful information.

Following is a typical checklist for a marine survey:

Survey Checklist Done
Run & test port start/idle/full ahead/astern/stop
Run & test stbd. start/idle/full ahead/astern/stop
Is alarm system operational?
Proper instrument readings.
Observe exhaust water discharge for proper volume
Feel exhaust hose for heat as evidence of H2O restriction in exhaust elbow
Smooth operation? Excessive smoke exhaust, smell in & out of engine room
Operational bilge blower
Sea trial-check for vibrations & misalignment
Preseason dive/hull inspection
sound insulation
engine grounding plate
tie down & labeling  
charge level  
switchover – emergency start  
Test operation of Lectrasan (check correct gauge reading)
Check through hull valves for leaks, free operation & corrosion, check hoses & clamps
Hoses double clamped?
Open & service in-line strainers, check for leaks, remote bilge & sump pumps & filters.
Automatic Bilge Pumps-confirm operation of float switches.
Manual Bilge Pumps-confirm operation and strainer installed at pick up, handle secured?
Sump Pump-confirm operation, strainer cleaned & installed, float switch operation?
Fresh Water Pressure System-confirm operation of pump & all related fixtures.
Head operation-confirm operation, check for leaks, lube as needed.
Y-Valves-confirm operation, lube as needed, handle restrained per USCG?
Age of hoses (under 5 years)
Holding Tanks-check for leaks & odors, deck pump out cap free, tank empty? Flush with clean water.
Macerator: confirm operation, leaks or odor, momentary switch at pump
Macerator: verify pump actually discharges liquids
Wire tie head Y-Valve discharge to prevent direct dumping from heads
Bilges clean/free of debris  
Rust in engine compartment  
Clean engine room  
Steering-check cable tension routing & condition (chafe).
Steering-Hydraulic, check fluid level in reservoir, check for leaks, inspect hoses & rudder linkage.
Engine controls-proper adjustment smooth operation.
Engine Exhaust System double clamped, hoses checked.
Engine Hoses & cable inspected for chafe.
Sea Strainer checked; service strainer & O-rings
Stuffing Box-check hose, double clamp if needed, is there adjustment left or does it require repacking?
Corrosion on adjacent surfaces? Spray deflector needed?
Windshield wipers & motor
Electrical DC  
Check battery condition with load tester
check operation of all lights in cabins
check operation of all courtesy lights
check fan operation
Check battery fluid level, terminals clean & tight
Cables neatly organized (they don’t block battery fill caps)
Battery boxes secured & covered
DC switch panel-test all circuits, lights, pumps, electronics, etc. (all switches labeled?)
Navigation lights checked-running lights, steaming light, anchor light, compass & instruments
12 Volt plug in at or near each steering station
Do all switches work?
Stock of distilled water for Batteries
electrical grounding
Electrical AC  
Power cord condition, cord end fittings & receptacles
Operate major AC appliances: H2O heater, cabin heat, refrigerators, chargers.
GFI installed in galley, heads & exterior?
AC adapters-15-30 AMP & 20/30 AMP in ships inventory? 50 AMP?
Operate AC generator & confirm proper output.
Extension cord adaptor
check shore power connection/generator switchover (correctly labeled)
Dinghy & Accessories  
O/B Mounting Bracket  
Oars, patch kit, plug, pump, gear bag  
O/B fuel can – mark with fuel type  
Inflatable dinghy-hold pressure  
Name & hailing port  
O/B Motor HP  
Serial #  
Check lower unit oil  
Fittings greased  
Moving parts lubricated  
Rust preventer   sprayed on all engine & metal parts  
Are all metal parts rust free?  
Are water drain holes in gear housing open so water can drain out?  
Engine starts and runs  
Spare shear pins & spark plugs  
Canvas Covers  
Dinghy Covers  
Chafe Strips  
Snaps & Fasteners  
Barbecue Cover  
Table Cover  
reef points  
lazy bag and lazy jacks  
UV covers  
sail numbers/markings/decorations  
mainsail. jib, gennaker, spinnaker  
Running Rigging  
shrouds and turnbuckles  
lines storage  
mast base  
ball bearing luff cars (operation, condition, spares)  
running back stays  
mast/through deck fitting  
mast mounted equipment  
chafing gear  
cotter pin and locks  
lighting protection  
antennae and radar mounts  
deck, nav, search lights  
Mooring & Anchoring  
Anchor chain markings
spare line
Anchor packages (2) (stowage system for 300’ mooring line)
dock lines
Spring lines
Boat hook
Anchor windlass operation
Fenders (4) & Spares (2) (optional)
Windlass handle
Markings both primary and secondary chain/rode-distances noted in manual
Measurements of both size & length for chain/rode-noted in inventory/manual
Extra mooring line length ft. Size
Exterior Condition  
Storage lockers/drains and ventilation  
Gel Coat Repairs (kit)  
Bright work Varnish  
Venturi/Wind Screen  
Teak Decks  
American Flag  
GB Burgee  
Bow Staff  
Flag Staff  
Canadian Courtesy Flag  
Interior Condition  
Window tracks  
Woodwork finish  
Shower curtains/teak grates/shower sumps  
Cabin sole  
Curtains/tie backs/snaps  
Head Compartments  
Door & locksets (interior & exterior)  
Refrigerator Drain Plugs  
Refrigerator Shelf hangers/clips  
Stove knobs & pot holders  
Machinery: Main Engines & Generator  
Check fluid levels-glycol, oil, trans oil  
Inspect water fuel separator for contamination  
Check belt tension & condition  
Inspect air intake screen or filter & replace or clean as needed  
Determine oil & filter service history. Service required Y N  
Electronics & Navigation  
VHF radio(s)-test operation on CH16 & 68, antenna connection tight
Depth sounder in good operation, clean knot meter paddlewheel
Loran/GPS & Radar-test operation
Chart plotter-test operation, inventory cartridges
Stereo-test operation of received & tape/CD deck, check all speakers
Compass alignment needed? Deviation table posted
TV/VCR test operation of both
Are operation manuals on board for all equipment
Weather boots/covers on exposed switches
Laptop connectors
Equipment Inspection  
Spare Parts inventory complete (see attachment)
Spares in storage box (put in proper storage area)
Tools: condition, adequate inventory in box (put in dry storage area)
Spare keys (6)
Stove LPG /Electric System to code
Propane compartment open to living spaces
Weather boots on all exposed toggle & push button switches
Expiration date for old propane bottles
Deck Hardware & Hatches  
check trampoline condition, lashing  
Check hatches – mounting, drains, locks, location  
deck hardware backing plates  
vents – drainage  
lockers and latches  
stanchions and mounting  
Galley Equipment  
sink and drain  
saltwater/fresh water system  
trash compactor  
bar- icemaker  
Miscellaneous Equipment  
Check heater operation
Check air-conditioning operation in each cabin
Salt water wash down & hose
washer drier operation
Check davit winch; proper lead? frayed cables? Remote Control.
Check O/B for operation; locking method.
Operation Manuals-are they in with the other ships papers? Do they cover operation of all systems
Safety Equipment  
check life raft expiration, location, access, lashing
deck lifelines
under hull/bridgedeck lifelines
transom boarding ladder and access from water for re-entry
PFD’s sleeping capacity plus 2, plus 2 child’s (optional)
Flares-3 handheld or 3 meteor flares, check expiration date (3 years from the month indicated on the
Ships bell-all boats
Air horn-all boats (back up handheld for power boats)
Fire extinguishers-how many check expiration date – -
Throw able ring or horseshoe with line or life sling
First Aid Kit-contents & condition, replace as needed
Life lines & railings-tension & condition of cables, stanchions, railings & gates
USCG auxiliary inspection
emergency tiller
Barbecue securely mounted to rail
Check tanks for condition-rusty? Securely mounted? Enclosure vented? Bottle expiration?
Operate all propane appliances – all stove burners & oven
Check hose & connections for wear or chafe from tank to appliance


Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

contact-call-button          Insider list