What we do, How we do it and How to chose the Right Surveyor
Please take your time to read this page in it's entirety - important caveats below!
Marine Surveys are conducted for many different purposes. On this page we assume the reader is interested in the recreational segment of our industry:
Most pertinent to a discussion on Consumer Protection in regards to hiring the right Surveyor is the Pre-Purchase Condition & Value (C&V) Marine Survey of new and used vessels.
We also prepare Marine Surveys for the purpose of Insurance Underwriting, Banking, Construction Supervision Surveys (when major structural or refurbishing work is done), Damage Reports, Intended Capability Reports (when a vessel is readied for a major passage or cruise), etc...
The most important reason for obtaining a Pre-Purchase C&V Survey on a used or new boat (remember, the building of new boats is an unregulated industry) is to gain as much information on the condition of the vessel as possible before you buy it. This is done in order to ensures that investing in the boat is worth while. The process is meant to find all flaws structural and cosmetic, and determines whether the vessel is in Good Seagoing Condition / is a Good Risk for Insuring.
What the Surveyor does and how he does it has a lot to do with his skills, experience and personal methods of work, but in all cases he or she should be able to provide you with information based on professional experience and furnish you with expert opinions upon which you can make important financial decisions with peace of mind. Of course the Survey Report should provide it's content without prejudice and to the best of the Surveyor's ability, with the understanding that the Surveyor is properly qualified for the particular assignment. "Particular assignment" has to do with the type of vessel and the medium in which it was built. Only a few Surveyors now days have experience with wooden vessels. Metal (steel / aluminum) or concrete are also materials only a small number of Surveyors working in the recreational field are experienced with. Fiberglass is the forte of most of today's Marine Surveyors, which ironically happens to be the trickiest material to investigate - the Surveyor must possess a good deal of experience and should never be "practicing" the profession at the Client's expense!
For the client to ask for validation of the Surveyor's claim to his or her expertise and work experience is not only acceptable, but is very much recommended. The Surveyor should be able to supply you with real references from previous clients, insurers or lending institutions.
Memberships in accreditation or certification societies means nothing in the real world and by itself should never be construed as a verification of competence!
At Marine Support On Line we can supply references from a huge number of Satisfied Clients complete with contact information, whom include not only Boaters, but Insurers and Lenders as well.
Here is an example of a real, unsolicited testimonial:
----- Original Message -----
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Subject: Vessel Survey Received
Dear Mr. Berta,
We have recently received a survey you completed for one of our insured's vessels. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say that I was very pleased with the quality and presentation of your survey, and from an insurance underwriter’s perspective, this is very much appreciated.
National Yacht Manager
Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Company of
What you receive from the Surveyor in a Report in regards to the actual content (of the Report), is what you are paying the Surveyor for, and it is what you will be basing your decision on whether the boat is a viable investment or not.
While the trend in the industry appears to be gravitating toward filling reports with cut-and-paste "Scope Of Survey" forms, other generic descriptive and long winded disclaimers, our Reports contain no fillers! You get specifically composed results of an extremely thorough inspection carried out by a Surveyor who did not learn the trade in a classroom and is not limited in his expertise to a standards based knowledge - we know what works in regards to safety and what to look for in structural components because we have been doing this for a lifetime. Our Surveyors did not retire from another line of work...
We also do not have a "working relationship" with any brokers, dealers or repairers and are focused only on the protection of our Client, which we consider the basic premise of the profession of Marine Surveying. Simply put, a good Surveyor is usually not very popular within the brokering community, because we may find deficiencies in a product that a salesman wants to find no flaws with…
Be wary of dealers or brokers listing a couple of surveyors on their websites or in their brochures - there is a definite conflict of interest there!
The best way to find a good Surveyor is by contacting Insurance Companies or talking to fellow boaters.
Word of mouth is the best referral in the marine surveying profession!
Horror stories of unqualified and uncaring individuals labeling themselves as “marine surveyors” and costing the consumer untold sums of bad investment are rampant in this industry - at the bottom of this page is a "consumer advisory" button where you can read some of the concerns insiders share regarding the current state of our Marine Surveying Profession!
The Survey Process is observation and testing. The two most important tools in a Surveyor's possession are experience and skills of observation. Needless to say, the better educated in regards to the Industry and the more experienced a Surveyor is, the higher the caliber of his work will be. And, very importantly, Good Surveyors are most adamant in regards to protecting their clients’ interest!
Never, ever take a Marine Survey supplied by a seller or a broker at face value! Such document can be used as bases of a preliminary discussion in regards to what the boat may be all about, but never make a decision of purchase without the use of a Qualified Marine Surveyor in Your Employ!
What we do in a Pre-Purchase situation
The Pre-Purchase Survey Report involves examining every piece of the boat accessible without taking it apart. This includes testing of all structural hull and deck components, as well as the inspection of all mechanical, electrical systems, tankage and fuel handling components to ensure safety and compliance to applicable standards. Everything is scrutinized and is reported on in an easy to understand presentation, which is accompanied by digital images of the vessel and her components (may include pictures of deficiencies such as images of a meter’s reading, which then become undisputable tools in negotiating what the vessel’s actual value / fair selling price may be).
Our Reports are not the check-list format of a couple of pages, still used by some marine surveyors.
Our Reports are copyrighted and are specifically composed for each particular vessel, written in an essay fashion systematically discussing all relevant items, components and gear. A certified printed copy is issued, along with a professionally produced CD describing your surveyor’s work and containing an electronic copy of your survey report.
Our Survey Reports are produced to Content Standards higher than those prescribed by the leading
Accreditation Societies and Trade Associations.
PERTINENT STANDARDS USED FOR PLEASURE CRAFT ARE SET BY:
AMERICAN BOAT & YACHT COUNCIL
NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION
SMALL CRAFT REGULATIONS CANADA
The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are the two major providers of the Standards & Recommendations for the Marine Industry in general, which of course includes builders of new boats, as well as the boatyards and repairers in general. Adherence to these Standards is strictly on a volunteer basis, as the Industry is completely unregulated in
and in the Canada that is why it is so important to Survey even a brand new boat! We find substandard components and installations sometimes even among the best makes, so surveying a new boat makes a whole lot of sense and in the long run it pays off in a big way. US -
Besides the examination of all structures and components and committing to Insurability, the Pre-Purchase C & V Report also includes Current Market Value. This is a dollar figure that the attending Surveyor feels the vessel was worth at the time of the inspection, which can of course be used for Lending and Insured Value purposes. Our value conclusions for pleasure craft are based on numbers provided to us by such institutions as the Boat Value Book in
and the BUC Network in the Canada . These values are arrived at by documenting actual sold prices, and are adjusted by our Surveyors in accordance to a particular vessel's apparent condition and deficiencies found in need of addressing in the foreseeable future. USA
What we do not do
Today's boats are a complex system of components working in concert. We focus on the points that are considered throughout our Industry to be within the accepted scope of a Marine Survey. That is, we report on items without disassembly, using only tools of non destructive means (moisture meters, ultra sounding, acoustical sounding). We do not report on internal condition of machinery, and we do not perform such tasks as taking compression values or collect samples of lube oil for analysis. This should be left for a Mechanical Surveyor or Technician, who's professional expertise are focused on those components.
A good Marine Surveyor can be considered a “general practitioner”. We may find major issues or deficiencies with a particular component, in which case we may recommend obtaining the services of a professional working in a specialized field of the Industry. (Example - in the case of finding lube oil in a particular pattern sprayed around a gear box output shaft, we would suspect a bad seal. This can be resultant of many variables however, which include the seal simply reaching the end of it’s service life, an event of overheating of the gearbox, excessive oil levels or a propeller shaft misalignment - we would recommend a Marine Mechanical Technician to be called in to locate the exact cause.)
We do not publish exact fee schedules. Every boat and the circumstances under which it must be Surveyed, Appraised or Inspected is different.
Our rates go by the linear foot of the boat's advertised length, with a minimum charge of $395.00 CAD for boats under 26'.
For a precise quote, please contact us with the vessel's particulars and her location.
We will provide service throughout
Drive-to regions include ports along
Who's paying for what, in case of a Pre-Purchase Survey
The Buyer is responsible for the Survey Fee and the Hauling Charges. The seller is responsible for someone to operate the vessel, such as a paid captain, as well as ensuring that the vessel is ready to be hauled and inspected.
A boat with a dirty bottom needs to be cleaned for any Surveyor to do the job right! In most cases a simple pressure washing after haul-out will suffice. Establish with the seller who is going to pay this cost. We can not and will not write a report on a vessel who's bottom has excessive marine growth adhered, as the inspection can not be done with any accuracy concerning the condition of the hull bottom.
Things to keep in mind
It is important to understand that the quality of the Survey can only be as good as the conditions under which it is conducted. The Surveyor isn't going to be able to do a very good job if there are a lot of people interrupting with inappropriately timed questions, if the seller limits the amount of time the vessel is available, or other negative circumstances.
It should be understood by owners / sellers / brokers that the vessel has to yield herself to examination, in order for the attending Surveyor to do his work. We can not report conclusively on parts of a boat that are covered-up with debris, gear, clothing, tools, parts & pieces or other in-the-way items preventing proper inspection. The Owner should be aware of this and understand that the Surveyor can not be expected to "unload" a ship for inspection… If a boat is cluttered and we do not feel we were able to do our job right, we will make that very clear to our Client in our Report, and we will advise abandoning the purchasing process until conditions are more ideal for proper inspection.
In times of colder seasons, contrary to what some “surveyors” may claim, frozen laminates can not be conclusively reported on!
If we must Survey a frozen structure, it will be considered a preliminary Report only, and we will make it very clear that the Report will not be complete and will not be suitable for Pre-Purchase, Lending or Insuring purposes until we return to the vessel at a time when her structures are thawed.
(Careful of sellers / brokers putting on the pressure to close a deal in the off season – offers to purchase should always be made contingent upon reasonable results of  - an appropriately conducted Structural Marine Survey,  - mechanical inspection and  - seatrials! All 3 items must be in the equation of any normal vessel purchase, at any time of the year made by the average boating consumer! Abandon any of the above 3 conditions only if you consider yourself a marine expert and are buying a fixer-upper as is, and with known issues you are willing and able to deal with.)
We often have difficulty in conveying the point that the Surveyor is not finished until his Report is written. Naturally, the client wants a report as soon as the physical inspection is completed. However, please understand that our work had just started. We need time to go over notes, perhaps do some research (we belong to support organizations encompassing all aspects of our work) and obviously we need to think about the boat. In most cases, we can give you a verbal rundown of our findings the same day, but we urge you not to allow yourself to be rushed into a closing based on a verbal report. Only the Written Report constitutes the full and complete results of a Marine Survey.
MSOL Marine Surveyors & Consultants
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