Surveying a yacht before making your final purchase decision will ensure that you take delivery of a boat in good condition with all systems working. Surveys are meant to protect you from unpleasant surprises.
Once you and the seller have settled on price and you are in possession of a Purchase and Sale Agreement signed by you and the seller the yacht is then taken off the market until you make your final decision to purchase. Your deposit money is safely tucked away in your broker’s escrow account. The purchase agreement allows a window of usually two to four weeks for you to have the vessel inspected.
Every boat should be surveyed before you lay out your hard earned cash and take possession. This includes new boats that have just been delivered from the builder. I have not met a new boat yet that arrived in perfect condition with all systems working and all flaws corrected. Float switches are not working, engine mounts are not secure, nicks in the Gelcoat have not been fixed, screws are missing and the list goes on. I have seen five page lists of items that need to be fixed on a brand new boat that need approval by the builder. Getting a survey done will save you a lot of money and oftentimes months of aggravation in warranty claims.
An engine survey and general hull survey are recommended. This requires two surveyors. The engine survey should be done by a qualified mechanic for the type of engines on the yacht. Have the engine survey inspect the generator as well. Find the local dealer for those engines and tell them you need a survey done. They will have someone on staff that specializes in yacht surveys.
The general or hull surveyor inspects all of the other systems on the vessel. This will include the condition of the hull and deck, running gear, appliances, furnishings, bilge pumps, sanitation and every other component that makes up the yacht. If you do not know a surveyor personally have your broker refer you to someone. I always recommend three or four surveyors to choose from to ensure that there is no perceived conflict of interest. When the boat is located in a part of the world that I am not familiar with I will call a broker colleague who works in that location for recommendations.
You can also do your own search for a surveyor by going to the Websites for the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). You can search for surveyors in your area or close to the location of the vessel you wish to purchase. Find someone close to the boat if you can as surveyors will charge by the hour for travel.
Survey day is Judgment Day! Survey day typically has you meeting with your surveyors, the seller or his representative, someone to operate the yacht during the day, and your broker if you are using one. Surveys on small to medium size yachts can usually be accomplished in less than a day. Larger vessels can take up to a week to inspect all systems.
Arrange with a boat yard to have the yacht hauled out on the day of the survey so that everything below the waterline can be inspected. You will need to tell the yard manager when you want the boat hauled and the size and make of the vessel.
The survey day schedule will have everyone meeting at the boat first thing in the morning to start the survey. Surveyors like to do engine room work when the engines are cold. When that work is completed the boat is run to the haul out facility that you have selected. The boat is hauled to facilitate the inspection of everything below the waterline. This includes the hull, struts, shafts and bearings, props, through hull fittings and anything else that lurks down there.
The yacht is placed back in the water for a sea trial and the completion of the survey. Be prepared to pay all surveyors before they leave the yacht at the end of the day. You will also be required to pay for the haul out before the vessel is put back in the water.
Most surveyors will give you a report of their findings during the course of the day with a verbal summary before leaving the yacht. That will be followed by a written report by email and a hard copy by snail mail generally within a couple of days depending on the size of the boat and length of the survey. Click here to download a marine-survey-example.
When you receive the survey results you will have the information necessary to make a decision to accept the vessel as is, ask to have certain issues corrected before accepting the yacht or reject the boat and get your deposit back.
If you need recommendations on how to find a surveyor or who to choose please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or my cellphone at (954) 614-1663.
Enjoy your day!
David Tomen CPYB