Should I Get a Survey for My Boat? July 14, 2022

When one buys a home (especially if there’s a mortgage involved) it’s very common for the buyer to contract with a home inspector to go over the home, checking out the HVAC systems, the water heater, other plumbing, the electrical system, the circuit board, the roof, the foundation… all to find possible maintenance issues that exist, or may need attention down the road.

When you purchase a new or previously owned boat, this process is called a boat survey, and it’s very similar. A licensed, trained marine surveyor will go over the boat, inspecting its mechanical systems, its engines, its hull condition, and other working elements on the boat, and issue the prospective buyer with a report detailing the surveyor’s overall opinion of the mechanical quality of the boat, and listing certain maintenance issues that either need immediate attention or might crop up in the future.

Our customers at Fay’s Boat Yard frequently ask: Do I need to hire a boat surveyor? With a very late model boat it is often hard to justify the cost. With newer boats, you often get a report that tells you the boat is in great shape. 

Still, the benefits of having a survey done can be worthwhile. You will find that any surveyor will almost always give you a checklist of items to be addressed, even if it just a typical maintenance schedule. If that normal suggested-maintenance list is all you turn up in a survey you are doing well, and have the peace of mind of an independent assessment of the boat. You also have a good starting point for what should be ongoing proper maintenance for your boat (and at Fay’s Boat Yard, our experienced service technicians know how to follow a typical maintenance checklist).

If you find yourself buying an older boat, having a survey done makes more sense. On an older boat, a top-to-bottom survey is more likely to come up with an issue or two, and some of them may be of greater concern. 

There are always going to be issues that may be typical for the age of the boat, but manageable with ongoing care. The true value of the survey can be the unseen bombshell issue, such as a delaminated deck, rotten transom, disintegrating motor mounts, and other major problems that are revealed during inspection. If a boat survey unveils serious issues like these, you can be forewarned: you can negotiate a lower price for the boat, or decide to walk away.

Surveys can also be performed for owners considering a near-future sale of their boat, or those who want to know the mechanical condition of the boat they’ve owned for some time. 

We often see owners who are willfully blind to the real condition of their boats.  “It has always been fine for us, and not given us any problems” they’ll say.  That statement will often precede the claim that “I had no idea!”when a boat survey shows some serious maintenance problems… 

A survey can have the benefit of letting one know what may arise in a survey by a buyer, down the road. It can also give the owner insights into the boat that they may have overlooked, or just not been aware of. And any good surveyor will always create a check list of matters that need attention. That alone has a value worth considering.

If you’re thinking of selling your boat, purchasing another and you’re wondering if a boat survey is warranted, stop in to Fay’s service department. We’ll go over the pros and cons, suggest the names of some qualified surveyors, and help you decide what’s best for you and your boat.

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