A Guide to a boat survey and boat survey check list

A surveyor carrying out a boat survey

We at network yacht brokers strongly advise you to carry out a boat survey before buying any boat.

When you’re in the process of buying a boat and trying your best to keep costs under control, the idea of paying to a surveyor can be quite daunting, so is it worth it?

A good survey is essential in both providing peace of mind and protection when buying a boat – whether new ( yes new some makes of boats are notorious for delivering half finished or faulty boats) or secondhand – and in ensuring no important maintenance was missed out during the boats life span.

Why is a BOAT SURVEY important:

  1. Spending money on a proper boat survey gives you peace of mind.
  2. The pre-purchase survey can also be used for insurance purposes. .
  3. No matter what sort of survey you require, always use a member of an accredited organisation that regulates its members
  4. Find a surveyor who is a specialist with extensive experience in the type of vessel you are considering buying.
  5. Get a quote (and any terms and conditions) for carrying out a survey and make sure a surveyor has Professional Indemnity Insurance.
  6. When you get your survey report, make sure that you understand it. If you don’t, then get in touch with the surveyor and ask to explain it.
  7. The report is exclusively for your use. As the seller has not got access to its contents it can often give you leverage to negotiate a better deal, or abandon the purchase if there are significant problems.
  8. Personal recommendation is often an important help.

If a survey uncovers problems  you can negotiate on the selling price.

Buying a boat is not like buying a car. A used car is commonly bought from a dealer who must adhere to sale of goods legislation and will often offer a warranty to boot. Most boat sales on the contrary are between two private individuals where there is minimal legal protection offered to the purchaser, even if negotiations are conducted through a broker. A check on the laters reputation is not a bad idea.

A survey is especially important when buying low-value boat, a boat that can appear to be a bargain actually needs costly work. The cost of this work plus the cheap acquisition price can significantly exceed the market value of the type of boat.

If the survey uncovers any problems, it will give you an itemised list of areas where the boat can be improved and you can ask the seller for a reduction.

Boat Surveys for insurance and finance

There are many instances when an insurance company, or marine mortgage provider, will require a survey to be able to quantify their risk. A surveyor will spot if an incident has happened such as a collision that results in damage, or a heavy grounding, a surveyor will be able to assess the damage and recommend a repair schedule or condemn the boat.

Pre-purchase BOAT SURVEY

The most comprehensive is a Full Condition Survey, which may also be called a Pre-Purchase Survey. This will look at as many aspects of the vessel as possible, from structural integrity and safety of systems, right through to cosmetic details. This is designed to identify the good and bad points of a craft, giving the client (you) a very good idea of any problems that need correction – and to what extent they should be reflected in the purchase price.


Naturally, different boats require different areas of consideration. But all surveys should involve an assessment of the critical components, including the hull, the propulsive equipment and the condition of all mechanical gear. They tend to involve a bottom up approach to judge whether a boat is basically sound – and to that end, they will encompass an inspection of the hull and transom (ideally out of the water) for cracks, osmosis and impact damage. They will also involve an inspection of the engine and drive to help reveal any issues with the mountings, shafts, oil leaks or connections. And an inspection of the critical control systems, deck hardware, fittings, communications and safety equipment should also be undertaken..

A good survey can tell you whether a derelict appearance really does mean that the boat underneath has gone to seed!


The two reasons not to rely on an existing survey

Firstly, a survey can only reflect the condition of the boat on the day it was carried out. The vessel may, for instance, have had a collision just after being made.

Secondly, all reputable surveyors have a professional indemnity insurance, against which a client can claim in the event of a problem the surveyor should of picked up. .


Your survey will list recommendations, indicating what areas need attention or are likely to need attention. These recommendations tend to be divided into three distinct categories.

  1. If severe defects are discovered these should be attended to before the boat is next used – these can cover a wide variety of things, from structural defects that require a major rebuilding of an area of the hull to damaged guardrails or stanchions that make them unsafe, but could be rectified with only £100 of materials and half a day of time.

2. Medium category works in which the work can be carried out at a later date, along with other scheduled maintenance tasks which can wait and do not stop the immediate use of the boat.

3. A surveyor may also identify early indicators of a potential problem which should be monitored over a longer period of time, but which may not require any immediate repairs to be undertaken.


It is best to choose a local surveyor so as to reduce expenses it is best to select one that speaks your language. There exists many websites with lists of reputable surveyors an their areas of operation.

A local surveyor can recommend that an expert in the relevant area examines specific elements of a vessel, such as machinery, or the rig of a sailing yacht, in detail. A company specialised in Rigging can be engaged to provide a detailed report of the rig and deck gear, while a report on the engine, including an oil sample analysis and a compression test, will give a good indication of the motors condition and if it has been correctly maintained. This is particularly valuable for motor yachts in which the cost of engine replacement or overhaul can be more than the over value of the boat.


A sea trial is an opportunity to confirm that all the vessel’s gear and equipment is functioning correctly.


The buyer of a used yacht will be expected to pay for everything associated with the survey. This includes lifting ashore for a survey and relaunching if necessary, or in the case of a boat that’s already ashore, launching for a sea trial.

When does a boat survey take place.

Most standard contracts for buying a used boat give a 14-day period in which a survey can take place, once a deposit has been paid to the vendor or his agent. Surveyors are therefore accustomed to booking work at relatively short notice with a written report often delivered within a few days of the survey taking place.

Surveys are tributaries to the weather. Moisture meter readings taken on a day of torrential rain would not be useful, and gales may stopa yard lifting a boat ashore in readiness for a survey.


A good surveyor can help you pick the right boat at the right price and if he misses something it is his insurance that pays. Even as a broker we can lose commissions through unfavourable surveys, it’s a cheap price to pay than having unhappy customers. Now let us make a quick boat survey checklist so you can understand better the report.

Boat Survey Checklist

Lets write out a Boat survey checklist together.

Before digging into the details, let’s make a boat survey checklist of the things covered in a boat survey:

  • Check the boat’s identity, via HIN (hull identification) number and state or federal registration.
  • Inspect the hull for flaws or damage.
  • Audibly inspect the hull and deck for flaws or damage by gently tapping with a hammer, and listening for differences in the sound it makes.
  • Test all around the hull and deck, especially in suspect areas, with a moisture meter (note that moisture meters can be difficult to interpret, and the fool even the pros sometimes).
  • Inspect the hull-to-deck joint wherever possible, inside and out.
  • Inspect the power plant and if applicable, complete a compression test. Remember that some professional surveyors cover powerplants and others do not; in many cases this is best left to a mechanic.
  • Inspect the other parts of the propulsion system and running gear.
  • Look at the interior spaces of the boat and check for damage and/or wear.
  • Check the fuel system, from the tank(s) to the engine(s).
  • Test the electrical system and all of its components ranging from navigational electronics to lights.
  • Inspect all through-hull fittings and seacocks.
  • Test the plumbing systems and all of its components, ranging from wash down pumps to commodes.
  • When and where possible, inspect belowdecks stringers and bulkheads for structural condition.
  • In the case of sailboats, inspect the rigging and associated gear (winches, lines, etc).
  • Perform a sea trial.
  • Create a general report on the boat’s overall condition, state of maintenance, and appearance.
  • Create a list of the boat’s equipment, indicating the condition of said equipment.
  • Create a report on the boat’s major systems, such as propulsion, electrical, etc.
  • Create a list of items in need of immediate repairs or replacement for the safe operation of the boat, based on the boat survey checklist.












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Sara M

Sara M

20 years of sailing Experience French but speaks English,Spanish, Italian fluently

A Guide to a boat survey and boat survey check list

We are network yacht brokers Valencia, with an international team of brokers and marketers, we appear on an international level, and on over 37 platforms.

+34 722 636 622

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A Guide to a boat survey and boat survey check list Dealers

A Guide to a boat survey and boat survey check list

We are network yacht brokers Valencia, with an international team of brokers and marketers, we appear on an international level, and on over 37 platforms.

+34 722 636 622

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