What makes a good marine survey?

The role of a marine surveyor in the boat buying process is usually critical, and often determines if a sale will, or will not happen. When you are at the moment where you are a potential buyer, the surveyor’s voice is there to be your technical advocate.


In my years in the marine industry, I have seen all sorts of surveyors. There are surveyors who nitpick every detail of a boat, and for many buyers , that is exactly what is needed. I have seen surveyors who know multihulls, and others who don’t. But in the end, there is one job that to me determines if the surveyor is a good, or not.

The boat buyer is there because he wants a boat. He has an offer accepted at the point where the surveyor comes in, and everything should be on the table as far as issues and understandings before the survey begins. The surveyor’s role is to objectively determine the boat’s value—no more, no less. The survey should take into consideration the market value of the boat, the issues needing attention, the relative value of those issues, and ultimately whether the boat’s adjusted value matches the buyer’s agreed value.

I saw a famous surveyor make a seller replace all the exotic rigging on a boat purely because he didn’t know enough about the material being used. He was such a “rock star” surveyor that anything he told the buyer was taken as gospel. That is bad surveying. I have seen surveyors uncover quantum de-lamination issues in boats, and warn the buyer, and that is good surveying. We call it “bedside manner.” Buyer beware. Your surveyor might save you from an awful mistake, or might cause you to miss a great boat because he feels like his role is to kill your deal.

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One Response to What makes a good marine survey?

  1. wallace gouk says:

    “The surveyor’s role is to objectively determine the boat’s value—no more, no less.”

    You’re kidding ! right ?

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