What is a Marine Survey
WHAT IS A MARINE SURVEY?
My basic definition of a marine survey is an inspection of a vessel to determine its overall condition that day of the inspection. The marine survey should be comprehensive, thorough, and cover all systems in the boat as well as structure, cosmetic condition, include findings and recommendations, and valuation. If you’re intending to invest several thousand of your hard-earned dollars in purchasing a boat, a marine survey may be the least expensive and most valuable tool you have to assist you in that purchase.
WHAT I DO
I go through a boat with a fine-tooth comb. What I mean by that is that I slowly and methodically inspect every part of the boat that I can get to. Obviously, I can’t see through walls or panels but you get the idea. That being said, if there are panels or coverings that are removable, I will make every effort to remove panels to inspect. For instance, I normally start in the aft of the boat and work my way to the bow and out of the boat. That way, I have a reference of where I’ve been, where I’ve inspected, made notes, and take photos. Along the way I will also test electrical and mechanical systems, and develop an inventory. It’s a lot of on my hands and knees and contorting my body but that’s what it takes to get a handle on the condition of the boat.
OUT OF WATER INSPECTION
Out of water inspections include assessment of the bottom paint condition, above and below waterline through hull fittings, propellers, zinc protection, rudders, keels, and cutlass bearings. In addition, I inspect for laminate condition using several different methods such as percussion sounding on the hull with a lightweight hammer to moisture meter reads and if necessary will employ a thermo-imaging camera. The tools I use range from basic hand tools and flashlights to higher tech devices such as moisture meters for checking wet laminate coring, true RMS digital multi-meter, magnification devices, bore scopes, ultrasonic testing instruments, and thermo-imaging cameras. But tools are just that, and in the end, it takes experience and knowledge to know how to use and interpret what is inspected. I have surveyed well over 1,000 power and sailboats so I have the knowledge and experience of what to look for.
CAN I BE PRESENT AT THE BOAT DURING THE SURVEY?
You bet! In fact, I prefer that my clients are aboard when I am inspecting the boat so that I can explain the process as well as what I am finding that are good and not so good. A few minutes of conversation and explanation about a situation can make the issue clear. If there is a problem we can discuss the severity of the situation and how much repair coats might be. Plus, I like company and someone to help me move things.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR WHEN YOU SURVEY MY BOAT?
Of the half a dozen or so common questions I get when talking with a new client, this one question is the most difficult one to answer. It’s hard to know where to begin with it and if I try to answer that question too literally I could spend days answering it – there really is just so much that I am looking for. But my normal standard answer is that I look for the things that could sink the boat, cause fire, or endanger lives. I look at everything. I am looking for what is not there or missing. Safety devices, fuses, breakers, lack of handholds, placards, guards – I think you get the idea. Needless to say, it’s a lot to look for.