The Marine Survey is a written report providing the dimensions, gear, hull structure, equipment, propulsion machinery, and the basic lay-out and condition of the vessel. The physical and visual examination consists inspecting the hull, fittings, gear, machinery and equipment to ascertain all of these items are in serviceable condition. A marine survey also consists of inspecting fresh water lines, sinks, faucets, tanks(fuel, water, waste) fuel lines, thru-hull fittings, raw water hoses, batteries, electrical 12-volt and 110-volt systems, air conditioning units and pumps, steering, vents, blowers, cabin windows, galley equipment, navigational equipment, lights and railing to make sure all are in good condition. Included in the survey is a list deficencies with recommendations and any damage observed along with digital color photographs inside and out of the vessel. This information is then compiled to determine a "condition" as well as fair current market value in its present condition.
It is always highly recommended that anyone who is purchasing a used boat have a professional marine survey performed prior to ownership. Most banks require a Marine Survey to determine the condition, current market value and to have a written document from an outside source to help support the loan. Most insurance companies require a survey. Insurance companies want to know the condition and value of the vessel to ensure the vessel is not insured above or below market value and is safe to operate.
Pre-Purchase Surveys are "condition and valuation surveys". A Pre-Purchase survey of a 30 to 40 foot boat will take approximately 2 to 4 hours to complete at the boat and several hours to prepare a report. Larger boats will take more time and smaller boats less. It is best the vessel is inspected both in and out of the water. Sea Trials usually takes about an hour depending on the location, conditions and performance of the vessel. The sea trial will determine performance in areas such as handling, steering, acceleration, engine idling, gear shifting, engine cooling under load and overall engine performance.
Pre-Purchase surveys are performed before or after a price has been negotiated for the vessel. If the price is under negotiation a "Pre-Purchase Survey" is often a useful tool. A "Pre-Purchase Survey" will include a Findings and Recommendations section where any deficiencies of the surveyed vessel is listed.
An "Insurance Survey" details the entire vessel and is very similar to a "Pre-Purchase Survey", only shorter. A great emphasis is placed on safety and value. The safety of the vessel occupants is of the most consideration when insuring any vessel. The second most important consideration is the value and condition of the vessel. A "Fair Market Value" of the vessel is always obtained in an "insurance survey". The price the surveyor places on the vessel is generally what the vessel will be insured for. When insurance companies are changed, a new survey is generally required. An insurance survey may also cost slightly less than a pre-purchase survey. Most insurance surveys are requested by the boat owner due to a letter from the insurance company asking for an updated survey.