Frank Lanier, AMS®
Like unusual nautical trivia? Check out Frank’s latest book Jack Tar and the Baboon Watch: A Guide to Curious Nautical Knowledge for Landlubbers and Sea Lawyers Alike.
A pre-purchase C&V is the most comprehensive survey and strongly recommended when purchasing a new or used vessel. It includes an in-depth examination of the vessel's structural integrity, electrical system, electronics, propulsion system, fuel system, machinery, navigation, and other miscellaneous on board systems, as well as an out of water inspection and sea trial. A written report provides detailed information on the vessel as relates to the above and discrepancies or variations from American Boat And Yacht Counsel (ABYC) and National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) standards, as well as USCG requirements and prudent seamanship. The report will also have a "Recommendations" section listing maintenance and repair items that need to be addressed in order to bring the vessel up to standard. The pre-purchase C&V will also provide you with an informed opinion on condition and fair market value free from immediate financial or emotional considerations. Regardless your level of experience and knowledge, you'll appreciate the usefulness of this unbiased second opinion, even if familiar with the vessel's condition and value. Financial organizations and marine underwriters require this independent evaluation from a surveyor who is not involved in the deal when deciding on the amount to lend or insure (although their figures may be higher or lower than the survey valuation depending on past experience and policies). A pre-purchase C&V will also help assess suitability and safety of the vessel as compared with its intended use. The survey opinion is an important tool that, when supported with the detailed personal observations provided in the report, should assist in deciding whether the vessel is suitable for your needs. Insurance underwriters will also be concerned with safety recommendations in the survey, since this will affect potential liability claims. Don't view a survey as unnecessary "red tape" forced on you by an insurer or lender - a good survey will save you money.
A pre-purchase C&V survey will probably be the most comprehensive, overall inspection a vessel ever receives. For a typical 30-foot production yacht the on site inspection will typically take a full day, with research and the written portion of the survey taking another full day. Although thorough, a typical pre-purchase C&V survey cannot be an exhaustive investigation of every detail of every system (a task which could easily encompass days or even weeks). While many cosmetic and maintenance items are often noted, a typical survey concentrates more so on issues affecting the safety or value of the vessel.
Areas of inspection include the vessel's topsides, rig and all normally accessible interior spaces. Haul out includes an inspection of the hull and all underwater machinery (props, rudders, etc.). Visual inspection of engines, generators, fluid levels, fuel, steering, electrical, sanitation and other systems are conducted, as well as an examination of the vessel's papers, registration, hull number and of course all safety equipment.
Items not normally included in a pre-purchase survey (unless prior arrangements have been made) include:
|Removal of screwed, nailed, or otherwise attached paneling, liners, carpeting, etc.|
|Opening, pressure testing, or sampling tanks.|
|Disassembly of engines, machinery, electronics, etc., or testing with specialized equipment.|
|Destructive testing (drilling holes, removing paint or gel coat, etc.)|
Sellers or brokers do not routinely allow any of the above items, although we may recommend disassembly or additional testing based on our observations. If needed, these specialized services can be conducted during the survey, however as with any destructive testing permission of the owner/seller is required and each will be carried out by a qualified technician. We do attend and observe testing of this sort.
For pre-purchase surveys, we usually recommend an experienced mechanic perform an engine survey in conjunction with our survey.
(Free Survey Price Quote)
There is no standard, industry-wide format, however our survey reports follow the guidelines of the "SAMS Recommended Survey Report Content" Manual (1997) and contains a detailed description of the vessel, its systems, suitability for its intended use, detailed comments on conditions affecting value, and recommendations addressing safety issues, necessary repairs, and maintenance. An estimated fair market value and replacement cost is also included, as are photographs of the vessel and any unusual features or problems.
(Sample power boat C&V survey)
(Sample sailboat C&V survey)
All vessels will have items requiring attention, however in most cases these will not in themselves preclude the sale. The buyer has the option of purchasing the vessel and making the changes or recommendations, or renegotiating the selling price if warranted. In cases where the survey valuation is less than the previously agreed selling price, options for the buyer include:
- Paying the original selling price, regardless of the survey evaluation. Such a decision is based on how well the vessel meets your particular needs and whether the higher cost is justified by the benefit or amount of pleasure it will provide.
- Re-negotiate the original selling price with the seller and broker.
- Refusing the vessel. Your sales contract should include language allowing you to decline the vessel if the survey results are unsatisfactory to you.
An Insurance Survey or Underwriter's Marine Risk Evaluation is designed to assist underwriters in determining a vessel's insurability. The focus here is structural integrity, safety, and inspection of systems installations as per NFPA and ABYC guidelines. Safety gear is inspected and noted for compliance with USCG requirements and pertinent identification information is recorded for future reference, valuation, and claims adjustment. When purchasing a new vessel, the pre-purchase C&V survey will normally also serve to obtain insurance. Underwriters periodically require surveys of boats they insure, typically every three to five years depending on the vessels age and hull material. An evaluation is also normally required when a new policy is written, such as when changing insurance companies unless an acceptable recent survey is available. In such cases, what is considered "recent" and "acceptable" may vary between underwriters, meaning you must ask each what they currently will and won't accept. Some underwriters may accept an in-water evaluation (i.e. no haul-out), which will eliminate the cost of the haul-out. When contemplating a no-haul evaluation, be sure to ask your insurance agent or underwriter if it is acceptable. The benefit of any survey or evaluation in which the vessel is not hauled out for a bottom inspection is significantly reduced. AN UNDERWRITERS MARINE RISK EVALUATION IS LIMITED IN SCOPE AND CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR A CONDITION AND VALUE SURVEY. We do not conduct pre-purchased C&V surveys unless the vessel is hauled for inspection.
Boating insurance can be divided into to two general categories, "Agreed value (or Yacht) insurance and "Actual cash value" insurance, either of which can have certain requirements that may determine the type of evaluation needed.
"Agreed value" insurance means the value for a total loss is agreed upon by you and the underwriter when the policy is written, meaning you'll receive that amount (minus any deductibles) upon a total loss.
With "Actual cash value" insurance, the amount paid upon total loss is subject to both depreciation and the vessel's condition at time of the loss. This is similar to auto insurance, in that an insurance adjuster will be utilized to determine your vessel's worth.
As boat insurance is not regulated by state and federal agencies to the same extent as auto insurance, there is significant variation in boat and yacht insurance policies. Compare quotes, read each policy carefully, develop a good working relationship with the agent or company representative you'll be dealing with, and don't be afraid to ask questions regarding the coverage afforded by your policy.
(Free Underwriters Marine Risk Evaluation Price Quote)
An Appraisal Inspection is performed to determine the fair market value of the vessel for financing, estate settlements, donations, and legal cases.
Sample Appraisal Inspection
Free Appraisal Inspection Price Quote
A Damage Inspection is performed to assess the extent of damage, recommend repairs, estimate repair cost, and probable cause if needed.
When filing a damage claim with your underwriter, remember the surveyor assigned by them will be representing the insurance company's' interest, which may or may not be your best interests. You have the right to hire your own surveyor to inspect damage and make recommendations as to repair methods and cost estimates. Depending on the policy, your underwriter may even pay for this independent surveyor, subject to your deductible and of course the validity of your claim. Ask your agent to verify your coverage.
(Sample Damage Survey)
(Free Damage Survey Price Quote)
Standard turnaround is five to seven working days after the inspection. It takes on average around five days after the onboard inspection is completed to research valuation, write, and print the report. This time is an integral part of the survey process and is important as well, and rushing may affect overall quality.
Please let us know in advance if you need a "rush" job, which will most likely involve additional fees.
Prices vary, depending on the survey requested, type of vessel, hull material, age, complexity of the systems, etc, as well as the specific requirements of the survey. Additionally, those requiring significant drive time or travel from our office will typically be assessed travel fees. That’s why we request that clients fill out a free survey quote request so that we can provide an accurate, written quote for all of our services.
Please call (757) 287-3770 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your survey needs or click HERE to receive a free survey price quote.
When purchasing a vessel, you commission the surveyor to do the pre-purchase survey. We work for you and no one else! We have no affiliation with any other party involved in the sale and provide the results only to you. We do not provide our estimated fair market value or any other information to broker, seller, or any one else unless specifically authorized by you. In all cases survey results are provided only to you, the customer, unless otherwise requested.
Our survey reports and evaluations are guaranteed to be accepted by all major lenders and insurers or your survey report fee will be refunded.
Although you do not have to be present, we encourage buyers to attend the survey. The notes and recommendations presented in the written report will have more meaning for you when present during the actual inspection. It also affords us the opportunity to answer any questions you may have in person and to point out minor observations that might not be significant enough to be included in the final report. The owner, broker, or their representative may be present to operate the vessel or equipment, however we will not discuss the survey or convey any findings to them - only to you.
That being said, it's best to refrain from bringing anyone who does not have a direct interest in the purchase.
Boats are a lot of fun, however friends, relatives, small children, or pets can cause distractions. Surveying is a very serious part of what is often a substantial investment - help us get the most out of it for you.
You probably wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, so a sea trial is an excellent idea and highly recommended. Most buyers will take a "test sail" with the owner or broker (normally prior to the survey) to determine if the vessel's performance is in general satisfactory and warrants the additional expense of a survey, however a sea trial provides the surveyor valuable insight on how a vessel and her systems operate in the "real world." Many surveyors factor in a one hour sea trial into their prices. As it normally takes longer to perform a thorough sea trial, you either pay for the additional time required to do it right or receive a less than comprehensive evaluation. We can and will conduct a formal sea trial if requested, however we do not arbitrarily charge you for one and our prices are reduced accordingly. We feel you should be able to decide if you require a sea trial and if so want to ensure we have the proper amount of time to provide you the best evaluation possible.
Items to consider if you'd like us to conduct a sea trial:
Like hot coffee and clumsy McDonalds customers, surveys and sea trials don't go together - meaning that we cannot conduct them simultaneously. Both are important enough to deserve a surveyor's full, undivided attention. Both can be conducted the same day, however the order should be survey first, sea trial second. This allows the buyer to determine if any problems found during the survey preclude the need for the added expense of a sea trial, and facilitates inspection of the engine and engine room (which will likely be too hot to move around in freely for a number of hours after a sea trial). We ask that the engines not be cranked prior to our arrival. Sea trials and surveys can be conducted on separate days and often a sea trial can be conducted while on the trip to the yard for haul out or on the return trip, at which time we can also check any items you may have noted from your "test sail". We do not operate the vessel during the survey or sea trial. The owner, broker, or a hired captain will have to be present to operate the vessel. We will need to give our full attention to inspecting the various equipment and systems while underway, something which can't be properly done while captaining the vessel.
The rig is given a close visual inspection from deck level, which is common practice among surveyors nationwide. For an additional fee inspection of the rig aloft can be included as part of the survey, however it does involve additional time, difficulties, and prior arrangements. A thorough deck level inspection is normally adequate to determine the vessel's overall condition and value, however there are numerous cases (extended cruising, offshore passage, etc) in which you'll want a full inspection performed by a qualified rigger. Some underwriters require an aloft inspection of the rig (particularly when upgrading to a "blue water" type insurance) so be sure to ask what's required by your policy.
Sails are given a general inspection as found (i.e. bagged or furled), which is normally adequate for a typical pre-purchase survey. Weather permitting, we may have the owner or broker hoist the main or unfurl a jib, however in most cases we will recommend all sails be given a complete inspection by a qualified sail maker (particularly when planning extended cruses or off shore passages).
Open all normally accessible compartments and spaces and ensure unobstructed access.
The vessel should be reasonably clean and all items not included in the sale should be removed.
Provide ship's papers or title and registration.
The seller, broker, or other representative of the seller will be expected to operate the vessel, engine, or other equipment as required and to deliver the vessel to and from the yard for the haul out.
(Pre-survey Check-off sheet)
We are happy to provide references upon request.