Sorry if I am repeating myself, I may have posted this before.......
Anyone with $50.00 for business cards can be a marine
surveyor. Anyone with $100.00 - $300.00 can buy an fancy acronym to put on that business card from a "diploma mill" or just make one up. Some call themselves Master Marine Surveyors, Certified Master Marine Surveyors, Master Builder
Surveyors, Certified Marine Surveyors and my favourite " Accredited Certified Master Marine Surveyor " or one of many other fancy titles. I saw one business card marked "SS" and was told it meant Super Surveyor !
Among the various acrnonyms you will find on business cards and the signature pages of survey reports are ACMS, OAMS, CAMS, NAMS, USSA Navtech, GAMMS, CIMarE, AMIMarE, IAAMI, MMS, MMSAI, ACMABC, CMMS, USSA, SNAME, SA, SS, FIMarE, A.M.S. and of course AMS® (the only one with an ®) among many others. I don't know what some of these mean .... I guess its up to you to figure it out !
Although some are questionable you should start with asking about qualifications including certifications or accreditations. Many boat surveyors have acronyms after their names, most of which you won't recognize. Ask what they stand for, check out the organization on the web. There are legitimate organizations dedicated to furthering the profession through strict requirements and there are others that sell "acronyms" to anyone who sends a cheque or like the ad's on the back of matchbook covers, a do it yourself "learn to be a surveyor" course. Some of these even have impressive looking web sites.
Caveat Emptor !
The acronym "AMS®" (Accredited Marine Surveyor) is a registered trademark of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors® however, it is not unusual to find non-accredited surveyors claiming this accreditation. Check the Society's roster on their web site at www.marinesurvey.org
to ensure the accreditation of your surveyor.Surveying is an unregulated profession and surveyors are no different than the practitioners of any other trade
; some are better than others. Find the one you feel most comfortable with and do not be shy of asking questions.
The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors® requires minimum degrees of education, experience and exams before conferring the AMS® designation on a surveyor and mandatory continuing education requirements ever after. SAMS® surveyors follow a Society "Survey Report Content" format that includes a "Scope of Survey" statement that informs clients of precisely what will be covered in the survey report and which standards are applied. If you go to the SAMS® web site you will see two designators after the names on the roster, AMS® and SA. An SA (Surveyor Associate) is a practising surveyor who has not yet taken theAMS® exam. After joining SAMS®anSAmust also meet continuing education requirements and has five years to apply to take the upgrade exam. Most SA's have been in various aspects of the marine business for years and joining SAMS® shows their commitment to excellence in their chosen profession.
Of the approximately boat 140 surveyors in Ontario
there are only about 10AMS® and 12 SA's......why take the chance of hiring someone who could not bother to further his education and commit to the profession.
Ask to see a sample survey. Review samples from several surveyors and read carefully between the lines. Buyers name, valuation and hull
I.D. numbers should be blanked out. A survey belongs to the person who commissioned it and confidentiality is expected. I would lean towards a surveyor who posts sample reports on his (her) website as this showa a certain sense of pride of workmanship and that he's not afraid of scrutiny. Ask for references
but don't expect to be given any bad ones. Check with your dock
mates and ask who they used and if they were satisfied. If they were still satisfied a year after the survey you might have found the right surveyor.
Think twice about the 30 page survey that that goes into great detail about the "tastefully appointed" upholstery but mentions nothing about the substandard engine
compartment ventilation system, the seized seacocks or non-ignition protected equipment
in a gasoline engine
compartment. Watch out for the "check list" surveys, you know ... the ones that say " Hull
- yes, Engines - two ".
Recommendations are the most important part of any survey and should cite the standards on which they are based. To remain current
a surveyor must be a member
of American Boat And Yacht Council® (ABYC®) and subscribe to their primary publication.... "Standards and Technical Information Reports For Small Craft" which includes standards for construction, electrical, fuel
and fire safety
systems among many others. The USCG and Transport Canada's Small Craft Construction Standards are largely derived from this publication. Transport Canada
, USCG, CCG and CE standards are currently being harmonized with ABYC standards and Transport Canada
has actually made some of these standards law in Canada with more being added every year. Canadian Regulations
now make so many referals and deferrals to ABYC that one simply cannot survey a vessel to Canadian legal
requirements without being a member
of ABYC® and purchasing
their standards and annual updates. Membership
in BoatUS® Technical Exchange is also important as this provides access to a forum for marine professionals which includes a database of technical, structural and safety
issues for specific vessels.
Do NOT hire a surveyor who is not a member of ABYC® If the surveyor does not cite specific standards or authorities for his recommendations, what are they based on ?
A survey should be a systematic examination of the vessel and it's systems. Many surveyors prefer that you not be present during the survey as they may be distracted and miss something. This I believe is a valid concern however, you are the customer. I prefer the client arrive towards the end of the survey when I have a good handle on the boat and what to do about it. Then issues can be discussed. Some things that can appear serious on paper may assume a lesser status when they can be pointed out and discussed in person. You must also remember that the survey is not complete until the report is written as I often have to mull things over before committing.
I have owned my boat for fifteen years and in that time have installed new shaft, stuffing box, stern tube, shaft log, transmission
injection system, undergone a total engine rebuild
and replaced or rebuilt virtually every system on the boat from plumbing
to hydraulics….. I still learn something new every time I crawl through the bilge
Surveys are limited by the physical and visual accessibility to the structural elements and systems. No surveyor can find everything thats wrong with a boat in the few hours allotted to a survey and a lot of the issues he does find are subject to his subjective interpretations. For instance several local surveyors make a big issue of wet balsa core
on sailboat decks and consider this a serious issue while I have never seen wet deck core
hurt anyone or sink a boat.....so if the price
is right.... buy it and go sailing. A 100% accurate survey would require complete disassembly of the vessel, a large number of holes drilled and the services of several specialists.
There are some very good surveyors who are not members of SAMS® but unless you are familiar with them and the business of surveying you may be better off starting out with a SAMS® surveyor. Would you hire a doctor, mechanic
or electrician with questionable credentials ? Choosing a SAMS® surveyor is not a guarantee but it does raise the baseline.