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Old 15-09-2008, 16:48   #16
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"I have "Purchase" surveyed my last few boats as I seem to know more than (or care more than?) many of the surveyors out there...."

If you have owned a boat/yacht with all the systems typically associated with a well appointed craft, and, you have seen first hand the issues that often plague the various systems then you likely do know more than most surveyors.
After many years of owning boats of all types and sizes I went to Surveying School at Chapmans. Once there I discovered many of the students knew very little in the way of technical details about boat systems. I discovered (knew all along actually) that I knew very little about the operation of systems such as watermakers, and complex electrical systems. I also found out how little I knew about the finer details of wood boat construction and issues specific to aluminum hulls.
When the class was over and the title of Marine Surveyor was bestowed upon me I joined all of the appropriate organizations and put up my ad and soon I was surveying boats.
This level of understanding however leads to making statements such as "appears to power up" and other vague findings. In a short time I decided to make a career decision before I got over my head and really made a mistake that might cost more than money.
Since that time I have owned boats with air conditioning and refrigeration and major electrical distribution systems. I have had to do research to make repairs, I have found installations that were incorrect and generally learned a lot.
My point is that a lot of guys are out there surveying boats and rendering opinions about boats and systems and they aren't qualified to do so. I think you can become a minor expert on certain boat related subjects like blisters and corrosion without living through it first hand but for the most part, if they haven't apprenticed with the a real seasoned expert they will never deliver a report that says anything substantial.

Bottom line..get references and ask questions before you hire.

Oh and if I surveyed your boat in the past and you are now saying to yourself, wth.....and you want a refund well that's understandable.
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Old 04-03-2009, 18:26   #17
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I have been doing surveys for about 30 years and things have changed a lot since I first started. One is the American legal system..which is one reason I do not choose to live or visit there. I fully agree that mosy surveyors could care less about the boat, the owner, or anyone else other than the guy paying the bills.... and how quickly, for how little, they can collect. Doing an "honest" survey is not an easy task. Everyone has some sort of, usually financial, interest in seeing their point of view put on paper. That tends to put a lot of stress on the surveyor to try and keep everyone happy.

My response has been to simply stop doing evaluation surveys for one thing and to make it very clear to all involved that they might not like what I find and report. After all they can always find another guy to do them a nice sexy insurance survey. My job is to inspect the boat and tell who ever ask me to exactly what state it is in and what might need doing to keep it afloat and safe for a few more years. Not everyone is interested in that.

A friend reciently invited me to " have a look" at his newly building replica sailing boat. I spent over two hours listening to him run on about all his " improvements" and luxury additions. In the end came the big question, "well what do you think of her"? My answer? "Just be glade I am not your surveyor". I guess that just about says it all.

One other note: No surveyor is ever going to look as closely or as carefully as the guy who is thinking about buying a boat should do. After it will not be the surveyors backside on the line when your out there all alone and it gets nasty. I have a lot of time for the guys who crawl the bilges with me so they can also see what I am seeing. After a lot of those "adventures" most make up their own minds and only needed me as the tour guide.... or back-up in case the bilge monster attacked them.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:55   #18
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Outstanding practitioners are difficult to find, in any field of endeavour.
After all, fully half of all people are below average.
I leave it to each to judge for themself, how adequate “average” is.

At a mere 180 Hours over 6 weeks, the Chapman’s “Yacht & Small Craft Surveying” program is only an intensive seminar, whose stated objective is
“To prepare men and women for entry into the field of yacht and small craft surveying...”

Chapman School of Seamanship -Yacht & Small Craft Surveying

The NAMS and SAMS organizations still require the (Chapman's graduate) prospective surveyor to serve an apprenticeship under the tutelage of a qualified surveyor.
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:52   #19
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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, fuel injection system, undergone a total engine rebuild and replaced or rebuilt virtually every system on the boat from plumbing and electronics 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.
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:48   #20
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Well, my experience is they are hard to find if you are not willing to do some research, get recommendations, call the recommendations etc.

I have hired four surveyors over a period of about 30 years.

The first was OK, but it was a small inexpensive boat so if he had made any errors it would have been inconsequential. The second was a Ft. Lauderdale guy, one of several recommended by the broker, for the most expensive and complicated boat I have ever purchased. It was a deal I needed to complete quickly (bargain priced) so I made the mistake of not doing any real research. That turned out to be a very expensive mistake, as he failed to note a number of problems that were very expensive and time consuming to fix. Had he noted those problems, I feel reasonably sure the seller would have made appropriate price reductions.

Somehow that surveyor had built up a decent reputation, but probably more a result of his own marketing and local friendliness than actual performance.

But I learned my lesson and the last two I have hired, after substantial research, were very good and easily generated savings for me that far exceeded their fees.

edit: The "research" I speak of includes doing as much prework as possible on your own to determine likely problem areas on the boat you want to buy. That would include a "self-survey" as described by Don Casey in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Inspecting-Sai...6268586&sr=1-3

Then, look for a surveyor who has first rate overall recommendations, AND good expertise in the areas of concern.
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:41   #21
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Find a SAMS ® Surveyor:
Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) - Worldwide Membership Roster

Find a NAMS ® Surveyor:
Surveyors | NAMSGlobal

To expand upon boatpoker’s excellent information:

From the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MARINE SURVEYORS (NAMS); but SAMS will have similar programs:

Continuing Education Guidelines

All surveyor members are required to earn a minimum of six (6) credits annually. Qualifying continuing education activities include, but are not limited to:
http://namsglobal.org/page_attachmen...CE_Credits.pdf

Study Reference:
This list was developed as a tool of reference for the Yacht and Small Craft surveyor and for Candidates considering applying for the Certified Marine Surveyor Exam. Those publications that are highlighted should be considered required reading for the Candidate prior to sitting for the
CMS exam.

http://namsglobal.org/page_attachmen...C_Tech_Bib.pdf

Yachts and Small Craft Apprentice Syllabus
The following syllabus has been developed for the apprentice surveyor and as guidance in developing a course of study for the profession of Marine Surveying
http://namsglobal.org/page_attachmen...e_Syllabus.pdf
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:50   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
The second was a Ft. Lauderdale guy, one of several recommended by the broker, for the most expensive and complicated boat I have ever purchased. It was a deal I needed to complete quickly (bargain priced) so I made the mistake of not doing any real research. That turned out to be a very expensive mistake, as he failed to note a number of problems that were very expensive and time consuming to fix. Had he noted those problems, I feel reasonably sure the seller would have made appropriate price reductions.

Somehow that surveyor had built up a decent reputation, but probably more a result of his own marketing and local friendliness than actual performance.
Thirty years ago I was a yacht broker in Ft Lauderdale. Very quickly learned that many of the best known brokers all used the same well known surveryor from the "big well known company in town". Also quickly figured out this surveyor was used because he was known as a broker's surveyor and your were pretty much assured the sale would go through on his report. He would not pass a boat with serious structural faults or safety issues but the potentially expensive minutia was definitely glossed over. My guess is you ran into this dirty little secret in the S FL brokerage market.

Personally I went with the toughest surveyor in town. Lost a couple of sales but never lost the customer.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:17   #23
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After reading all this, I do indeed feel fortunate. I ended up with a Florida surveyor I was very happy with and worked with him three times including written surveys on two separate boats.

The surveys I receievd were very detailed. The boat I finally purchased was in good condition, but still had two pages of deficiencies and recommendations. These included everything from noting a fire extinguisher was not properly pressurized to wiring issues, to a leaky fresh water pump to the lack of C02 detectors, to rusty hardward bolts.

If anything it's too detailed. It was great to have all that information for sale consideration purposes, but it raises more red flags when it comes to insurance.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:26   #24
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Thirty years ago I was a yacht broker in Ft Lauderdale. Very quickly learned that many of the best known brokers all used the same well known surveryor from the "big well known company in town". Also quickly figured out this surveyor was used because he was known as a broker's surveyor and your were pretty much assured the sale would go through on his report. He would not pass a boat with serious structural faults or safety issues but the potentially expensive minutia was definitely glossed over. My guess is you ran into this dirty little secret in the S FL brokerage market.

Personally I went with the toughest surveyor in town. Lost a couple of sales but never lost the customer.
The guy I was talking about had a thriving business about 9 years ago and he was fortyish. Either Aussie or New Zealand native, but had been in Lauderdale for quite a while..... long enough to become well known. I can go find his report and get his name. That's about all that report is good for.
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:45   #25
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I will charter the next boat before I sign a bill of sail. The deal, if I buy the boat owner keeps half, if not owner keeps all. After that I want an expert, and there are still a few around in boat yards, to pull up the floor boards, check for previous damage and condition of keel bolts, bilge and anything else running under there. Pull the electrical pannel and see what is going on there, climb into the engine compartment and check the stering system, auto pilot if it exsists, exhaust system etc. Only after that process do I have a surveyer haul the sucker and go over her with a moister meeter and tap her out especially the rudder. Don't forget to get a rigger to check out the rig. Is all of this expensive, you bet, but not nearly as expensive as buying a boat for a couple of hun only to find she needs another hun to set right. Mt point, don't wine about surveyers or lack of them. Caveat emptor.
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Old 04-06-2009, 19:02   #26
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I'm not kidding on this one.....

If that is the guy I met, who showed up in a Mercedes 15 years ago, he IS good!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
The guy I was talking about had a thriving business about 9 years ago and he was fortyish. Either Aussie or New Zealand native, but had been in Lauderdale for quite a while..... long enough to become well known. I can go find his report and get his name. That's about all that report is good for.
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Old 19-07-2009, 10:57   #27
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Your florida surveyor

Would you share the name and location of this surveyor ?


quote: After reading all this, I do indeed feel fortunate. I ended up with a Florida surveyor I was very happy with and worked with him three times including written surveys on two separate boats.

The surveys I receievd were very detailed. The boat I finally purchased was in good condition, but still had two pages of deficiencies and recommendations. These included everything from noting a fire extinguisher was not properly pressurized to wiring issues, to a leaky fresh water pump to the lack of C02 detectors, to rusty hardward bolts.

If anything it's too detailed. It was great to have all that information for sale consideration purposes, but it raises more red flags when it comes to insurance.[/quote]
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Old 19-07-2009, 11:07   #28
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IMHO a good surveyor will not necessarily be found based on education or credentials alone, he will need to be technically knowledgeable, have boating experience and be someone who is naturally very diligent and inquisitive in his investigation. We dont need someone to tell us how many heads a boat has that were "not tested". We need someone to question past repairs, look for evidence of them, know a particular design's faults and construction methods, find out how those effected this particular boat, etc...
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Old 19-07-2009, 17:14   #29
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We're going through the process of buying a yacht now and have just had a survey done.

We found a surveyor by word of mouth. I asked as many different people as possible about who would be a good surveyor and from the names mentioned, one name kept popping up consistently .... from boat builders, riggers, brokers, owners, all sorts of people. He's not accredited with any organisation, but is a known yacht designer, experienced sailor and retired boat builder.

His speciality is wooden boats but he clearly specifies the limits of his survey. He will assess the structure of the hull, decks, fittings, keel, etc as matters of priority. He does not assess engines or electronics - his argument is that you need specialist and up to date expertise for that. He will assess for problems with rot, delamination, evidence of stress, failure, leaks, etc as well as pointing out maintenance issues that, while not structural, will require attention at some point. He separates these issues in his report.

He spent the best part of 7 or 8 hours poking around the boat, tapping out the hull and decks, going up the mast, ferreting about the bowels of the boat. His invoice was not insubstantial, but his inspection and report was thorough and I view the bill as being relatively cheap insurance.

We were present during part of his survey inspection and he took the time to point things out and discuss with us the significance of them, possible repair methods, timeframes for repair (this needs to be done now/soon/next time you haul the boat, etc) and in addition to his professional assessment was also prepared to share his personal (and unofficial) opinion.

I would not hesitate to use his services again.
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Old 19-07-2009, 20:06   #30
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I was very pleased with the last surveyor I had survey 3 boats. (well 2.5 but that's another story.)

I would also be frustrated with a report like the one you received, but I think we also need to keep in mind the realistic limitations of a survey. One can only discover and test so many things in a given time frame. In addition, most surveyor's don't do a detailed engine analysis as part of a survey. They may not be able to test some of the plumbing due to being in a no discharge area. The owner may not let them push the engine or turn certain things on.

I also prefer to have the surveyor focus on structural and mechanical issues. I can easily enough tell if radios and other things like that are working based on my personal inspection.

I think there can also be a big difference between an insurance survey and a purchase survey.
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