As a surveyor I very much enjoyed this thread, and would like to share a few things from a surveyor's perspective.
One point made often, which I have thought about quite a bit, is reading reports for other boats. I am one of the surveyors who looks at e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, but it isn't possible to determine this from one of my reports, i.e., I do not report cotter pins unless there is a problem. So how would you know from reading a report the surveyor looked at all of them, and not just two and figured if two are ok then they are all probably ok?? No question, there is a lot to be learned about a surveyor from reading their reports (the "check boxes" reports make that clear!), but without also being able to compare the report to the boat surveyed you can not know the true quality of the survey.
If the surveyor does not want you present at the survey then find another surveyor who does. Period. Bear in mind though that a boat has a LOT of parts
and we are trying to inspect ALL of them, usually in one day. The best thing you can do during a survey is make sure we have access to the boat! Not only do we not have the time to remove cover plates or remove gear
from lockers, things can break when being taken apart, or or or, opening up the can of legal
liability worms. During the survey make notes of your questions, and at the end of the survey we will go over significant findings with you and answer your questions.
... a surveyor with training in these areas is going to be more thorough in these areas. Most of us inspect the rigging from the deck
level only, surveyors who used to work as riggers will often do an inspection
aloft. Same for former engine mechanics. Ask the surveyor about any specialized education or training. Usually though, plan on additional rigging and engine surveys.
IMO, moisture meters are a must - be sure they have one. I mark the deck
with tape and put pictures in the report. Here is a "wet" area:
Looking at the picture one might think it could be from leaking window bolts or leaking jib
sheet track bolts. Finding out WHY is not our job! We can only tell you "here the deck core
reads wet on the moisture meter". Finding the reason for the "wet" reading is not part of a survey - a survey report is a report of our findings, not why it might be that way.
The surveyor who did not look in the bilges ... that is the most interesting place on a boat!!! The only reason I can think a surveyor would not look there is because he could not, maybe bad knees or, well, I need to be careful not to offend some of my colleagues, so I'll just say that at not much over 100 pounds I have very few access issues, and I'll leave it at that.
Sea trials - some surveyors include them as part of their fee. Not all boats are in the water
ready to go so it is more practical to offer a sea trial as a separate option. For safety
reasons and a desire to return to shore in a timely manner, I won't go out for a sea trial until after I have surveyed the boat.
As far as the letters after our names - surveying is a completely unregulated industry. The homeless guys living in the park in front of my marina can go get a business license
, say they are a surveyor, and presto, they are a surveyor. When you hire a surveyor from SAMS or NAMS you are hiring a true, experienced surveyor. This is not a guarantee that they are good, but if you have a problem with them or the quality of their survey, at least you have recourse through the association - PLEASE report your problem to the regional director or association headquarters.
One of many parts
of being able to retain our membership
in SAMS is fulfilling the requirement for a minimum number of hours of continuing education every year. We also must follow SAMS report format (that is why so many of the reports you see are similar). Are there excellent independent surveyors in the world? Absolutely, my best friend is one of them. Member
ABYC is just that. And so on.
So how to pick a good surveyor? I would say word of mouth is your best bet - although make sure the references come from boat-savvy people! Definitely ask the surveyor about their continuing education classes
and seminars. What publications and books
do they like to read? Do they participate in any forums
? Personally, I think you can learn a lot more about my knowledge of boats and their systems from reading my Cruiser's Forum posts than reading one of my surveys. Ask them if they have a boat! Is it a power boat
or a sail boat? How much time do they spend with the boat? Do they do their own boat work?
Surveys are expensive for the buyer and time-consuming for the surveyor. It is (usually) not financially practical to survey several boats you may be interested in purchasing
, but good surveyor can find a lot in an hour on a boat. For an hourly rate I would be more than happy to meet with a buyer on the boat for an hour or two and go over the obvious findings. If the buyer wants to proceed with a survey then half the interview fee is credited to the survey. I do not know anybody else who does this, but if you don't ask you will never know. An added benefit is that if you don't like the surveyor you can look for another one.
So for Dan 78, a good surveyor will try to inspect everything on the boat, and a well-written pre-purchase survey is a helpful and important document for several reasons. It helps you make a decision on the boat by enabling a comparison of the price
versus the amount of work the boat requires to meet your needs/desires. It is a bargaining tool for you with the seller. And after that, it is usually accepted by an insurance company to insure the boat. But most important of all (IMO) if the purchase
goes through, it is a wonderful basis for your to-do list.