There have been some good suggestions regarding selecting and working with a surveyor. I know it's a crap shoot sometimes.
We had a "reinsurance" survey last year and in preparation I did this:
-Presented an extensive list of equipment
with dates of installation
diagrams of the boat's systems
-I've extensively labeled the electrics and other mostly safety
-I walked the surveyor thru the boat, showing him where various components such as sea cocks, pumps, batteries, chargers/inverter were located.
He later told me that because of the information and labeling provided, he was confident that the boat was well maintained and likely sound (it helps to "manage expectations".)
Something that didn't go so well, that I should have anticipated, is that he came up with what I thought was a low value. (When buying
you want a low estimate, when selling or reinsuring you want a high estimate, right?) He used a limited number of yachtworld listings, and a few of them were for an earlier configuration of our boat. He did respond to criticism, but it could have come out better.
Also, if you are buying
a boat you are planning to insure, your insurancee company is probably going to demand a survey. Someone mentioned the potential of needing to survey several boats before buying-I suggest considering ordering the survey on the boat that you intend to make an offer on.