Being in the midst of this myself I agree that a sample survey isn't going to tell you much as a general tool.
That being said, if you are looking at a specific boat it never hurts to ask if there's an older survey to look at for that boat... I have found even a few years old it's still telling history
on the boat. However, IMO, that NEVER EVER is a substitute for getting a current
survey from a surveyor of your choice.
My experience is you should ALWAYS (on a boat worth any amount of money) have a professional surveyor that you select do a survey on a boat when you buy it... they are the pros (as long as you follow other's recommendations on picking the right surveyor) and will catch things you miss. Besides, your insurance company is probably going to want one anyway, and even if they don't find deal stoppers it's a great start to the (never ending) "to do" list.
So, your real goal here is to filter the many boats you might look at, so you're not paying for 10 surveys (I speak from experience, I'm on the hook for multiple ones this year!). To that end, what (appears to have) worked for me was two things:
1) Get a copy of inspecting the aging sailboat by Don Casey:
... invaluable for doing your own 30-45 minute "mini survey" which will eliminate lots of boats and save you from having to pay a surveyor to survey them. It's also great if, like me, you're not super familiar with all the ways systems could go wrong.
2) Make / find a checklist and follow it religiously on every boat you look at. This is key for me... keeps me from getting all gaga eyed over LED strip lighting
and the newest radar
while meanwhile the keel
is falling off! You should be able to Google
them up pretty easily, but here are links to two Excel docs that I used:
... I don't take credit for this, I found it only somewhere, but it was convoluted to find so the link above is off my own server for ease of download... this is a *very* complete document, for me more complete than I needed.
So on recent boat looking trip I distilled that down to a slightly more manageable document with columns for multiple boats, make notes on this *as you're looking* and then you can review later:
(if you print this one only print columns A-F (or just pages 1 - 11) or you'll end up with twice the paper used for the one column I that is used to highlight the rows for readability).
If you follow your checksheet religiously when looking at boats you should have, it seems to me, a pretty good idea of which boat is the best you've looked at and therefore is worth the cost of a real surveyor's time, haul out