Boat Buying: From A Surveryor

The Most Common Types of Boat Surveys

As a marine surveyor for more than 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to inspect vessels fresh off the line and others that are many decades old. But the difference between buying a new boat and one that’s been on the water a while isn’t always as cut and dried as you think. Certainly, when purchasing new construction, one would hope to be free of almost all problems and downtime. That’s not necessarily always the case. New systems, depending on the manufacturer, have not been thoroughly tested under real-world conditions.

I’ve been employed on numerous occasions to inspect brand-new vessels for prudent buyers, if for no other reason than to just document any and all issues for future reference.

The primary consideration when inspecting any vessel, new or used, is to make sure it complies with building standards and safety requirements. Surveys vary with the type of survey requested, based on the ship’s size, equipment and onboard systems.
There may be additional services required, such as engine surveys, oil analysis, galvanic and stray-current corrosion, ultrasonic and moisture testing, as well as other nondestructive tests. Well-conducted surveys provide information on the vessel’s condition and value, but do not offer guarantees. You will see a sentence like this at the bottom of every completed survey: “This Report of Survey relates the condition of accessible areas only as they existed at time of inspection.”


Here at the types of surveys you will most commonly see:


This is the most comprehensive type of inspection and is strongly advised when purchasing a new or used vessel. Condition and the overall operation of the vessel will be subject to examination. This includes structural integrity, out-of-the-water inspection, electrical systems, propulsion and running gear, machinery, cosmetic appearance, miscellaneous onboard systems and overall maintenance.



This inspection is performed so that the insurance company can determine whether or not the vessel is an acceptable risk. The emphasis will be on structural integrity and safety for the intended use. They will also wish to know the vessel’s current market value.


This inspection is performed to gather information to justify or determine the fair market value of the vessel. This is normally needed for financing, estate settlements, donations and legal cases.



This inspection is performed to assess the extent of damage, determine recommended repairs, and estimate repair costs and, if requested, the probable cause.



This includes field inspection reports, compliance reports, damage assessments, insurance claims, and outfitting to include for a complete refit and systems design.

Steve Klaity
South Florida Marine Surveyors Inc.
[email protected]
Office: 954-975-5149
Cell: 954-270-8005


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