Survey Dynamics


Each survey and survey type involves an infinitely variable set of dynamics. The commonly involved parties are the buyer and the seller. But, the list often expands to include the broker, surveyor, haul out yard, lender, underwriter, marine title office, and even a shipwright. And while the dynamics are infinitely variable, certain types of dynamics are typically associated with certain surveying circumstances. Below are some generalizations to be aware of:

Survey Dynamics

Purchasing a Brokered Vessel

Commonly a vessel owner lists the vessel with a boat broker – this is called selling a vessel on consignment. A quality broker greatly facilitates the buy/sell process by being a neutral party between the buyer and seller so their personalities will not clash. The broker assists with the purchase offer and then assists in arranging sea trial, survey, haul out location, moving vessel to haul out, renegotiating any survey items found, assisting with fund transfer and with registration submission. A less than quality broker can be an extra layer of complication.

Purchasing a Private Party Vessel

Often, a seller who chooses to bypass a broker and save the broker’s commission, isn’t willing to assist with all of the details a broker typically handles. Some sellers are helpful but many simply want the sale. Juggling the haul out and surveyor’s schedule, buyer’s schedule, vessel movement to and from the haul out location, etc., requires the cooperation, flexibility, and assistance of the seller. Anything less than full cooperation of the seller adds an extra layer of complexity to an already complex transaction. Often, the buyer (you) has to spend more time trying to make all of the schedules coincide.

Haul Out Yard

All except trailer boats typically require the vessel to be hauled out to have the bottom and running gear inspected. Most commercial yards can perform this service with equal capability. As this cost is the responsibility of the buyer in most situations, it is the buyer who typically researches cost, location and availability and communicates his or her desires to the surveyor/broker/owner. A map with haul out facilities and contact information is available by clicking the FACILITIES tab. This office is happy to make recommendations based on other locations and needs.

Marine Title Expert

This person’s contribution to the process is often under appreciated. A full service marine title office can handle offers, hold funds in escrow, research for liens and title status, file all registration/documentation papers, and finally distribute funds at closing. This person protects the buyer’s interests from start to finish and holds all involved parties accountable.


A quality, professional, ethical marine surveyor protects the buyer’s interests by performing a thorough buy/sell survey for the buyer. The surveyor is working only for the hiring party and all reports and information is confidential between these two parties. Information gained in the course of the survey is shared only with the hiring party (usually the buyer) unless otherwise directed. It is the surveyor’s responsibility to find out the true condition of the vessel within the constraints of the survey, i.e., time, access, operational constraints, weather, etc., and provide this information to the client in a timely, complete manner. If the surveyor is a member of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (S.A.M.S.®) or National Association of Marine Surveyors (N.A.M.S.) and if the survey report is thorough and professionally prepared, it should be accepted by all lenders and underwriters.

Survey Cost

The cost of a C&V Survey will vary by boat size, age, type, hull material, etc. Our minimum fee is $500. Our per foot rate for a standard fiberglass hull vessel less than 40’ is about $24/foot. Wood or metal boats, boats 40’ or larger, Asian vessels, very old vessels, vessels in bad condition will have a higher fee.

Many inquiries received at this office begin with, “How much does it cost?” If cost is the only measure, consider what you have at stake. We seldom cost our clients any money as we typically find deficiencies sufficient to offset our fee. That isn’t a guarantee, but it happens more often than not.


Often times a survey will uncover an issue with the vessel that requires diagnostics or estimating by a qualified shipwright before the sale can be finalized. Your surveyor should be in a position to recommend two or more qualified shipwrights to present unbiased information or repair estimates to resolve questions and facilitate the purchase.

Preparing the Boat for Survey

In the course of a survey, every portion of the vessel has to be accessed. That means that every cushion has to be moved, every locker has to be emptied, and every piece of gear is moved -- typically multiple times..

Time and additional expense can be saved by preparing the vessel for inspection and making her more accessible. And, the better prepared the vessel, the more time the surveyor has to spend on inspection. Arrange to present a clean, shipshape boat, and have all papers and miscellaneous gear ready. If applicable, you will need to make arrangements with the marina to haul the vessel for bottom inspection, and retain a captain for sea trials. Lockers and cabin areas should be cleared of all miscellaneous gear.

The surveyor should never be asked to prepare a boat for inspection. The surveyor may request minor dismantling of interior ceilings, headliners, flooring, etc. in order to gain access to the suspected areas or important systems. Random removal and examination of below-the-waterline fasteners on wood boats may be required. Any dismantling and re-installation of parts should be performed by qualified personnel and is the responsibility of the person ordering the survey but must be approved by the vessel owner.

Written authorization from the owner may be needed to board and/or to remove part of the vessel. .