So, you’ve decided to buy the boat of your dreams and now you need a survey. You phone up a number of surveyors to find out the cost. You read up on forums about people grumbling about what a survey costs. So what do you get with your survey and why does it cost what it costs?

We asked Martin Pittilo of Maple Marine (Yacht Surveyors) those very questions . . .

You get the experience, knowledge, and time of an industry professional inspecting your boat, interpreting what has been seen, forming conclusions based upon what has been seen, assessing the consequences of what has been seen, writing a report, and discussing the conclusions with you. You get the benefit of the use of expensive equipment and on-going updating of the surveyor to inform that assessment.

Boats are complex craft with quite varied systems on board. There is a lot to inspect with differing standards and requirements depending on the system and the fuel type. For example different standards apply for water, sewage, fuel, exhaust and gas hoses.

Obviously inspecting the hull envelope, deck, topsides and coachroof takes a substantial amount of time. Your surveyor will be looking for the smallest of defects (such as hairline cracks around spray rails on powerboats) over a very large area. The condition of the hull openings are checked for material breakdown, and condition of the attached pipes, valves and fixings. Then we have the systems on board – the entire fresh water system, sewage system, the gas system, the fuel system, the electrical systems (both 12 V DC and 240V AC) all need to be closely inspected from a safety point of view. (Note: the gas system inspection is generally visual only, and does not normally include pressure testing the system).

The machinery is visually inspected with no dismantling and run (if possible) to give an outline assessment of its condition. The rig is inspected visually, from the deck, if the boat has one. Steering gear, outdrives, rudders, propellers, propeller shafts and hardware, stern glands, trim tabs and keels are also inspected.

The safety equipment will be assessed, along with bilge pumps, anchoring systems, sails, windows, deck fittings, navigation lights, and navigation equipment.

In short, all of the important systems and equipment will be inspected and the thoroughness / diligence in that process is designed to help prevent clients from making expensive mistakes.
To undertake a survey of an old 35ft powerboat and write it up can take two days or more if it has lots of defects. Comparing the cost of this survey to a lawyer’s fees, the two days of the surveyor’s time could amount to less than 3 hours of a lawyer’s time! Comparing it to the cost of car mechanics around London, you would only get at most 6 hours of the mechanic’s time for the same cost.

In this context, I think the yacht surveyor’s work represents great value.

Martin can be contacted on 01483 285794 or 07901 550408