Whether you’re buying or already own a boat, spending money on a good quality marine survey can seem like a bit of a chore.

Jayson Sibley, marine loss adjuster and yacht surveyor at Jayson Sibley Adjusters, has over 25 years’ experience in the industry. He gives us his valuable insight into what a marine survey involves and why it’s important.

Why is a marine survey important?

A marine survey is essential to ensuring long-term peace of mind when buying either a new or second-hand boat as it identifies any issues the vessel may have. This helps you avoid buying a boat that seems like good value but ultimately requires a lot of costly work, which can sometimes exceed what the boat will even be actually worth once the required work has been done.

Marine surveys are particularly important when you’re buying a second-hand boat. ‘A survey essentially informs the purchaser of any defects the vessel may have and, ultimately, the financial implications in the rectifications of the defects’ Sibley explains.

This information can then highlight if the boat you were going to purchase has costly issues that outweigh the low price you’re paying for the boat. Even if the survey doesn’t throw up any major problems, you’ll feel a lot more confident in your new purchase with the peace of mind that the survey has given you.

A marine survey is also sometimes required if your boat is involved in an accident and you need to get one following an incident to assess the extent of the damage and work out what reparations need to be made and how much they’ll cost.

What type of boat needs a marine survey?

You might hear that only second-hand boats need a survey. While it’s true that used boats are more likely to have hidden issues, Sibley warns new boats shouldn’t be excluded from a survey either: ‘All vessels should be surveyed, including new vessels, to ensure there are no build defects.’

On top of this, many apparently new vessels may have been used as demonstrators and therefore may have been subjected to grounding or other damage. In other words, no matter what type of boat you’re going to buy, you should always seek a survey out before you purchase it.

What does a typical full condition survey involve?

The most in-depth type of survey is a full-condition survey - also known as a pre-purchase survey – which, as you’ve probably guessed, occurs before a boat is bought. This type of inspection is the most thorough as it involves inspecting everything from the safety systems and structural integrity, through to its cosmetic condition.

As you’d expect, different boats require different areas of consideration, meaning the survey can be weighted differently depending on which part of the boat needs to be inspected most thoroughly. The in-depth nature of the job means marine surveyors need to be surprisingly agile, Sibley tells us, ‘it’s a physical job with hours spent bent over and in confined spaces. Being fit is paramount.’

How to choose a surveyor

The first thing to make sure is that the surveyor you pick is experienced in inspecting the type and size of the boat you want to be looked at. For example, you don’t want someone who specialises in small motorboats, looking at your sailing yacht.

It might seem as easy as just googling a local surveyor, but Sibley warns that, unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that: ‘The industry is now a minefield, a game of Russian roulette with numerous individuals claiming to be surveyors after very short training courses.’

To make sure you’re getting the real deal, Sibley recommends seeking a surveyor by recommendation of a market expert, but if you want extra reassurance before choosing someone, ‘the leading association with the highest membership standards has always been the YDSA’ Sibley says.  

How can the results of a survey save you money?

After forking out for a marine survey, as well as the peace of mind it can give you, another added bonus is that it can actually save you money. Firstly, because a pre-purchase survey uncovers any problems, it can be used to negotiate the asking price or encourage you to walk away from the deal entirely, before you get a bad deal.

Secondly, even if there isn’t anything majorly wrong, the survey can highlight areas of the boat that can be improved in the long term and add value to your boat, so it truly becomes an investment.

Once you’ve purchased your boat following a successful survey, make sure you take out specialist Boat Insurance. Get a quote from Insure4Boats today.