Marine Survey Reports

A marine surveyor’s report provides the information needed about a boat for various purposes, whether as part of the preparation to buy, sell, finance, or insure it, or contract for repairs. There are several common types of marine survey reports. Whichever type of report you request, it should communicate the information it contains clearly, to help make your marine survey easier to understand and use to serve your need for the report.

engineer conducting a marine survey in the engine room of a boat

What is a Marine Survey Report?

A marine survey is a detailed examination of a vessel conducted by a professional boat inspector, for such purposes as determining its value or general condition. Boat surveys typically include information on safety, hull and engine condition, etc. The inspection helps the owner of a newly purchased or repaired boat have full confidence that his/her watercraft is fit to use as designed. The report also highlights any maintenance or repair work that needs to be done.

Why Should You Have a Marine Survey?

Most boat buyers do not have the expertise to make accurate marine evaluations without professional guidance. Operating a boat that is unsafe is a serious and potentially fatal mistake sometimes made by inexperienced boat owners. A marine survey is essential for your physical safety and financial protection.

Professional boat surveyors are familiar with models and their performance records under various environmental and usage conditions. So, even seasoned boat owners can benefit significantly from obtaining an objective opinion from an industry-certified marine surveyor. The surveyor can advise on sale value, equipment longevity in your particular environment, and much more.

Additional reasons why you may need a marine survey:

  • To determine the accurate sale value of your boat
  • To obtain boat financing
  • To ensure the safety of the vessel
  • To reveal obscure problems
  • To obtain boat insurance
  • To determine the costs of needed upgrades or repairs

Common Marine Survey Types

Frequently requested marine survey reports include:

  • Condition and Value (C&V) surveys
  • Appraisal Surveys
  • New Yacht Surveys
  • Insurance C&V surveys
  • Damage Surveys

Condition and Value Surveys

This is the most commonly performed marine survey report. This kind of boat survey is normally conducted for purposes of evaluation as part of the preliminary boat-buying process. The C&V survey involves a very thorough inspection of all parts of the watercraft, including the hull, propulsion equipment, engine survey, and all other components that factor into the overall valuation of the boat.

In cases of very large and expensive yachts, an engine survey is often done as a separate marine survey. For very large sailboats, a survey of the rigging might be performed separately.

Some important information that every marine survey should contain includes:

  • A determination of the fair market value and replacement value of the boat.
  • All relevant details about the boat, such as the seller’s and buyer’s names.
  • Markings indicating the boat name, Hull ID number, and registration numbers.
  • A description of the boat’s construction and specifications of its dimensions.
  • A statement of the condition of the boat and its individual functional systems.
  • Details about the equipment installed on the vessel.
  • Recommendations for repairs for safety and functionality.
  • Information on key improvements made.
  • Details of damages to be repaired.

Insurance C&Vs

An insurance C&V includes approximately the same information as the more broadly defined valuation report but is narrower in scope, limited to particular components of concern to the insurer during the underwriting process.

Appraisal Surveys

An appraisal survey report is used to state the professionally estimated value of a boat. This kind of marine survey is typically required in estate probate cases, divorces, and other actions, and sometimes financing companies may require one before making boat loans.

Damage Surveys

When boats are damaged by accidents or storms, damage surveys are often required by insurance companies. The survey report describes the damage and provides an estimate of the repair costs.

New Yacht Surveys

In cases of very large yachts or custom-builds, a marine surveyor may examine the vessel under construction at various points during the process. If you’re buying from a well-established and highly reputable yacht builder, this report may not be necessary. Only purchase a yacht certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), to ensure that it has been independently inspected and built to American Boat & Yacht Council standards, which exceed Coast Guard requirements.

Marine Survey Styles

Some marine survey reports are data-heavy and difficult to follow. Others are written in paragraph form. However your report may be designed, it should provide a clear enough account of the boat’s general condition and what needs to be done to make it safe and fully functional. You should ask the surveyor to explain any parts that you do not understand clearly.

How to Find the Right Marine Surveyor

You may receive a recommendation for a marine surveyor from a boat broker, lender, watercraft insurer, or other party who works with a surveyor routinely that they rely on. Or, check the industry’s most prominent organizations, which are listed below. These two associations enforce standards and requirements that marine surveyors must meet for professional accreditation:

  • National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS): Links to many surveyors’ qualifications and marine survey experience are listed on the NAMS site.
  • Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS): More than 1,000 Marine Surveyors are listed on the SAMS site and sorted by location.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marine Surveys

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about marine survey reports:

How can I find a marine surveyor?

Go to the SAMS or NAMS website to see a list of accredited marine surveyors near you.

How much does a marine survey cost?

Costs vary by location, but generally speaking, you can expect to pay up to approximately $25 per linear foot for your marine survey. Although, for smaller boats, a surveyor’s minimum fee may exceed that rate.

How long does it take to complete a marine survey?

A detailed boat survey can take just two or three hours for some smaller boats and up to several days for some much larger boats and yachts.

Do marine surveys include boat repair cost estimates?

Marine surveys usually include a very generalized estimate of upgrade and/or repair costs based on average pricing.

Congratulations on Becoming a Boat Owner!

Having a marine survey performed is likely to be required when financing or insuring a large new, or any used or damaged boat. The report clarifies sale value, loan value, repair costs, and more. Obtaining a professionally produced marine survey report can give a boat owner a much clearer picture of appropriate sale or purchase pricing, loan terms, repair costs, and other information to help a boat owner better understand his or her vessel and the true worth of the investment in it.

For a quality marine survey report, the place to start is with a recommendation from a relevant trusted source, such as the NAMS or SAMS website lists of certified professional marine surveyors.

Overall, as a boat shopper or owner, you are well advised to check other resources as well, to increase your knowledge on how to choose a boat, seller, boat builder, or lender, and other pertinent topics.