All yachts generally go through surveys and inspections, except in those rare case where a boat is sold “as is – where is” and even in many of those it is still possible to survey the boat. In bank repossessions and outright auctions, they often will make some specific information available to the buyer to help raise the level of bids.
Why survey the boat?
If you are planning on insuring your new boat, you have to have a survey. For one thing, the insurance company wants to make sure the boat actually exists, and for another, they want to be sure it doesn’t sink!
The second reason is to help uncover hidden problems. The seller assumes you can see the obvious and have factored that into your offering price. There are a number of other things which can and do show upon survey that only a professional surveyor is likely to find.
In today’s world there are simple ways to survey a yacht and complicated ways. While the size of the yacht often dictates the complexity of the survey, it is not true in all cases. Whomever we recommend for survey work will always provide an estimate of charges.
Who are the good surveyors?
The good surveyor has a track record of success, not only in finding the problems and explaining them, but equally important, helping the buyer and seller to put the deal together. A good surveyor knows that the buyer is there to buy the boat or he would not have even made the offer, and he knows the seller is there to sell it or he never would have accepted the offer.
After the surveys have been completed, for that moment in time, the surveyor knows far more about that boat than either the seller or the buyer. Both parties are relying on his judgment and fairness to help bring the parties together, close out any major issues or problems, and then be on call for the buyer if he wants to have him come back and sign off on the completed repairs and improvements.
Generally, there are two surveyors involved in a yacht in the 70’-130’ size range – a general surveyor and an engine surveyor. In recent years this has been expanded and now can include an electrical surveyor and an electronics surveyor. Again, look at the yacht in question, get estimates from surveyors, and then follow your own instincts on how much you want to spend. The success rate of the general surveyor / engine surveyor combination seems to meet the needs of most buyers today, and additional surveys can always be conducted if warranted.
No yacht broker who hopes to stay in business for long would ever recommend a bad surveyor with the idea that he would miss or avoid serious problems and thus get an “easy” sale. This business is built on referrals. Recommending a professional surveyor is one of the many important functions a Hargrave broker provides.
Who are the bad surveyors?
There are two basic groups to avoid:
Unqualified Surveyors – if you never have heard of them, your broker never has heard of them, and they do not have a long list of satisfied clients you can call for a reference, stop right there. Regardless of how good they might seem on paper, you’re not in the training business. If you have any doubts at all, we can check out the firm and the individual with the insurance company you will be using. Remember this – – not all surveyors are approved by all insurance carriers.
The Deal Killers – there are a handful of surveyors, some actually well regarded, who are deal killers. They will survey two or three boats in a row before the buyer realizes he is paying stacks of bills and yet not getting a boat. The first time a surveyor fails a yacht, the reaction is usually, “wow, am I lucky I found these guys.” The second time a yacht fails, there is more skepticism, and by the third failed survey, then the buyer realizes they have made a mistake. Just ask any broker, “Are there any deal killers I should avoid?” and you’ll get the names pretty quickly.
Credentials vs. Experience
There are some surveyors who have outstanding credentials in education, military service, technical training, etc. When combined with a lot of field experience and satisfied owners, this is probably the top candidate for consideration on any survey project.
That being said, there is another group of surveyors without those types of credentials who have spent their entire lives in and around boats, have decades of experience in the profession, hundreds of satisfied clients, and have earned the respect of their colleagues and the brokerage industry.
As with everything to do with the process of buying and owning a yacht, Hargrave will stay with you every step of the way.