Power Boat Surveys Checklist


Buying a boat can be a stressful process and thoroughly educated yourself about the intricacies of this experience. You've probably already learned that a boat survey is often valuable and/or necessary.

Before digging into the facts, let's create a checklist of the things covered in a ship survey:

- Visually inspect the hull for defects or damage.

- Audibly inspect the hull and deck for defects or damage by gently tapping with a hammer and listening for gaps in the sound it makes.

- Test all over the hull and deck, especially in suspect areas, using a moisture meter (note that humidity meters can be difficult to interpret, and also the fool even the pros sometimes).

- Inspect that the hull-to-deck joint wherever possible, indoors and out.

- Inspect that the powerplant and if applicable, complete a compression test. Bear in mind that some expert surveyors cover powerplants and many others don't; in several cases this is best left to a mechanic.

- Inspect the different areas of the propulsion system or running gear.

- Look in the inside spaces of the ship and check for damage and/or wear.

- Check the fuel system, from the tank(s) to the motor (s).

- Test the electrical system and all of its components which range from navigational electronic equipment to lighting.

- Inspect all of through-hull fittings and seacocks.

- Test the pipes systems and all its components, which range from washdown pumps to commodes.

- Perform a sea trial.

- Create a general study on the boat's overall state, state of maintenance, and appearance.

- Create a list of the ship's gear, signaling the status of said equipment.

- Create a report on the boat's major systems, such as propulsion, electric, etc..

- Create a list of things in need of immediate repairs or replacement to the secure operation of the ship.

That's rather a record --and it is also rather superficial. In fact studying, a boat is a complex endeavor that requires training, experience, and professionalism.

That is not to say that a knowledgeable boater can't execute a questionnaire of their own that still has value. But as is true with many things we all do on our own when we can employ a specialist, you risk missing important things a full-timer may select up on. And these accrediting organizations require their members to satisfy strict criteria on ethical and technical levels.

In most situations, obtaining a survey performed on a small, inexpensive boat could be considered overkill. In those instances, it's usually most appropriate to simply do the very best job you can, personally or maybe with the support of a knowledgeable friend. But as the price of a boat develops, so does risk. And in some levels, an expert survey and report will be required by banks making the loan on a ship. When purchasing a boat it may be advantageous to already have a questionnaire in-hand, to reveal to possible buyers. But to satisfy banks and insurance companies, the poll will likely need to be performed by a SAMS- or NAMS-accredited specialist.

One vessel survey item we do want to circle back on: in our checklist, the sea test obtained only one bullet point. Taking a boat away from the dock and operating it will tell you volumes about just how much you may or will not like it as the future unfolds. Is it loud, or quiet when underway? Do you need to fight the steering wheel? Did that make you just hit rattle your fillings a bit more than you expected? These questions and many, many more will likely be answered using a spin around the bay. And the longer you pay off the dock, the more you are going to learn about the boat.