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SURVEYOR'S SAY:How to prepare your boat for a Marine Survey.

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SURVEYOR'S SAY:How to prepare your boat for a Marine Survey.


We often get questions from a potential Buyer about what she/he should expect from a surveyor and his report.
Recently the question was posed by a Seller; “What should I do to prepare for a survey of my boat”? A very good question! As a broker, I will recommend to seller’s what they should do to prepare their boats for sale to show it in its best light and prepare it for today’s competitive market. You might think that my recommendations and those of a surveyor might very well be the same and many recommendations do overlap. As a broker my goal, for the seller, is to help him sell his boat. A surveyor has a different goal, to determine the soundness of the vessel for the purchaser in the case of a pre-purchase survey.

So, I posed the question to some surveyors, what they would recommend a SELLER do to prepare a boat for a pre-purchase survey and here’s what they had to say:
• First and foremost have the boat as clean as possible, inside and out. Remove all personal gear and equipment. Throw out old forgotten relics. Make everything as neat as possible. If something is not going with the boat in the sale, remove it. The boat should be de-cluttered as much as possible. Souvenirs, knick-knacks and personal items that do not need to be on the boat during normal use should be removed. This would allow for a more favorable view of the boat at the initial inspection and also make it easier for the surveyor to get in and inspect the engine compartment and bilge.
• All cabinets, hanging lockers and particularly the lazarettes should be cleaned out as much as possible to allow for better inspection. The lazarettes should only hold items that are pertinent to the operation of the vessel and those items going with the vessel should the survey and sale go through. Make sure that floor boards can be easily opened. Dinghies and heavy gear covering the deck should be removed.
• Have all ships papers (current) onboard. This includes the documentation papers (if a documented vessel), registration papers, including those for any dinghy that may be included with the sale, owner’s manual and any available documentation of service and repairs that have been done.
• All system should be operational. If some items are in need of repair, it should be done before the survey is undertaken. Repair all small things. Hatch and door latches, springs, re-attach the piece of trim that is in the junk drawer. If there is a light make sure the bulb is good. Clean the head. Remove the corrosion from around the pump handle and replace it if necessary. Empty and flush the holding tank. Pump the bilge dry and wipe out residue. Leave the ice box or refer open with baking soda if not in use. Clean the engine compartment, under and around the engine and add a new oil diaper. If seasonably possible, water and fuel tanks should be at least partially filled.
• If the survey is being conducted in the wintertime (NE/boat put away) do not load exterior cushions, biminis, dodgers, canvas or sail and sailing gear into the cabin making the inspection of the interior difficult or impossible. These items should all be stored in a separate area that is accessible for inspection.
• Also very important, if the survey is being done in the winter with systems decommissioned ensure that AC and DC power is able to be supplied to the vessel so that system can be momentarily activated to see if there are any initial problems.
• All equipment that is to be included in the sale of the vessel should be made available to the surveyor at the time and place of the survey. If it is not possible to have all the equipment available at the time and location of the initial survey, the surveyor should be made aware of this prior to the survey date and agreeable arrangements made for the inspection of such equipment.
• Make sure all safety related items such as fire extinguishers, flares, horns, navigational lights, etc. are up to date and operational.
• If there is a sea trial to be performed as part of the surveyor, the Seller or his designated representative must be available to operate the vessel.

So, to summarize; stage the boat, clean it up and clean it out. Remove all unnecessary items and if it’s broken fix it. Follow these suggestions and the recommendations list should be short indeed and you will most likely have a happy surveyor and more importantly a happy Buyer.

I thank the surveyors who gave me their input, all of whom are either SAMS or NAMS certified or both.

Participating surveyors where:
Buddy Hitchcock - Hitchcock Marine Services, Essex, CT phone: 860-767-7251
Bill Stadel – George Stadel and Sons, Stamford, CT Ph:203-324-2610
Ed Rowe – Ed Rowe & Associates, Vero Beach, FL Ph: 772-589-7463
Patrick Goodrow – High Tech Marine Surveys, Marblehead, MA Ph: 781-290-6782
Gale Browning – Hartoft Marine Survey, Ltd, Annapolis, MD Ph:410-263-3609

Wm. J. Kolkmeyer Yachts, LLC

(Located at Milford Boat Works)
1 High Street
Milford, CT 06460, United States

Tel 203-894-6155
Fax (203) 876-1030
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