Marine Survey

Determining Condition & Value

A marine survey determines the overall condition of a vessel, estimates its value, and determines if it meets the safety criteria for passengers and crew. Marine surveys range from simple appraisals to very in-depth pre-purchase analysis and damage work. Anyone who is considering purchasing a vessel should have a marine survey completed. A marine surveys is also required by insurance companies and financial institutions prior to purchase. This assessment determines the appropriate level of coverage in the event a claim is submitted.

For insurance purposes, a marine surveyor assesses the vessel’s condition. This establishes or verifies the market value and replacement cost of a vessel, which assists in the settlement process if an incident were to occur. Insurance carriers require an up-to-date survey, verifying that the vessel is in good working order and/or it has been properly maintained. Bottom line, marine surveys are necessary to ensure the purchase is a sound decision, pricing is accurate, and documents the condition at the time of sale.

When considering purchasing a vessel, a comprehensive hull survey can be invaluable. For sailboats, it is good to have an up to date (annual) sail inventory and rigging inspection with current values. It is important to remember, “A boat is a collection of systems, existing in a hostile environment“, which is why it’s crucial to inspect and assess your vessel annually.

Survey Types

A Prepurchase Survey is conducted when someone is contemplating buying a vessel. It is a very comprehensive “Condition and Valuation” (C&V) survey that often includes operational testing of all systems and equipment, as well as a sea trial. The vessel is typically inspected both in and out of the water. Its primary purpose is to provide potential buyers with the information that they need to make an informed purchase decision. It may also be used to satisfy the insurance company and bank loan requirements. Essentially, they want to know the vessel’s current market value and that it is a good risk.

The “condition and valuation” survey should not be confused with a “Pre-Purchase” survey. A pre-purchase survey is a much more in-depth survey that includes a sea-trial and more extensive testing of equipment, and related systems.


A Sea Trial is a critical and important part of evaluating a vessel, it’s performance and it’s systems.  General vessel and engine performance, handling characteristics and in-service system operations will be assessed and reported on. Many aspects of performance can only be determined during operation and a sea-trial experience which allows for a comparative analysis.




Appraisal surveys are used for financing, estate and divorce settlements, and donation of vessels to charities. Professional marine surveyors are recognized by the IRS, courts, banks and insurance companies as boat and yacht appraisers within their area of expertise. They are also invaluable to individual boat owners.




The purpose of a Marine Damage Survey is to assess the extent of the damage sustained by the hull, rig, systems or elsewhere on the vessel.  The report presents information on the probable causes of the damage, recommendations on repairs, and validates repair estimates for such work.  While surveyors are typically hired by insurance companies to investigate claims, occasionally, a surveyor is hired by the boat owner directly to investigate out of the ordinary degradation or damage.

This investigation is conducted to determine the cause and estimation of damage.  The cargo is inspected to determine the extent of damage to the container and its contents. This survey is completed for insurance and shipping companies.