Marine Survey Prep

How To Prepare For A Marine Survey

A comprehensive inspection is strongly advised before agreeing to purchase any vessel.  Many boat owners also want a pre-purchase condition and value survey before selling their boat so they can find and correct any known problems before listing the vessel for sale. Below you will find our guidelines to prepare for your marine survey.

A Thorough Inspection

The surveying of a vessel requires that the surveyor be able to make a thorough inspection of the vessel’s structural integrity including the bottom and underwater machinery. This includes the superstructure, electrical systems, propulsion and fuel systems, steering, navigation and all systems operating condition and performance. For example, generators, air conditioning units, electronics, safety gear and interior portions. Moisture readings are also taken on the vessel’s hull and deck.

Final Report

The final report will reference compliance with United States Code of Federal Regulations, US Coast Guard, American Boat and Yacht Council, and National Fire Protection Association standards.  All recommendations are clearly defined. The fair market value, replacement cost and general remarks regarding the overall condition of the vessel are always included.


It is most helpful if the following marine survey preparation guidelines can be safely followed and observed:

  1. The boat will need to be hauled out to inspect the hull and running gear, please arrange prior to the survey. Hanging in the slings overnight is a good option, the hull can be inspected first thing in the morning before being re-launched. Hanging in the slings while the yard takes lunch is another good option.
  2. Have the bottom clean – Power wash prior to the survey.
  3. Please make sure all compartments and storage areas are empty to allow for a thorough inspection. The survey will take additional time if the surveyor must remove stowed items or these areas may not be inspected.
  4. Please ensure there is adequate room around the vessel if not in the water. A 2’ clearance is required around each side of the vessel to allow adequate room to inspect the freeboard of the vessel.
  5. Access to shore power is not necessary however, it’s required to ensure a complete survey testing the AC circuits.
  6. The bilge should be empty and sponged out if possible. This is especially important prior to sea trials. Any leaks or water infiltration will be easily detected.
  7. Any paperwork and documentation on the vessel should be present at the time of the survey. Including engine and maintenance logs.
  8. Keys and access to the boat to be organized prior to the survey by the customer.
  9. Buyers and owners can be present but it is not necessary. The best option is to show up 3-4 hours into the survey to allow sufficient time for the surveyor to inspect the vessel before arriving.
  10. The findings report will be available the following day to give quick documentation of the findings to the purchaser. This will help streamline any dealings with the vessel.


Evaluations are non-destructive and non-intrusive. No portion of the vessel is examined that requires the disassembly of any structure or machinery and the surveyor will not commission any machinery or systems that are not in operating order at the time of the survey. Preparing the vessel for a survey is the owner’s responsibility. Specifically, you should take any action necessary to ensure reasonable access to the vessel’s system (steering, machinery, sea valves, batteries, fuel tanks, etc.). This may require temporary relocation of loose or heavy gear stowed in cockpit lockers (sails, anchors, inflatable boats, cleaning and maintenance products, canvas, etc.). On some vessels access to the machinery spaces may be limited by carpet or heavy furniture. These items must be moved prior to the survey to allow access to the space. If the vessel’s owner lives aboard, the surveyor will not move personal effects to gain required access.