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Marine Surveyor Definition: “A person who carries out surveys of ships to determine seaworthiness, etc.”

You wouldn’t buy a house without having the foundations, windows, electricity supply thoroughly checked so why by a boat without getting it surveyed?

The majority of yachts are kept in fantastic condition however a good survey can give the buyer valuable peace of mind when purchasing a yacht. Most boat sales are conducted by a broker on behalf of two private individuals and since there are no such things as annual MOT’s on yachts it is extremely important to hire a surveyor to carry out an inspection of the vessel.

What if you are being told the seller carried out a recent survey a couple of months ago? You can’t trust a survey that has already happened. Anything could have happened between that survey and the current date. From the glaringly obvious of the vessel having run aground, to minor hidden issues such as worn cutlass bearings and seized seacocks. Neither of which would be shown in the previous survey report.

The cost of a surveyor is always for the buyer’s account. Not only the survey but other items required, such as the lift or launching for the sea trial, jet washing the hull to ensure maximum RPM’s are reached. Although it can seem like just another cost, think of it like this, If you don’t hire a surveyor later down the line you could end up footing a huge bill for a previously known issue (but not diagnosed) on your new yacht.

In the event an issue is found by a surveyor prior to completion of the purchase it could have been negotiated with the seller by your broker. This would ultimately amend the selling price so the issue can be rectified at no cost. In the unlikely event there is a severe issue with the yacht you also reserve the right to walk away.  Survey reports do not only cite immediate issues but also raises points to monitor for the future. A survey report can provide a buyer with a list of work that can be monitored and undertaken in due course.

Survey reports aren’t just for your benefit, there are times when a marine mortgage provider or insurance company require a condition report of the yacht you wish to purchase. The Insurance company could potentially be exposed to a substantial cost due to an engine failure (for example). A survey report and oil analysis could be something they request. Without this, your insurance could be null and void and therefore the cost could be that of the Buyers.

Surveyors are often asked to provide valuations on vessels for finance and insurance companies. A valuation is not just based on the specification of the Yacht but also her technical status compared to other similar vessels.

Its not just used yachts that need surveying. It’s increasingly common for a marine surveyor to monitor a new build yacht on behalf of a client from start to finish. Everyone makes mistakes and its normal for hundreds of tiny mistakes to be found on a new build vessel. Whilst you may feel like you know what you’re looking for, its much safer to hire a professional to do the job.

More importantly if the surveyor is appointed at the beginning of the build then you are a lot more likely to have your yacht delivered on time with as few issues as possible. When buying a “New Boat” it’s important to remember some yachts have been completed and waiting for an owner for months and sometimes years. Anything could have happened during that time, be it if they are sat in the water or kept in dry storage. This is why it’s just as important that you hire a surveyor for a new boat as it is for a used yacht.


Top tips for choosing your surveyor

– Always check your surveyor is a member of a professional body such as the surveyor’s association in the UK, this way you can rest assured that they hold all the relevant qualifications.

– Use a Surveyor from your home country or that operates under UK law. This way if there are any legal problems you can go through your native legal system or the highly robust UK legal system.

– It’s vital a surveyor has indemnity insurance, this means a client can claim against any missed defects by the surveyor in the future should something be missed by the surveyor at the time of the survey.

– Find out what size and brand of yacht the surveyor specializes in. Although most surveyors can work on the full range of yachts, if they specialize in the size/brand you are looking to purchase they may know better what problems to look out for.

– Language, it can be extremely beneficial to have a surveyor which speaks your native language or that of the shipyard in which he/she is operating. Technical issues can then be explained far easier and the process can flow smoother.

– You also need to know that they will produce a clear report in which the recommendations are easily understood and within a timely manner that coincides with your purchase contract.

Bristow-Holmes has over 50 years’ experience in selling used and new build yachts. We strongly believe it’s a no brainer to hire a surveyor during the buying process. The issues that could later arise if you don’t hire a surveyor could be detrimental to your yacht and your overall experience.

Whilst legally we cannot recommend a surveyor for you, we can offer our list of experienced surveyors that we often work alongside. Please see below and for anymore more information on using a surveyor please contact

Potential Surveyors