Buying a Boat? Get a Pre-Purchase Marine Survey
A marine survey will give you peace of mind and alert you to problems
(see Pre-Purchase marine survey.)
A marine surveyor will provide a comprehensive report on the hull structure as
well as the systems onboard.
The report will help you decide whether to buy the boat and
if you do it can then be used to obtain comprehensive insurance.
that you want to buy the boat
Before arranging a
marine survey make sure that you want to buy the boat (assuming there are no faults that you
are unaware of.)
Have a good look at the boat :-
Is the cosmetic condition acceptable?
Is it the type of boat you want?
Are you happy with the age and price?
If possible ask for a short
sea trial to ensure that you are happy with the way the boat performs ( some brokers may insist that you make an offer
before allowing a sea trial.)
If you have any significant doubts it is pointless to pay a marine surveyor
to tell you something that you could have worked out yourself.
If you need
a loan make sure there are no problems
It is quite acceptable to buy a boat with faults provided you are fully aware of them and they are reflected in the
price - BUT - if you are relying on a loan this may prove a problem.
you do need a loan it is best to make sure it is available before signing any agreements or approaching a marine surveyor
because if lack of finance stops the sale you could end up paying a penalty to the broker and you cannot recoup the cost of
the marine survey.
Buying from a
If you are buying from a private seller then you can make whatever arrangements you like but other than paying lift out
fees be very wary of paying any money to the seller before you have a written survey report and have made a considered decision
to buy the boat.
a lift out
or seller will usually arrange to get the boat lifted out of the water for a marine survey though the buyer will have to pay
In busy marinas it is common practice to lift the boat out and hold it in slings for a couple of hours
to allow the surveyor access to the underwater hull.
This is far from ideal as there is limited
time to examine the boat and the hull has no chance to dry out which can lead to high moisture readings and warnings about
the possibility of osmosis developing.
This practice is common because it is by far the cheapest option and if the buyer wanted to keep the boat out of
the water for a week before having the survey they would have to pay more.
the Surveyor to conduct a sea trial
A sea trial is not included as part of the standard marine survey but a short, in water test can be done for
a relatively small extra cost.
A sea trial will allow items such as toilets to be tested and
seacocks can be examined for leaks but the main advantage is to see the engine running. An experienced sailor
may feel they can make these checks themselves and it is always advisable to try the boat at sea before making an offer, if
at all possible.
A sea trial gives a further chance to find faults but just because items function on a
sea trial does not mean they can be guaranteed to function in the future.
survey will include a visual examination of the engine and will assess the standard of installation. This
can pick up a lot of problems but it does not give the marine surveyor a chance to see the engine running.
If a sea trial is requested then the engine will be seen running, usually under full load and problems with
starting, smoke and vibration can be picked up. Many buyers will be able to identify such problems themselves
if they take the boat to sea.
Marine surveyors are
not usually practicing marine engineers with access to the latest diagnostic test equipment so they cannot provide specific
information on engine performance such as cylinder pressures and temperatures. If the engine(s) represents
a significant part of the value of the boat as they generally do with power boats, the buyer is advised
to get them tested by a professional marine engineer.
Even if such tests are commissioned, the
buyer will not get a guarantee of the future performance of the engine but at least they will have had the equipment checked
as far as is reasonably possible. The buyer must accept that there is always a risk in buying second hand
Cracks in Hull Hidden beneath Anti-fouling and Epoxy Coating
with the Seller
Once the buyer has the survey
report they may want to negotiate with the seller either to get a reduction in the price or to get the seller to rectify some
of the problems. This is much the same as any buying and selling process and the state of the market will
determine whether the buyer can get a good deal or whether they will think it expedient to rectify the problems themselves.
It is often best to get the seller to rectify any problems as things can turn out more expensive than initially
thought and in this way the seller takes the risk. The downside of this is that the buyer has limited control
over the quality of the repairs but for anything major they can appoint the marine surveyor to oversee the work and make sure
it is done properly. If this is done the seller will need to pay the surveyor for such work.
If the buyer has signed a standard Sale and Purchase Agreement they are
unlikely to be able to withdraw from the deal without paying a penalty unless the survey has found significant “material”
problems e.g. something that will be expensive to rectify.
With a private sale it is best to
make sure you can decline the boat at any time without paying any penalty to the seller.
survey report to get insurance
In most cases the buyer and seller will come to an agreement and the sale will go ahead. The buyer
will then send the survey report to an insurance company so that comprehensive insurance can be arranged for the vessel.
In general the insurance company will insure the boat on the understanding that the buyer carries out the
Recommendations in the report. They are unlikely to ask for proof that this has been done but if the buyer
makes a claim on the insurance and the company finds out that a Recommendation has not been complied with then the insurance
is likely to be invalid even if the work would have had no bearing on the claim.