SeaSurveys Marine Surveyors

To help you explore this site quickly & easily click here to open up the quick navigation page for direct access to a host of useful pages of information.Windward_workWe are professional marine surveyors & shipwright based close to Dorchester in Dorset. We cover an area from: Plymouth to Littlehampton on the South Coast and the Bristol channel. We carry full public & professional liability insurance to ensure customer satisfaction and peace of mind. We are approved and authorised by the MCA & Seafish to carry out surveys/inspections on New-Build & existing Fishing vessels.

1 The first step is to give us a call so we can talk about any concerns you have prior to commissioning a survey. Without committing a penny you can find out what we know about a particular class of vessel. It is possible we may have surveyed the vessel before. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by contacting us.

2 Having confidence in your surveyor is very important. Your life may well depend on their knowledge. Once you talk to us you will realise we are very experienced and take great care in all we do. Clients are welcome to observe and and ask questions if they are in attendance during a survey.

3 There is a vast amount of information in the site of potential interest to new and existing boat owners. To help you explore the site quickly we have included a sitemap. We hope you find the information useful.

Thinking of buying a boat...

then read this page first. Full of tips if this is the first time you have bought a boat & engaged a surveyor. Then read this page about what a surveyor might need to understand. Why not make use of this free survey template, it will definitely help you have a structured look at your potentially new vessel.

See these & do something earlier than later...

Timber Boats:
Deck leaks are freshwater & freshwater will eventually cause rot. Notice a deck leak or paint/varnish that is darkening or lifting for no obvious reason, then stop the leak as soon as possible.

Anode & anode wires: see any build up of white crud around the anode bolts or where the anode wires connect to any part of the system then be aware that this is possibly electrochemical damage occurring. This can destroy parts of a timber boat. Disconnect it or check for stray currents.

Notice a part of the structure where the paint or varnish keeps lifting....there is always a reason, & usually not a good one. Investigate & sort it out early. Often found on external planking around chainplates & other places where freshwater can accumulate unseen. It is also an early indicator of electrolytic damage due to mixed metal contact or corroding fastening, particularly below the waterline both inside & out.

GRP boats:
Deck leaks through mast wires & rigging fittings will cause freshwater decay to bulkheads if left. Anywhere discoloured varnish or peeling paint is seen for no obvious reason may be a sign of water leakage. Eventually decay will set in. Sort the leaks out

U bolts through decks can appear perfect externally but on occasions these can suffer from unseen corrosion where they pass through the deck, particularly if they have been leaking long term. When they fracture might be a bit too late to investigate...

Look in the bilges & under the saloon berths at the keel support areas. Many vessels will have signs of movement &, in some cases cracks in the grp reinforcements as well as corrosion stained bolts or nuts. Do not confuse gel wash cracks, which are quite normal, with laminate cracks which are not desirable. On first sight they can appear to be similar.

Where bulkheads fit against the hull, on close inspection you might find that the bonding has either come loose on the plywood or there might be a fracture in the laminate right in the corner of the hull/plywood connection. Don't ignore either of these.

Deck stanchion bases come loose and allow water leaks. If you have a cored deck this could be serious so be vigilant & attend to loose stanchion bases early if you do not want a big later expense. Also check alloy bases for vertical fractures at the socket due to corrosion expansion. Not easy finding new crew when they have gone over the side.

5 common problems encountered on surveys.

This might surprise you when you see what they are. click to open

Seacocks & Pipework: One of the most common things found are gate valves that fail on test. Try fully closing & fully opening a gate valve, but moderately tight. When they are on their last legs you'll find that the quickthread that operates the "gate" fails with corrosion and you are left with a valve that either you cannot open or you cannot close. Both serious problems. Pipework hardens with age & temperature, in some cases to the extent it becomes brittle & totally inflexible & is at risk of fracture. The clips will not squeeze the hose onto the pipe stubs properly & in some cases the rigid pipework starts to strain the skin fittings.

Fuel & Water lines: One area I often come across is a rubber water hose, exhaust or fuel hose partially rubbed through on an engine casting, or even an exhaust manifold.. This can be disastrous but so easy to prevent....if you know where to look. Check where pipes disappear between alternators and engine, over engine mountings, close to exhausts & drive belts. In this photo is an exhaust hose, a fuel line & engine control all rubbing a seacock.

Worn boom & mast base castings: I often see problems where stainless steel shackles have been used for attaching mainsheet blocks & kicking strap cshackle_pin_wearconnections to the soft alloy boom or mast base castings. These hard shackle pins wear the alloy very badly and then you can see an accident that has not yet happened, but will sooner or later. Prevention is far less expensive than cure. Use a large shackle pin as this has more surface area & look for all areas where this can occur. It is also problem where stainless guardlines pass through alloy stanchion tops.

Electric bilge pump pipework: The impeller type of electric bilge pump has no valves fitted whatsoever and so many owners fit them not realising that if they do not loop the exit pipe as high as possible, the when the boat heels over, this puts the outlet beneath the waterline & the bilges will flood. So often not aware of what is happening because an automatic pump will pump the water out again. Until one day the pump does not work and then what was designed to save you....sinks you.

Stemhead fittings: Most often on GRP vessels these will be stainless steel. The usual design is a central web with a few drillings, one for the forestay attachment. So often distorted_stemhaedyou cannot see the drilling because it is obscured by the forestay or furling gear attachment fork. On close inspection you will sometimes see that the drilling is distorted by its proximity to the edge of the web, even in some cases with such a narrow bridge of metal remaining that it is unsafe for the security of the forestay & mast. Look at the distortion directly above the clevis pin.

Make use of your eyes: it is surprising how much can be seen if you know where to look. In my experience, it is not the major things that lead to disaster, but the things that cost very little or in some cases, nothing to rectify but if not seen, lead to mast failure, engine failure ,flooding , injury and even loss of the boat.
Look at this taster template & Email me for the free full template & help yourself...before someone else has to.

Gel Coat cracks...some clarification.

Most grp vessels will suffer from gel coat cracking here and there eventually. However, are they important? Well much depends upon where they are and, unfortunately, some surveyors are inclined to dismiss some gel coat cracks as scratches or unimportant whereas, occasionally this can be quite the opposite.
The obvious reason that gel coat cracks appear is that there has been some flexing of the structure. This in itself is of no major consequence as thick gel coat is very brittle and slightest flexing will crack it.
The most common areas for gel coat cracking are around stanchion bases where the deck has flexed and around moulded corners of the superstructure or cockpit for instance where the builders originally built up these corners in the mould with thick gel coat in order to make the laminating easier as laminating a sharp corner is not particularly easy. The vessel twists in a seaway & the stresses focus on corners where three planes meet. A thick layer of gel coat smooths out the corners. However, as the boat flexes in normal use these areas crack

Here is gel coat cracking around a keel recess in a large Moody. (open the photo for clearer image)In this case it was due to excessively thick gel coat (in excess of 10mm) which had cracked but no damage to the laminate.

Some surveyors will refer to cracks as hard spot or hinge effect cracks, sometimes these look innocuous as they usually take place over bulkheads and sometimes horizontal stiffeners. They can sometimes be almost invisible with just one visible crack and not particularly profuse however, if you gently tap the hull along its length you will locate these bulkheads by the different sound and it is these areas where gel coat cracks can appear. These can also appear on decks for the same reason.
It is also where some surveyors mistakenly suggest they are scratches or relatively insignificant. In some cases they may well be insignificant however, they always need to be further examined as they are caused by the vessel flexing over the bulkhead or stiffener and continued flexing over a hard point such as this does eventually cause laminate damage.

Hard spot cracking over a bulkhead, more prominent because of the dirt in the cracks. previous impact damage forcing the hull over the hart spot & cracking the gel coat & perhaps laminate

One off star cracking caused by localised impact such as an anchor fluke dropping onto the deck or hitting the hull can sometimes look far worse than the hard spot cracks but quite often is less significant. A good surveyor can interpret these stress cracks & the underlying reason & whether or not they are of concern.

The simplest things cause can sometimes result in the worst consequence. A missing split pin in a clevis pin can cause the loss of a mast..I have often seen a missing clevis pin split pin on survey. Double clips on seacock pipework where the second clip is not on the pipe stub & in effect is trying to pull the pipe off instaed of securing it on. Very common. A stainless shackle without any mousing connecting the anchor to the chain can result in complete loss of the anchor when relying upon it because stainless shackle pins do come loose quite easily., just as finding the bitter end of the scope is not attached to the boat. Out goes the anchor...and all of the chain..



Laying up time is

A very short year for many of us who managed to get the boat launched but a very long year for those who did not get afloat.
October will eventually bring the gales that make us happy the boat is safely ashore or otherwise protected. Some may well extend the season which in most cases works out well, although there are always one or two instances where the extra weekend costs a lot more than ever anticipated.

If staying in commission then a few simple steps to keep her safe. In marinas or elsewhere alongside make sure you have plenty of fenders & to avoid hull stressing (hard spot cracks) always make sure the fenders are directly over bulkhead positions as this stops the hull flexing over the hard spot of the bulkhead & leading to gel coat & possibly laminate cracking in exceptional conditions. Warps, make sure they cannot chafe through, sails, make sure sail covers are totally secure & add some sail ties around the furling extrusion to prevent the sail unwinding. Swinging moorings, make sure the chain cannot jump out of the stemhead fitting and swipe the stanchions off. Use all the fwd. cleats for mooring attachment, not just one. Add a shock absorbing warp as well as the chain to the mooring buoy.
Seacocks, make sure all are off other than the cockpit drains. Wind generators can blow themselves to bits if not fitted with overcharging prevention or feathering vanes. Check rigging for loose or missing split pins, loose and chafing halyards, mainsheet & topping lift. Check insurance is allowing use of vessel out of season or allowing cover on winter mooring. Check those vessels close to you that could cause you damage if their lines failed & report to whoever can take responsibility for prevention of damage.

When the gales arrive then you can just worry about the unexpected, instead of the "I wish I had done that when I had the chance" as well as the unexpected!

Insurance Claims....

This is an area of great confusion sometimes. It is often thought that whatever happens & however it happens if the boat is insured then following any incident where damage & a claim is made the insurers will pay out. This is slightly misleading because, although it appears that most insurers pay out for any claim the facts are slightly different. Firstly some believe that yacht insurance is the same as motor vehicle insurance where the third party will always be insured irrespective of the status of the driver at fault. Yacht insurance is not legally required by law. Harbour authorities may make this a condition of mooring or using the harbour.
The misconception arises when, for instance, an insurance survey notes a serious petrol fuel leak or a major problem with faulty seacock pipework. Items such as this would or should be highlighted by a surveyor as important areas & must be attended to. Most insurers will look at the survey before accepting risk & agree to insure subject to certain items being attended to. In some cases an owner may well think the noted item is of no consequence and ignore it. In the event of a claim that the insurers decide was a direct result of the item not having been attended to then they have the option of denying the claim & in the most serious circumstance, if another vessel was damaged as a direct result of this neglect then there is no guarantee that they will honour the third party claim. If that vessel had no insurance then the owner of the vessel that caused the damage may well find themselves facing another repair bill without the back up of insurance.

This can also apply when an insured vessel has not been subject to any form of inspection as in the conditions of most policies there will be a clause requiring thevessel to be maintained in a seaworthy state.I have known several cases where a major claim was made & in one particular case a timber yacht lost her mast on the mooring. The mast came down and smashed the aft coachroof and pulpit. The owner had paid his premiums for many years without any problem. The insurers sent their assessor down as the claim was for many thousands of pounds & found that the stem at the forestay attachment point was rotten hence it failed_riggingpulled out. The whole claim was voided as they argued the vessel had not been maintained in a seaworthy state.

Stranded stainless rigging,

The answer....... just because the insurers have not asked for a survey do not assume they will be there for you so always keep an eye on the major areas where obvious visual inspection can prevent a failure & prevent a failed claim. If your surveyor has highlighted a major problem then either consider correcting it or if you are confident it will never be a problem & not create a claim then be prepared to self insure that area & take responsibility in the event of failure. Try this free survey template to help you check the vital areas & be aware. Email me for the FREE FULL VERSION, either GRP or Timber.




Timber Specialist.
click open Plywood, Conventional Carvel, Strip plank & hot/cold moulded. Shipwright repairs to all timber as well as surveys.Ferro cement advice and surveys. Shipwright repairs to all GRP.
Timber has a unique range of possible problems that many surveyors feel ill at ease in understanding. No surprise as few timber boats are built and most surveyors only experience GRP hulls and GRP courses. The main areas of concern on timber construction are those that most people are aware of, decay.
Below: anode related damage to planking. the timber just dropped away leaving a 1.5" dia hole where the anode bolt was.
anode_damageHowever, there are various forms of decay that few are aware of.The most destructive decay beneath the waterline is electrolytic decay. This is very different from what the majority of people understand is decaying which is usually a result of freshwater contamination long-term culminating in bacterial decay such as you get in fence posts in the ground, rotted window frames on houses etc.
Electrolytic decay can be so expensive as to make the vessel uneconomic to repair. Sadly it can be induced by some surveyors who insist that anodes are fitted and wired up. The mere fact of doing this can cause major decay within the stern end of the vessel where the anode is wired internally and to the planking at the position of the anode. As the anode works in protecting the metal a chemical builds up around the metal which physically destroys the timber. Whenever you see a white crud or powder internally at the position of an anode or anode wiring then you can be sure that a form of electrolytic decay is occurring and the wood beneath the crud has started to go soft or will be soft. This can occur where rudder tubes go through the stern of the vessel and quite often is connected with the internal stern gear and stern tube. If the damage is too severe, the repairs can run into many thousands of pounds. However, these are not the only areas where timber vessels can suffer.
Sometimes it is more a case of prioritising some areas. It is not likely there is a timber vessel of any age that does not have some potentially structural faults. However, then mind that not all structural faults require immediate repair and some can remain for decades without any concern.
Many boats will have the odd broken frame without any long-term consequence. It is up to the surveyor using their own experience and judgment as to what is important and what is not so important. That is why, when choosing a surveyor for a timber vessel, choose someone who has long-term experience of timber boat ownership, repair and understanding of how a timber boat is built.

GRP Build supervision & open When Seafish/MCA receive new fishing boat applications for boats under construction, in the caser of GRP the hull has to be checked as the vessel is being built.
Some over 7m will require 4 surveys in bulid. One in the mould checking the frame & structrural components with regard to size and position, one when the boat is out of the mould to check the hull external moulding and hardness (barcol). Internally the boat is checked for bulkheads and sealed deck. Another two surveys for what is called outfit, this is the engine, bilge pumps, steering and so on as all of these items have particular requirements depending on the type of vessel. The standards that apply to these vessels can cross over into yachts quite easily with a degree of practicality.

Survey cost advice. How to save on insurance survey costs. click open Many insurance companies will accept an update of a previous survey which can be a lot less expensive than a full insurance survey. It is also possible that some may accept a simple "Safety Inspection"
This covers just the primary important sections of the vessel. Not all surveyors will tell you this or undertake this type of survey. It can save a lot of money. Check with your insurer first before booking a more expensive full survey . It might be that you want to know as much as possible in which case a full survey is the best option. Safety items include steering, basic hull integrity, seacocks, fire fighting, immediate crew safety,Gas installations, firefighting, bilge pumps and anything that constitutes an obvious risk.
An update includes all of the above but with the added information of any deterioration or completed recommendations in the original survey which I would have to have a copy of .
Depending on the insurer they will occasionally accept an update of about 6 years after the original registered report
Just occasionally it can be found that if you try negotiating with the insurers, they relent on the requirement for a survey at that time. It is worth remembering though, if there is a subsequent claim that derives from what the insurers see as "lack of maintenance" then you will not have a successful claim whatever you think you are insured for. Never rely on the insurance as a back up for something you know needs looking at.

We are much more than just surveyors
Find out more by checking out the "About us" link via the administration menu.

New. Through coating metal hull & tanks thickness testing.
Ultrasonic thickness testing now available WITHOUT paint coating removal. Up to this point ultrasonic thickness testing required the coatings to be removed., DMS Go tester can operate through coatings to give avccurate readings on steel & metal hulls & tanks. Call for quote.

dms go

Having a survey is a win win situation
Unless the vessel is new, you will need some sort of survey to satisfy and secure insurance cover. It is always best to survey before purchase rather than after. A comprehensive survey will often show up problems and faults the owner was not aware of. This provides a valid reason to negotiate the asking price to cover faults discovered during the survey. If the survey shows no faults then you have peace of mind knowing you have that very rare item : a boat with no problems.

yarmouthFree.... yes free advice
If you need information or advice regarding any aspect of surveys, repairs, technical constructional problems. Please feel free to give us a ring or email us.
01258 837153 & mobile 07501 144631 & 07963 011390
or fill in this contact form:

Put your mind at ease
So many surveyors use examples of Super-yachts they have surveyed in order to build confidence in their skills. We can do super-yachts but much of the survey work we undertake is on yachts from 15ft to 50ft.
A survey carried out by Seasurveys will tell you if the vessel is suitable for the intended purpose, safe and a good investment.


Dalrymple 12 Ton Hillyard off Salcombe





Key assets you need in your surveyor

  1. Approachability in explaining what items will show up on a survey on a vessel.
  2. Jargon free reports
  3. Helpful with type of survey selection
  4. Flexibility with additional services that may be required depending on the situation of the vessel to be surveyed

Always insist on seeing a sample-survey from more than one surveyor. Not all reports are comprehensive...

MCA fishing vessel
Commercial Surveys.

As well as surveys on GRP, alloy & steel vessels we also specialise in:



New fishing vessel undergoing MCA in build inspection for Seafish
The MCA have taken over directly now & existing fishing vessel owners now have to contact the MCA direct. More information here.


New build fishing vessels have to apply to the MCA instead of Seafish now. At the moment SCMS are the only certifying authority for new fishing vessels under 12m. Mecal are in the process of being accepted by the MCA but at time of writing, had not yet gained full approval.
Existing vessels can either approach SCMS or still contact the approved MCA surveyors such as myself until December 2020.
Full MCA list here.

In both instances there have been some further concentration of the standards required in that new builds will be subject to further limited examination of building premises at each inspection to ensure the original standards when the builder was accepted are being maintained in all areas and a more precise conforming to the supplied design. On existing vessels a more rigid interpretation of the standards.

In either case feel free to contact SCMS or myself for more details.

Buying a fishing vessel built after 2007 without a build certificate?..... then be very careful as rules may prevent this vessel being surveyed
Visit This page for more information

More information can be found on MCA Fishing Vessels

Here is a video of fishing vessels in extreme conditions which helps explain why certain requirements have to be met. In this case both vessels would surely have sunk without adequate freeing ports & sealed hatches. (permission of geoff mackley)