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.

2018 arrives...with gales...with ice... with rain

The new year started with a lot of wind and rain and although there has been no snow so far in the South temperatures have been low enough at times to be concerned if you have not antifreezed all systems or drained any fresh water pipes, tanks & hot water systems. Expensive if they freeze.
Any vessels left on open moorings continue to be at risk & those in yards with sails left attached also are at risk of damaged foresail if the wind partly unfurls the sail & at worst, causing major damage to the vessel & mast & to the vessel next door. Insurance would not be guaranteed to pay the bills as insurers usually insist on making the vessel safe. They see this claim as negligence & will often not pay.

There can often be some beautiful days to be had out of season...but sometimes that desire to have just a few more days carries a high toll...Balance the risk.

Left. Extreme of end of season weather in Poole Harbour on swinging mooring

Most owners are now contemplating what to to to the boat this coming year, be it a new engine, sails, electronics and so on. This shopping list varies with each owner & each boat, but many times it is the "boring" stuff that gets sidelined. It is the boring stuff that also keeps the boat in sound condition and safe. New rigging (if stainless) galvanised rigging is not subject to age related replacement as is stainless. Cleaning of fuel tanks, cored deck problems & preventing deterioration unseen, Investigating gel coat cracks & damage and on timber yachts, finding out why that area of paint keeps falling off. Servicing seacocks & pipework. Start on the list now or as soon as the season is over as the list always gets longer & needs more time. Get ahead of the game.

Boat Prices drastic fall continues.

It does appear that the value of boats continues to fall. This is certainly affecting those vessels over 15 or 20 years of age with the most dramatic loss in vessels from before the 1980.s. There are always some anomalies, high end quality vessels built in limited numbers will always sell at a premium comparatively as a discerning buyer will seek these out & pay more, but the run of the mill vessels have too few buyers & too many similar vessels for sale. This is the case for GRP & timber with a timber vessel showing the most differential depending upon condition. It is not unusual to spend in excess of £50,000 on the restoration of a 35ft vessel if professionally undertaken. One recent vessel of 30 ft had over £80,000 spent without any interior work undertaken in a professional yard specialising in timber yachts. Not everyone wants a boat with bells & whistles so now is a good time to grab one of the many bargains available now. Be choosy & it is possible to get safely afloat for many thousands of pounds less than what it would have been five or six years ago. Just remember mooring costs, engine & rigging costs have not fallen.


Most yards have a few vessels that for one reason or another have been neglected for a number of years and forgotten it seems. Occasionally it can be worth enquiring from the yard as to whether a particular "neglected" vessel could be purchased if it is the sstern-planks-fittedtype of boat you are looking for but didn't think you could ever afford the "ready to go"version. Sometimes the owner will be only too happy to be tempted with the offer of clearing the expenses and responsibility of a vessel they no longer use. Just bear in mind the potential pitfalls of purchasing a boat that has not been used for a considerable time. Decay, distortion and deterioration can destroy your dreams with seized engines top of the list.


A neglected Hillyard in Poole. & (below) How it could look

Two examples of the same class of boat and there is no reason why the neglected Hillyard could not be the same as the two below (one is 9 ton the other is 12 Ton). However, having said that, a lot of work and a clear understanding of what is wrong and what has to be done is needed.












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.

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.

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...

Seafish & MCA
Commercial Surveys.

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

MCA fishing vessel surveys








New fishing vessel undergoing MCA in build inspection for Seafish
Seafish no longer undertake registration surveys for existing fishing vessels although they are still the authority for new build fishing vessels. The MCA have take over directly now & existing fishing vessel owners now have to contact the MCA direct. More information here.

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 : & the MCA website here
MCA Surveys can only be carried out by approved surveyors

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)