Survey reports & helpful advice:

Links on this page:
Save money on insurance survey costs.
Buying through a broker.
How do you find the right surveyor
Using moisture meters
Fishing vessels
What information should I see on a structural survey

timber yacht surveyor

Merely pointing out lists of faults is not particularly helpful on its own, yet many surveyors simply do this & leave the client to overcome these problems, I will always suggest a remedy & how to achieve this for virtually every problem that I might encounter. tradewind 33 out for surveyThis is part of the report, hence the reason that some of my reports can be in excess of 50 pages. Not pages of faults, but pages of information to allow the client to fully understand the vessel in all aspects, both good & bad. Techniques used for repairing a boat are often different-from the techniques used during the original build.
osmosis blistersTo be able to advise an owner how best to achieve a satisfactory repair one must have first hand experience of what works and what does not. A competent surveyor will have acquired considerable knowledge and experience over many years, and these skills are all brought into play when carrying out surveys.
anode damage on stern gear timber vessel

What information is included in a full structural pre-purchase inspection?
To see a sample survey go to this page & select one.. Briefly a full report will examine all exterior hull above & below the waterline, all attachments to the hull including rudders,skin fittings, propellers, all deck structure, all internal structure so far as access would allow, engine installation/s, pipework & seacocks, gas & electric systems and much more. Mast & spars will be inspected but only partly if the mast is stepped. On all types of construction physical testing will be undertaken but will leave no evidence of such examination other than patches of antifouling where required beneath the waterline. On timber vessels it would be normal to examine some hood end plank fastenings BUT this would only be with the owner's permission.. A considerable number of photographs are also included as one photo can speak a thousand words.

If only part of a vessel is required to be reported upon then this is also undertaken precisely as required.
distorted deck due to rigging strains
Consider reading this page on Timber construction problems wooden yacht repairs and  surveys& this page for GRP construction problemsyacht surveyor grp devon

How do you find the right surveyor for your boat?
:: Make sure the surveyor has the experience in surveying your type of construction.. Timber, aluminium Ferro & steel are very specialist areas & many surveyors only have good experience in GRP. Timber, aluminium Ferro & steel can have significant issues which can be exceptionally costly if overlooked.

:: Get a sample survey from the surveyor & read it carefully to make sure you get the feeling that they know what they are talking about. Speak to the surveyor by phone as well as E-mail & don't be afraid to ask questions. You must have faith in them & the freedom to be able to talk to them at any time before and after survey.

: Do not be misled or over influenced by letters after their name & organizations they may belong to. Some insurers require the surveyor belongs to some form of association, but most will be satisfied provided the surveyor has Professional Indemnity insurance.

:: Fishing vessel coding inspections can only be undertaken by MCA approved surveyors. I am approved by the MCA for these.. Only 3 or 4 approved for the South of England. Price, try not to be choosing by price.

:: A high price is definitely not an assurance of quality in this case, any more than a low price is the opposite. The right survey will always usually pay for itself in the event of purchase when , perhaps areas that might otherwise be missed by some surveyors, will be highlighted by the right surveyor with the opportunity to re-negotiate purchase price, usually well in excess of the survey cost.

:: Make sure the surveyor acts promptly after survey. You need to be able to decide within hours of the inspection. Some surveyors will have a long delay between inspection & report. I usually supply a draft report followed by the final report within 1-3 working days.

Using Moisture Meters
There are a few well known moisture meters available and the main requirement for any moisture meter for use on GRP is that they must have a contact pad instead of pins, which is the usual design for logs, walls & timber generally. The other requirement is that they have a much higher sensitivity range than the basic pin type,
The "professional" moisture meters are very expensive for the occasional use of the boat owner and many are surprised that a few very low priced moisture meters, probably from China, are available for tens of pounds instead of hundreds. These have sense pads instead of pins, similar to the professional use meters and in many cases, will have a selectable scale of sensitivity.
In my experience these function exceptionally well & give similar readings to the Tramex & Sovereign range when used properly & on the correct scale.
Click the image for the osmosis page. moistureA cheap under £25 Chinese wood moisture meter (above) that is very accurate & readings compare closely wit Tramex Skipper shown below,.
tramexThe other well respected meter is the Sovereign shown below.
sovereignAll of these meters give comparative readings & none will give an actual moisture content so never assume that the percentage reading given is the moisture content of GRP.
Various Uses:
All of these meters can be used for "comparative" readings on GRP and when using on a hull, then check the reading obtained on what you know is a physically dry part of the hull, well above the waterline. Do this in several places to make sure you have a reliable "control"reading. Now check the underside and draw comparisons. This will be the difficult part in assessing the readings found. If you see no difference between the hull above the waterline & the hull below the waterline, the meter might need setting on a more sensitive scale,
Check on another vessel near you to make sure you are getting varied readings. If you know anyone with a professional meter then simply ask if they can compare readings. It is certainly something I would be happy to help with if the circumstance arose.
Extremely useful for checking core dampness & deck leaks on GRP decks. Simple comparative readings over the deck supplemented with hammer testing can immediately tell you where problems are:
All rudders eventually get wet. If you compare readings on the rudder with the hull readings you will almost certainly see a much higher figure
.Interpreting readings:
This is the area where experience is required. Never make any judgement on a hull skin (other than cored decks) merely based on moisture meter readings alone. This is a mistake as some older vessels will have extremely high readings but not be at high risk of osmosis blistering. Others will develop blisters at significantly lower readings. Use hammer testing, visual & electronic methods in conjunction always. A good use for the owner of a low price moisture meter is to simply use season on season to see what ,if anything , is happening to your hull.


Insurance surveys

The process of inspection remains exactly the same with the only main difference being that the report is written in a slightly different way. A buyer needs to be aware of as much information as possible from the major fracture to the minor scratch. As an owner you do not need to be told your gel coat is a bit dull or you have a scratch on the hull, you already know these, but you will be informed of the crack in the hull or the decayed bulkhead as these are relevant structural issues. The insurers just need to know the vessel is safe & is not going to sink or break its mooring or lose control at sea for any identifiable reason. They also want to know that the vessel does have an intrinsic value close to the insured value.

Save money on insurance surveys...Read on.
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 . gasit 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. SEACOCKAn 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. STEERINGDepending 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. propellorSample Surveys
for a sample survey on various types of vessel including fishing vessels, yachts & boats GRP, Timber & Steel sample survey
Survey template

for a free survey template in order to help you do an inspection on your own boat or perhaps one you are buying to highlight any major problems before a professional survey go to this page. Free timber template here. Free GRP template here

Buying through a broker

grp yacht surveys hampshireHow does the survey process work
Buying a boat can be a difficult process as there are so many things to have to arrange. Initially you find the boat you want.
PRICE Agree a price subject to survey. If buying through a broker , they will ask for a deposit. Generally you have 14 days to either arrange survey or settle the deal. The deposit is partly to repair any damage that the surveyor may cause, such as removing epoxy coatings (not antifoul) so the care of the surveyor has to be of prime importance as well as being thorough. It is possible. Remember you do not have to have a survey however you if get the boat insured, it is likely they may require a survey, so definitely get a survey before you buy rather than one after you have bought.
Once found, speak to the surveyor directly and ask questions. If you are happy with the answers then speak to the broker about inspection circumstances, i.e. is the boat still afloat, in which case it will have to be lifted for inspection.
There are options for this, there are circumstances where the boat can be held in slings for inspection for an hour or so to inspect the underside. The drawbacks of this are that GRP moisture meter readings will not be reliable & will ALWAYS be higher than readings taken 3 or 4 days later if the vessel stayed ashore as the yard have to block up, store for a few days & then relaunch.. However, this first option can be a lot less expensive for the buyer as they have to pay these costs.
Speak to the surveyor to make sure they are available before finally booking. If the boat is ashore, much simpler.
The surveyor will now produce a booking form detailing boat, buyer, owner, place & day of inspection, type of inspection & cost.

The survey can now proceed. In my case the report will be available via email within 4 working days with a draft report available within 2 days.
In my case I will contact you within 2 days to discuss the report . You would be advised not to speak to the broker or buyer prior to receiving the report..
Depending on the type of construction, the physical survey can be very different. Techniques for surveying GRP,Timber, Steel & Ferro are very different and need further expalining HERE.

Buying privately
Buying privately is similar but the deposit paid is solely between the buyer and seller to negotiate. Some form of contract between buyer & seller is advisable. The remainder of the process remains similar to above.


The final step
The usual terms of broker's contracts note that you can only retreat from the purchase in the event of major expense correcting highlighted problems. This leaves a lot of open debate. Generally it would not be acceptable to try to negotiate items that you were already aware of, such as a broken section of rubbing strake or an obviously faulty engine. Most brokers will try to get the sale done and will be as much help as possible. The broker will also need to see the relevant parts of the report to confirm the actual wording before trying to negotiate between buyer and seller. There are times when both parties receive different information from the broker so just be aware of this occasional lack of communication
SURVEYS & SURVEYING NEXT PAGE This page outlines the physical process of surveying all types of vessel. Articles on Timber and GRP construction & faults.

Fishing Vessel Surveys

MCA fishing vessel surveyor SCMSFull verion of this page here.
This is a very different process as the builder must apply to SCMS and submit for a factory inspection if the builder is just starting up and designs for the vessel proposed have to be assessed by the MCA. This is quite costly. Once all approved then an application will be made for this vessel to SCMS to proceed. cygnus 19This will be issued to the surveyor approved by the MCA, in the case of new builds from Chichester - Exmouth this will possibly be myself. Presently if the vessel is under 7m, just one inspection once the vessel is out of the mould is required. If over7m then 2 in build inspections are required, one in the mould & one out of the mould. Before the vessel can be registered it will need what is known as outfit inspection/s. generally two of these. These inspect engine installation, railing, bilge pumps , hydraulics and so on. All of this information is contained within MGN 628 documentation from the MCA website

Again, the application is made to SCMS & again the nearest appointed surveyor is contacted by SCMS to ensure they are available. The application is fwd. to the surveyor and the owner is directly contacted. The process still uses MGN 628 standards to compare the vessel to, but it is undertaken in just one boat All of the construction of the hull/deck and superstructure is checked and all of the outfit is checked & it must comply closely with the MGN 628 standards. The vessel must be out of the water & has to have been built prior to 2007. If it has been built after that date it must have the original Seafish hull certificate otherwise it cannot be inspected & will not be allowed on the register. It is always wise to speak to the surveyor about your vessel before getting involved with the quite high costs of this process. I am always happy to advise as best as possible without any bias either way, so just call or email.
padstow Presently the surveyor is contacted by the Fishing Vessel Authority once an application has been made to ensure the surveyor will be available, then the authority confirm with the applicant the total cost . This application is then forwarded to the surveyor who will then make contact to arrange inspection. The vessel will have to be out off the water or sometimes, if practical, between tides in a "safe" position subject to surveyor agreement. The inspection is completed & the report sent to the Authority who will then review it & copies off to the MCA & applicant. The MCA will go through the report with possible requirements to be fulfilled & ultimately arrange carving and marking and the Safety Examination by the MCA themselves.


Under 7m Over 10m under 15m

These lengths are natural break points where the length of the vessel dictates the requirements that the vessel is subject to. The changes that occur at these lengths can be quite extensive so ensure the exact length of the vessel before contemplating a new design or a new to you fishing vessel..
More information on Fishing vessel inspections

Links to useful pages on this site
Yacht surveys
Yacht surveys timber & general info
Buying a Boat
Fishing vessel inspection for the MCA
Survey faults & photos
Shipwright info
More contact info
PDF Articles on all subjects
Links to useful sites.
Selling a boat tips
Repair Timber & GRP boats - administrator : Tel 01258 837153 - Mobile 07501 144631