Marine Capsule

8. Inspection and survey


For transaction between individuals, it is usual to find, in the pre-requisites of the purchase, a clauses mentioning that the boat condition must be acceptable to the buyer and its market value be compatible with the asked price. The wording of the clause will cover the following topics:

  • Inspection by the buyer
    The buyer will go and inspect the vessel. He will have to be fully satisfied with his findings.
  • Survey report
    The buyer will request that an accredited marine expert proceeds to a survey on the vessel and write a report on her condition, maintenance and operating. The report will also estimate a market value of the vessel.
  • Sea trial (water test)
    The buyer accompanied by the surveyor will do a sea trial for a duration of one (1) or two (2) hours. The period of time will vary depending on the price of the vessel and its equipment and navigation complexity.

If the buyer is not fully satisfied with one of these previously mentioned points, he may refuse to purchase. He shall notify the seller. The notice must be provided to the seller under the terms mentioned in the purchase offer. Once this notice is received by the seller, this last one may submit a proposal to the buyer to get his satisfaction. If the seller cannot offer any proposal or an acceptable solution to the buyer, the purchase offer may be cancelled by the buyer. The buyer can then recover any amount of money already paid in favor of the seller.



  • Identification, vessel designation and place of inspection
  • Approximate current market value
  • Technical description of the hull, equipment and comments
  • List of urgent repairs to insure vessel safety
  • List of important repairs and care to be done
  • List of recommendations required to help keep the boat's value

Why getting a survey report

A significant investment

Buying a boat is an important investment. It is strongly suggested that a survey report be produced for a boat not sold by a dealer as anew and covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The reasons related to the request of evaluation report are left at the discretion of the parties however, it is usual to get an expert opinion on the following:

  • General condition the vessel, its hull and its equipment
  • Quality of the boat seaworthiness
  • Risks in relation to safety and compliance with international standards (ABYC, NFPA and others)
  • Short term market value


A lender will request a recent survey for a boat based on the following criteria: 

  • The vessel is used
  • Funding of $ 35,000.00 or more
  • The seller is not a dealer having the boat in his inventory
  • The vessel is not a series model or the manufacturer is not well known


Request by insurers

  • For any reason that could influence the insurance risk
  • For a boat of 10 years of age or more and following, every 5 years after
  • Following a previous report mentioning problems, new inspection confirming that the problems have been addressed properly, before insuring the vessel.

Equipment list

Check list at the taking of possession and help for possible future insurance claims

  • Sometimes a copy of the report is attached to the sale contract.  It reflects the condition of the vessel and her equipment 

Surveyor qualifications


Surveyors, also called valuation surveyors, have, for most, a diploma from Chapman School of Seamanship Inc. of Florida, USA.

They had a training enabling them to produce professional surveys complying with maritime standards. Here are a few of these standards:

  • American Boat and Yacht Council  ABYC
  • National Fire Protection Association  NFPA

Before ordering

  • Surveyors approved by the insurers and financial institutions are qualified and experienced people. They meet criteria required by these two type of institutions
  • It is strongly suggested that you obtain the approval from your insurer and/or your bank before ordering the work
  • Insurance claim experts or adjusters are not always accepted for insurance purpose

Who pays the costs ?

  • Survey costs are usually paid by the buyer
  • If the vessel must be launched to the water to proceed to a sea trial, the buyer may be required to pay the fees for launching and hauling out
  • Evaluation report is the property of the requester and payer

Where to find a surveyor ?

Canada, US, other countries

Your Marine Advisor, Hebert & Associates or your insurer will be happy to provide the contact information of those who are near the boat location or are available according to the type of boat you buy. 

There are several major marine surveyor associations. Here are a few of them with their acronym and their Web address. Their web sites include names, addresses and phone number of their accredited member

  • Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors SAMS
  • National Association of Marine Surveyors NAMS
  • United States Surveyors Association USSA

You may contact one of our marine advisor who will be happy to give you the information

By phone: (514) 985-6606 or (866) 531-2645
or by e-mail: Hebert & Associates

This writing is a short summary of some of the topics to consider in relation with a vessel purchase, sale or credit.

Each transaction is a special case.

© 2024 Hébert et Associés Conseillers Maritime
Hebergement Webdynamique Inc. Montreal,Qc,CANADA