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Marine Survey Frequently Asked Questions

Q - What is a Marine Survey?

A - If you have purchased a home you have likely had a home inspection done to satisfy lender or insurance requirements. A marine survey is similar to a home inspection, but it is much more involved as most houses do not have engines, fuel tanks, DC electrical systems, water cooled air conditioning systems, underwater machinery. A marine survey also includes a professional appraisal using both book values and also actual vessel comparable sales. Most surveyors have access to a boating MLS type system, similar to what real estate agents and appraisers use, to see not just what asking prices are, but what vessels actually sold for, and how long they were on the market before they were sold.

Q - Do I "Need" a survey?

A - This is the most common question I receive. The answer is to ask your lender and ask your insurance company to see if you actually "need" one or not. If either says yes, then yes you would need a survey.

Q - My bank/lender said I do not need a survey, or I am paying cash for the boat. Do I "Want" a survey?

A - That is entirely up to you. If you have been a life long boater and if you are comfortable paying the price you are paying for your boat, then probably not. If you are not a life long boater, if you think a safety inspection would be in your best interest, if you are not sure if you are overpaying for a vessel or not, then you might want to think about having a professional survey done. My fee's are high, but in the overwhelming majority of pre-purchase surveys that I do, I almost always save my clients money in the long run, or save my clients from making a financial error by buying a boat that has problems. My fee's almost always pay for themself. That being said, even if your bank does not require a survey, your insurance company might, so check with them next.

Q - What does Cape Marine Survey actually do if I hire you?

A - Going back to the house analogy, all houses have building codes in regards to their construction, plumbing, electrical systems, etc. When you hire a house inspector, the better house inspectors will make sure that the house, and all of it's systems, are in compliance with all relevant building codes. In the marine world we have 2 different sets of "codes" that we use. First is Titles 33 and 46 of the United States Codes Of Federal regulations. These are mandatory boat building codes and are enforced by the US Coast Guard. Next is what are called ABYC boat building standards. ABYC boat building standards are much more stringent. When you buy any boat you want to ask yourself, do I want my boat built to the bare minimum standards as permitted by law, or do I want my boat built utilizing the best overall practices? What Cape Marine Survey does, is we make sure every vessel surveyed is in compliance with both mandatory and voluntary boat building laws and standards. We provide a detailed report on the condition of the vessel and it's systems, pointing out vessel deficiencies. We provide a market analysis appraissal and assign a researched fair market value to the vessel.

Click the picture to learn more about ABYC boat building standards.

Q - Is a marine survey expensive?

A - Well, it's certainly less expensive than buying a lemon boat. If you are looking for the least expensive surveyor in the area, it is not going to be me, and for good reason, click on my certifications page, and then ask the other guy you are thinking about hiring what his certifications look like.  My education, and continuing education, costs me quite a bit of money. That said, except for insurance only survey's, my fees for pre-purchase survey's almost always pay for themselves in some way, shape, or form. My reports will almost always allow you to negotiate a better price on your dream boat, or, they will save folks from making a poor decision in buying a boat that is in less than ideal condition at a premium price. Unless you are a marine technician, have worked in the industry for years, or unless you specifically like to gamble, there is no reasonable reason not to get a marine survey, whether you hire Cape Marine Survey or another surveyor.

Q - How do I choose which surveyor to hire?

A - I always answer this by telling you to ask yourself if you want the bare bones, least expensive cheapest surveyor out there just to satisfy a bank or lender requirement, or if you want somebody with education, experience, and certifications. Not all surveyors are the same, not all surveying organizations are the same. Every time somebody calls me, and and I get the question "Why should I hire you?" I tell each an every person to ask these 6 simple questions to any surveyor they are interviewing.

1. Are you a legitimate business?


You would be surprised. Make sure your surveyor is a legitimate business, registered with the state, and insured. For the lack of a better word there are a lot of clowns out there masquerading as surveyors with no qualifications, insurances, flying under the radar.

2. What surveying organization are you affiliated with? 


Make sure your surveyor is in good standing with a major surveying organization. Unfortunately the marine surveying industry is not regulated industry. Literally anybody with no experience or education, can place an add in the newspaper calling themselves a marine surveyor. There are a minor surveying organizations out there that have very little credibility. The 2 most major surveying organizations that exist in the United States are SAMS and NAMS. SAMS and NAMS are recognized by the banking industry, insurance industry, and the legal system. SAMS is The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors. NAMS isThe National Association of Marine Surveyors. Even if you do not hire CMS, any SAMS or NAMS surveyor should be able to provide you with a reasonably good survey  and survey report that would be accepted by your banks/insurance. The "Surveyors" that belong to some of the lesser organizations out there, lets just say there is a reason whey they are not a member of SAMS or NAMS.  The major difference between SAMS and NAMS, is NAMS surveyors do more commercial vessels and vessels for hire. SAMS members focus more on the pleasure boating side of things. Cape Marine Survey is a proud member of SAMS.

3. Do you have any other qualifications?

People come from all sorts of different backgrounds before they get into surveying. Was your surveyor a computer programmer for 20 years, and then just decided they wanted to get into inspecting boats? Was your surveyor a captain? What else can they bring to the table? Jason at Cape Marine Survey came over from the repair side of the industry. There are very few surveyors out there that are also certified marine technicians. There are even less that are Master Marine Technicians. Jason is not just a surveyor, he is also an ABYC certified Master Marine Technician. Click here to see my certifications.

4. What do your reports look like?


Ask for a sample report! At the end of the day any surveyor is going to give you a report detailing the condition and value of the vessel you are interested in purchasing. Are you going to get a 5 page bare bones minimum report, or are you going to get a long, detailed report covering not only the basic hull, but all of the vessels systems. If you would like to see a sample of my work, email, or call, and I will send you one. 239-600-0605

5. Do you survey full time or is this a "hobby" or "retirement" job for you?


What this comes down to is do you want somebody that surveys 10 to 20 vessels a year, or do you want somebody that actually does this type of work on a full time basis? Cape Marine Survey is a full time marine surveyor.

6. The last one is pretty silly. Are you in good physical condition?


Ask your surveyor if he is in good physical shape! Without a doubt this industry has some fantastic surveyors. At the same time, we also have surveyors that are up their in years age wise, and not a nimble as they once were. If your surveyor is not in good physical condition, if they have a beer belly resembling the last trimester of pregnancy, do you think that person is going to be able to get down into some of the tighter, more cramped areas of a vessel, or do you think they will skip right over those areas?

Q - I just purchased a boat with cash, my cousin Vinny who runs a used car lot that specializes in 17 year old Chevy Malibu's lot told me the boat was in great shape. Now I find out that my insurance company tells me I need a survey or else they will not give me insurance, will you do it tomorrow and can I pay you in Kohl's coupons?

A - No

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