If you are buying a boat for the very first time, you might well wonder why you need advice in choosing a marine surveyor and if one is needed at all. After all if a marine surveyor is properly qualified, there are chances that one qualified opinion on a boat that you might be about to buy will be as good as that of the next one; nothing could be further from the truth. There is a remarkable degree of variation in talent and work ethic in this business; the truth of the matter is that marine consultants are definitely not equal. Qualitatively the marine industry probably conforms to the Pareto norm, whereby 20% are exemplary; eighty percent are adequate and 20% of the 80% should find something else to do.
But before you consider hiring a marine surveyor, you need to be competent to do a basic pre-survey inspection of any boat that might qualify for the short list; the reason is cost. Accredited marine surveyors will charge you a good amount of money for a good quality survey in addition to slipping for the out of water component. So your marine surveyor should be your last line of defense, not your first.
Also as a buyer, there are so many listings to see and evaluate. And because many of these boats for sale might well qualify; in terms of suitability, aesthetic qualities and price; it pays to take your time. The boat market in Australia is flooded with stock and buyers have by and large vacated the field. So it’s clearly not feasible to have your marine surveyor inspect every boat that might qualify for an offer.
Your pre-survey is the process of elimination based upon a number of guidelines specifically applicable to the build medium. While this article does not attempt to address these guidelines; suffice it to say that you need to be more vigilant in certain areas of a steel boat. These particular areas of interest will not be the same for a glass boat and different again for foam cored glass boat and different yet again for a wooden boat.
When via this process you have eliminated the boats you deem to be not worthy of pursuit, you have your short list of possibly one or two vessels. At this point you need to select accredited marine surveyors; when you find a marine surveyor you need to clearly communicate to him your usage intentions for the boat. Whether you intend to go to sea or you will be day sailing or undertaking longer term cruises; tell them your expectations with regard to the boat. All of these factors are relevant to the stance your marine surveyor takes with respect to his investigations on your behalf.