American Marine Specialists
Gary R. Wright, Accredited Marine Surveyor®
Marine Surveys By American Marine Specialists, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How much does a survey cost?
This is a legitimate question, and it certainly figures into the boat buying budget, BUT REMEMBER, you are paying for the knowledge, experience, skill and integrity of the Surveyor.

Please contact us for a quote, as our Survey fees vary by the type of survey and level of service you desire, as well as the age, configuration and type of construction of the vessel. We normally charge for travel to all assignments outside a 30 mile radius from our office.

2. How quickly will I get the results of the Survey?
Usually you will be given an oral summation of the survey on the same day of the survey, however, we need time to review our photographs and survey notes prior to completion of the final report. In most cases the final written report will be delivered electronically within 48 hours from completion of the survey. Hard copies of the report, and/or copies of surveyor's photos will be made available to the client(s) for an additional charge, based on our hourly labor rate at that time.

3. Who gets the results of the Survey?
For all surveys, the Client gets the only copy of the report. We do not reveal our opinion of the condition or fair market value of the vessel to any other party, until, and unless “The Client“ authorizes disclosure, and only to those parties so designated. Exception; where there are survey discoveries that may represent a imminent safety issue(s), the seller or marina operator will normally be notified.

4. Can I be present for the Survey?
We encourage buyers to attend on the survey, although it is not always necessary. Often observations and recommendations in the written report will be more meaningful to you if we are able to point out the item in question while you are present. We can also answer questions and make comments during the survey which might not be significant enough to include in the report. We do ask all persons present during the survey to allow the surveyor time to focus on the task at hand, and not look over his shoulder or constantly engage in conversation during all aspects of the survey. We also ask that friends and family not attend during the in-water portion of the survey, or the sea trial.

5. What if the boat doesn't "pass" the Survey?
We do not “pass“ or “fail“ boats we survey. Our job is to report our findings and recommendations, and offer an opinion as to the “condition and fair market value“ of the vessel. YOU, as a buyer, determine whether the boat meets your requirements, based on our report. Additionally, the surveyor does not make insurance or financing decisions. He or she reports observations which the insurance company or financing institution take into consideration to arrive at their decision.

6. Should I have the boat hauled out for the Survey?
Absolutely! Even if the boat was recently hauled for maintenance or bottom painting, you have no way of knowing the condition of the wetted surface of the hull or below the water line machinery without seeing it. What if the boat was damaged when it was put back in the water, or run aground on the way back to the dock. How can you be sure the reported repairs were done properly (if at all). In so many cases, we find u-reported machinery damage, collision or grounding damage, and/or hull bottom blistering. Don“t let a seller or broker discourage you from having the bottom inspection done as part of your survey.

7. Do we use a Moisture Meter?
Yes! We normally take random moisture meter readings and do percussion sounding with a phenolic hammer on certain areas of the decks, superstructure, interior hull stiffeners and (*if properly prepared), the exterior hull bottom, where experience, or suspicious evidence indicates the possibility of excess moisture incursion and/or delamination.
  • For proper moisture meter sampling, excess marine growth should be removed by pressure washing or scraping; and, adequate time allowed for surface moisture to dry off. (seller or buyers responsibility).

  • Note; Some barrier coats, bottom paints, and certain hull lay up resins may give false readings.

  • Vessels with cored hulls should be out of water 24 hours to read. Moisture meter readings generally are more accurate if surface moisture on the hull is allowed to dry.

8. What if the boat has hull bottom blisters?
Most cases of blisters are not “fatal“.
  • Generally, bottom blisters represent an annoying and somewhat costly maintenance or repair item. In a hull with solid glass lay-up (i.e. no core), there is rarely any urgency to have blisters repaired.

Most fiberglass boats will ultimately get blisters.
  • This is especially true of boats on the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Southeast, where boats are kept afloat in relatively warm water year round.
  • Blisters may occur between and within any of several layers.
  • Paint/gelcoat, gelcoat/skin-out mat, or within structural laminate. They may also occur beneath "barrier coats" or previous blister repairs. Lately we are seeing a lot of this.
Blisters can be diagnosed after they appear, but there is no reliable way to predict when or where they will appear.
  • Moisture meter readings taken during a "quick haul" cannot be used as a predictor of future blistering potential with any accuracy. Some builders and year models have more problems than others but there is considerable variation.
  • You may be better off buying a boat with blisters than buying a boat previously repaired to a poor standard.
  • Assuming the price reflects the condition, you can then have the blisters repaired properly. An independent view and a more detailed on-line article: Buying a "Buying a Blister Boat" by David Pascoe, a respected, Florida surveyor.
9. Should I have the surveyor attend on a sea trial?
  • Yes! Even a brief sea trial will give the surveyor an opportunity to check the engines and drive train for leaks, vibrations, unusual noises, and proper indicated operating conditions including; oil pressure, cooling water temperature, recommended idle and WOT (wide open throttle) RPMs, and voltage output. Observation of the controls, steering, trim, electronics and navigation systems, and the general handling and performance of the boat, including monitoring for signs of excessive (deadly) CO (carbon Monoxide) coming on board while under way.
10. What if the boat needs repairs or the valuation is less than the agreed price?

All boats will have items requiring attention. In most cases these will not preclude your going ahead with the purchase. You either make the repairs or changes recommended, or if the costs are higher than you expected, they may be negotiated into the final selling price of the vessel, or accomplished by the seller. If our valuation is less than the previously agreed selling price you may:
  • Pay somewhat more than the "market value" if the boat fits your needs particularly well.
  • Renegotiate the selling price with the seller or broker.
  • Refuse the boat.. Your sales agreement or contract should include language that will allow you to cancel the contract if the survey is unsatisfactory to you.
12. What are my responsibilities as a buyer?
  • After contracting for the survey with us, the buyer should make arrangements with the repair yard for a "quick haul" and pressure wash. Often the broker will coordinate this for you.
  • The buyer must also make the necessary financial arrangements with the yard (usually payment at the time of haul out).
  • We normally require payment for the survey in advance; usually before boarding the vessel if client is paying by cash or check. For credit card payments we require credit card information at least 48 hours in advance. In some cases, prior to firming the survey date schedule.
13. What are the seller's or broker's responsibilities?
  • All normally accessible compartments should be open and unobstructed.
  • The boat should be reasonably clean, and extraneous possessions should be removed.
  • The ships papers or title and registration should be available.
  • The seller, the broker or other representative of the seller should operate the boat, engine, or other equipment on sea trial and to deliver the boat to the yard for the haul out.

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Copyright © 2003/2022 American Marine Specialists, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Installed March 25, 2003, Last Revised June 30, 2022 - Hosted and maintained by Boater's Resource