Types of Marine Surveys

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There are several different kinds of marine surveys and each is done for its own specific purpose. In each case, the client who requested the survey has full proprietary right to the findings and the report(s). These should not be disseminated without the client's approval.

The Purchase and Sale Survey (a.k.a. Full, Pre-purchase or P&S Survey) is a detailed, extensive and thorough inspection of all accessible parts of the vessel and of her gear and equipment, for the purpose of establishing the full condition of the vessel for the benefit and enlightenment of her buyer and for her insurer and financier. It must be performed expressly for the buyer by the surveyor of his choice at the time of purchase. The pre-purchase survey report can be, and is, used as an insurance risk evaluation but it is considerably more detailed and thorough.

The Insurance Risk Evaluation (a.k.a. Insurance, Condition and Value or C&V Survey) is usually required by an underwriter or marine financier to establish the vessel’s general condition and approximate market value for the purpose of insuring and/or financing her. This is not a full survey and it should never be accepted in lieu of a full purchase and sale survey when purchasing any vessel.

The Damage Survey is just that, focused on specific parts of the vessel where damages have been sustained or problems exist, and is to identify their extent and describe the needed repairs or alterations.

The Trip "Survey" is sometimes required by an insurer when the vessel is going to embark on long distance or trans-oceanic passage making. The word "survey" is not accurate here but has been so widely used that it is accepted parlance. It is a general inspection of the vessel to determine if she and her equipment and crew are capable of making the intended voyage safely. Like the Insurance Risk Evaluation, it is an overview inspection, looking at all of the important categories but not making in-depth inspections unless cause or need is found to do so.

Consultations are often requested by vessel owners relating to questions or problems they might have with their boats. This category covers a wide spectrum of many different kinds of work including osmotic blistering diagnosis, repowering and propeller sizing, galvanic corrosion diagnosis, structural and rigging alterations and enhancements, and commercial vessel alteration for change of use or fishery. Damage repair work can be followed by the surveyor to protect the owner’s best interests, especially in repairs covered by insurance where there is some question whether the needed work will be allowed and covered under the terms of the vessel's insurance policy. Restoration of old or historic vessels can be supervised or directed by a marine surveyor to ensure the work is in keeping with the vessel’s original construction and finish and historical value and intended future use. These are only a few "for instances". Consultations can cover many, many topics and conundrums.

What else?

Industry standards and federal regulations abound and demand recognition and familiarity by the marine surveyor. The American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories have established recommended standards of materials specifications and applications, equipment design and construction, and systems installations for the marine industry. The marine surveyor must be familiar with all of the standards of these organizations and be sure the vessel conforms to them wherever practicable. Paradoxically, a surveyor’s membership in the American Boat and Yacht Council or the National Fire Protection Association is no surety that he knows and understands their standards with any proficiency.

The marine surveyor must know and understand the applicable Title 33 and Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (33CFR and 46CFR). Recreational and commercial vessels must all conform to and comply with certain federal regulations, and the marine surveyor must be able to identify if and where a noncompliance exists. The U.S. Coast Guard boarding officer making an examination of vessel for compliance with all applicable federal regulations will not be lenient because the vessel operator didn’t know he was required to have a placard posted that expresses the prohibition of the overboard disposal of any plastic material, even when that owner has been fastidious to never throw plastic rubbish overboard. The absence of that placard is just as punishable as operating the vessel recklessly without correct navigation lights.

Any vessel intended for offshore and extended ocean passages needs to comply with federal and international regulations and conform to American Boat and Yacht Council and National Fire Protection Association recommended standards and practices. However, offshore and deep ocean usage introduces more requirements on the vessel’s design, construction, rigging, gear and equipment. Many books have been written on this subject, and a few of them are pretty good. One of the best is a booklet published by the United States Sailing Association titled RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OFFSHORE SAILING and includes the Offshore Racing Council Special Regulations which any knowledgeable marine surveyor of yachts should be familiar with. The recommendations in this booklet should serve as the base line for equipping and manning any yacht heading offshore or farther. In addition to these recommendations, common sense must prevail and the individual vessel and her intended voyage deserves attention specific to what she is and where she will go.


moi (JPG)

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