Did you know a major mistake that new boat owners make is made before they even own the boat? Choosing the right surveyor is mission-critical to achieving a fulfilling cruising life.
If you think that finding the right boat surveyor is as easy and looking one up on the Internet or asking friends, think again. The process defies normal procedures. Considering that the surveyor can help you save thousands or cost you thousands, this is a key part of making the dream a dream and not a nightmare.
I’m going to share with you three tips about choosing the right boat surveyor that may drastically change the way you proceed.
If you haven’t read any of our 400+ articles or watched any of our 200+ videos about living the boating lifestyle, let me introduce myself. I’m Kim. For over seven years my family and I have helped couples and families to successfully get out and live the incredibly awesome cruising life.
So what do you really need to know about choosing the right boat surveyor?
You need to know that if certain steps aren’t followed it’s entirely possible to pay way too much for a boat, or worse, buy a boat that truly is the wrong boat. No one wants to buy a lemon and there are an enormous amount of bad boats out there for sale.
I’m going to share with you three tips about choosing the right boat surveyor so you increase your chances of paying the right price for the right boat.
You might be thinking, ‘Kim – how hard is it to get a good surveyor? Boats get surveyed all the time.’ Keep reading. At least one of these three tips might surprise you. And ultimately you’ll be far more likely to get what you want for the price you want it.
So the first tip is to know how to find an independent and accredited surveyor.
Independent means that that they should NOT be recommended by the boat seller or the boat seller’s broker. Having an accreditation enables you to determine that the surveyor you hire is actually a real surveyor. Allow me to explain.
If you’re in the US, there’s an accredited agency that will enable you to find someone that has had a high level of experience and passed a serious test. The agency is the National Association of Marine Surveyors. In the US there are several surveyors so there’s a big pool to choose from. If you’re looking outside the US check for an equivalent agency.
Finding an independent surveyor in smaller geographic areas becomes very tricky.
This is especially the case in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. If there are only a few surveyors, perhaps only one, it’s not probable that they are entirely ‘independent’. If a surveyor needs to depend on work from the brokerage selling the bulk of boats, there’s a high likelihood that the surveyor will make the survey look better than it really is. He or she needs the boat brokerage to like them so they get the call when a survey is needed.
If you’re considering a boat in the Caribbean, for a few hundred dollars more, it might be possible to fly a surveyor in from another island or the States.
The important concept to understand here is that it’s imperative to find a surveyor that has extensive experience and is not restricted to giving the full truth on the state of the boat.
The second tip to choosing the right boat surveyor is to find one that has experience with the type of boat that you are interested in buying.
Several boat surveyors specialize in certain types of boats. Some are experts in a particular boat manufacturer, like Leopards, or material type (like wood or aluminum) and others favor a variety of rig types. Some simply have more experience with one type of boat due to the popularity of that type/style boat in the region they operate in. Consider narrowing your search by finding a surveyor that focuses on the type of boat you’re looking to buy.
The key concept to understand is that a surveyor that has surveyed 100 Beneteau’s will know common problems that Beneteau’s have. They will also know where the systems are, how the boats are laid out, and where to gain access to internal structures and key examination areas.
The third mission-critical step to choosing the right surveyor is to interview them!
A surveyor is not someone you just send an email and request them to survey your boat. It’s imperative to communicate with the surveyor to first determine if you like them. Will they be good at communicating the information you’re interested in?
And what exactly will they cover during the survey? Some surveyors don’t go up the mast and look at the rig. Others are really hot with electronics but don’t know much about engines. Find out what they will cover and outline what you’re interested in learning from the survey.
Also, does the surveyor understand why you’re buying the boat? Do they know what you want to do with it? If the surveyor doesn’t understand your bigger picture they can’t really provide truly valuable information.
If your plan is to circumnavigate the world yet the surveyor assumes that you want to use the boat as a weekend day-tripper they may list certain systems as adequate.
Interviewing the surveyor is key and so few people do it. By having a conversation with the surveyor you have a far better chance of getting the right boat for the right price.
A good surveyor will uncover things that might cost a fortune. The information provided will enable you to ask for fixes to be made. Or it might be prudent to ask for a reduction in the price. And in extreme cases, a surveyor might just save you from making the worst decision of your life.
You might be thinking, ‘Kim – I just want someone to make sure that the boat I’m buying is seaworthy and has no major issues.’
Well, the unfortunate thing is that even if you follow all my steps above you still might not choose the right surveyor. Once you start dealing with any marine ‘expert’ you’ll start to realize that the industry is rife with poor service, bad workmanship, and disingenuous people.
New boat owners assume that the boating world is like the ‘normal’ world where there are consumer protection agencies and laws protecting buyers. For over seven years we’ve lost so much money and have experienced so many setbacks. With our list of readers and YouTube viewers, we get reports every day of bad marine companies and experts.
That’s why I’ve created all the books, checklists, and templates that I have.
When we started out we were totally lost. During our survey and sea trial, both Simon and I walked around in a daze. We did everything you’re not supposed to do. We asked the broker for a recommendation. And we didn’t research who we hired. To top it off, we failed to communicate anything of importance.
When we asked our surveyor a question, he offered a grunt here and there. He seemed more interested in filling out the report than taking the time to talk to us. He didn’t go up and check the rig. When we pressed him about the engines he explained that engines weren’t his strong area! It will be no surprise to you to find out that we had massive engine issues from day one.
In an effort to help our readers/viewers that still have the ability to avoid where we went wrong, I created the Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers.
What makes this guide unique is that it’s not a Nigel Calder style 500-page textbook offering calculus equations as to equating the ideal cruiser boat.
It’s short, sweet, and to the point. The guide lists 10 critical areas regarding the cruiser boat buying process. All areas can be read in a single setting but used again and again for reference.
The guide will help you expand how you work towards defining your ‘perfect’ boat. It will also help you to avoid pitfalls, save money, be better organized and have structure to your buying process.
And I was a boat buyer and boat owner who has owned several boats and lived on our latest boat for over seven years, I’ve taken my experience, the old salty sea dog’s long-winded wisdom, and reduce it down into practical steps, checklists and templates.
If you click the link, you can get the full scoop on my Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers. There’s a special offer I have there that I’m trialing for a limited time. So click the link to get it today while it’s still available.
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