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What to Expect in a Boat Survey and How to Prepare

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Boating is a hobby that many enthusiasts enjoy in the U.S. In Florida alone, there are 1 million recreational boats registered, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
That number is about to go up as you've found the perfect boat to take out on adventures. But before the fun can begin, it's important to make sure you have a safe boat for your friends and family to enjoy. That's why a boat survey can help protect you while you're enjoying your time on the water.

So let’s talk about what you should expect and how to prepare for a boat survey so you're ready to cast off.

What is a boat survey?

A boat survey is a detailed inspection of your vessel to determine its value, safety and condition. There are two key types of boat surveys: condition and valuation surveys and pre-purchase surveys.

A condition and valuation survey includes a visual inspection of the boat's structural integrity, safety equipment and other board systems. It also notes items that don't match the guidelines outlined by groups like the American Boat and Yacht Council. The survey typically has a "Recommendations" section that lists any items that need to be repaired or other concerns.

A pre-purchase survey occurs when you're considering buying a boat. It includes all the checks from a condition and valuation survey, plus more. The machinery, vessel systems and electronics are tested. Some surveyors will also make a sea trial, which takes the boat out on the water to test it in use. We would definitely recommend a sea trial, especially if you are buying a used boat.

What to look for in a surveyor

Good survey results give you peace of mind that your boat is sound. That's why it is important to find a knowledgeable surveyor to take on the work.

When you're looking for the right surveyor, here are a few things you should consider:
  • Is the surveyor experienced with the type of boat being surveyed?
  • Does the surveyor have professional indemnity insurance?
  • Does the surveyor have a verified professional status as a surveyor?
  • Has the surveyor surveyed similar makes/models to your boat?
  • What does the surveyor include in the survey and how long before you get the report?
An easy way to find a surveyor is to go the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors and type in your zip code. Once you've found a surveyor, try to ask around to find past clients and ask them about their experience.

Understanding the survey report

Now that you've found the right surveyor for your boat, they'll conduct their review of your vessel. You'll receive a survey report. Make sure you ask your surveyor any questions you have about the results.

The survey report will help you ensure that your vessel is in good condition. After all, you wouldn't buy a house without getting it appraised. It will also detail any underlying issues and what should get fixed to make the boat safe for use.

You can often use the survey report to get a better deal on the vessel. For example, if the condition doesn't match the cost, you could use the results to negotiate a lower price.

A boat survey is also required later on for insurance. Insurers will review the survey report to help determine your premium costs.

Partner with Power Financial Credit Union

With almost 35,000 members, Power Financial Credit Union is one of the most trusted credit unions in Florida. We can help you navigate unfamiliar waters and figure out what the best financing option is for you. Our Boat Loan Experts have helped countless members make their dream of boat ownership a reality. They are ready to do the same for you.

If you are looking to purchase a new boat, a used boat or want to refinance an existing non-PFCU boat loan, we are here to make the process as simple and fast as possible. For any questions regarding boat loans or refinancing, please contact us at 800-548-5465 or visit one of our branches.