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Marine Surveys

Marine Surveyor

A marine surveyor is an individual qualified either by training or experience to investigate the condition of a vessel or to investigate into the cause of damage to the vessel. A marine surveyor will prepare a condition and evaluation survey or a casualty and damage survey.

Types of Surveys Offered

Conditions and Evaluation Report

Most surveys of this type are done at the request of an insurance company or a finance company.

Finance companies want to know that the amount of money they are lending is backed by an asset of greater value.

For insurance companies, with insurance rates normally between 1% and 2% of the value of the boat, simply put, the company would like the word of someone other than the owner that the vessel will float when it hits the water. They also want to know that the insured value does not exceed the value of the vessel. Vessels will need surveys performed every five to ten years, depending upon the insurance company.

The proper survey will generally follow a set pattern of reporting detailing: the vessel specifications; the hull, the deck and deck fittings; the cabin and cabin compliments including the head and galley; electrical equipment and batteries; engine; and other equipment and items on board.

Where possible, mechanical equipment may be tested by running an electrical winch or pump, winches turned, lights turned on and off etc. The engine, if the boat is in the water, may be started and the cleanliness of the engine compartment noted, but the survey will not include, other than a general comment, a detailed report on the mechanical condition of the engine itself. If requested, the surveyor can and will make arrangements for a licensed mechanic for that task.

The report will list the details about the vessel and the condition in which it was found. Defects will be noted, both major and minor, with time line recommendations of when repairs should be completed.

Digital photos would also be taken that will document the condition of the boat.

The report will compare the surveyed vessel with others of similar size, shape and comparatively equipped and give an estimated value range.

The cost of the survey is shouldered by the boat owner. Survey costs are normally priced on a 'cost per foot' basis. A per kilometer charge based on Revenue Canada rates will also apply if travel for any distance is involved. For smaller vessels, a fixed price might be set.

Purchase Survey

A buyer, unless they are extremely familiar with boats and their construction, would be taking a risk by purchasing a vessel without a survey. Most buyers will follow the common practice making an offer conditional on a satisfactory survey. If the vessel has not had a survey completed within the last five years, the insurance company will probably request one be completed.

As a general statement, there is much more communication between the buyer and the surveyor before, during and after a purchase survey is completed.

The report will list the details about the vessel and the condition in which it was found. Defects will be noted, both major and minor and will often include a 'guesstimate' repair cost or at least a suggestion of the repairs necessary.

Where requested, the survey may attempt to compile a complete inventory to be included with the sale or attempt to verify the inventory list given by the seller or broker.

It is important to note that surveys will not include a comment on the mechanical condition of the engine. Engines should be inspected by a qualified mechanic. If requested, the surveyor or broker can arrange for a mechanic to be obtained for that purpose.

Conditions found and noted in the survey may be used to renegotiate the price because of a defect that will be expensive to fix. A condition may be cause for a hold-back because the boat was in the water and the current owner did not want to have the boat hauled so the buyer could see the underbody.

The cost of the survey is shouldered by the boat purchaser. Survey costs are normally priced on a 'cost per foot' basis but can have additional consulting charges added because of the additional time spent with the buyer. A per kilometer charge based on Revenue Canada rates will also apply if travel for any distance is involved. For smaller vessels, a fixed price might be set.

Casualty and Damage Surveys

When a vessel is involved in an accident most insurance companies retain the services of a marine surveyor to investigate the casualty. An owner may also retain the services of a surveyor to evaluate the extent of the damages and to assist in the repair of the damages.

In either case the surveyor has a completely different task.

The surveyor will:

  • Examine the vessel(s) and take photographs of the damage
  • Obtain statements from any witnesses
  • Obtain statement from or a copy of any police report or other investigating force
  • Obtain statement from the assured
  • Determine the damages sustained
  • Determine who was at fault for the purposes of subrogation
  • Make an assessment whether the vessel is repairable or whether there is any salvage value
  • Obtain quote for the repair of the vessel
  • Asses the depreciation or betterment
  • Provide a written damage report

The costs of this survey will vary greatly and be dependent directly on the time involved, on a cost per hour basis. A per kilometer charge based on Revenue Canada rates will also apply if travel for any distance is involved. Additional expenses may also be incurred depending on the travel and time required.