A marine surveyor’s product is a written report. The survey report should be clear, concise and relay the information needed by the customer(s). Due to the highly technical nature of a marine survey, it may (and will) include terms or jargon that are not familiar to the average boat owner, bank employee or insurance underwriter. The challenge for the surveyor is to be as clear as possible as to what he or she is trying to convey without having to provide a tutorial on each piece of hardware or system on the boat. The use of common terminology is greatly appreciated, and the use of overly “salty” lingo should be avoided or minimized.

A Condition & Valuation survey report should contain all of the pertinent information about the vessel, including the names of the owners and/or buyers, weather conditions, location, etc. It should:

  • Identify unique markings such as the name, hailing port, hull identification number (HIN), and federal or state government registration numbers
  • Provide published dimensions of the vessel and describe its construction
  • Detail the construction of the vessel and equipment installed to the degree needed or required, depending on the purpose of the survey
  • Remark on the condition of the vessel and its systems, both in general and in detail
  • Provide recommendations for repairs or corrections needed to make the vessel function properly and safe
  • Photographs of the vessel from several angles should be included, as well as of the HIN and registration numbers. Photographs of any notable improvements or deficiencies should be included as well
  • Include the vessel’s current fair market value, and possibly its replacement value

Some survey reports are written in a cryptic database style, while others are written in a more essay format. It should not read like a boat manufacturer’s brochure or a yacht broker’s listing. Regardless of format, after reading a survey report, and maybe re-reading it a couple of times, you should have a pretty good idea what the overall condition of the vessel is and what needs to be done to make it functional and safe. If you have questions or don’t understand what the surveyor is saying, contact the surveyor and have them explain. That’s their job.