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It is the owner of the vessel’s responsibility to make sure that the vessel is properly prepared for survey. Failure to do so can have a negative effect on the outcome of the survey, including value, and potentially, the vessel’s insurability.


In order for the surveyor to perform a thorough and expedient inspection, the boat needs to be prepared by:

  • Making sure that the vessel is clean.

  • Removing unnecessary items from the vessel, including personal effects and clutter.

  • Having registration papers available for inspection.

  • Checking all safety gear for compliance with Federal regulations, and updating if necessary. This includes flares, PFDs, fire extinguishers, bells, horns, etc. Make sure the navigation lights are in working order.

  • Ensuring that all equipment to be evaluated is on-board.

  • Batteries should be charged and in good condition.

  • For pre-purchase surveys: fresh water systems, air conditioning systems, icemakers, etc. sometimes need to be commissioned during or after winter storage to allow operational testing. This is in addition to commissioning of the engines and AC generator. Surveyors do not commission these systems.

  • Fixing things that are known to be broken or inoperable.


When live-aboard vessels are surveyed, it is not always possible or practical to remove all of the personal effects and clutter. The surveyor may ask the owner to clean out lockers and storage areas one at a time to allow inspection of the space. Otherwise, the space will not be inspected, which can limit the full inspection of the vessel.

For pre-purchase surveys, it is the buyer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for haul out or launch of the vessel. This is often facilitated by the yacht broker, when applicable. The owner, broker or a professional captain needs to be aboard to operate the vessel during sea trial. Surveyors are busy inspecting engines and other equipment and do not helm or pilot the vessel.


Too many people on a boat during a survey is a significant distraction and affects the surveyor’s ability to do his job. On the day of the survey, bring yourself and your spouse (where applicable) but leave the kids, dog and friends at home.

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