Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find what the answer to a question in the list of frequently asked questions below, please refer to the YDSA Marine Surveyors Services website.

Buying any boat is a big decision and is probably the second biggest personal outlay you will ever make. It's a major decision, and bluntly, when buying a used boat YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.

Remember: "Buyer Beware".

"Caveat Emptor". The axiom or principle in commerce that the buyer alone is responsible for assessing the quality of a purchase before buying. When buying a used boat there are no warranties or guarantees. How do you know...

  • That the boat is even what the advert states?
  • That the boat is fit for the purpose?
  • That the boat is undamaged?
  • That the boat is safe, sound or seaworthy?
  • That the engines are serviceable?
  • That the rig is safe?
  • That the boat will provide good service without huge repair costs?
  • That your investment is justified; are you paying too much, or too little?

If there are problems your only recourse is pursuit of the vendor through the courts; which can be a long and costly procedure with unknown results.

Almost everyone you will deal with in choosing and selecting your boat will be working for the vendor. Brokers, advertisers, agents, agencies are all paid buy the vendor.

If you use a broker make sure they are professional, use a recognized form of contract (for example RYA/BMIF/ABYA if in the UK) and that your deposit is secure and returnable. In the United Kingdom, look for membership of the ABYA (the Professional Association of Yacht Brokers) and or the BMIF Boat Retailers/Brokers Scheme, which ensures a high ethical standard and established code of practice, correct paperwork and indemnity insurance.

  • You need a Surveyor.
  • Your surveyor is your professional.
  • Your surveyor is on your side.
  • Your surveyor works for you.
  • Your surveyor cares about your boating safety.
  • Your surveyor protects your investment and risk.
  • Your surveyor enables you to make an informed decision.

You need a professional surveyor experienced in the type of boat you are considering.

A good surveyor will help and advise you on suitability and what to look for, he will play devils advocate in your decision purchase. He is your only guarantee and back up.

You need to have trust and confidence in your surveyor.

Surveyors can be found advertising in the yachting press; listed at the professional association's web sites, broker's “local or favourite” lists. Ask around in the yard, yacht club or marina or web forums for a personal recommendation.

Alarmingly there is no legislation, qualification or requisite standard to set up as a yacht surveyor. In the UK, look for a surveyor who is a fully accredited member of an established and tangible, professional body such as the YDSA, Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association, IMarEST, the Institute of Marine Science and Technology, MECAL, or the IIMS, the International Institute of Marine Surveyors (small craft section).

This ensures that the surveyor is fully accredited, scrutinized, and follows a recognized code of practice, but remember that an affiliate, student or technician grade member may have limited experience and knowledge of your type of vessel.

  • Membership and Grade of Professional Association.
  • Qualification, Experience, or Accreditation.
  • Is he a full time or part-time (hobby) surveyor?
  • Level of Professional Indemnity. Cover for you.
  • Third Party Insurance. Cover for the boat/vendor/yard.
  • Specialty and or Experience in the type of craft.
  • Fees. Compare Quotes - beware too cheap, you will only get what you pay for.
  • Does the surveyor offer formal terms of business and survey instruction form?
  • Ask for a sample survey; see what you might get for your money, and a reference from a previous client.

The Surveyor should be flexible to suit your needs or any special requirements and should explain and discuss the types and benefits of different surveys. The surveyor should be receptive to your enquiries, positive, helpful, willing and enthusiastic, never casual or dismissive.

Remember the Surveyor is working for you. It’s your Survey.

Remember that it is important that the vessel is properly prepared and presented for survey. This not only ensures a good survey but ensures that you get the most benefit and value from your survey in avoiding missed items, wasted time and trips.

These simple essentials are often forgotten.

The Arrangements

Make sure that we have full boat details and location. Confirm lift out arrangements. Confirm sea trial arrangements. Permission must be given by the owner for the removal of sample areas of bottom coatings in order to make a visual inspection for osmotic conditions.

Ensure that the yard/broker/owner know when we are coming and that all preliminary paperwork i.e. sales contract and deposit are taken care of.

Health and Safety

The boat must be in a safe and accessible practicable location otherwise we reserve the right not to go aboard.

The Weather

Remember if the weather is foul or extreme and if there is a risk that this may limit or impede your survey we may suggest that we reschedule on a better day.


Are all keys available. inc batteries, lockers and engine keys.


Batteries to be on board connected & charged. Instruments and systems to be connected. Engines should be in commission and ready to run up.


Have loose gear and sails available for inspection. Unnecessary gear and equipment and personal items should be removed from the boat. Remember we need to get into every space, under the floorboards, to the bottom of every locker and under every berth.

The Paperwork

All yard, repair service, engineering and re-rigging invoices to be available for inspection. Title documentation to be available for inspection. Manuals to be available for inspection. Brokers/manufacturers specifications available.

The Survey Instruction

Make sure that you have confirmed your booking and advised us of any specific requirements or concerns and have returned your instruction and payment.

Attending the Survey

You are welcome and encouraged to attend your survey if possible. This will give you a greater understanding of the boat and a detailed knowledge of the findings and recommendations per the survey report.

If at all possible attend the survey, after all it's your survey. Ask questions and talk to your surveyor, but don't stop him doing his job.

The surveyor should explain what he is looking at and why and what it means. This is invaluable when you need to understand and quantify a technical report.

Digest your report, make notes and discuss it with your surveyor. Ask questions. It is important to understand the findings and implications of the survey report and the advice of your surveyor. You will get more meaningful information from a frank discussion than a formal report.

If you are satisfied that you can make an informed decision, renegotiate, buy the boat, or pull out. Remember that your surveyor should still be willing and available for help or advice on an ongoing basis.