What is a pre-purchase survey and what’s included?

A pre-purchase survey is usually carried out by the potential purchaser of a boat. It should ideally be carried out by an independent surveyor who is not connected to the seller of the vessel to ensure impartiality.

What is covered in the survey

  • Description of the Vessel – High level summary of the vessel including visual check of HIN and CE plate (if present).
  • Hull and Superstructure – This will include a humidity check of fibreglass hull and corrosion checks for steel hulls;
  • Hull Openings and Fittings – Visual and mechanical check of seacocks and visual check of skin fittings;
  • Stern Gear – Prop shaft, stern gland / S-drive and propeller inspection;
  • Steering Gear – Check of the proper functioning of the helm(s);
  • Hatches, Windows and Port Lights – Visual check of all hatches, windows and port lights for damage or potential leaks;
  • Hand Rails and Stanchions – Visual check of all rails and stanchions for damage and corrosion
  • Ground Tackle & Mooring Arrangements – Inspection and testing if possible of the anchor windless (if present) and visual inspection of chain and any anchors;
  • Ventilation – Inspection of air vents and ventilation into the boat and engine bay(s);
  • Domestic Installation – Inspection of the gas installation, cooker and fridge(s), water heater, cabin heater and any air conditioning. These will be tested if that is possible;
  • Fuel Installation – Location and installation of fuel tanks, any filters and whether they appear fit for purpose;
  • Fresh Water Installation – Checks of deck fillers, pump(s) and pipework and taps;
  • Bilge & Sewage Pumping Installation – Location of manual, electronic pumps for bilges and sewage as well as testing if possible;
  • Machinery – Inspection of engine including gearbox, control system, lubricants, cooling exhaust including any obviously missing parts. Live testing if vessel is in the water.
  • Electrical Installation – Inspection and testing if possible of all onboard electronics including navigation lights, internal lights navigation equipment and generator if present and vessel is in the water;
  • Cathodic Protection – Visual inspection of anodes and their bonding to relevant parts of the boat;
  • Lifesaving Appliances – Inventory and inspection of life saving equipment onboard;
  • Fire Fighting Equipment – Inventory and inspection of fire fighting equipment onboard;
  • Mast Spars & Rigging – Visual inspection of any masts, mast fixation to deck or hull, external rigging including shroud, stays and chainplates (if accessible);
  • Sail Handling Deck Gear – Inspection and testing of all winches, blocks and running rigging;
  • Sails – Visual inspection if possible of sails. If the vessels is in the water attempt to raise sails assuming conditions allow;
  • Ancillary Equipment – Inventory of any equipment not already covered and inspected e.g. satcoms, televisions etc;
  • Works List – List of recommended works and their urgency

What is not covered in the survey

  • Ascending the mast to check individual parts of rigging – This must be booked as a rigging survey as it must be completed by a qualified rigger;
  • Testing all electronic sensors – Electronics will be assessed as working on not working, it will be assumed that sensors function correctly;
  • Removing of internal panelling – If there are areas of the superstructure that are covered by screwed in panelling or headling these will not be removed unless there is significant reason to inspect such as visible external damage;
  • Starting of engine if the boat is on the hard – Most marinas prohibit this and there is risk of damage to the engine;