"No single society, regulatory body, private organization, government authority, nor the U.S. Coast Guard approves, certifies, oversees, accredits or governs marine surveyors"
The unfortunate reality of the Marine Survey Trade is a lack of requirements, regulation and licensure that can create formidable challenges surrounding consumer protection. Marine Surveyors are cut from a diverse cross section of maritime backgrounds, which could include: boat captains, engine mechanics, boat builders, marine insurance specialists, professional or competitive sailors, etc. The underlying purpose of the marine surveying field relates to marine underwriting where inspection and appraisal services required by a bank or insurance company are furnished through independent firms. Most all Marine Surveyors are self-employed. They use various credentials, letters or terms (i.e. “Accredited,” “Certified,” or “Qualified”) to describe their operations. Regardless of what you hear or are told, these qualification terms represent training and certification through a number of private organizations that may claim to be the best or the only one. Private organizations are competing with one another to obtain your business and as such, a conflict of interest inherently exists. When choosing the right surveyor keep in mind all reputable ones will maintain independence above listed affiliations insofar as what defines qualifications, submit reports free from conflict of interest or prejudice and provide reasonable content concurrent with ABYC, NFPA and USCG standards. What is the difference between private societies that assist a World of independent marine surveyors? Five private organizations in the United States and many others World Wide assist independent marine surveyors. Overseas there is the International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS), Professional Yacht Designers & Surveyors (YDSA) Association, Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), and The Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors (SCMS) in the UK. In Australia there is the Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS). Beyond that, there is also The Association of Indonesian Marine Surveyors in Indonesia (AIMI), as well as The Association of Marine Surveyors in British Columbia (AMSBC) Canada, Society of Consulting Marine Engineers & Ship Surveyors (SCMS) London, Swedish Independent Marine Surveyors Association (SIMSA) and more. Domestically, a few reputable organizations include: the United States Surveyors Association (USSA), American Registry of Marine Surveyors (A.R.M.S), Association of Certified Marine Surveyors (ACMS), Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS), and National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS). Within the United States, alone, NAMS is the oldest organization, established in 1962. Both USSA and SAMS appeared afterwards in the mid 1980s (1986 and 1987 to be exact), ACMS was established during the mid 1990s and A.R.M.S. came to be in 2008. Undisputedly, all aforementioned private organizations hold high standards for their members. Can a Bank or Insurance company require use of a particular marine surveyor or affiliation? No, In fact, In most states this action would be illegal and classified as a restriction of trade or interference with business. A boat survey should be performed by an independent (non-biased) professional so that no conflict of interest is present. What about Engine Diagnostics or a Sea Trial? A handful of Surveyors do offer "one stop shopping" with supplemental services beyond the standard C&V agreement, for an additional fee: sea trials, oil analysis, thermal imaging, galvanic or stray current corrosion testing, ultrasonic testing, compression testing, or engine diagnostics, etc. Only a few surveyors within that handful are certified marine mechanics. From a value added standpoint, we recommend clients procure a Certified Marine Mechanic to perform all compression tests or engine diagnostics. The cost will be similar and results more conclusive. Your Insurance Carrier will likely manuscript a clause into the policy agreement that requires a vessel be looked over or tuned up by a certified mechanic every 1 - 2 years, upon initial inception of coverage, or upon the advice of your surveyor. However, the underlying intent of a Condition & Valuation report is to determine: Safety, Soundness and Valuation of the vessel, not internal condition of the propulsion system or handling characteristics in a Seaway. An Engine Survey and/ or Sea Trial by licensed captain is something separate from a "Condition & Valuation Report." Neither is customarily mandatory, however, an Engine Survey is always advisable.
Should clients attend their Survey? We especially recommend at least a representative be present to furnish access, and grant permission to board and conduct the survey. However, boats can present somewhat of an enigma, a distracted surveyor is in no one's best interest. In a perfect world the client would only approach the surveyor at the end of the survey to go over findings. In general, surveyors are happy to provide verbal comments (during the survey) but remember a survey is not over until the report is written, there is much to mull over prior to issuing a final verdict.
How long does the process take? Anywhere from 5 to 12 hours depending on the size of the vessel then another 5 to 8 hours in the office to thoroughly prepare the survey report. Larger vessels may take 1-3 days. How do I prepare a boat for a Marine Survey? The boat must be plugged into shore power, all batteries hooked up, charged and installed. All manuals, maintenance log, receipts, registration, USCG Documentation Papers, and a copy of the previous survey must be onboard. If a sailboat, masts and spars must be moved to ground level. Additionally, Please provide the Buyer / Owner/ Brokers's Name, Mailing and E-mail address, Phone Number as well as the Make and Model of Vessel, HIN (Hull Identification Number), specific location of vessel and mast if un-stepped, and notes pertaining to access of the vessel.
IMPORTANT: Prior to any survey please ensure the vessel is clean and clear of any personal effects, gear, oil / water in bilge, furniture or other items which might block access or vision. The vessel will be surveyed as found, and only to the extent of what can be seen, what is accessible and what is limited.