How to prepare your boat for a pre-purchase survey

Written by Anthony Gates, Surveyor – Andaman Maritime Services 

Ideally you should start preparing your vessel for sale the day you buy it by ensuring that it is well maintained and by keeping a service log with receipts to demonstrate your proactive approach to general & preventative maintenance.

When you decide to sell the vessel your preparation for a Pre-purchase Survey should start even before you list the boat for sale.
Consider commissioning your preferred surveyor to conduct a “General Condition Assessment” (GCA) of the vessel. The GCA report can then be provided to potential buyers as an independent overview as to the condition of the vessel, increasing buyer’s confidence to enter into an initial conditional agreement for purchase.

The following check list is designed as a guide to assist owners to prepare their vessel for a Pre-purchase Survey.

Before you list the vessel for sale:
• Remove unnecessary items from the vessel including personal effects and clutter.
• Fix items that are not operational, as an extended inventory of non-operable items can cause a buyer to have second thoughts.
• Conduct your own sea trial, preferably with a qualified engineer who will test all systems for full operation and supply a written report. Engines should be able to reach their rated RPM’s at wide open throttle (WOT) and not overheat.
• Correctly state the vessel’s cruising speed with fuel consumption & top speed with fuel consumption.
• Sailing vessels should have the rig inspected and a report provided by a rigger.
• Only list safety items which are within the expiry date.
• Conduct minor cosmetic repairs.
• Clean the boat thoroughly inside & out, scheduling regular wash downs and airings to keep the boat in top shape.
• Have the topsides and superstructure polished.
• Consider employing AMS or your preferred surveyor to conduct a “General Condition Assessment” to reveal possible maintenance items that should be addressed so that the vessel presents better in a full Pre-purchase Survey.

So you’ve prepared and presented your vessel well, received an offer and signed a sales contract; the buyer is now organizing the Pre-purchase Survey.

A Pre-purchase Survey is an in depth examination of your yacht and can be the make or break of a sales agreement. Preparing for the survey should now be a high priority.

Before a house inspection people know to mow the lawn, de-clutter the house, bake bread and brew coffee.

So how should you prepare your boat for a Pre-purchase Survey?

Provide relevant documentation to include:
• Ship’s papers (Certificate of Registry, Builder’s Certificate etc).
• International check in papers (Marine Dept. & Customs).
• Access to the vessel’s manuals.
• A detailed ship’s inventory and service history.
• A list of any known deficiencies.
• Certificates for all recent safety equipment inspections (life raft, fire suppression systems, EPIRB etc.).
• Engine maintenance and service records.

Prior to the survey inspection ensure:
• Reasonable access to all the vessel’s systems.
• Cabin sole boards are made removable.
• Sea cocks & through hull fittings are in good condition.
• Raw water hoses are double clamped and rusty clamps are replaced as necessary.
• Bilge pumps and float switches are operational.
• Bilges are clean & dry.
• Tanks are accessible for inspection.
• Safety equipment is displayed for inspection.
• The fire suppression systems are serviced as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Engine(s) are operational.
• Exhaust systems are in good condition. All hose ends must be double clamped.
• Anchor winches are operational.
• Electrical systems (AC & DC) are operational.
• Navigation and communication equipment is in good condition and operational.
• Sails, winches and running rigging are ready for inspection.
• Underwater hull surfaces and drive gear are clean of marine growth.
• There is adequate fuel for a 2hr sea trial (if a sea trial is required).
This is a guide only and not a complete list of items that will be checked during the survey.

On the day of survey:
• Arrive well before the appointed time and open the vessel up, starting air conditioners if installed.
• Fit exterior cushions and sunbeds.
• Don’t start or run machinery such as the engines or generators as they need to be inspected before start up.
• Be present during the survey inspection or appoint an owner’s representative familiar with the vessel to operate machinery/equipment and answer any questions the Buyer or Surveyor may have.
• If a sea trial is required, appoint a Captain & crew (if necessary) who are familiar with the vessel and its operation.

Remember that the sales contract is generally subject to a Pre-purchase Survey and the buyer must be satisfied with the vessel’s condition and performance in order to complete the purchase.

Adequate preparation for survey will reduce the possible number of items identified in a Pre-purchase Survey. This will assist the sales process and may prevent delays in closing the sale.

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