Pre-purchase Survey

You found the boat of your dreams. You can already picture yourself cruising the water with your family, or watching the sun rise with five lines in the water. NOW is the time to complete a pre-purchase survey of the boat. Whether buying a new or used vessel, from Craigslist, a respected boat yard, or a boat broker, a pre-purchase survey should be on your buyers’ checklist.

Do I need a pre-purchase survey?

If you are considering the purchase of a marine vessel, you are considering investing a substantial amount of money into a watercraft that will carry your loved ones and belongings into an environment that is, even on the best days, inhospitable to human life. Here is a short list of questions for your consideration:

  • Can you be sure you are not overpaying for you boat?
  • Are you sure your vessel is fit for its intended use?
  • Have you done the due diligence necessary to ensure return to safe harbor?
  • Are you making an informed purchasing decision?

If you answered no to any of the above, you probably need a pre-purchase survey.


What is a pre-purchase survey?

The Pre-Purchase Survey is a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the vessel and on board systems through non-destructive and non-invasive testing and discovery methods.  The vessel will be examined for compliance with mandatory United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 33 and Title 46 regulations, USCG regulations, the voluntary recommendations of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). Upon completion of the inspection the survey report will be generated including all noted deficiencies, recommendations and fair market value of the vessel.   

We recommend scheduling for the vessel to be hauled out of the water allowing for inspection of the wetted surfaces, through hulls, and underwater machinery.  The bottom of the vessel will be visually inspected and sounded with phenolic sounding techniques to discover any possible structural deficiencies, prior damage, or osmotic blistering.  With the vessel out of the water we are also able to inspect the rudder, prop, prop strut, shaft and cutlass bearing for possible wear or damage.    

A typical Pre-Purchase Survey will include:

  • Survey scope & general vessel information confirming hull identification number and registration
  • Exterior hull inspection
  • Deck & superstructure inspection
  • Relative moisture testing where and when applicable
  • Interior & bilge inspection
  • Machinery space inspection
  • Helm & navigation electronics inspection
  • Steering system inspection
  • Propulsion inspection, including sea trial
  • Safety equipment inspection
  • Electrical inspection
  • Plumbing inspection
  • Current market value, based on BUC values and similar vessel/location research
  • Replacement value

A Pre-Purchase Survey requires a full day so please plan accordingly and have your vessel in ship shape condition so we can be as thorough as possible. Contact Dirigo Maritime today if you are considering a pre-purchase survey or if you have any questions.


Chapman School of Seamanship
American Boat & Yacht Council
Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice