Below are some common questions and concerns, please click on a particular question to see the answer. If you have any further questions please contact us, either using our contact details as above or via our contact page.


Why should I have a survey?

FINANCIAL: The survey report forms the basis for acceptance or rejection of the vessel. Most commonly the vendor will adjust the purchase price to take into account defects found. In the event that the buyer withdraws from the purchase due to defects found during the survey, the survey report should enable repayment of the deposit.

INSURANCE: the insurance and/or finance company usually require a Pre-Purchase Survey under their terms of business.

VESSEL CONDITION: a Pre-Purchase Survey consists of an independent, detailed assessment of the vessel's seaworthiness and condition, where essential items requiring attention are identified, as well as other items of varying importance. The latest test equipment including Sovereign Quantum moisture meter is used to help assess the condition of the hull, access panel and sole boards are unfastened and the darker recesses and less accessible corners of the vessel, seldom accessed by owners, are inspected for signs of structural weakness and other problems.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for attempts to be made to hide evidence of repairs or damage. UK Yacht Surveyors' process of extensive testing and inspection will usually identify these.

What type of survey should I have?

The Pre-Purchase Survey, also known as a Full Condition Survey, is used by the buyer to cover every aspect of the vessel and its equipment and is the most common type of yacht survey. This is also the type of survey required by insurance and finance companies. However in certain circumstances the client may require a Partial Survey only, for example, because he/she is only interested in the condition of the hull.

Partial Surveys can be designed to focus on a particular aspect of the vessel however it is important to understand the limitations; for example an External Hull Survey will not include the rudder or an examination of the seacocks - all of which require inspection from inside the vessel. Partial Surveys are available at a slightly reduced fee.

If it is intended to use the vessel for commercial purposes e.g. for charter, then the vessel is required to be Coded. UK Yacht Surveyors can make all the necessary arrangements and undertake the required MCA Coding Survey on behalf of the MECAL Certifying Authority.

In some circumstances, particularly where a client is unable to visit a vessel, a Preliminary Survey can be undertaken which, for a much reduced price includes a shortened inspection and verbal report on the vessel. This is generally carried out before an offer is made. If the owner proceeds to a Pre-Purchase Survey on that or any other vessel, 50% of the Preliminary Survey fee is refunded. The Preliminary survey can save the buyer significant time and cost.

The Pre-Sale Survey is used by the seller to establish vessel condition prior to sale. This can then be used to correct items and/or to disclose defects to the buyer prior to the acceptance of the offer. Since the standard YBDSA contract requires that a price adjustment is made for significant defects found during the survey, this can be a cost-effective way of maintaining the sale price. The scope of the Pre-Sale Survey is the same as the Pre-Purchase Survey.

What does the survey cover?

Please have a look at a sample Pre-Purchase Survey by UK Yacht Surveyors by clicking on one of the following links: Motorboat PPS, Sailing Boat PPS.

The Scope of Work is as per the BMSE Extended Checklist. BMSE is an organisation of surveyors that have all graduated from the world-renowned Small Craft and Practical Surveying course at the International Boatbuilding and Training College, Lowestoft. The BMSE Extended Checklist encompasses the most rigorous testing and inspection of the vessel, as developed by this association. All testing is non-destructive. The following items and equipment are covered:

1. VESSEL DETAILS - RCD compliance, CE plate.

2. KEEL - keelstuds and backing plates, keel reinforcing webs and frames, deflections, condition, damage, weeps/stains.

3. HULL BELOW WATERLINE - type of construction, moisture readings and related defects, voids/delamination, stress cracking.

4. TOPSIDES - damage, cracking, distortion, type of construction, voids, delamination, rubbing strake.

5. DECK MOULDING - type of construction, moisture readings and related defects, voids/delamination, stress cracking.

6. COACHROOF - type of construction, moisture readings and related defects, voids/delamination, stress cracking, damage/cracking near load-bearing fittings, mast step, handrails, ports and windows.

7. COCKPIT - type of construction, moisture readings and related defects, voids/delamination, stress cracking, damage/cracking near load-bearing fittings, sole boards, drainage arrangements, lockers and hatches for security and seals, wheel pedestal.

8. HULL/DECK JOINT - type, security, fastenings.

9. BULKHEADS AND STRUCTURAL STIFFENING - frames, floors and stringers, bonding, cracking, mast compression, engine bearers.

10. RUDDER AND STEERING - moisture ingress, splits, security, top and bottom bushes, rudder tube, corrosion, wire type and condition, emergency arrangements.

11. STERNGEAR - prop nut security, P-bracket security, shaft condition, coupling and prop security to coupling, cutlass bearing, rope cutter, trim tabs, sterndrive, saildrive.

12. CATHODIC PROTECTION - anode type and condition, continuity, electroisolator.

13. SKIN FITTINGS - hammer, operate, test security, fixing bolts, hoseclips, siphon breaks, emergency plugs.

14. MAIN COMPANIONWAY and accesses to accommodation - security and condition, ability to secure from below, Downflooding height, gaskets, hinges, leaks, cracking.

15. PORTS AND WINDOWS - security, panel strength, metal frame corrosion, gasket condition, crazing.

16. PULPIT, PUSHPIT, STANCHIONS, GUARDRAILS, JACKSTAYS - security, lashings, weld fractures, attachment points.

17. RIGGING ATTACHMENT POINTS - security with crowbar, articulation, corrosion, stress dissipation.

18. GROUND TACKLE AND MOORING ARRANGEMENTS - suitability, shackles, swivels, chain, snubber, windlass, anchor stowage, cleats, bollard, warps, fenders.

19. OTHER DECK GEAR AND FITTINGS - tracks, cars, jammers, winches, security, wear.

20. DAVITS AND BOARDING LADDER - security, extension below waterline, stress cracking.

21. SPARS - corrosion, anodising, extrusion, column, boom, spinnaker and jockey poles, chocs.

22. STANDING RIGGING - condition, corrosion, swages, terminals, toggles, talurits, pins, shackles, security.

23. RUNNING RIGGING - condition, completeness, kicker.

24. SAILS AND COVERS - sample, stitching, UV strip, inventory.

25. NAV LIGHTS - compliance, operation, compass light, radar reflector.

26. BILGE PUMPING - adequacy, condition, strum box, siphon break, float switch operation.

27. FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT - adequacy, type, condition, fire blanket, expiry dates.

28. LIFE-SAVING APPLIANCES - adequacy, expiry dates, condition, pressure.

29. ENGINE - beds, bearers, installation, mounts, engine hours, access, leaks, hoseclips and belts, exhaust system, chafe, siphon break, waterlock, oil condition and level, cooling system, air intake, blower, controls and indicators.

30. FUEL SYSTEM - material, security, pipework and hoses, fill, shut-off valve, filters, generator.

31. ACCOMMODATION AND ON-BOARD SYSTEMS - general condition, linings, furniture, upholstery, ventilation.

32. GAS INSTALLATION - storage, drainage, low-pressure circuit, high-pressure circuit, regulator, tubing support, flues, gas alarm, isolating tap.

33. FRESH WATER TANKS AND DELIVERY - tank material, hoseclips, pumps, operation, fill, calorifier, grey water tanks.

34. HEADS - holding tank, hoses, siphon breaks.

35. ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION - batteries voltage and condition, security, DC circuit condition and protection, AC circuit condition and protection/fuses, RCD, galvanic isolator, sockets.

36. ELECTRONICS AND NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT - operation, magnetic compass, infantry.

37. HEATING AND REFRIGERATION - flue, condition, ventilation.

38. DINGHY AND OUTBOARD - named, serial number, condition, type, kill cord.

Osmosis and moisture readings

First of all, what is osmosis? All laminates in a marine environment, including epoxy, will allow water molecules to pass through them. During manufacture small voids are often created between the gelcoat and first ply of laminate, where the water will condense out and then start to break down (hydrolyse) components in the laminate. These include the ester linkages in the polyester as well as trapped dirt and debris. Breakdown products include a variety of acids, alcohols and metallic compounds. In older boats they include acetic and hydrochloric acids from the emulsion binder used in the manufacture of glass reinforcing cloth, which give blisters their characteristic 'vinegary' smell. Glycols can also be released from the resin, these are hygroscopic, attracting further water and give blisters their 'greasy' consistency.

So we now have tiny pockets of concentrated solution under the gelcoat and this is where osmosis begins. Osmosis is the process whereby water molecules pass through the gelcoat (a semi-permeable membrane) to dilute the more concentrated solution. The water increases the fluid pressure in the cell which can eventually distort or burst the laminate or gelcoat.


To fully assess the condition of the laminate a section would need to be ground out and chemically analysed, a process that is clearly not acceptable to the owner as part of the survey. During survey the condition of the gelcoat is assessed by removing the antifouling at several test patches around the underbody. This is done using a sharp, flat edge creating a planing effect that leaves the gelcoat intact but reveals any high spots, often the first stage of blistering. This information is combined with moisture readings taken using a Sovereign Quantum capacitance-type moisture meter. Moisture readings have to be considered in conjunction with the period the vessel has been ashore and the type of resin used. For example, orthophthalic resins were used up to the early/mid 1990s and tend to absorb and retain moisture; these yachts can be expected to show ' high' readings for at least a week or two after lifting out, even where the laminate is sound. However since the mid-1990s isophthalic and vinylester gelcoat resins have been widely used which can show satisfactory moisture readings within an hour or so of lifting out. Furthermore, if ashore for less than two weeks in summer or four weeks in winter (UK), readings below the waterline will be affected by surface moisture and can be expected to fall. Where an epoxy coating has been applied (usually with a brush or roller) the surface is full of micro fissures and voids which take up moisture and can double the length of time to dry out. It should also be noted that where temperatures are close to dew point and humidity levels are high, accuracy will be reduced.

Due to the above it should be stressed that there is no direct correlation between moisture content and laminate condition. It is not uncommon for a well laid-up hull using good quality resin to have high moisture content and no visibly detectable moisture-related defects. Subject to these factors, readings for FRP solid laminates using a Sovereign Quantum moisture meter can be interpreted as follows:

0-15: can be considered dry for all practical purposes.

16-20: some moisture present but of no significance.

21-30: considered medium but at the top of this range approaching the point where the risk of moisture-related defects developing is becoming significant.

31-45: considered high and at a level where the risk of moisture-related defects being present but not yet physically detectable is significant.

46-60: very high and usually accompanied by physically detectable signs. Likely to be accompanied by a significant increase when switched to deep mode.

>61: extremely high and indicative of possible laminate damage in addition to osmotic blistering. Likely to be accompanied by a significant increase when switched to deep mode.

It is recommended that the vessel is laid up ashore for 2 to 4 months each winter and that an annual inspection is made of underwater sections in relation to defects relating to osmosis.

How much will the survey cost?

The survey fee will depend on the type of vessel and the anticipated work involved in providing the most thorough testing and inspection of the vessel followed by the most comprehensive report.

The survey report forms the basis of acceptance or rejection of the vessel and it is common for the vendor to adjust the selling price to take into account defects found. It is financially beneficial therefore to have a thorough and comprehensive survey, and not necessarily the cheapest available.

UKYS surveyors' Pre-Purchase Surveys and reports have been described by leading industry experts as the best ever (see website testimonials).

Please complete the website contact form for a quotation.

How long before I get the survey report?

If required, a verbal summary can be provided on the day of the survey however this is an incomplete report and clients are urged to review the written report before progressing with the sale. The survey report will be made available within 48 hours of the survey.

What type of vessel can UKYS survey?

UK Yacht Surveyors is experienced in surveying sailing, motor, commercial and canal boats of all materials except ferrocement (which can be arranged), up to 200GT. This includes wood (classic and modern), FRP/GRP, composite, aluminium and steel.

What geographic area does UKYS cover?

UK Yacht Surveyors is based centrally on the South coast. We travel at our own cost and carry out surveys across the UK. UKYS surveyors travel regularly to mainland Europe and Worldwide. If we are unable to carry out a survey then we will arrange for a similarly-qualified and experienced surveyor to carry out the survey.

How should the vessel be prepared for survey?

It is important that the vessel is properly prepared to obtain the maximum value from the survey and avoid additional time charges. The buyer is the point of contact with the seller or seller's broker and so the buyer should liaise with the seller/broker to ensure the following:

1.The vessel is accessible at the agreed time.

2.Sole boards and access panels are unfastened.

3.Lockers are empty, except for safety gear.

4.All, and only 'for sale' items are on board the vessel.

5.If unstepped, the mast is laid out and accessible for inspection.

6.Batteries should be connected and charged.

7.Documentation (registration, insurance, invoices for work done) should be available to the surveyor.

8.If a sea trial is being conducted, a skipper will be required.

What does the survey report consist of?

The survey report is emailed as a PDF within 48 hours of the survey and covers in detail the entire inspection and testing process together with the results including, where appropriate, Recommendations - essential issues affecting seaworthiness and/or insurability, and Suggestions - issues found that could be improved. These are clearly colour-coded, indexed and hyperlinked for convenience. Practical solutions are offered for each and every issue found together with relevant advice on equipment, maintenance and repair, as well as regulations.

Sample reports can be seen at the following links: motorboat survey report, sailing boat survey report.