The Condition & Value Survey……….. fear & loathing;

You may have been surprised and quite possibly shocked at the increase in your yacht insurance policy or your financial companies requirements this time around. You may be among the unfortunate to be denied insurance coverage or an approved loan from the companies that you have been a faithful and risk free insured/loan client for many years. As a practicing marine surveyor, I cannot profess to be an expert on marine insurance or boat loans. This preparation letter is not intended to address the subject. There is some rather basic and relevant information that all of us need to be aware of. The marine insurance/financial market over the last ten years or so has been relatively accessible and forgiving from the underwriting and lending point of view. Well, “times are a changing”, now most underwriters and banks are getting tough about the amount of risk they will assume. Many companies are refusing to write boat and yacht policies as well as loans in certain areas due to weather related potential losses and frequency. For policy renewal or the intention of financing, with your existing company or, in order to obtain a policy or loan through a new provider, you may have been asked to provide a current marine survey, specific to the condition and value of your vessel. Hopefully, the following discussion will help avoid a potentially painful process.

General information;

When you speak to your agent / broker (for insurance or loan purposes), obviously you will need to ask if a survey will be required. If you have a recent survey (within the last two years), your vessel is less than ten years old and you have addressed ALL of the recommendations from the previous survey, you may not be required to obtain a new report. If you are required to furnish a new survey, be sure to ask if your report needs to include the underwater hull structure and appendages. As you know, haul outs are time consuming and expensive. Avoid them if you can. A Condition and Value Survey is performed to gather information to justify and determine whether or not the vessel is an acceptable risk for potential loss of inherent value. The emphasis will be specific regarding structural condition and relative safety for the intended use. They will also wish to know the vessel’s current market and replacement value.

General appearance;

Neat, clean and orderly. First impressions speak volumes on how one maintains their boat. Try to remove all clutter, excessive amount of gear and equipment from lockers, lazzarettes and weather decks. Wash your boat prior to the field inspection, properly secure the boat with the appropriate docking lines and fender placements, coil all lines and make all shore side connections complete. Clean all of your bilge sumps and spaces. Have your “ships papers” ready for review, your U.S.C.G. documentation, state registration and or country of registry. The permanent installation of your documentation number and the hull identification number must be confirmed. Attend the survey if at all possible. It’s your vessel, and you know it best. We may have questions concerning the operation of certain systems and or supportive equipment. Most surveyors should welcome the input from the owner/s.


Make sure your engine/s will “cold start” with the batteries isolated and or combined, (as per design). All belts, fluids, filters and related hoses should be in serviceable condition and topped off. Remove all rust from the engine/s, clean and recoat with the appropriate engine paint. Be sure that your fuel system shut off valves operate without hesitation. If your engine space requires blowers, be sure they are also functional. This is extremely important for gasoline-powered boats. Check your packing gland/s at the shaft/s and rudder/s for proper adjustment. Steering cables and hydraulics should be properly adjusted, pressurized and free of any leaks.

Thru hulls and pumps;

Exercise all sea valves, check the hose connections and replace all stainless steel hose clamps as required. Install double clamps below the waterline where appropriate. If your vessel is bonded, clean all connections. Make sure all bilge pumps are in working order, are properly sized for the volume of potential water ingress and the related float switches function per design. Empty your holding tank and flush with fresh water. Check, clean and secure any and all anti-siphon loops and venting.


This is one of the most important areas to be reviewed. More losses are attributed electrical fire and shock (fault) than any other system malfunction. Make sure your batteries are correctly sized, secured, connected and ventilated. If possible, organize, label and bundle all AC/DC wiring. Remove the “household” type (twist) connections and replace with marine grade products. All switches should be tested for function. The AC/DC main and auxiliary panels may need to be examined from the backside in order to facilitate a proper inspection and consequent recommendations as appropriate. Reverse polarity and ground fault circuit protection will be of concern. Shore power connections, both onboard and at the dock, must be free of any evidence of corrosion, over heating, short, secured and of the correct amperage / voltage for the intended application.


If your galley stove/oven uses propane, CNG or alcohol, all tanks, tank compartments, valves, pumps, or potential hoses and related connections must conform to USCG and ABYC strict guidelines and be without any existing and or potential leakage. Be sure to have an emergency shut off solenoid installed if applicable. Electric stoves, ovens and refrigeration are rather straightforward although need to be inspected as well.

Safety equipment;

Personal flotation devices (PFD’s), man-overboard throwable, distress signals (flares), sound producing devices, fire extinguishers, ventilation, carbon monoxide, smoke detectors, backfire flame control, navigation lights, discharge oil and garbage placards will be tested, examined and must be readily available. Be sure to have all fire extinguishers sized, properly charged, tagged, (with current date) mounted and available. Primary and if available, secondary anchoring systems should be adequate enough to hold the vessel safely in place and ready for deployment.

Sailing equipment;

Of most importance, are the spars, to include mast/s and boom/s, how they are stepped, tensioned, supported (standing rigging) and whether they are in proper column. Standing rigging must be free of excessive corrosion, rust, properly connected and of course intact. It is generally recommended that standing rigging should be replaced after 12 years of use (this will vary according to intended use, location and history), specific to your vessel. There are certain exceptions to be considered and you should consult with your surveyor and or rigger in order to determine condition. Winches, line leads, hardware, proper backing, and reefing systems will be examined for operation.


It’s simple, if you have them installed, the unit is expected to function. Remove old dysfunctional electronics. There is absolutely nothing wrong with navigating with a good chart, depth sounder and a properly adjusted compass. To have an array of electronics and knowing how to use them can add substantial value to your vessel. Make sure all model and serial numbers are up to date, listed and kept in a safe place off of the boat.

If your surveyor of choice insists on conducting the inspection without your or involvement and or attendance………….find another surveyor. The marine surveyor you hire has to keep all things in perspective. He / she is working not only for you, but as well, the vessel and the safety of those persons aboard. The surveyor will be the “eyes and ears” for the underwriter. Ask questions and be prepared. Having a condition and value survey completed for insurance and or pre-purchase does not have to equate with going to visit your proctologist. Understanding the needs and requirements of your insurance and or financial firm of choice is of paramount concern. Hopefully, I have given some useful information to help you thru the process. Do not hesitate to contact us for any questions and or concerns.

​Rick Kreps
Independent Marine Surveyor
Association of Certified Marine Surveyors, # 175


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