Buying a new boat & surveying it
Buying a boat is often a significant financial commitment. This guide helps to ensure you make the right choice:
- Choice – Decide what you want your boat for before you start looking. Cruising/racing? Do you have a young family? Crossing the Solent or crossing the Atlantic? Charter?
- Budget – Review your budget and don’t forget mooring and marina fees, fuel, slipping and winter storage fees, life jackets. If you are thinking of chartering, the cost of setting up a company and having the boat ‘coded’ to the MCA requirements.
- Gather information – Talk to several brokers and gather information before viewing. Take your time. Talk to friends, people at the sailing club, etc about the types of boats you are considering. Read reviews from the magazines – a number of magazines have libraries of reviews.
- Scan the internet, look at what boats are advertised for and then arrange a viewing.
- When you find a boat you like, talk it through with the broker or seller and then make an offer based on what you have seen and understand and state clearly that your offer is subject to survey. The broker will provide a Sale & Purchase Agreement that both parties sign. Any amendments must be agreed by both parties. This is a binding contract so be sure before you sign. (NB: A broker, as opposed to a dealer, is not a party to the contract – he is acting as the vendor’s agent.)
- The Deposit – You will need to place a deposit (usually 10%), which the broker must put in his Client Account (not his usual business trading account). This is your money held by the broker as stakeholder.
- The Survey – You should get the vessel surveyed by a professional boat surveyor before completing the purchase. The broker may not recommend a surveyor but may have a list of local surveyors. Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA) is the sister association to ABYA and all YDSA surveyors are assessed rigorously before being elected into membership. Matt West, Marine Surveys UK is an accredited Member of the YDSA. Ask to attend the survey so you can discuss the findings.
- Read the survey report through carefully and discuss any queries with the surveyor. Advise the broker of any important defects. If they are substantial (“material”) you may consider withdrawing under the terms of the contract, revising the price to complete the sale, or requiring the vendor to provide a repair or piece of equipment. The contract will have a time frame for actions to be taken – be clear what these are. You will be responsible for lifting fees and the surveyor’s fees.
- Finance – If you require finance ensure you contact a finance house in good time, as the money needs to be available when you reach completion.
- Sea Trial – If you want a trial sail, advise the broker early so he can set this up, and allow for changes due to weather, for instance. You will be responsible for any slipping or skipper’s fees.
- Final checks – Decision made, check the inventory and that the title documentation is lodged with the broker to save any problems later, including the VAT documentation as appropriate.
- Electronic Transfer set up the electronic transfer to the Broker’s Client Account in good time. Once the funds have cleared, completion can take place. The broker will give you the documentation, including the Bill of Sale transferring title from the vendor to you, and the keys to the boat.
- Insure it! Don’t forget to insure the boat before you take possession. You will almost certainly need a survey for this, so don’t be tempted to skip the pre-purchase survey, which can be used for this purpose too.
- Training – if you haven’t sailed or driven a powerboat before do get some training before heading off. It is essential you know the ‘Rules of the Road’ and have adequate safety equipment. The RYA has a wide range of courses to assist you.
- Sail away!
With thanks to the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents.
Proud members of
Here are some snippets of recent reviews. they can be seen in full on our testimonials page, or on the facebook and google+ links above
The whole process was very easy.
Matt was very helpful during the survey including us in all aspects and his report was well structured and easy to follow and understand. Additionally his help and advice following his report was excellent.
I would not hesitate to use him again. Chris. Reviewed on this site June 2019
“…Communication was good and we arranged to meet whilst the survey was being carried out…. Matt was very good at explaining all aspects of the survey….The result was a very comprehensive and thorough survey report clearly identifying any problems, how to resolve them and the time span in which they should be done.
…… Matts approach, help and advice made it a good experience.
Matts services are highly recommended. Les. Reviewed on facebook June 2019
….very detailed and yet very clear with his report and recommendations……… I would recommend him without any hesitation. A very professional and helpful surveyor. David G. Review on facebook November 2018
I can’t praise Matt highly enough for the survey on my new boat. He was meticulous to a fault, happy to be left to do his thing and was invaluable on the sea trial. The fee was very reasonable ……..Thanks Matt. Peter E. Reviewed on Freeindex July 2017
…..Matt was very thurough and took the time to explain to me the issues and advice me during the survey. I was extremely pleased with his work and would recommend him to anyone looking for a first class surveyor. Sebastian. reviewed on facebook, Feb 2017
Matt provided an extremely professional service …… He was most helpful on the day of the survey, spending time explaining and discussing points identified and recommended fixes to pragmatically resolve……report was delivered the within 48 hours ……presented in a way that was easy to understand and extract key points that needed to be addressed with the Yacht Broker. I have no hesitation highly recommending Marine Surveys UK based upon the services provided. Husron V.P Reviewed on cylex Jan 2018
“Matt provided an excellent survey service ….. very flexible with timings, arrived promptly and conducted a very thorough inspection, taking time to explain key points to me and offer general boating advice. The report came through very quickly and was comprehensive, clear and made sensible recommendations. I would fully recommend Matt. ” Nick Bournemouth, Review Jan 2016
….. ‘Ancasta’ ………. recommended using Matt for our survey. …..Matt was extremely helpful and easy to deal with. I attended for part of the survey, and he took time to talk me over the yacht and gave me a very detailed verbal description on the day. This was followed up naturally by a more detailed written report . Everything was dealt with very promptly , Matt was easy to contact throughout the process , and I would highly recommend his services .
“I was very pleased with the survey that you carried out for me,It was comprehensive and at a fair price ,done when I wanted and it was very useful to be able to discuss you findings with you” Chris Forsyth. Olympic 500C. December 2014
…….. he was very thorough and answered any questions I had. Overall an excellent service without fault or delay so if you are looking for a marine survey I would highly recommend Matt. Terry Goulty. Rinker 232 December 2014
………He made a pre-purchase condition survey to great value for me. He also taught me a lot about this boat model. Knowing the status of the boat we had a nice sailing trip home to Sweden.” Jörgen Haslum December 2014
… A really nice guy, very knowledgeable and helpful. The report was clear and easily understood and all findings were clearly put into perspective for me. Thoroughly recommended! Peter Bristow, Haywards Heath May 2014
Excellent survey at a very reasonable price and the report was received the following morning … Matt was also happy to offer further free advice on the phone several weeks later and I’m sure even years later he’d continue to do so. …. Gary from Fleet. April 2014
…Matt did a great job, supporting me from start to finish and coming up with common sense solutions to potentially tricky problems. I will certainly be instructing Matt for my future surveying needs.Paul Lovejoy, Emsworth Feb 2104
…His inch by inch and nut and bolt complete survey was broken down into easy to understand sections that graded the work to be done using a simple star grading system. ….. He gave me the confidence to make my purchase, undertake the repairs and to have a boat now which has given me many happy hours of sailing. Mark Wood Portsmouth
Our 1984 Sunseeker 25 XPS Portofino required a safety / condition report for insurance purposes. This was carried out very efficiently and without fuss. P. Crowther-Wilton, Banbury 1st January 2014
Matt West was recommended to me …. the service he provides is prompt, reliable helpful and efficient. From initial call to receiving my survey took just a week. I would have no hesitation in recommending Matt” Andrew Campbell
Sent from my iPad December 2013
The previous owner, ….. was very impressed with your level of detail and testing and has kept your details to use your services when he buys his next boat. ….. we are very happy with her and in the knowledge that she has had a very thorough and detailed survey performed on her by a very knowledgeable and professional company. Dave D. December 2013
As a foreigner, having someone local you can trust, acting as your eyes and your ears and helping you to keep you with both feet on the ground, is an investment that’s worth every penny. Joris Van Roy, Belgium December 2013
He went out of his way to be helpful and even accompanied us on the sea trial. He produced an extremely comprehensive survey report and so far 3 months on I have not found a single thing he has missed. He is an accomplished professional with an in depth knowledge of boats and has been an invaluable source of advice. I would have no hesitation in recommending him to you, you would have to go a long way to find anyone better.” Mike S. December 2013
I have used surveyors when buying boats previously and none came up to the standard of service provided by Matt. Peter V. Sea Ray 240 July 2013
A very friendly and exceptionally helpful service, I would definitely recommend them. Rosie T. 43′ Narrow boat June 2013