Surveyors, Surveys, Valuations and Boat Safety Scheme Certificates

There are various types of survey report available and you should be certain before proceeding to instruct a surveyor or engineer that you have fully understood the requirement of your Insurer. Your chosen surveyor will then be able to confirm whether the report you require is a service he can provide and will be able to quote you properly. For example, it is usually more economical for the boat owner to tell the surveyor in advance that a valuation should be incorporated into the report.

Surveys can be described differently across the marine industry. Here are a few examples:

  • A Full out of Water Survey
  • An Interior Survey
  • A Full Survey
  • An Insurance Survey
  • A Valuation Report
  • Specialist Engineers Engine and Machinery Report
  • Engineers Report
  • Expert Mast and Rigging Survey
  • Mortgage Survey
  • A Pre-Purchase Survey

Insurers usually require vessels of a certain age to periodically be the subject of a full out of water survey. The age of the vessel and time scales for repeat surveys differ from one insurer to another dependent on individual underwriting philosophy.

When Nautical Insurance request a full out of water survey to be submitted we will provide you with a written notice period and a date for the survey to be received by us. We will also inform you that the surveyor must be a qualified independent marine surveyor who must be a member of at least one of the following professional organisations and one who holds Professional Indemnity insurance.

Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA)
Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA)
International Institute of Marine Surveyors (IIMS)

What do we expect a Full out of Water Survey report to entail?

This is a detailed inspection of the external and internal condition of the vessel above and below the waterline to determine its current condition and seaworthiness. It includes testing and examination of the vessels mechanical, electrical and gas installations to confirm safety on the water. In addition, observation of the cosmetic condition and internal fittings will be recorded and will normally be used for reference when offering a valuation or providing recommendations for general maintenance to offer guidance to the boat owner to improve safety of the vessel and protect it for future use.

Surveyors Recommendations

Where, in the surveyor’s opinion the vessel is in need of attention, he will include a list of his recommendations. Generally, these will be categorised in order of importance to ensure the seaworthiness of the vessel, which means being fit for purpose. The categories are essential works affecting the seaworthiness and safety of the vessel before re-launch; deterioration of structure and or machinery presenting potential safety or seaworthiness issues in the near future to be attended to within a reasonable period of time and finally cosmetic recommendations to maintain the overall comfort, safety and value of the vessel. Surveyors are the ‘eyes and ears’ for us both and we consider their recommendations carefully. We may request for works to be undertaken in variant time scales to the surveyor’s opinion in our assessment of a risk to insurers.

Once I’ve had a Full out of Water Survey, will I need to arrange for anything else to be examined?

The report will only be able to confirm a brief external inspection of the engine and other machinery and in the case of a sailing yacht this will usually include a deck level inspection of the vessel’s mast and rig. The surveyor is unable to give consideration to the condition and performance of the vessel’s engine(s) and machinery whilst the craft is ashore and is unlikely to be prepared to climb the mast. Therefore, the surveyor will usually conclude a full out of water report recommending that sea trials are undertaken, or a separate engineers report be obtained in respect of the engine and machinery, and a separate expert mast and rigging report be considered. Any such trials or extra inspection reports must be arranged by you and are at your own expense.

An Interior Survey

Following re-fit of a vessel or re-installation of gas, electric or water and associated appliances we may ask for an Interior Survey report to confirm the quality and safety of the works undertaken. Interior Survey requests will normally include our request for a valuation to be included.

A Valuation Report

The value of a used vessel is based on the current market value of a vessel on a willing buyer, willing seller basis. A surveyor will compare the current market value of similar vessels and consider how they compare to yours in age and condition. Conscientious boat owners who work hard maintaining and updating their craft often ask Insurers to increase the sum insured. As Nautical Insurance policies are an agreed value policy, we will require justification of the value to be insured. Agreed value is the price you paid for the vessel or any other value we agree where we have received justification. In the event of an incident that is covered under the policy rendering the vessel a total loss, we will pay you the value shown on the Schedule of Insurance. We will not negotiate a potentially reduced current market value at the time of the loss.

Engineer’s Report

As testing of the engines is not usually undertaken as part of a full out of water survey, an engineer’s report may be requested if the surveyor considers the engines to look neglected or are recorded as being very old with limited-service data.

Expert Mast and Rigging Survey

Mast, spars, sails and rigging have a recognised shelf life in the marine insurance industry. This is generally around 10 years for rigging and 15-20 for the mast dependent on the type of use and amount of time the vessel has been used. Nautical are aware that not all sailing boats are used in the same way and may ask for a Mast and Rigging report in some circumstances.

Sea Trial

A sea trial will allow the purchaser or surveyor to test the performance of the vessel whilst underway including testing electronics, all fixtures and fittings as well as examining the vessel for leaks and to test the integrity of seacocks and through-hull fittings.

Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) as described at

"The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) is a public safety initiative between Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency. The Scheme is designed to ensure, through independent verification, that boats meet the navigation authorities’ minimum safety requirements."

The Boat Safety Examination is not the same as a survey and is not intended to be an alternative to a survey.

Boats that are older than four years and licensed or registered on most of the UK’s inland waterways must go through a BSS examination once every four years and be certified as compliant with the BSS requirements.

A BSS examination is NOT equivalent to a full out of water survey or a full condition report. It does not check the vessels stability or integrity of seacocks and through-hull fittings, nor does it comment on the overall mechanical or cosmetic condition of the vessel. The boat safety examiners report is a check list of minimum safety requirements paying particular attention to fuel, gas and electrical installations to avoid fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and pollution of the waterways.

The examiner will either provide the boat owner with a full Pass Certificate, a pass with Advisory Points noted for the surveyor to pay particular attention to at the next survey, or a Failure Notice. Boats with a failure notice must be re-examined within the following three months allowing time for remedial works to be undertaken. The appropriate navigation authorities will then agree whether an inland waterways registration application may be processed for acceptance or not. Fines apply to vessels without necessary documentation on inland waterways.

A list of boat safety examiners can be located at: