How Does the Boat Surveying Process Work?

Having a boat surveyed can be a very uncertain time if you are new to the process. In this post we will detail for you just what to expect from a survey if you are in the process of purchasing a boat.

How does the surveying process work with a boat coming out of the Moorings/Sunsail Fleet in Tortola?

Once there is an agreed offer in place between both Buyer and Seller the next step is to arrange a survey and sea trial. The Buyer chooses their surveyor as they work for you. Once a surveyor is chosen and has given their availability and the boatyard’s availability for haul out to inspect out of the water a date for the survey can be scheduled. A typical survey day will see the surveyor get started in the morning, and by midday the boat move around to the boatyard for haulout. This is a short haul to allow the surveyor to inspect the bottom out of the water. After relaunch will then do the sea trial to check engines, sails, etc. This is normally only about an hour, enough for the surveyor to test and check what is needed and do a short sail. Once back at the dock the survey continues until the surveyor has finished. If you have been present on the day the surveyor will usually do a short overview of the main points from the day. It will normally then take a few days for them to complete their report and send to you to review.

Do the Surveyors work for you / how much do they charge?

When you choose and engage a surveyor they work for you. We will often know the surveyors as we work with them often which helps in coordinating the process. Typical cost for surveys in the BVI will be around $25 per foot for monohulls and $30 per foot for catamarans. You will also need to factor in another $200-300 for the surveyor to come back to inspect and sign off on any repairs before closing. The haul out fee at the boatyard on the day of survey also needs to be paid and typically $6 per foot for monohulls and $9 per foot for catamarans.

Can I hire a private surveyor?

Yes, you can choose or hire whoever you wish to survey the vessel. You may have been recommended someone through a friend or have your own surveyor which you have used before and may want hire them again. This is fine, but if your surveyor is not based locally you will have extra costs for travel and accommodation. You may also want them to come back and inspect any works in the process such as while hauled in the boatyard for out of water work during a phase out, and also before closing to make sure all was completed satisfactorily. In this sense it is often good to use a local surveyor, as they are usually more familiar with the process, boats, and have surveyed the same model numerous times before.

Do you have any recommendations for surveyors?

Yes, your sales agent can provide you with a current list of surveyors in the desired location.

Do I need to be present for the survey?

You do not need to be present during the survey as the surveyor will report back to you with findings. Due to work and travel schedules it may not be easy to be present for the actual day. You may have already seen the boat before or come just to inspect at another time. In some cases it is not uncommon for a buyer not to see the actual boat until closing and handover.

Will The Moorings share all damage history of the yacht with us? 

If there was an insurance claim on the vessel while it was in the fleet we can share the report with you.  However, you should rely on the surveyor that you employ to go through the boat and notate all findings in his report.

Do you have a prior survey for the boat?

Normally there in not a recent survey that has been done with a boat in fleet. Your survey will be the basis for the phase out process. Sometimes if the boat has already started the phase out there may be one available done by the owner.


After the survey process is over and and the seller have negotiated any repairs, you will need to figure out how you will be getting your new yacht home. To discover our advice for that, read our blog post about getting your new yacht home


Giles Wood

Giles’ first memory of sailing was sitting on the bow of a dinghy when he was 5, while he sailed around the bay with his Dad. He has been sailing ever since. After studying engineering at university he worked as a sales manager selling classic and sports cars. He cast off his lines 15 years ago and returned to the water. As an MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Instructor, he has been around the world skippering, racing, and teaching. He brings his enthusiasm for sailing to brokerage. After 10 years in the brokerage based in Tortola he has a lot of experience with the boats and the process to pass on.

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