Marine Surveyor San Francisco

Marine Surveyors, San Francisco Bay

Experienced and reliable marine surveyors in San Francisco Bay have always been in demand. Their expertise allows their clients to make informed decisions and even save money in certain cases. That’s why choosing a marine surveyor must be done carefully—whether you plan to buy a boat or you already own one. 

Here’s the great thing: Whether you’re from Sausalito, Oakland, or Alameda, BoatingSF can be your guide in getting your vessel professionally inspected by a Marine Surveyors in your area. Our listings help you select the right marine surveyor for your needs in the San Francisco Bay area!

In this article, let me share with you the services you can expect from marine surveyors, and the different types of surveys that they perform. We will discuss what they usually look for when assessing vessels, too.

By the end of this article, you will have a better idea of how to select the right marine surveyors for different ship-related needs.

Table of Contents

Yachts on San Francisco harbor

What Is a Marine Surveyor?

A marine surveyor is a specialist who inspects the condition of a vessel to guarantee that it meets the industry standards for the quality of construction and maintenance. They work as independent parties so they are typically hired as part of an official process, such as the boat’s transfer of ownership or an insurance application. 

Regardless of the purpose, a marine surveyor needs to have a lot of technical know-how and maritime experience to provide an objective and comprehensive assessment of the vessel.

Different types of marine surveyors exist nowadays because some have chosen to specialize in certain types of vessels only. However, in general, there are two main types: 

  • Proactive Marine Surveyor
    These experts aim to determine potential issues of the ship before they can cause any bigger problems to the owner, other vessels, or the environment. 

  • Reactive Marine Surveyor
    After a maritime incident has occurred, this type of surveyor is called in to provide an unbiased assessment of what had happened to the ship.

Becoming a marine surveyor requires a certification from the authorizing bodies. Aside from training their skill-sets and expanding their knowledge, these experts also exhibit genuine care for the safety and enjoyment of their boating communities.

Find a Marine Surveyor in San Francisco

What Does a Marine Surveyor Do?

Marine surveyors bear the following responsibilities when they are hired to inspect a vessel:

  • Conduct a thorough examination of the ship—inside and out
  • Ensure that the engines, wiring, and other related equipment are in good working condition
  • Perform tests that determine the safety and emergency preparedness of the ship
  • Cross-check the load limits of the ship against the manufacturer’s specifications

In most cases, marine surveyors provide an objective assessment of the ship’s value. Buyers rely on them to have peace of mind about their purchase. On the other hand, those who wish to sell their boats use their services to get a better idea of the fair market value of their property. 

Accident investigation

If a marine surveyor has been employed to investigate an accident involving a ship, they must consult previous reports of the ship’s condition before the accident, and then compare them to the damages that it has received. In case the ship became submerged due to the accident, marine surveyors play a part in ensuring that no further harm will happen to both the vessel and the surrounding marine environment. 

Marine surveyors can also act as expert witnesses for legal cases that involve maritime incidents. Other than providing a clear description of the boat’s condition, they may also assist coroners in determining the probable cause of deaths, if there are any.

Types of Vessel Surveys

Different types of vessel surveys can be performed depending on how the results are going to be used. In the San Francisco Bay, marine surveyors usually provide the following services to boat owners, potential buyers, insurance companies, and financing sources:

Pre-Purchase Survey

This survey is conducted to thoroughly examine the condition and value of a vessel that is up for sale. Buyers refer to the results to decide on whether or not to proceed with the purchase, and if so, how much they should offer for it. 

To perform a pre-purchase survey, marine surveyors do a systems analysis of the entire ship. This involves:

  • Going up the mast to get a general overview
  • Checking the condition of the engine, electronics, and wiring
  • Evaluating the tanks, plumbing, and other related parts
  • Taking oil samples from the ship

A good marine surveyor knows that the vessel must be examined before it is out on the water. Through this, they can thoroughly examine the condition of the ship’s surfaces before they get wet. A sea trial will then be conducted to assess the actual performance and seaworthiness of the vessel. 

Though a pre-purchase survey can take a lot of time, smart buyers understand that they can’t just skip this step. After all, purchasing a ship is a significant investment for many and a dream-come-true for those who enjoy life at sea.  

Insurance Survey

Also known as the Condition and Valuation survey, this type is a common requirement of insurance companies for both applicants and existing customers. It’s a way to verify the type and scope of insurance the vessel needs. Therefore, expect the results of the survey to significantly affect the insurance premium.

For current customers, the results must be submitted regularly—typically, at least once every five years. The cost is on the boat owner, but many don’t mind it because it is also a chance for them to have an expert check the condition of their ships. 

Warranty Survey

Most boat manufacturers offer a one-year warranty to their buyers. Unfortunately, issues tend to ferment during the period and become noticeable after the warranty has expired. To make the most out of the free services that can be availed, smart boat owners ask marine surveyors to conduct a warranty survey at least one or two months before the expiry date.

Damage Survey

In case of damages, ships should be inspected by marine surveyors to determine the extent and provide an objective recommendation about the necessary repairs. Filing for claims to insurance companies triggers this, but boat owners without insurance can still avail of this service since good marine surveyors can point them towards the right service providers with competitive prices. 

Appraisal Survey

Banks and other sources of financing will require this if you plan to use the boat’s fair market value to get a loan. This survey is also essential for certain legal matters—for example, divorce, declaration of bankruptcy, and estate settlements.

Find a Marine Surveyor in San Francisco

What Do Marine Surveyors Look for?

Marine surveyors check various aspects of the vessel and its operation to create a comprehensive report about its condition and capabilities. In general, they cover the following as part of their surveys:

  • Presence of Excessive Moisture

    Too much moisture in various areas of the hull may indicate the problematic parts of a ship. However, sometimes this is not visible to the naked eye. That’s why marine surveyors conduct osmosis testing if they notice that the ship has blisters and soft spots, or if the fittings have signs of moisture intrusion already.


    Moisture meter readings may not tell the complete story in some cases. Because of this, marine surveyors may inspect the hull and conduct destructive testing to support the readings. 

  • Corrosion

    If left unchecked, corrosion of the boat can not only damage the appearance—it can also increase the risk of physical harm and accidents. It can quickly spread to the metal parts, such as thru-hulls and props. As such, marine surveyors look for signs of inadequate protection and material deterioration. 

  • Engine Oil

    The metal particles in the oil can provide information about the condition of the engine. Marine surveyors perform tests to check the presence of saltwater, antifreeze, or fuel in the oil sample they have taken. From there, the results can indicate if there are engine problems, such as a blown head gasket.  

  • Seals

    Marine surveyors check if the seals can withstand the pressure and prevent water from coming inside the ship. In case that it cannot, then the engine and gears are likely suffering from excessive friction. Faulty seals often require expensive repair jobs so it’s important for marine surveyors to detect them during their inspection.  

  • Engine Operation

    Through a sea trial, marine surveyors can verify if the ship is operating according to the specifications of the manufacturer. Different aspects of the vessel are observed, such as:
      • Steering System
      • Shift Controls
      • Motor Mounts
      • Fluid Leaks
      • Open-Throttle RPM range
      • Engine Temperature
      • Exhaust System

The marine surveyor takes notes of anything that falls below the standard, and then makes recommendations about the next course of actions that must be taken to resolve the issues.

Finding a Marine Survey for your needs

As you can see, a marine surveyor plays a critical role in getting insurance, selling, and buying a boat. Looking for one in your area can be done through recommendations, but you still need to verify if they are truly qualified and dependable. 

Picking the wrong marine surveyor tends to be a costly mistake. It can lead to unnecessary “repairs”, personal injuries, or even deaths. So, to ensure that your boating experience in San Francisco Bay will always be safe and enjoyable, take your time in finding the right marine surveyor for your needs.

Boating San Francisco offers a directory of reliable marine surveyors in the area. Click here to find a marine surveyor near you in San Francisco.

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident.”

Leave a Comment