Kim Skov-Nielsen
Yacht and Marine Surveyor
IRMS, IRMC, Dip.Mar.Sur., MIIMS, SAMS AMS
Rig Basics - How to Look After Your Mast, Rigging and Sails
Pre-Purchase Conditon Surveys

An accurate report on the condition of the yacht prior to purchase. Not an opinion, just facts.

It is the buyer's obligation to ascertain that the condition of the yacht is to his satisfaction: after all, Caveat Emptor - buyer beware! The very best way to do this is to have a pre-purchase condition survey carried out on the yacht you plan to purchase.

This is the most thorough and comprehensive survey KSN does. The condition and overall operation of the entire vessel is gone through in detail. Structural integrity, hull moisture content, integrity of appendages, condition of the bottom, function and suitability of all systems from fire fighting to air-conditioning, ground tackle to bilge pumping, fuel systems to electronics and so on. Anything and everything is looked at - if it can be accessed non-destructively.

For a complete outline of what is included and how to prepare for a pre-purchase survey, please Click Here

Structural Condition Surveys

A comprehensive report on the structural condition of the yacht - be it wood, steel, alloy or composite.

Here the focus is on the structure - the hull, frames, beams, bulkheads, longitudinal stringers, deck to hull joint, keel attachment and joint, rudder installation, delamination of any of the above, skin fitting installations, mast base, chain plates, crane bases, dinghy davit bases, etc. Anything that is loaded in any way is looked at critically.

Engineering Installation Surveys

A report on the visual inspection of the functionality and suitability of the engineering installation as well as the functioning of the main engines, gearboxes, shafts and generators.

Running under load - both statically and underway - are essential to ascertain engine condition without opening them up. KSN highly recommends an ongoing schedule of oil sampling and analysis; a record of oil samples over time is simply the best preventative maintenance available - which is why it is standard in the airline industry. KSN uses Spectro Oil Analysis labs in UK.

Mast & Rigging Surveys

A report on the condition of the mast and rigging involves sending KSN aloft in a bosun's chair. A full mast and rigging survey can take several hours of inspecting the mast from truck to keel and will require an additional fee. It may not always be possible to complete it on the same day as a pre-purchase survey.

Any vessel where the standing rigging is over ten years old; or any vessel where the mast and rigging has not been inspected in the last five years, or any vessel going offshore or across an ocean should have a Mast and Rigging Survey carried out.

It is generally accepted that a vessel with stainless steel wire rigging must have its rigging changed every 10 years. Some insurance companies now insist on this. Navtec insist on an even tighter schedule for their rod rigging - it must be removed and inspected, and possibly re-headed, every 6 years or 40,000Nm whichever comes first. Fibre rigging - Spectra, PBO or Carbon - is even more demanding: yearly inspections by the operator, bi-annually by the supplier and the rig out and laid ashore every 5 years at the most.

Ultra-Sonic Hull Thickness Surveys

A report on the hull plate thicknesses of the underwater body of the vessel. A matrix is laid out and measurements are taken at least 4 times within every square meter. Whether it be steel or alloy there is a minimum thickness that is acceptable to the classification societies.

It is useful to have an original shell plate drawing from the designers so as to be able to compare actual thickness with the original gauge.

Insurance Surveys

A report on the risk the underwriter is exposed to, ascertained by means of the most thorough of inspections. As comprehensive as a pre-purchase survey but with a slightly different emphasis. For example: washer/driers are tested not for functionality but to see if they produce an excessive amount of heat in the ducting that may constitute a fire hazard.

An owner may have changed underwriter or the underwriter may ask for a current survey to continue cover if the boat is over ten years old.

A sea trial is not normally required but a haulout is.

Finance Surveys

Financial institutions need independent verification that what they are lending money for actually exists and is in good enough condition to warrant the outlay and whether it is worth the risk going forward.

Not only does KSN look at the condition of the vessel, as well as the suitability and function of all the systems, he looks at maintenance standards and schedules and the experience of the crew who will be looking after the investment going forward.

KSN regularly consults his worldwide network of yachting industry contacts to arrive at Fair Market Value (FMV) and replacement costs.

MCA Coding & Tonnage Surveys

For Small Commercial Vessel License and for Registration purposes, KSN is an approved examiner not just for the UK MCA but also for the British Virgin Islands registry, the Isle of Man registry and the Marshall Islands registry.

An MCA Coding survey is in two parts - first KSN assesses the vessel for suitability, confers with the owners on which Category to aim for and then KSN provides the operator with a worklist of items to be seen to before Coding can be completed. At some point KSN needs to see the vessel out of the water, usually at the operators convenience when hauled for anti-fouling anyways. Then a final check of all coding items and a sign off on the SCV2 form completes the coding.

Tonnages are required for registration on Part 1 of the UK Register of Shipping which is the only proof of ownership that exists. As such part of the survey is to check all the paperwork - builders certificates and HIN numbers and so on - matches up. Then KSN measures the vessel to ascertain conformity and sends the data on to the Certifying Authority who issues the Tonnage Certificate.

KSN has also carried out a Tonnage Survey for the Swedish Register of Shipping in compliance with the International Tonnage Convention of 1969.