Sailboat survey day arrived, but it is only when the surveyor started his work that we began to wonder if there were things wrong with our home.

We crossed everything as John began checking for osmosis, and tapped his way round the hull. The engine had all its boxes ticked and our safety equipment was given the thumbs up. So far, so good. But when he reached the shaft, the surveyor found something we weren’t expecting…

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There are two types of marine survey:

  1. Pre-Purchase Condition Inspection
    • Before we purchased SY Esper, we had a full condition survey
    • In ‘How to buy a sailboat’ we recommend that you have a full survey before you purchase a boat. Every aspect of the boat will be inspected and tested. This needs to be in and out of the water, and should include a sea-trial.
    • Some old salts say it’s not necessary, but if your knowledge of boats is limited (like ours was when we purchased Esper) a survey is a must. Apart from all the structural and systems tests, a good surveyor will be able to find out if the boat has been written-off previously due to an accident
    • An insurance underwriter will insist on a valuation survey at the very least
  2. Valuation Inspection
    • A less comprehensive inspection, and it’s not necessary to do a sea trial.
    • SY Esper had not been valued since her purchase in 2004, and had been insured at the same price for over 10 years.
    • Our current insurers (Topsail) asked for a Valuation Inspection to confirm the current insured amount.

We were interested in the inspection process as it gave us an opportunity to talk to the surveyor in more detail while he worked. The valuation took less than a day, and we were sent the report the following day.

The valuation report was broken down into sections:

  1. Summary
  2. Equipment
  3. Systems
  4. Survey Procedure
  5. Findings/Recommendations
  6. Appendices, photo log
  7. Factory Specifications

Definitions used in report:

  • Excellent New or as new
  • Good Nearly new, only minor wear
  • Fair Item functions but would benefit from work
  • Poor Item needs repair or replacement
  • Appears A complete inspection was not possible (generally access)


This gives a full description, including age of vessel. John’s second paragraph begins “In general (except where noted below), the vessel was in fair to good condition” which was a relief to read!

He then goes into a few more details and descriptions of sails, spars, standing and running rigging, winches, traveller and all machinery.


A table lists everything checked, with status. Examples of status “Functioned normally, Requires service, Powered up worked” etc


Each system was examined, described and listed in full:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • LPG
  • Engine/machinery
Survey Procedure

The report explains how the inspection is made:

  • Out of water hull inspection
  • Equipment inspections
  • Sea trial – in the case of a valuation this is not necessary.

This was the section of the report which interested us most of all. It starts with a colour-coded table giving examples of the kind of findings where the surveyor recommends work. And it is then followed by a list of recommendations. We were pretty pleased that everything that required work was fairly minor, and could be done immediately. We received only one red “urgent” recommendation which we remedied immediately – some of the split pins on the rigging were missing!


John’s valuation matched her existing insured amount, so there was no change to the policy! SY Esper has been valued at the same amount for the last 12 years, and while this shows no depreciation, it is worth remembering that we have probably spent that same amount again in repairs and replacements over that time. Yup, boats aren’t a financial investment!

Our passage via Japan to Pacific North West is going to cost thousands of dollars, so we are busy trying to find ways of saving money.

  1. From this point our Patreon and Rum Fund pledges will be diverted towards prepping Esper.
  2. We have already started tightening our belts – e.g. we have postponed flying to UK to see family right now.
  3. We are applying for a bank loan.

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