Buying A Used Yacht? Don’T Skip This Crucial Step.

There are plenty of great reasons to consider buying a pre-owned yacht, particularly if you’re looking to lower your upfront price or don’t want to wait for a new yacht to be commissioned. But as with any used purchase, there’s a higher level of risk compared to buying new. That’s why hiring a marine surveyor to scrutinize the yacht’s engines — and its overall condition — BEFORE you buy is crucial.

What do marine surveyors do?

Like home inspectors, marine surveyors go over your potential yacht purchase — used or new — with a fine-tooth comb. Experts who specialize in the marine industry, and marine engines in particular, they have the tools and training to spot issues you simply can’t see with the naked eye. They’ll alert you to potential problems that could result in poor combustion, exhaust discoloration, smoking and even yacht engine failure — so you can make the choice to buy or not to buy with confidence.

What’s included in a yacht inspection?

You’ll want to confirm exactly what yours will cover in advance, but a typical pre-purchase inspection includes a thorough examination of the yacht’s condition and overall operation: structural integrity, electrical systems, propulsion system, fuel system, navigation equipment, other onboard systems, electronics, cosmetic appearance and overall maintenance. Many include an out-of-the-water inspection and a sea trial as well. During the inspection, most marine surveyors will:

  • Use a borescope to look inside the yacht engine(s) and identify any damage or defects
  • Assess the condition of the aftercoolers, which provides a good indication of overall marine engine health
  • Test electronics and wiring, battery and bilge systems, air conditioning, refrigeration and other onboard systems
  • Examine the hull to determine if it’s been damaged — and if so, whether it was repaired properly
  • Review previous maintenance practices, which can tell you how diligent the current owner has been about oil/filer changes and fluid sampling
  • Evaluate the yacht’s service history and report any previous issues or repairs

Is paying for a marine surveyor really worth the cost?

Absolutely. If you’re considering a yacht purchase — used or new — it costs much less to hire a marine surveyor to uncover problems before you buy versus paying to fix them later. Also, don’t make the mistake of expecting the warranty to cover every issue. Even though a yacht’s warranty and extended service coverage typically transfer to the second owner, they most likely won’t pay for any failures resulting from the first owner’s poor maintenance practices, for example.

How do I hire a marine surveyor?

You can search for accredited marine surveyors in your area here. Be sure to ask other yacht owners or service providers for recommendations before you make a selection. Your local Cat® dealer is a good place to start — the marine experts there can put you in touch with a qualified inspector.