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A Marine Survey Text Book
by A Marine Surveyor with 40 Years Experience

Introduction

Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats

2nd Edition


The Art of the Pre-Purchase Survey

2nd Edition:

Main changes in 2nd edition are:
Chapter 7 "Using Moisture Meters" - New Chapter
Chapter 5 “Hull and Its Structure” - Expanded, reorganized.
Chapter 6 “Surveying the Hull” - Expanded, reorganized.

Full text from the book

Introduction

During the course of his weekly work, a marine surveyor is faced with a dizzying array of different sizes and types of craft. Though it would certainly be desirable, it is not possible to produce a step-by-step guide as to how to perform a survey since the survey will vary so much from boat to boat. By necessity, this book is intended to be read cover-to-cover.

Each chapter starts with a discussion of the basic principles involved, then gives an overview of the kinds of problems the surveyor routinely faces. In many ways, it begins to resemble a compendium on proper marine engineering and standards. From this, the surveyor is expected to be able to extrapolate the faults he discovers in his work.

No one book could possibly begin to cover the virtually infinite variations that surveyors encounter in boats. In the end, the surveyor is required to sufficiently develop his knowledge to the point where he is capable of rendering his own judgment on any given issue. The purpose of this book is to help you learn to do that.

* * * * *

The production of this book was undertaken as a self-published work in order to help fill the void created by a near total lack of good texts on the subject of pre-purchase surveying pleasure craft. It is the most extensive and thorough book of it's kind ever produced, if only because there are so few of them.

Although this book deals mainly with motor yachts, including styles such as express and convertibles, I have included chapter nine'Cockpits, which covers many of the problems to be found with outboard boats, particularly the high end center console boats that have become so popular. Surveyors tend to get very enthusiastic about surveying bigger and bigger boats; we should not forget that there's a good business to be done with smaller boats that might well be more profitable than their larger cousins.

While the theme is primarily directed at the novice surveyor and the aspiring surveyor, the subject is the actual business of marine surveying. However, the business of marine surveying is not about boats alone, for every survey starts with a client for whom the service is being rendered. Therefore, as a primary theme you will find that the relationship between surveyor and client is close at hand, for they are inseparable. Always at the back of his mind is a customer who wants to know about the nature of the used boat he is about to purchase. No, this profession is not just about boats; it's about'people'and boats.

Underlying every situation is the question of what exactly is the surveyor's responsibility to the client' What kind of information does the client need to be informed of' Are there differences between legal and moral responsibilities' These are questions that surveyors face every day, and for which I'll provide some answers and the reasons why.

It is not the purpose of this book to educate the reader on the subject of pleasure craft generally. By necessity I have assumed that the reader is possessed of certain prerequisites, including a solid knowledge of technical basics. I am frequently asked by people whose backgrounds and education are in other fields, how they can become marine surveyors. They seem to think it's an easy thing to change careers because this profession seems to them to be glamorous, and requires no college diplomas or licenses. There is also the siren song of self employment, which is a tougher taskmaster than any boss one has ever had.

My answer to them is that if they do not have a background in boat building or repair, or similar allied field, then they should not even consider trying to become a marine surveyor. Lacking such expertise, they are inherently unqualified. There are no schools that can provide that education, only the college of long experience in allied fields. Neither will this book provide those qualifications, as one book cannot make a professional expert. And expertise is what our clients hire us for. If a surveyor lacks it, he is nothing more than a quack, something this profession already has too many of.

Due to a perceived lack of literature on the subject of modern boat construction, chapter five deals extensively with hull construction, devoting some 45 pages and over two dozen photos and drawings to help the surveyor in identifying structural deficiencies. Because stress cracks are so common to boats, an entire chapter is devoted to this sometimes mystifying subject. Chapter eight then deals with decks and superstructures.

Many newcomers enter the profession every year, but few survive for very long. While I can't know all the reasons why, I have to believe it's because most were unaware that marine surveying is not a casual activity that just anyone with a whim could enter and expect to succeed. Many seem to think that being a marine surveyor is somehow glamorous, as if surveyors do little but ride around on yachts sipping pina coladas and enjoying the scenery. Others seem to think that they can attend a few classes or seminars and get everything they need to know to be successful in a matter of weeks.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have any ideas about this being a glamorous profession, let me disabuse you of that notion right now. Marine surveying is a work of hard, physical labor, that is usually dirty, noisy and puts him in an adversarial position with sellers and brokers. Surveys are almost always conducted in difficult circumstances, and almost never under ideal working conditions. The surveyor is routinely exposed to extremes of weather, poor working conditions, dirt, grime, foul odors, harsh chemicals, extremely loud noise and the constant threat of physical injury from unexpected sources. You'll end up working in engine rooms with temperatures as high as 130oF.

You'll spend a good part of your time lifting and laying carpet, moving mattresses and furniture, taking things apart and putting them back together. You'll empty lazarettes, closets and lockers and then put everything back again. At times you'll feel like you work for a moving company. You'll handle lines, fenders, anchors and chains, remove and replace seat cushions and enclosures thousands of times.

And you'll quickly come to understand why successful surveyors are never overweight. How could they be when they exercise ten hours a day, every day. If you haven't the stamina for continuous hard labor, then don't even consider becoming a surveyor.

This book begins by taking a hard look at some of the basic principles involved in surveying, including the surveyor's legal responsibilities, the scope of the service provided, and the definition of terms such as seaworthiness and soundness. Next, it moves into issues of client relations, including topics such as how to avoid getting tangled up in situations that should be avoided, and generally how to stay out of trouble. The novice should be aware that every job that comes his way is not necessarily a job that he can profit from. More than a few jobs turn out to be tar babies that were best avoided.

Chapters five through sixteen cover the practical work of conducting the survey. These twelve chapters are illustrated with nearly two hundred photos and drawings of the actual conditions the surveyor will find in the field. These are photos I've collected for over twenty years and will prove invaluable toward helping the novice understand what he's dealing with. No one book could begin to cover everything that ought to be addressed. However, by the time anyone is done studying these chapters, he can expect to be well grounded in the principles of what constitutes a thorough survey, and how to best serve his client.

Last, but not least, chapter seventeen covers how to make appraisals and chapter eighteen deal with how to write reports. This chapter was included because it is my perception that the reports of much of the profession leave a lot to be desired. Unless one has a business or legal education, writing is not something most people put much effort into learning. For the marine surveyor, writing a professional report is a critical skill. What many seem to fail to realize is that the report is the surveyor's'work product,the primary thing by which his work will be judged by others, and the only thing which others will see. If the report is poorly written, the end result is like painting a boat with a mop.

Ultimately, marine surveying is not about the business of boats; eventually one comes to discover that it's about people who buy and own boats; that boats don't lie at the heart of the business, but what people think about them that does. As they say, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." In the end, it's not about how much you know about boats, but how much you know about people and what'they'want to know. Satisfy that demand and you'll have a lot of happy clients. In this business, people skills are paramount, technical skills are secondary but equal importance.

If you don't know something, you can always find someone who does know. Although the surveyor is the one who's supposed to know everything about boats, most of my clients would be surprised to hear me say that it seems like I've spent a good part of my career calling other people and asking questions. We don't know everything there is to know about boats and never will. Our objective should be to become reasonably competent and, above all, learn to develop the sources through which we can get fast answers to our endless questions. A well-stocked Rolodex can be worth more than a library full of books, most of which are outdated.

This book will help the novice make a good beginning, and help the experienced surveyor brush up on his skills and knowledge.

David H. Pascoe
Fort Lauderdale
June, 2001

Copyright© 2001 David H. Pascoe

David Pascoe Power Boat Books Visit davidpascoe.com for his power boat books

David Pascoe - Biography

David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.

Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:

In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from over 70 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.

In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.

Biography - Long version

Book - Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats by David Pascoe

Links to Each Chapter Contents with Excerpt at:
David Pascoe Power Boat Books davidpascoe.com

 

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This book is not a compilation of articles from this web site.

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Last updated October 18, 2015.