The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) strongly recommends that you employ a marine surveyor prior to purchase. Whether buying your yacht privately or through an established broker.
Boats are liable to deterioration and damage, just like any mode of travel. The difference being that the addition of salt water and exposure to the elements means that wear and tear is inevitable.
Discovering faults in a craft after the purchase can leave you on a sticky wicket, as oddly much of the industry is unregulated which puts even more importance on a preventative approach with a yacht survey.
So if you decide not to have a survey then the chances of redress are minimal, as the onus is squarely on the purchaser to make sure that their new purchase is fit to sail. You can get some free legal advice in respect of implications of boat purchase, members of the Royal Yacht Association for example, can get this as part of their membership benefit.
Yacht surveyors can be found all over the country, indeed in many places far from water! It’s fair to say that many of them will be referrals from locals or harbour workers, but a 'go to' location to get more info is the International Institute of Marine Surveying.
Other useful sites include:
or you might simply ask the harbour master which surveyors operate in the area. Whichever route you take it is worth checking if they are registered with the IIMS as you can carry out a search to find those closest to you, the advice they provide is impartial too.
If you decide a broker is the best route, unless you can afford it, then don’t take the first recommendation that is presented. The broker wants to sell the boat, whereas the surveyor has to provide an impartial report.
Well as with many things in life the survey can vary but is usually based upon the dimensions of the boat, a fair rule of thumb could be anywhere between £10 - £15 per foot, plus travel expenses. Most reasonable size yachts will take 1 or possibly two days but it is price worth paying.