What do you do when your insurance agent tells you that you need a new condition and value survey on your vessel for insurance purposes? Or if you go to secure a new loan and use your vessel as collateral, what do you do when your banker says they need a new value survey?

Let's say your vessel is damaged and you want it properly appraised, what do you do? Or when you are looking to purchase a used vessel and want to be certain it will function as you planned, what then?

The answer in all of these cases is a competent marine surveyor. It's extremely important to find a good surveyor, since many decisions are based on his or her findings.

Surveyors not only survey new and used vessels to determine their condition and value, but they also survey cargo, machinery, docks, wharfs, marinas, and handling equipment related to the marine industry. Some surveyors also investigate marine claims and act as expert trial witnesses.

To find a good one, I would first ask your marine insurance agent for a recommendation. Make sure you explain what type of survey you need and be sure to describe your vessel very carefully so the agent knows which way to turn. Why? Because some surveyors have special knowledge and finding that "expert" can make a big difference.

For example, there are marine surveyors who have more knowledge about aluminum hulls than steel ones. Maybe your vessel is diesel powered with a host of other power plants for other systems. Then you need a surveyor who really knows machinery.

Boatyards are another source for good surveyors. Ask which surveyors work well with them. A boatyard owner will know who the good ones are. Also keep in mind that bankers who specialize in ship loans also have worked with many surveyors.

You can also ask your fellow vessel operators. Many can tell you of bad experiences with surveyors but that may not mean the person was a bad surveyor.

There are also organizations such as the National Association of Marine Surveyors and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors.

A collection of stories from guest authors.