Damage surveys

Introduction to Damage Surveys of Yachts & Small Craft

Damage from Storm Bella (a toppled yacht, the tree was fine)

Marine surveyors are often called upon to undertake damage surveys and to report on the damage claimed under a hull & machinery policy. There are a number of parties who may wish to instruct a surveyor if the vessel is damaged and is subjected to a claim. These could be:

  • The underwriters of the damaged vessel
  • The owner of a third party vessel or their insurers
  • The port authority or marina manager
  • The repair contractor
  • The insurance broker
  • A maritime lawyer acting on behalf of the insured or the third party

If the circumstances of the loss are straightforward, the surveyor may simply be asked to attend the survey and to determine & report upon the nature, cause and extent of the damage.

If the circumstances of the loss are complex, the surveyor may be asked to make enquiries and investigate the cause of the loss. This may involve the interviewing of witnesses, such as bystanders or the harbour master. The surveyor may be asked to continue their involvement whilst the repair work is carried out and possibly until their completion, finishing with one or more sea trials.

Although this is not always possible, the surveyor should be appointed as soon after the incident as possible. This can help to preserve evidence and allows witnesses to be interviewed whilst their memories of the event are fresh.

Fire damage of RIB
Investigation of fire that lead to the destruction of two vessels and to the damage of a third vessel and a pontoon

The extent of the surveyor’s role in any claim should be clearly defined by the instructing client. This will usually be determined by the size of the claim and the level of detail required by the client.

As the instructing client, you most often start off with very little information on the extent of the damage. You are often geographically remote from the vessel, have only received a brief description of the incident and perhaps have been provided with a few photographs of the vessel that very often do little to clarify the extent of the loss.

Why Appoint FYS to Investigate Your Damage Claim?

Whether a large claim or a small claim, Fieldhouse Yacht Surveys and Consulting Ltd have always worked under the principle that the marine surveyor is the ‘eyes and ears’ of the instructing client. As you cannot attend the damaged vessel yourself, you must rely upon the surveyor to provide you with sufficiently detailed information to enable you to feel that you have seen and inspected the boat yourselves.

Fieldhouse Yacht Surveys have the knowledge, experience and expertise to inspect and assess the nature, extent and cause of the damage to the vessel or equipment.

Vessel damage caused by fire, collision, grounding, heavy weather, water ingress or equipment failure usually requires an urgent response, in order to prevent further damage or loss. The Insured also expects an efficient and timely response to their claim. For this reason, Fieldhouse Yacht Surveys normally carry out the Damage Survey within 24 to 48 hours of the Client's instruction.

Bent propeller
Damaged propeller of 65' motor yacht after running aground
Destroyed gearbox after grounding
During the grounding of this motor yacht, the port propeller struck the sand, leading to the destruction of the gearbox

We are able to perform Damage Surveys at short notice throughout the UK and Europe. Please email or telephone Fieldhouse Yacht Surveys to discuss your requirements.

Email nic@fieldhouse-yacht-surveys.com
Phone +44 (0)7411 740 789

Click here for a sample of a typical Damage Survey report. This example is of a motor cruiser that has suffered damage from a leaking solenoid valve in the vessel's fresh water system.

An example of an investigation into the cause of the sinking of a steel narrowboat whilst at her mooring can be found here: Sinking of steel narrow boat

An example of an investigation into the damage of the keel supporting structure of a GRP sailing yacht can be found here: Keel Damage Report for 42' GRP sailing yacht  . The instructing client was a GRP repair specialist who required an independant assessment of the hull damage around the studs that secured the fin keel to the hull.

Yacht toppled during storm Bella in December 2020