Surveyors must be savvier than ever

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Boats are like people. They like constant, regular use or exercise. They don’t like to be ridden hard and put away wet (without maintenance). And they don’t like to sit on the hard for extended periods of time. Like their owners, they’re capable of atrophying all on their own.

Marine surveyors such as George Gallup play an important role in our industry, especially in these economic times, when more boats have become inactive for longer stretches, and particularly if they weren’t put away properly. That calls for greater due diligence on the part of the buyer and the surveyor.

The immediate past president of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, Gallup says the most important challenge his profession faces is maintaining professionalism and integrity and sticking to its code of ethics.

As boats become increasingly sophisticated, Gallup says surveyors need to remain active in their continuing education to keep up with the state of the art in boatbuilding, especially electrical systems. Gallup, of Lynn, Mass., says that, on average, he gets about 150 CE credits a year through SAMS seminars and from courses through organizations such as the ABYC, on whose board he has sat.

“It’s a commitment to become a professional surveyor,” Gallup told Soundings magazine in an interview that will appear in the January issue. “It’s not a part-time, fill-in job. It’s a professional career with limitless opportunities to become successful.”

Gallup also made this observation: More and more boats, he says, seem to be designed by marketers rather than end-users.

The evidence? The fact that so-called “creature-comfort systems” are taking precedence over practical systems on some boats. An ongoing issue is the inaccessibility of systems for inspection and service, a perennial Achilles’ heel of builders and a constant source of frustration for owners and the people who work on their boats.

We asked Gallup what builders could do to improve their boats going forward.

“Simple,” he answered. “Attention to small details and accessibility of systems for maintenance are the key.”

Gallup once surveyed a mid-1980s 44-foot motoryacht that he suspected had sunk before. Not a particularly light tapper with his trusty phenolic hammer, Gallup remembers his surprise when his hammer went right through the bottom of the boat when he tested a wet area. That was a first.

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