All You Need to Know about Narrowboat Surveys
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Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 2:58pm
This blog article has been written to help you understand the 3 different types of surveys carried out on a narrow boat and why they are necessary.

Who carries out a narrow boat survey?

A qualified marine surveyor is the only person who is qualified to carry out this service. Most surveyors charge additional travel costs on top of the fee of the survey so it’s advisable to check this out before you employee a surveyor. Bearing this in mind look for a surveyor who is in the local area of where the boat is moored. The surveyor may need to do a return visit if he recommends that work is carried out on the boat. He will need to return to access the work before he is able to sign it off. You are able to find a list of surveyors on this website

When is survey required?

We recommend that all second hand narrow boats are surveyed before purchase. The survey is totally for the benefit of the buyer not the current owner or the brokerage company (if a broker is involved in the sale). The survey is carried out by the surveyor to validate the condition of the boat before it is sold. Just like when you consider purchasing a house you request a survey is under taken before you make your final offer, it is the same practice for when you have a boat surveyed.

How much does it cost?

If a full survey or hull survey is carried out the narrow boat will need to come out of the water and will require the use of a dry slip. The average cost for using a marinas slip way is around £190 inc VAT. Surveys will vary in cost depending on the type of survey and the individual surveyor’s prices, but a good guide line of what you should expect to pay is around £300 - £600.

Full Survey

A narrow boat that requires a full survey will need to be out of the water so that ultrasonic measurement of the hull can take place. This enables the surveyor to measure the thickness of the steel and check for damage and pitting.

Other checks that a full survey covers are:

  • Weedhatch assembly
  • Cabin fabrication, condition and fixtures
  • Stern gear/ propulsion and rudder assemblies
  • Engine and gearbox condition and installation
  • 12v system
  • 240v system
  • Gas system
  • Plumbing; domestic water and heating systems
  • Water tank/ toilet tanks Fit out, linings and vessel interior.
  • Insulation
  • External coatings
  • Cratch and fore and aft covers.
  • Windows and portholes Decks and deck boards
  • Fire fighting and safety equipment
  • Ventilation

Hull Survey

A Hull survey will only check the hull area and not any other area of the boat. It will be looking at the quality and thickness of the steel.

Check points;

  • Hull for cruising damage and build quality.
  • Hull plate condition and weld patterns to the base plate, counter floor and hull sides.
  • Hull outlets, freeboard and hull penetrations
  • Hull plate thickness particularly at vulnerable areas
  • Pitting depth and quantity
  • Weedhatch assembly
  • Cabin fabrication, condition and fixtures
  • Hull internal
  • Stern gear/ propulsion and rudder assemblies

Internal Survey

Internal surveys only check the boat for boat safety items, but surveyors can be asked to comment on the engine and stern gear if required. The cost for a Boat Safety Certificate is usually around £150.00.

Check points;

  • Fuel systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Propulsion
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • LPG system
  • Appliance’s and flues
  • Ventilation
  • Pollution prevention


This is a picture of a tractor hauled out a Narrowboat in readiness for a survey at our sister company Whilton Marina.  Venetian Marina have a wet dock so the boats are removed from the water in a different way.

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Jeremy Woodrow | Sat Nov 8, 2014 at 4:27pm
A brief but useful explanation of what's involved. Thank you for posting.
GARRY | Wed Aug 30, 2017 at 10:22pm
Hi, would you get a hull survey of a 5 year old boat?
Venetian Marina | Thu Aug 31, 2017 at 9:08am
We always recommend you have a survey.
Nicola Jones | Tue Mar 13, 2018 at 11:07pm
If I have a current safety certificate, do I still need a full survey or just a hull surveyThanks
Venetian Marina | Wed Mar 14, 2018 at 9:58am
Dear Nicola,The BSS Safety Cert and hull/full surveys each cover different aspects of the vessel. It depends on the vessel's age and purchaser's individuals preference. If I was buying a Narrowboat I would have a full survey with a new BSS Cert issued.
Brian Scriven | Thu Feb 7, 2019 at 6:29pm
My personal experience of 'Hull Surveys' are that they are driven by the insurance companies. After 25/30 years you will find it difficult to insure your craft without an 'Out of Water Survey' This would mainly cover the quality of the hull that is under the water. It is sensible when purchasing any steel boat that you insist on a hull survey certificate that is at most 1 year old.
Graham | Sun Jul 14, 2019 at 6:54pm
How much is a full cost a 30ft narrow boat survey thank you from Graham
Venetian Marina | Mon Jul 15, 2019 at 1:30pm
The cost of a survey differs depending on which surveyor you use and where you have the boat hauled out for the survey.
Melanie Mortimer | Mon Sep 7, 2020 at 11:33am
Hello Please could you let me know the procedure you recommended, to get the best out of the ultrasound survey. I am also thinking of having the hull blacked.
Melanie Mortimer | Mon Sep 7, 2020 at 11:35am
Hello Please could you let me know the procedure you recommended, to get the best out of the ultrasound survey. I am also thinking of having the hull blacked.
Venetian Marine Nantwich Ltd | Wed Sep 9, 2020 at 1:49pm
Hi Melanie, we recommend speaking to the experts with regards to the ultrasound survey, Any surveyor will be able to talk you through and advise best.
Felicity | Tue Nov 24, 2020 at 6:06pm
Hello, quick question.. if you've has a survey on a boat and the survey brought up many issues that meant you withdrew your offer, would you then sell the survey on? Thanks in advance!
Venetian Marina | Thu Nov 26, 2020 at 11:00am
Hi Felicity, The survey would be the property of the purchaser and therefore a broker would not be able to sele the survey on.
Les | Thu Dec 17, 2020 at 3:35pm
Hi. Do I need a survey for insurance purposes on a narrow boat that is only 18 months old? Thanks
Venetian Marina | Tue Dec 22, 2020 at 10:12am
Hi Les, the insurance company will tell you if the boat will need a survey or not. Normally if the boat is 30 years or older and hasnt had a recent survey the insurance company may request one.
Penny Brooker | Tue May 4, 2021 at 8:15pm
I am looking at purchasing a new narrowboat with warranties - would it need a survey? If so a full survey? It has been suggested that there would be no need if it is under warranty.
Venetian Marina | Wed May 5, 2021 at 11:24am
Hi, Penny, Normally a used boat that is for sale will not come with a warranty and we advise that if a used boat does not have a recent survey you should have a hull survey done as a minimum. The purpose of the pre-purchase survey is to ensure that everything is ok with the boat because they don't come with a warranty. If you are buying a brand new narrowboat from the builders, the boat can come with a warranty. Narrowboat new builds should also come with a certificate of conformity which acknowledges the boat has been built meeting the correct standards. You can hire a surveyor if you wish to check the boat over ensuring the boat was built correctly.
Dave | Tue Apr 19, 2022 at 2:49pm
Boat owner will only let a survey be done if I put a deposit down first. Is this normal?
Venetian Marina | Thu Apr 21, 2022 at 12:50pm
Hi Dave, this is normal when buying a boat through a brokerage. If you are purchasing a boat privately again a deposit is normally required before a pre-purchase sale will be done.
Dave | Fri Apr 22, 2022 at 12:11pm
Boat owner will only let a survey be done if I put a deposit down first. Is this normal?
Derek jones | Tue Apr 11, 2023 at 11:02am
We are in the process of buying a boat from venetian marina. They have been first class all through so far. Many thanks rob keep up the great work
Jean Best | Wed Sep 20, 2023 at 3:08pm
I have just had a Survey done. Is it right that the Broker has a Copy also?
Venetian Marina | Wed Sep 20, 2023 at 3:33pm
Hi Jean, if you were buying a boat with us and you'd had a survey completed, we'd only request a copy of your report if there were items you either wanted to discuss or requirements you wanted to negotiate on. If however you're happy with the survey and simply want to proceed then we wouldn't need a copy. We always make our sales process clear at the start of the sales process so you know what to expect. I hope this helps.

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