Our Service, What we do, How we do it, and The Purpose of a Marine Survey


I have over thirty years of experience from 18 to 120 feet in all marine vessel construction mediums.

As of 2019 I have retired from my business (MSOL Marine Surveyors & Consultants) but I still do Marine Surveys in the recreational segment of our industry.
I no longer survey commercial vessels or metal boats and I prefer my service area limited to regions along the Trent Severn Waterway, from Whitby to Midland / Penetang.


From the 25 foot family daysailors, right through to the liveaboard motor yachts and world cruisers, our approach to our work had produced a solid reputation, backed by a huge number of unsolicited testimonials of Clients as well as Insurance Underwriters, who can be contacted by any bona fide party interested in our services.



Marine Surveys are conducted for many different purposes.

For the most part, we work for Buyers of new and used vessels (pre-purchase), for Insurance Providers and Lending Institutions.

We also prepare Construction Supervision Surveys (when major structural or refurbishing work is done), Damage Reports, Intended Capability Reports (when a vessel is readied for a major passage or cruise) and quite often a “Second Opinion” Report, when an owner or buyer feels that an other Surveyor’s previously conducted report requires an other opinion.


The most important reason for obtaining a Pre-Purchase Survey on a used vessel (or even on a new boat, remember, the building of new boats is still an unregulated industry, nothing like the cars rolling off the lines at a car plant!) is to gain as much information on the condition of the vessel as possible before you buy it. This ensures that the investment is sound, that the vessel is a Good Risk for Insuring and that she can safely fulfill her builder’s intended purpose at sea. (To Underwriters everything is a “risk” and the Surveyor’s job is to determine whether the risk is an acceptable one or not.)

Buyers need to realize that in order to rent a slip in a reputable marina, their vessel will have to be properly covered by Insurance. Newcomers to boating often do not realize this, and finalize a deal prior to Surveying, only to discover that the vessel has major deficiencies requiring expensive repairs before it can favorably pass an Insurance Survey.

Of course if you are financing the boat, the Bank will require a Survey prior to releasing the funds…


What the Surveyor does and how he does it has a lot to do with his skills, experience, and personal methods of work, but in all cases he or she should be able to provide you with information based on professional experience, and furnish you with expert opinions upon which you can make important financial decisions with peace of mind. Of course the Survey Report should provide it's content without prejudice and to the best of the Surveyor's ability, with the understanding that the Surveyor is properly qualified for the particular assignment.

For the client to ask for validation of the Surveyor's claim to his or her expertise and work experience is not only acceptable, but is very much recommended. The Surveyor should be able to supply you with real references from previous clients, insurers and lending institutions.

We can supply references from a huge number of Satisfied Clients complete with contact information, whom include not only Boaters, but Insurers and Lenders as well.



Example of a real, unsolicited testimonial:


----- Original Message -----

From: Steven_Scharien@royalsunalliance.ca

To: gjberta@marinesupportonline.com

Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 8:57 AM

Subject: Vessel Survey Received

Dear Mr. Berta,

We have recently received a survey you completed for one of our insured's vessels.  I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say that I was very pleased with the quality and presentation of your survey, and from an insurance underwriter’s perspective, this is very much appreciated.

Best Regards,
Steven Scharien
National Yacht Manager
Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Company of Canada
1-866-365-2802 x4228




The Survey Process is observation and testing. The two most important tools in a Surveyor's possession are experience and skills of observation. Needless to say, the better educated in regards to the Industry and the more experienced a Surveyor is, the higher the caliber of his work will be. And, very importantly, Good Surveyors are most adamant in regards to protecting their clients’ interest!

Never, ever take a Survey supplied by a seller or a broker at face value! Such document can be used as bases of a preliminary discussion in regards to what the boat may be all about, but never make a decision of purchase without the use of a Qualified Marine Surveyor in Your Employ! (This page is not the place to discuss this, but horror stories of unqualified and uncaring individuals labeling themselves as “surveyors” and costing the Consumer untold sums of bad investment are rampant in this industry!)


What we do in a Pre-Purchase situation


The Pre-Purchase Survey Report involves examining every aspect of the boat accessible without taking it apart, and includes testing of all major structural, mechanical and electrical systems. The process naturally focuses on and pays the most attention to the most important factors, such as structural integrity, machinery, mechanical and electrical components, as we are less concerned with incidental creature comforts such as stereo music systems. However, those points and everything in between is scrutinized and is reported on in a structured, easy to read and understand presentation, which is accompanied by digital images of the vessel and her components (may include pictures of deficiencies and images of a meter’s reading, which become undisputable tools in negotiating what the vessel’s fair selling price may be). The average number of printed pages produced by our office when reporting on a 30 foot pleasure boat is about fourteen, and much more of course if major problems or deficiencies are noted – very thorough, very much in depth reporting.

Our Reports are not the check-list format still used by some marine surveyors.

Our Reports are specifically composed for each particular vessel and are written in an essay fashion, systematically discussing all relevant items.




 Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS©)

 National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS©)








ABYC (American Boat & Yacht Council) and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) are the two major providers of the Standards & Recommendations for the Marine Industry in general, which of course includes builders of new boats, as well as the boatyards and repairers in general.

Adherence to these Standards is strictly on a volunteer basis, as the Industry is very much still unregulated in Canada and in the US. That is why it is so important to Survey even a brand new boat!

We find substandard components and installations sometimes even among the best makes, so Surveying a new boat (= large investment!) makes a whole lot of sense and in the long run it pays off in a big way.

Besides the examination of all structures and components and committing to Insurability, the Pre-Purchase Report also includes Current Market Value. This is a dollar figure that the attending Surveyor feels the vessel was worth at the time of the inspection, which can of course be used for Lending and Insured Value purposes. Our value conclusions for pleasure craft are based on numbers provided to us by such institutions as the Boat Value Book in Canada and the BUC Network in the USA. These values are arrived at by documenting actual sold prices, and are adjusted by our Surveyors in accordance to a particular vessel's apparent condition and deficiencies found in need of addressing in the foreseeable future.



Capt. Joe Berta, MMS, CMS

905 955-4449

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