Boat Safety Scheme Examinations

Private Boats:

For private vessels, Tom regularly applies the 2015 BSS guidelines for privately managed vessels, as required by most navigation authorities for licensing. This service is usually fairly local only, as price becomes uncompetitive outside of 25 miles radius of Alcester, Warwickshire. Tom does not just fail your boat and walk away, I offer guidance and technical assistance in rectifying faults as cheaply and easily as possible whilst staying within best practice guidelines. I’m always available for ‘phone consultation too. Retests are usually always free depending on distances travelled. Tom can always recommend reputable traders to assist with repairs. If you liveaboard, you should be ensuring your BSS examiner is gas safe registered to get the best service possible. Tom is gas safe registered (300458),  so if you liveaboard, this ensures you get the best possible service. 

Non-private Boats:

Tom specialises in applying the 2002 BSS guidelines to workboats, hotel boats, passenger boats, commercial enterprises, and residential lettings. 

Hire Boats:

Tom has contracts to carry out BSS examinations for all leading hire fleet operators, and carries out BSS examinations on 20% of all the hire boats in the UK, across England, Wales and Scotland. This is a specialist aspect of BSS work with fleets managed throughout November-April. Tom advises on the adoption of the new 2017 BSS hire boat guidelines, as well as offering a bespoke service to traders - as much or as little as you need. 


Details and prices of pre-purchase surveys are below, but if there are any questions at all please let me know. It's often easier for me by email, because if I'm under a boat or with people, it can be difficult to answer the phone, but I can call you back if you want to talk. 

Pre-purchase Hull Condition Surveys 

Narrowboat £475 inc. VAT

Widebeam £550 inc. VAT

Basically if you are buying a boat you need to know two main things from a surveyor; what the boat needs now, and what the boats needs long-term to protect your investment. 

Hull surveys are the entry level survey for the confident buyer with experience of internal systems who requires reassuring regarding the hull integrity. The craft requires docking in dry-dock or lifting/slipping to hard standing: this is the responsibility of the purchaser but Tom can advise about suitable locations if required. It is most important that you check the facility you are using permits access to all of the hull - if in doubt ask. 

This survey includes 

  • Paint: analysis of protective paint covering to hull and topsides 
  • Steel Thickness: assessed using the latest UK-made ultrasonic equipment - through paint measurements 
  • Structural: structural assessment of the vessel including superstructure
  • Damage and Wear: wear and damage including best repair methods and timescales 
  • Corrosion: corrosion pitting assessment including spread and depth, with guidance on prevention, arresting and repair 
  • Corrosion Prevention: anode condition and recommended replacements 
  • Hull Fittings: condition and location and weedhatch condition 
  • Electrical Corrosion: presence of AC earth and galvanic isolator / isolation transformer 
  • Fittings: window, portlights and deck fitting condition
  • Steering: steering condition and operation
  • Stern Gear: propeller and stern tube bearing condition.
  • Lockers: includes integral lockers such as LPG lockers, integral tanks where accessible
  • Financial: the best advice on how protect your investment for the long-term. 

Surveys are aided by the latest Tritex ultrasonic testing equipment with the ability to measure through hull coatings (where this is necessary, such as to preserve an epoxy coating). 

Pre-purchase In-Water Surveys 

Narrowboat and Widebeam Narrowboat £575 inc. VAT

As the name suggests the craft is examined ‘in-water’. The hull and steering/stern gear are not examined. This survey is generally for people who are buying a fairly new craft and are confident the hull is in good condition. This survey looks at the following key areas:

  • Engine Installation and Operation: The engine and gearbox is run up and assessed in an operating test. Tom has rebuilt many typical diesel engines found in inland waterways vessels and this enables assessment from a practical standpoint.
  • Fuel systems: Assessed to BSS or ISO requirements 
  • DC and AC Electrical Systems: Battery installations assessed along with operation of all electrical features of the boat. Earth arrangements are assessed for basic earthing and galvanic corrosion risks
  • LPG Installation: The system is fully tested by manometer and full condition appraisal given by Tom, who is gas safe registered giving access to the latest training, standards and test equipment. 
  • Appliance operation: Gas, electric and diesel appliances are run up and assessed for good operation and safety 
  • Ventilation: Ventilation has often been historically incorrectly calculated or not assessed properly; this will be properly and definitively assessed to safeguard you and your family 
  • Fresh, Grey and Black Water Systems: The water system will be powered on and assessed. Pumps tested. 
  • Fire Fighting Equipment: Fire extinguishers and blankets are assessed
  • Means Of Escape: So often overlooked by security-conscious owners who inadvertently block an exit or lock it externally with potential to trap crew 
  • Alarms: CO and Fire alarms - the latest recommendations made to BS and EN standards 
  • General Equipment - deck and roof gear, horn and headlights, nav lights 
  • Valuation - is it worth the money? What is the correct insurance value?
  • BSS Assessment - The craft is also examined against BSS Examination Checking Procedures and a failure list produced. It is the owners’ responsibility to ensure the craft remains compliant at all times so this is particularly important when purchasing a no-compliant craft; non-compliances should always always be remedied as a condition of sale, at the vendors' expense. 

Upon completion of all BSS related faults a new four-year BSS certificate can be issued by retest as agreed, and for a small additional charge to cover costs.

Full LPG soundness testing is carried out to BSS/GAS SAFE REGISTER standards if so required. This is not always necessary or required


Full Pre-purchase Condition Surveys 

Narrowboat £750 inc. VAT

Widebeam Narrowboat £850 inc. VAT

Often the most favoured survey as it includes all points listed in the Hull and In-water surveys; a comprehensive safeguard for what is a significant investment. This is usually carried out to ensure complete peace of mind for the purchaser; new to boating and experienced alike. Reports include integrated full-colour photographs to illustrate points as required. As well as the secure electronic report within seven working days (usually within 3 days), you will also receive a summary sheet to forward to the broker to aid any negotiation that results, and avoid delay in progressing with your purchase. All points are graded using my simple lay-man system, enabling you to focus on the priorities without confusion. The documents mean that no advance technical knowledge is required to understand the survey results. 

You are welcome to be present at the time of survey and ask as many questions as you like, but please be mindful that a full survey is complex and in-depth, and it is important not to distract the surveyor. A full narrowboat survey generally takes 5 hours on-site, with the off-site report taking half a day. 

Full surveys will generally uncover a host of defects which allow a purchase to be made from a fully informed standpoint. On completion of any remedial works necessary, a new 4-year Boat Safety Scheme certificate can normally be issued to give you a sound start to your new venture. 


Some finance companies insist on a survey before releasing funds. This is usually due to the amount of money to be borrowed or the age of the craft. As all reports are sent in a secure electronic format you can simply forward this on to the finance company which reduces delay in releasing funds. These surveys can be of the following type: 

Hull Condition Survey


Full Condition


It is important to find out exactly what kind of survey your finance company requires, prior to commissioning a survey. 


Simple Valuation Survey

Simple market-value appraisals can be carried out as required. Very popular with sailaway self-builders and owners who have improved their boat considerably and wish to increase the level of insurance cover. This is not a condition survey. This can also be carried out for probate/divorce settlements


Out of water Hull Survey

Usually undertaken for owners whose insurers have asked for a hull condition survey in order to obtain fully comprehensive insurance. Tom's reports are acceptable by all insurers and are produced and delivered within 7 days. All reports are submitted in secure Adobe Acrobat format via email. This survey is also usually acceptable to purchasers within a reasonable timescale. 

It is important to find out exactly what kind of survey your insurance company requires, prior to commissioning a survey. It is also important to ask if they require a valuation, as this is easily done at the time of survey and less so afterwards!

Surveys are aided by the latest in ultrasonic testing equipment with the ability to measure through hull coatings (where this is necessary, such as to preserve an epoxy coating). 


Full out of water Survey

Insurers are now increasingly requiring "full out of water surveys" for boats aged 25 years plus. This survey covers these requirements; but note this is not the equivalent of a full pre-purchase survey, this is aimed at meeting the needs set out by various insurance companies. Includes a valuation if required. 



Tom currently acts for a number of public bodies / Navigation Authorities and charitable trusts, as well as the UK's leading hire fleet operators as a consultant and safety advisor. This is a specialist role that requires a high level of proven competence and extensive insurance cover. Please contact for further information.