What are you looking for in a marine surveyor? Captain's papers? A fancy truck and color coordinated coveralls?
With the absence of any unifying standard for competence and ethics, it can be a coin toss when it comes to making an informed choice about a surveyor's underlying qualifications. A broad look at the requirements should emphasize experience, technical knowledge, and ethics. While this is no revelation, it seems like part of my daily business is facing challenges on one or more of these fronts.
Time working in the industry lends not only ability, but also the kind of wisdom and judgment that can't be distilled into print or a training seminar. I've got thirty years rooting around in boatyards, and it's given me an undeniable advantage to have "been there and seen that". Any seasoned surveyor should have the breadth of experience to feel comfortable in handling most situations. At the same time, I don't believe that empirical learning alone is enough. With the pace of change in the boat building business today, even the best surveyors should consider themselves eternal students. Sometimes, it's the surveyors who know what they don't know (but can tell you where to go to for the answer) who are the wisest.
I've tried to take this approach to continuing education one step further. I'm on the masthead at Professional Boatbuilder magazine and research and write technical articles. I'm also active on the lecture circuit and am a regular speaker for the International Boatbuilder's Exposition as well as the American Boat and Yacht Council. I've helped pull together training seminars for the marine insurance industry and also taught marine surveying up at the Woodenboat School in Brooklin, Maine.
No amount of technical knowledge will do much good in this profession if you have a "flexible" code of ethics. Clients place a huge amount of trust in the hope not only that we know what we are talking about, but also that we are willing to make those ocassional difficult decisions that are against our own immediate self interest. Although we are judged usually by the job that we do, sometimes we are judged by the job we refuse to take on. Whether it's an issue over conflict of interest or a direct confrontation between opposing parties, there are times in this business when you've got to stick your hands in the middle of a dog fight. Doing the right thing in the surveying business comes at a price- whether it means giving up the occasional job, making an enemy, or even losing a client. I don't know a single experienced surveyor whom I respect who doesn't have a few battle scars.
So, what's the point to this ramble? If you're looking for a marine surveyor there's no quick and easy reference list. The past ten years have seen a groundswell of overnight marine experts. It's easier than ever to buy and market an image. Go with your gut and choose experience, commitment, and integrity. I've made the investment. Call my office to discuss your situation and let's see what I can do to help you.
Certified Marine Surveyor, National Association of Marine Surveyors
Certified Marine Investigator, International Assocation of Marine Investigators