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The Captain's Journal, what others won't tell you!

Thursday, September 14, 2017


 As we have, unfortunately, experienced from Hurricane Irma, the NHC can be off the mark by a coast. Irma was reported to hit Miami and the East Coast of Florida for days, prior to the actual target.  That is all we heard. Everyone on the East Coast was ready and ………Irma went to the Keys and Naples leaving many boat owners unprepared and devastated. What is most important to safeguard, first, is you and your family’s lives, and second, your property. I had many calls, before Irma, from existing clients and new clients regarding insurance policies expiring. In other cases, current insurance policies needed updating because the policies did not reflect the vessels had undergone major re-fits or improvements.

As someone who has professional insight into the insurance business, as both, a former agent and current licensed adjuster, I offer my advice. Make sure, beginning June 1st of every year, your policy is up to date and know when the expiration date is up on the policy. When you know the expiration date, ask your company the following question. Do they want an “in” or “out” of water survey? This is important to all the procrastinators. If it is an “in water survey” they require, you can wait a little while on booking that survey. However, if your policy requires an “out of water survey” and a storm is a week out from the coast, all marinas will be busy hauling and securing the vessels for which they have hurricane contracts. You will be left off the list until after the storm, which is too late. Your insurance survey is good for three years. Therefore, I suggest when you take your boat out for bottom paint, every few years, take that time to have an insurance survey done. After the storm, insurance companies will be inundated by claims and they may want to settle quickly for a fraction of what the damage actually is to your vessel. They will send out an adjuster, whom, in most instances, does not know the pointy end (bow) of the boat from the stern. To combat this, you need your own advocate, A SURVEYOR WHO WORKS FOR YOU, not the adjuster whom represents, his employer, the insurance company. Sadly, the majority of my legal experiences, as an expert witness, are against insurance companies for failure to pay a claim. They always state the vessel was not properly maintained and you have no actual proof of the condition prior to the incident. This is not what you want. It is expensive and can take years. Currently, I have several pending litigation cases. Two are high-dollar damage lawsuits, one in Puerto Rico and one in Fort Lauderdale. Both involve failure to pay a claim. The insurance companies blamed the owners and both cases are entering their fifth year of litigation. The damage was done, claims were filed, adjusters went out, claims were denied or a small offer was made, lawyers were hired, expert witnesses were hired. For the duration, the vessels have been set aside with no care or maintenance, rotting away, and losing more, and more value. You can avoid this LITIGATION NIGHTMARE by following my advice. Have an insurance survey performed and on file with your insurance company showing the CURRENT condition and value of your vessel.  Keeping proof of your vessel’s current condition and value is very important. This is your BEST DEFENSE. Please, have a hurricane plan in place for you, your family, and your vessel. Stay safe and protected.

Later Gator,

Captain Trip

5:38 pm est

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Boat show season is here! Boat buyers from around the country and abroad find Florida to be the best place to shop for deals on their desired yachts, sail, or powerboats. All Florida Marine Survey is proud to have surveyed a record number of vessels this year. Additionally, we earned an exclusive position with a major insurance company performing surveys for preventative maintenance on vessels valued at a million dollars or more.

Another area where All Florida Marine Survey has seen an uptick of business is in the donation of vessels. Florida has numerous reputable charities where boat owners can donate their vessels. Valuations of vessels for donation require a fully experience surveyor to perform correctly for deductions. All Florida Marine Survey specializes in making sure your vessel donation valuation is conducted accurately and completely.

Later Gator,

Captain Trip Vawter

11:07 am est

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Because experience matters!
You wouldn't go to brain surgery trusting a surgeon just out of med school. You would want a surgeon with decades of experience and 1000's of surgeries performed.

All Florida Marine Survey offers you exceptional service because of its experience and 1000's of surveys performed. Since day one, All Florida Marine Survey has operated and surveyed vessels seven days a week. (I do take holidays and the occasional day off, no worries.) When considering a boat, you will need the most accurate knowledge of the vessel you are purchasing, its value, condition, and deficiencies. These items are best addressed by the experience a surveyor has accumulated during the duration of his career surveying and understanding hundreds of types, makes, and models of boats. Our clients and top boat brokerages recommend All Florida Marine Survey because of our experience, survey accuracy, prompt service, and reliability. We are the right choice in survey companies for you. Our experience shines above the rest.

We make our clients the top priority in insuring their boating safety. All Florida Marine Survey annually updates its software diagnostic programs and all equipment for the benefit of providing the most accurate and updated information to our clients.

We set our rates for service fairly and easy for YOU. We understand the dollars add up when purchasing and insuring a boat, so we offer the fairest price for that reason with no add on costs. We want our clients to return for survey updating and referrals. Offering the most experience, best service, most accurate survey reports, most updated software diagnostics and equipment, and fairest price available will insure our client's satisfaction.

Later Gator,
Captain Trip Vawter

2:03 pm est

Sunday, November 3, 2013

International Winds of Change

I enjoy observing the trends and changes in the marine industry. Just to give you a glimpse of a recent change to my business, I have noticed the International market for US boat purchases has change considerably in the last year. A large percentage of my clients purchase boats out of Florida to be shipped overseas. This year, it seems, the footage of almost all of the vessels I have surveyed for international clients has increased. The average survey size, last year, for boats going to Australia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and the Middle East was 22 to 27 feet due to transport by shipping container. This year, the sizes have moved up to 40 to 52 feet. This may be due to the declining dollar and more purchasing power abroad.

Later Gator,
Captain Trip Vawter

12:22 pm est

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2:18 pm est

Thank you!

Thank you, Joe and Rose, for the surprise in my mail box. Even though today was gloomy and rainy, your special thank you note made my day. I love my job and meet hundreds of great people every year. Most come and go after the job is finished. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write such a nice note to me. It was great working with you and I hope to see you again sometime. God bless you both and happy boating.

2:15 pm est

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why All Florida Marine Survey Can Keep Its Rates Low

Sometimes, I receive the question, “Are you a member of ………….?” I proudly answer, “No.”

To be a marine surveyor, you are required to have earned certain credentials, but it is not required to be a member of any organization. Let me dispel the myth. By law, no insurance company, nor lending institution, is legally allowed to prefer or deny a marine survey because the surveyor is not a member of an organization.

Whenever I see a surveyor touting, “Member of ……”, I question how many clients have been hooked by this bait.

I am a member of several excellent organizations that I feel promote educational, ethical, and safety benefits for boat owners and the marine industry. However, there are two popular organizations I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Although, my requirements, credentials, qualifications, and experience are far above and beyond what is needed to be a member of both popular organizations, I have specifically chosen not to become a member. I am sure these organizations offer some good things, but the bad things are what I want to avoid.

These organizations try to regulate the pricing range which members may charge. I believe the organizations promote a higher than necessary price range to charge clients and enforce it in large numbers; thus, it is a manipulation of the industry that harms the client and benefits only the members and organization. Simply put, I retain my right to charge lower rates.

Aside from being able to price my services more fairly to clients, the other reason I prefer not being a member of two popular organizations is because I like to choose my own advertising and marketing avenues and content. I like control over this aspect of my business, because I retain my right to be more informative to clients. Doing my own marketing requires me to have a better scope of the marine industry as a whole. I can better serve my target market because my website can communicate clearly to potential clients. My website is not a frustrating cookie cutter brochure, with a phone number, and no pricing information. My website may not be pretty, but it does say what needs to be said.

Sure, I have had potential clients misunderstand the role Marine Surveyor’s organizations actually play in the industry, so I hope I have dispelled some myths. I have never had a survey rejected by an insurance company or lending institution. If one ever does get rejected, I will return the full cost of your survey and give you $100.00 cash. I guarantee my surveys acceptance and I try to give my clients the best possible service at a fair price.

Later Gator,
Captain Trip Vawter

2:33 pm est

My Recommended Buyer's Broker List

It is a historic day! Yesterday, a Yacht Broker made my very exclusive Recommended Buyers Broker List. For years, I have less than 5 Yacht Brokers I would even consider recommending. I have met thousands of Yacht Broker throughout my career. 90% of my surveys have some involvement with a selling agent, selling broker, or buyer’s broker. Most of the time these people don’t even bother to show up, but if they do, I find they are ONLY interest in commission. Often they are trying to see if I am going to squelch their sale. Sometimes, they actually lie to me about repairs or the condition hoping I will mistakenly report something favorable about a defect instead of the true assessment. Yacht Brokers often consider the surveyor a threat to their commission. Well, yesterday, I met a Yacht Broker that was sincerely dedicated to his listing. His commission was not the forefront of his services. Wow!

He showed up two hours prior to the survey. He made sure everything on the boat was in working order. He was openly honest about any defects. He had even personally washed the boat prior to my arrival!  He was courteous and informative and extremely knowledgeable of the vessel. He also, made arrangements for the seller, who was located in New Jersey, to be flown to Florida to be present for the survey and sea trial. Having the seller present for a survey is helpful because I can obtain even more history of the use, maintenance, upgrades, and repairs of the vessel to add to my reports. This selling agent actually offered and helped me carry my survey equipment bags after seeing I had a knee brace. The vessel was in tip top condition as advertised, for once. Survey finished. Boat sold.

The worst thing about this survey was that this tip top Yacht Broker had to split his commission with a lazy Buyer’s Broker that didn’t bother to show up, had never personally even set eyes on the boat, and was certainly not truly representing his client. He collected a commission for doing absolutely nothing! Nothing except, hurting the buyer! I personally know the buyer and had consulted with him on several occasions trying to help him find a boat that would fit his needs. I gave him the name of my favorite and most honest Yacht Broker on my recommended list, but he chose someone else to represent him saying I have a friend that knows a broker, and so on. So he chose a Buyer’s Broker independent of my recommendation. The Buyer’s Broker he chose talked him into buying a boat that was the polar opposite of a boat that would fit his needs. The buyer wanted a fishing boat. What he purchased instead was a luxury fishing boat. Sure, the boat was in pristine condition. Sure you can fish off the boat, but it’s like comparing a rugged beer mug to a delicate Waterford Crystal wine glass, with a price tag to match. This expensive vessel, nearly twice the amount he wanted to spend, is not user friendly by any means. It must be treated delicately, with its expensive custom details, and high operation and maintenance costs. The Buyer’s Broker had talked him into an expensive luxury vessel that cannot take the wear he is going to place on it, nor his lifestyle. In addition, the gas consumption is going to eat him alive because of the heavy wooden hull. Also, another down point, is that this vessel requires constant cosmetic upkeep because of the extensive use of teak wood detailing, even on the rub rail.  

I know the buyer didn’t want to buy a luxury money pit. He was financing the boat with his brother and is not a big money guy. He wanted a fishing boat. To sum up this experience, the lying, lazy, con man, Buyer’s Broker cashed in on a commission and has considerably harmed his client.

This morning, when the client asked me for help learning how to operate and maintain his new luxury boat, I just shook my head in pity for him. I am so sickened by his purchase. I know there is very little I can do now to sincerely help him. He made his bed and will have to lie in it.

Those of you that read this Blog, fell free to call me if you want to have a great experience selling or buying a boat. I will happily share my list of recommended Yacht Brokers with you. I have helped hundreds of people already by offering my recommendations or consultations. I am extremely selective and experienced.  I want you to have a Yacht Broker that will actually HELP you buy or sell a boat.

11:12 am est

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shark Circling Prey!
Even if you have VIEWED a vessel, I would recommend you use a Buyer's Broker to make offers, negotiate, and finalize the sale. The Buyer's Broker is paid out of the commission, NOT YOUR POCKET. Buyer's Brokers help to keep pricing fair for you, handle the paperwork, and protect YOUR BEST INTERESTS. Too many times, I have seen a Seller's Broker behave like a shark circling prey!
8:32 am est

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good News for the New Year!

I want to thank a nice client I had this week who was kind enough to give me a suggestion for my website. He told me I needed to update my Captain’s Journal, so here I go.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year’s day. I did. Beginning this new year, many people are concerned about how the economy has influenced the boat buying trade. Well, I have positive news.

Boat purchases are not down; instead, I have actually seen better performance from the boat trade all across the board. I have seen positive changes in brokers, sellers, buyers, and the service industries.

 Both, the buyer’s brokers and selling broker’s, are more effectively negotiating prices that work for both parties and being more attentive to their client’s needs.

Seller’s attitudes have changed as well. They seem much more interested in selling their boats in a timely fashion, thus they have become more flexible and cooperative when accepting lower offers than the listed price.

Buyers have more purchasing power and have opted to change their approach in finding the perfect boat to fit their needs. From my past years of experience, buyers often brought with them the idea that everything should be perfect about a boat or they didn’t want to continue with the purchase. Today, I find boat buyers more interested in boats that have deficiencies or need updating because they get a larger or better make boat for their money.

This is why. The boat service industries who repair and update boats are also working hard to get your business. Their prices for services are more negotiable than in the past years. So, for those of you who are buying a boat, be prepared to negotiate. You will get a great deal and be happy with your good investment if you follow a few simple suggestions. It is very important to get a survey first. You need an experiences surveyor to inspect the safety of the vessel, to give you an updated valuation to negotiate your price, and to give you an accurate accounting of the deficiencies and repairs needed for the vessel. Before finalizing your sale, I would recommend calling several places to get bids on the costs of repairs and factor those costs into negotiating your final purchase offer.

There are many great deals out there, so take advantage now and buy the boat you’ve always wanted.

Later Gator,
Captain Trip Vawter

3:03 pm est

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