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Old 08-01-2015, 19:01   #31
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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I agree but you forget to say that they have to be narrow and heavy
And slow. Existentially slow.
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Old 08-01-2015, 19:03   #32
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

You know, Julie,

A64pilot has hit some of it on the head. Belowdecks, cupboard doors that have latches so they will not fly open when boat is heeled, drawers made so they'll stay closed when heeled, latches for drop lockers so they won't come open in a knockdown, fiddles with crumb holes for easy cleaning of horizontal surfaces. Actually, more drawers and less doors ain't bad. Handholds, so that you can get forward while the boat is heeled. Can also have finger rails instead. You want to be able to go fore and aft even heeled at 35 deg. of heel. If a bounce is going to throw you across the boat, you may break you if you fall. So, is there provision for lee cloths on the sea berths? What, no safe sea berths? {deal breaker, unless you can imagine a fix for the situation)

Galley needs stove fender rail, and possibly something really solid for attaching a butt belt to.

Separate sump for shower.

Dry bilges.

rails for bookcases so the books can't escape.

Space should be managed so that you cannot take a long fall.

Handholds in the head so you can brace yourself and help yourself up if the pot is on the downhill side.

Abovedecks,

Everything should be clutter free and work as it is supposed to.

When you go look at a boat, look at the hull for signs of water intrusion. Look for what shouldn't be there, as well as what should. Are the plugs for the through-hulls tied there for each one? or at least there? Look for rust, peeling paint, water-stained timber, signs of bulkhead shifting, cracks in gelcoat. Keep asking, "what could possibly be wrong here that I am not seeing?"
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Old 08-01-2015, 19:08   #33
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

First, read Marchaj, C. J. Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor .
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Old 08-01-2015, 19:16   #34
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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By the criteria of those books and authors, multihulls have no business away from the dock.

That was a not so subtle way of pointing out that one could work themselves into a narrow corner with that advice.

However, they do make good basic reading - as long as one realized how dated the content was and how opinionated the authors are.

Mark
Sorry, I somehow got the impression that the OP was only considering a monohull...

Perhaps due to the fact that of the numerous brands she mentioned, all are monohulls, and because of the 3 offshore races she proposes using as a benchmark, the Fastnet is the only one I'm aware of that has a multihull division...

I could be mistaken, as always... :-)
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Old 08-01-2015, 19:46   #35
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

I've mentioned previously what I think is a good approach to boat buying, which is to settle on the make/model of boat that you want and then set out finding the right example of it for you. If you don't do that, you face a rather steep mountain of having to educate yourself in detail about every single boat that appears to be something you might bid on, and there is no way that education can be completed in the timeframe available to you when bidding on a boat.

Take my boat as an example. Valiants were first built by Uniflite, in Washington, until the notorious blister era, which put Uniflite out of business. Then they were built in Texas. All through their run, at both builders, changes were made in how they were constructed. All one need do is visit the Valiant group and peruse threads on port light rebedding/replacement, fuel tank repair, plumbing, wiring, it goes on and on. As an example must be 20 different manuals posted in the documents section.

My boat was built in the mid-80's, when 5200 was in vogue and builders likely bought the stuff in 55 gallon drums. As a result I have a whole different set of blessings and challenges than boats from before and after that era. 5200 really does last forever, and my boat had no leaks when I bought it while others with later boats had already rebedded a host of hardware. On the other hand, the challenges of replacing my port lights were so severe as to be almost comical.

I continue to learn new things about my boat every day, some good, some bad, and much of it related to when it was built and how they did things at the time. But I had the benefit of doing a good bit of research in the process of deciding what boat I wanted so that I could make an educated decision among those on the market. I can't imagine having tried to do that for 10 different makes of boats during the buying process. It would have been a full time job in and of itself.
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Old 09-01-2015, 01:10   #36
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

Hi
I am a newbee

In my unexperienced opinion this topic is certainly one of my top priorities and thanks to all that spent the time and effort.
It seems like there is no easy answer.
After all todays sailboats are tecnically advanced to the point, where some one like me could get the idear that sailing with the help of technology could be easier than at Cristbal Columbus times.
Fortunatly I finallay realized that my list of doīs and do nots be fore I should go sailing has grown to epic dimensions and thatīs just evaluating the little I know compared to what I most likely donīt know.
I honestly beleave if I keep on going this track I will need more than a life time

The obvious next question is. What am I gonna do now
Well, there are some options.....
I just go out there and buy a boat and take it one step at the time.
My instincts tell me that this not the right way and playing with fire
On the other side ..if I keep on doing what I am doing right now I will never go sailing and my dream will be a pipe dream.

Just thought I let You guys know

May be thatīs the typical newbe desease
I feel sick...are there any pills

THKs for time
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:47   #37
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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These discussions always tend to be more about brand names than about actual boats, which should tell you something.

I've worked my way through a progression of keelboats, all sloops, starting at 22', then 30', then 37', then 41' then finally the current 46-footer. Without hesitation I would insist that next bigger boat was always more seaworthy than the previous boat, regardless of brand. The first boat was a racer-cruiser, the second was a ULDB racer, the third was a light-displacement racer, and the final two were designed as cruisers. The cruisers were not only more seaworthy than the racers, but they were much more cruiseworthy in terms of such things as having large chain lockers, bow rollers, et cetera.

Forget about brands for a moment, and consider boat-for-the-buck. Let's say you have $250,000 to spend, and with that you can either purchase a well-equipped, high-status 35-footer--one of those boats that only come in blue hulls--or a well-equipped, low-status 45 footer, one of those BeneHunteLinas.

Guess which boat is going to be more seaworthy.
Personally, I'd buy a 30-35 year old Swan 47 (a year ago one sold at an auction I attended on behalf of a friend who couldn't be there, for $185K and it was in reasonably good condition) and use the leftover money to upgrade, equip, etc. When I was doing pre-bid walk through I was amazed at the level of workmanship, the quality of components and at the general thoughtful way the boat was put together and held together after 30+ years. Sure there were some things I would have wanted to be done differently but these were minor and more personally based compared to how well it was all put together.

I am a firm beliver that for all its negatives owning an older but originally better made product makes much more sense than a new or newish but more inferior product. Even considering all the new technology that new product may be stuffed with. Or may be because of it. Personally I don't value "newness" of the product for the sake of it being new but rather value quality and timelesness of design and execution. Sort of like preferring Dutch Old Masters over Andy Warhol or some other modern shlock that passes for art.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:33   #38
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I doubt you will find any "production" boat having an un-seaworthy design.
I agree.

Above a certain size, any cruising boat made will be reasonably capable of sailing in most places and most conditions, so most people really can really just buy whatever they like without worrying too much about seaworthiness.

Which doesn't mean that they are all equal, however, which would be a big, fat, logical fallacy. There is a wide range of strength and seaworthiness available on the market starting from "pretty good, and plenty good enough for most purposes" all the way to "extremely strong and designed for extreme conditions", and everything in between.

And price is not always a reliable guide, or even brand of boat. For example, Jeanneaus built up through the early 2000's are really strongly built, with heavy scantlings and hull layup, and do not have hull liners -- they are stick-built like high end boats and are really solid. Although they are inexpensive mass produced boats (and on top of that, they sail really well -- great boats and incredible value for the money). And Hallberg Rassy, a legendary high end marque, have been, for the last 15 years or so, value- and weight-engineering their hulls just like mass production yards, and have overdone it in some cases, with some structural failures and even a lawsuit as a result.

If you want a more seaworthy boat than average, then you just have to educate yourself on the desirable qualities and check it out yourself. And obviously, as someone pointed out, a good survey. In my opinion, the most important positive qualities of cruising boat in terms of seaworthiness are:

1. Robust hull layup and scantlings. Layups have gotten thinner and lighter in recent years (not just in mass produced boats) in most boats. Light is really good -- it's cheaper and makes for a faster and better sailing boat. But how far can you take that? Judge for yourself whether, in any particular case, this has been taken too far or not. I have recently seen some photos of mass produced boats which came to grief which seemed to have only 10mm or 12mm or fiberglass in the bows. A heavier layup reduces the risks that something happens to breach the hull, but the tradeoff is cost and weight, which will slow down the boat. You have to decide for yourself where the sweet spot is for your own planned use of the boat. An overly thin, single-skin hull (see about coring, below) will not only be prone to being breached, but can also flex in a way which is called "oil-canning".

2. Fully cored hull. Some people (like our own Minaret) hate this, but fully cored hulls are stronger, actually much stronger than single skin hulls, for the same weight. A fully cored hull will not oil-can. The tradeoff (there's always a tradeoff) is the much higher cost to build a boat with a fully cored hull and with reliable measures against water intrusion -- vacuum infusion, etc.

3. Robust bulkheads and hull-deck joint. I won't get into the controversy about whether bonding with something like Plexus is good enough or not (my own opinion, for whatever little it may be worth, is that it's probably ok if there is sufficient tabbing, but honest men can disagree), but in any case, the bulkheads should be robust enough in themselves and should have plenty of tabbing to provide adequate surface area for the attachment to the hull, however that attachment is made. If the bulkheads are also through-bolted, then that's the gold standard, but this is rare and probably not cost effective. If bulkheads are inadequate or poorly attached with inadequate tabbing, and if on top of that you have an overly thin single-skin hull prone to oil-canning, then you have what could be a dangerous situation, since the oil-canning of the hull can break the bulkheads out, and the boat can lose its structural integrity in heavy weather. I don't think that this is a significant risk on any regular production boat sold in the last couple of decades, but I know at least one real case -- that guy who circumnavigated the Americas solo and nonstop via the Northwest Passage and Cape Horn (crazy trip!) a few years ago. I can't remember what kind of boat it was, but it was falling apart by the time he arrived.

4. Robust chainplates, stem fitting, etc. This is a real test of a good boat. Even the poorest boat you can buy today is probably adequate in this regard, but there is a huge range on the market, and many sailors may prefer boats which are better provided here. There are real cases of boats whose stem fittings ripped out and let the rig fall down, so maybe not every boat on the market is completely adequate in this regard. Beware of chainplates which are glassed in so that you can't inspect them -- chainplates are notoriously subject to crevice corrosion and need regular inspections. And chainplates are only as strong as what they are attached to -- pay attention to how they are tied into the structure of the boat. I have seen forestay chainplates which were just attached to decks. Adequate in average conditions, but better practice is to tie it in with adequately massive bolts to an adequately massive stem structure, which is itself tied into the main structure of the boat. There are big differences between boats, even boats of the same price level, in how well this is done.

5. Watertight bulkheads. I don't like the idea of a boat with a lightly built, single-skin hull, with thin layup in the bow sections, and not even a watertight bulkhead in the bow. That doesn't mean that such boats are actually dangerous, but many sailors will prefer not to have the whole hull volume exposed to flooding due to breach at the stem from a minor collision -- a classic case of a remote risk but with catastrophic consequences. I think serious cruising boats should have watertight bulkheads at the stern, as well, but this is very rare (my own boat doesn't have it). Only a very few really hard-core cruising boats (Amels, Sundeer) have multiple watertight bulkheads, but it's a quality I personally find very desirable -- bravo to those makers.

6. Rigging. Higher spec rigging adds weight aloft, makes the boat more expensive and slower. You have to decide yourself how much cost and speed you're willing to trade for more robustness. I don't think any boat sold by any serious maker has rigging so underspecified that it is prone to fall apart, but my own preference is to err on the side of its being a little heavier.

7. Hatches, ports, windows. Oysters and Moodys use the very same crap Lewmar plastic hatches and ports as the cheapest Benes and Bavs, so you actually have very little choice here. I don't know about American boats. A seaworthy boat should have hatches and ports which don't leak and can withstand tons of green water without breaking. They should be well installed, too.

8. Deck hardware. Some makers save money with light deck hardware, attached in a non-robust manner. It's good enough for 95% of all sailors and situations, but what about the other 5%? Only you can decide whether it is worthwhile to spend the money to buy a boat with stronger than average deck hardware. For most people, it is not worth it, probably. Like the case with chainplates, deck fittings are only as strong as what they are attached to. So having good backing plates is cold comfort if the deck layup is so thin that a cleat under stress can rip a whole section of deck out.

9. Hull liners. One of the most powerful tools for efficient mass production of cruising boats, drastically reducing the labor input required to build a boat, and drastically reducing the cost of the fitout. But hull liners often make wiring, plumbing, chain plates and other structural elements, and in some cases even through-hulls inaccessible. It makes a big refit so expensive that the boat essentially becomes disposable. If you buy newish and sell on in a few years -- a reasonable approach when the boat is very inexpensive to begin with -- this might not bother you so much. It would really bother me, however, hence my own willingness to spend even quite a lot more money to have a stick-built boat. You have to decide for yourself which tradeoff to make here. I guess that this is not strictly a seaworthiness issue, although inaccessability of a pipe or fitting which is leaking could be.

10. High aspect appendages. High aspect spade rudders and high aspect, thin, bulb keels, offer dramatically improved hydrodynamic qualities, which make a boat sail much better. At the same time, they are dramatically more prone to damage, because the high aspect ratio increases the lever arm and makes it harder to attach the appendage in a robust manner. It's a straighforward tradeoff between sailing qualities and robustness -- only you can decide what the sweet spot is. Spending more money can ameliorate the tradeoff somewhat, because more expensive marques may spend more money on more robust bearings, flanges, and keel stubs. But you still have to choose how far to go with this. Most long-distance cruisers, including me, prefer less high aspect, and more robust appendages than cruiser-racers have, trading off some sailing quality for extra strength, but would not go as far as a long keel or full skeg rudder.

11. Quality of attachment of appendages. There are some particular boat models with records of problems with their rudders or keels. Note I said models, not makers. Certain inexpensive mass production yards tend to have the worst reputations here, but it is unfair to assume that all models of a given maker have problems, just because one model had something underengineered or underbuilt and so problematic. Even Swan had a plague of failed spade rudders, when they first starting using them, but that by no means means that all Swans are prone to rudders falling off. You should do your research and avoid models of boats with records of failures of keels or rudders.

12. Cockpit drainage. Many modern boats, including many high end boats, have poor cockpit drainage, which is a very bad thing when you are battling tough conditions. My own boat is terrible in this regard.

13. Depth of the bilge; bilge pumps. One drawback of boats with efficient, modern underbodies with low wetted surface is that they have very shallow bilges, which means that water from a leak has no where to go. Another tradeoff, about which everyone has to make his own decision. I've never seen a boat delivered new with adequate bilge pumps -- always an upgrade issue.

14. Stability. Forget the old fashioned "capsize screening ratio" and ballast ratio metrics -- just not relevant to modern designs. But AVS is relevant and tells you a lot about stability. As far as I know, there is not any modern cruising boat made which is dangerously unstable -- stability is just not an inherent problem for boats with ballasted keels. But a sailor who wants to sail in all conditions might think twice about the most extreme modern designs with very flat bottoms and chines which are highly dependent on form stability. Have a look at the stability curves, and AVS, to be sure you're not getting into something which will have less stability than you would like.

15. Size. All other things being equal, a boat becomes dramatically more seaworthy as it gets bigger. One of the secrets to modern boat design is that the typical cruising boat, which was 32' a few decades ago, is now over 40', and thus can be much lighter and more cheaply made without any loss of seaworthiness, compared to the old 32' tanks. As a bonus, the typical 40-odd foot inexpensive cruising boat of today will sail rings around the typical 32-footer of yore. This is a win-win situation. So many sailors might rationally choose a 50' mass production boat over say a 38' high end boat of the same cost, and get far better accomodation and incomparably more speed for the same money, with no loss of seaworthiness (and maybe even a net gain of seaworthiness).

16. Robust attachment of tanks, batteries, other heavy things. Most boats are never rolled, so this is never tested. If you plan to venture out far from shore, perhaps in higher latitudes, the risk of getting rolled increases, and these questions can suddenly become a matter of life and death.



I could go on, but that's enough to think about, I guess. All of these things, like everything having to do with boats, are tradeoffs, about which everyone has to make his own choices. There is no such thing as a perfect boat, much less a perfect boat for all sailors.
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Old 09-01-2015, 04:35   #39
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

Julie

An interesting thread and thank you for comppiling the statistics. I doubt if anyone can give you a true answer before you define "seaworthy".

1- Are you talking about high lat expeditions? Then you need a boat something like Beth and evans Hawk (although GRP boats have sailed high lat and around the horn etc.)

2- Are you talking about making the coconut milk run? Most any well-founded boat will do, particularly if the skipper has a wary eye on the weather.

3- How much modification are you planning? drogues, storm sails, beefing up rigging etc will make any boat more "seaworthy"

My personal belief is that the seaworthiness of most boats is more dependent on the skipper and crew than on the boat per se. Most modern boats will take virtually anything you throw at them (assuming they are well-maintained). If you look carefully, modern cruiser/racers frequently have heavier duty rig and deck equipment than the normal cruiser lines. Simply because the manufacturers know they will be pushed harder than a cruiser will be.

I would look for a high angle of vanishing stability. Heavy duty rig. Mast through to the keel. deck hardware with large backing plates. Generally the basic boat should be heavy duty (these kinds of boats are also made by the plastic fantastic manufacturers). Better quality stoves, handholds, refrigeration etc etc can be added or modified, but if the basics are wrong, no amount of modification will change that.

But the first item on the agenda is to decide what you are going to use the boat for - then look at boats that will meet those criteria. Using Hawk for coastal cruising in the Chesapeake is perhaps a bit of overkill
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Old 09-01-2015, 06:22   #40
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

I'll echo Suijin,
Once you get a little better educated and decided what you need and want, your choices of boats will tend to narrow somewhat to a few manufacturers, then I suspect your wallet size will narrow those choices even further.
Once you narrow your search down to t few models / manufacturers, then you can start finding the best deal. At least in my case it wasn't actually the boat I thought I wanted, but it was the best I could find and within a price that I thought I could afford.
Last, it may be good to pick if possible a boat that has a following, one that is sought after as one day you may choose to sell it. I think though that you will find it's very likely that you will end up picking one that does though.

I'm a machine type of person, as a kid I could scratch you back with a backhoe and not hurt you, and I could overhaul the engine and hydraulics as well. I can make a helicopter dance, seriously. It's people skills I suck at.
I bring this up as I consider a boat a machine, it's actually a very simple machine really, with only a few simple but important systems. Compared to a modern automobile, it's primitive. Many people do homebuild really excellent boats, they just can't do that with automobiles. One difference of course is in the middle of a passage, you can't pull over and call the autoclub, your on your own, so you want a simple machine that is very un-likely to break, but when it does break, you want one that the systems are easily accessible so you can fix it and drive on.

Everybody dances around the overbuilt word, modern thinking is only build as strong as is necessary, more is wasted money and weight. Problem with this is you can't always determine an ultimate load though analysis, and often something happens that places the part in a stress beyond the ultimate load when the boat is used in a manner inconsistent with it's design, then we all blame the rudder failure or keel falling off or whatever on hidden damage from a previous grounding or whatever, which may well be the case.

If I ever decide to sell mine and go for a "better" boat, I think by then hopefully I may know enough to start looking for a one off, possibly custom made boat. I believe there lies your best value, but I also think you had better know more than most surveyors do about boats before delving into that realm.
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Old 09-01-2015, 08:36   #41
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Sorry, I somehow got the impression that the OP was only considering a monohull...

Perhaps due to the fact that of the numerous brands she mentioned, all are monohulls, and because of the 3 offshore races she proposes using as a benchmark, the Fastnet is the only one I'm aware of that has a multihull division...

I could be mistaken, as always... :-)
Multihull consideration wasn't my point. My point was that the lack of consideration of multihulls in those books point to both the datedness of some of their content, as well as the personal biases of their authors.

As I said, they can lead one into a philosophical corner and away from consideration of equally viable alternatives (monohull alternatives, in this case).

I speak from experience, as I was once rabidly fascinated and deep down that rabbit hole before I started looking around questioning some of the "truism" tenets.

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Old 09-01-2015, 08:39   #42
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
I've mentioned previously what I think is a good approach to boat buying, which is to settle on the make/model of boat that you want and then set out finding the right example of it for you. If you don't do that, you face a rather steep mountain of having to educate yourself in detail about every single boat that appears to be something you might bid on, and there is no way that education can be completed in the timeframe available to you when bidding on a boat.

Take my boat as an example. Valiants were first built by Uniflite, in Washington, until the notorious blister era, which put Uniflite out of business. Then they were built in Texas. All through their run, at both builders, changes were made in how they were constructed. All one need do is visit the Valiant group and peruse threads on port light rebedding/replacement, fuel tank repair, plumbing, wiring, it goes on and on. As an example must be 20 different manuals posted in the documents section.

My boat was built in the mid-80's, when 5200 was in vogue and builders likely bought the stuff in 55 gallon drums. As a result I have a whole different set of blessings and challenges than boats from before and after that era. 5200 really does last forever, and my boat had no leaks when I bought it while others with later boats had already rebedded a host of hardware. On the other hand, the challenges of replacing my port lights were so severe as to be almost comical.

I continue to learn new things about my boat every day, some good, some bad, and much of it related to when it was built and how they did things at the time. But I had the benefit of doing a good bit of research in the process of deciding what boat I wanted so that I could make an educated decision among those on the market. I can't imagine having tried to do that for 10 different makes of boats during the buying process. It would have been a full time job in and of itself.
EXCELLENT example of the point I was trying to make earlier about survey and condition. You not only said it better, but provided the perfect exemplar.

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Old 09-01-2015, 08:59   #43
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

There is this saying that a boat is as seaworthy as its crew and the most strange contraptions have crossed the oceans.
So some more detailed analysis would be required.
What trip was made? Doing the highway Canaries to the Carribean in the right season is a lot easier then taking on the North Atlantic westward in autumn. What were the conditions?
The triangle for safety at sea in my view comprises:
1. boat
2. crew
3. environment (sea/wind)

If we keep the crew, required equipment and environment out of the argument and only look at the boat there are in my view some more objective criteria that will increase the chance of survival at sea.
Generally speaking I think there a 6:

1. Sufficient structural soundness overall
2. Good stability and the capacity to righten up.
3. Possibility to keep water out of the boat
4. Being able to sail away from a leeshore in storm conditions.
5. Have reliable behaviour in the various sea states and wind angles.
6. Provide sufficient platform and shelter for the crew for a protracted
period.

Curious to hear of more arguments

Happy sailing

Nick
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:44   #44
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Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

Almost an impossible question to answer. Primarilly because the coin has two sides. One side is the boat and the other is the sailor. You can have the most "seaworthy" boat in the world sunk by incompetance. You have to use judgement to determine if the boat your going to sail is capable to meet your needs.
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Old 09-01-2015, 10:13   #45
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Boat: Vagabond 47
Posts: 216
Re: How Do You Determine If A Boat Is "Seaworthy"?

Folks it is so simple,
If you are going to buy a vessel you should know what you want being a real SKIPPER who knows seamanship, how to repair his engine - even remanufacture it - knows everything about electrics electronics and plumbing.

Fact is that there is no vessel out there that meets your personal standards.
If you want a seaworthy boat then stay secure having a backup for the backup.

i.E. 2 bilge pumps 43Litres/Minute, 1 BigBoy with 250Litres/Minute AND a gasoline driven movable pump for 200USD that makes 600 l/min.

Go to all your systems with the same care and you have done the best you could not to get in any trouble. AND: That costs a lot of money - you will not find it on a ship you can buy... chance < 1%
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