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Old 02-02-2008, 15:37   #1
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Sea Trial advice

If all goes to plan I will be on a sea trial of a new boat in the next couple of weeks. This is my first boat and I would like suggestions on what I should get covered during the trial. The boat is a 38' cutter built in '81 and comes pretty well equiped, wind vane, life raft, radar etc.

Here is my basic shortlist:
1) Verify basic diesel operation, verify max operation rpm, look for packing leaks, watch operating temperature and compare with expected.
2) Make sure bilge pumps operate (perhaps the macerator too?)
3) Verify the water pressure systems works
4) Check radar
5) Check all sail conditions including drifter and storm sails
6) Get the boat under sail and make sure everything looks, feels and sounds properly operational.
7) Check the wind vane operates smoothly
8) Plug the owner for as much information as possible!

What specifics would you gals and guys be looking for?
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Old 02-02-2008, 15:46   #2
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Pretty easy, just 1, 2, 3....

1. Take your surveyor on the sea trial;

2. Take you engine surveyor on the sea trial; and

3. Before, during, or afterwards, have your rigging surveyor look at the standing rigging.

Easy, huh?

Skip any one of these steps at your peril!

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Old 02-02-2008, 15:52   #3
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Ve hav vays to...

See if you can get the owner chatting.

Buy him (or her) a cup of coffee and have a chat about anything in particular.

The most interesting bits of information can come out during a friendly chat.
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Old 02-02-2008, 16:01   #4
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A few of your items would be better served checked at the dock. A sea trial should pretty much be to check the performance of the boat and any problems that are causing performance issues. Start with how she handles under power. Does it do anything strange (relatively speaking) motoring? How does the helm feel under different points of sail? Are the sails easy or difficult to raise? Those are the issues you should concern yourself with. Check pumps and water pressure, etc at the dock and besides your surveyor (you did get one didn't you?) Should have already checked those items. Inspect sails not already on the boat at the dock. Don't expect the owner to make a half dozen sail changes during the sea trial. Besides you can't get as good a look at the sails much higher off the deck than you can close up on the ground. Again, surveyor should have already done this. Just a few thoughts.
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Old 02-02-2008, 16:32   #5
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Check every single system and piece of electronics is functional. Most likely the surveyor will not do this. We spent a couple of hours turning everything on and finding out what stuff worked, what was broken, etc. And even then there's still a number of things we missed...
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Old 03-02-2008, 02:54   #6
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Matt Schulz, Marine Surveyor, offers some good advice on Sea Trials:
Goto: Sea Trial
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:13   #7
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see if the boat will heave to.
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:16   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotte View Post
Check every single system and piece of electronics is functional. Most likely the surveyor will not do this. We spent a couple of hours turning everything on and finding out what stuff worked, what was broken, etc. And even then there's still a number of things we missed...
I second this. Take the list of equipment that the broker says comes with the boat and make sure that everything is operational. SSB, VHF, GPS, start with the most expensive items then work your way down to the least expensive items. Check the stove and oven. All lighting. All plumbing. Make sure that you have a list of all seacocks and check that they function properly.I alway advise people to get Don Casey's book and then to do a survey themselves before hiring a professional surveyor.
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:55   #9
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I do not know if you are doing a haulout, but I would. Do all the system checks at the dock with the owner,if you are very sure about how this boat sails meaning you have read up on her or have sailed on one before, then I would go for the haulout and then proceed to the sea trial. while motoring to the haul out you will see how the motor is working and see how she is at docking, have your servayor go with to the haul out,if she passes the haulout the go for the sea trial good luck
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Old 03-02-2008, 21:15   #10
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Thanks for the advice guys.

I've sailed a slightly older ketch version of this boat and while I was not entirely happy with its pointing ability (I think part of that was the sail configuration - will be interesting to see) it was a decent boat overall. It also has first mate's buy in - no small factor.

How many people hired rigging/engine surveyors straight up rather than waiting to do the sea trial / haulout to make sure the extra expense is worth it?

And for those who wondered - I am doing a haulout and getting the boat checked by a professional. It also passed quite a few of Don Casey's checks during my initial checkups, the deck sounds tight, the bulkheads are all attached, the wiring seems well run and is mostly new looking, the engine has new belts, clear wiring and is almost bordering on the suspiciously clean (but is just oily/rusty enough to look used, it has about 500hours since a rebuild).
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Old 03-02-2008, 22:02   #11
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I hired both a regular surveyor and an engine surveyor pre acquisition and was able to negotiate the price down after the survey and sea trial with both on board. Then had a rigger go over the boat after I got her home.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:51   #12
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Thanks for the link and other info, I too will be in that position soon and appreciate the combined knowledge here! Thanks!
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:55   #13
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<Make sure bilge pumps operate…>

Tacking along behind the more experienced wisdom on this thread (especially the check the rigging stuff, yes… ), I think your priorities are right on the money… as one who once paid a frightful amount of money to have all the techno-gizmos surveyed by a genuine, certified from Annapolis sailing expert, but found within the first 100 miles that the bilge pump was in-op as the sole went under water --- had to jury rig the auxiliary saltwater intake pump myself to get the water down, cuz the expert turned out to only be certified, not expert… check the small stuff yourself (especially that you know how to operate it – not just a demo by the expert…), and the big stuff will take care of itself -- sorta…
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Old 20-02-2008, 14:39   #14
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Thanks for the advice guys. In the end we had our surveyor along for the ride but didn't get an engine surveyor or rigger. The engine purrs pretty well and looks well maintained so hopefully I'm not going to regret that (our surveyor did look over and pass on some advice). We're going to get a rigger look over it before doing anything serious (in fact given the age of the boat I'm tempted to just replace a fair amount of the rigging in the near future).

We were mostly along for the ride, making sure that the boat functioned as expected and trying to get as much information from the current owners as possible wrt to what they'd change for our expected usage.

At the end of the sea trial we both feel more confident in the boat and feel we have a much better idea of how to progress with preparing it.

Btw - the boat is 26 years old and had one small blister. Its bottom paint is four years old but should last another year (we'll deal with that blister then). Did I score?
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Old 20-02-2008, 17:15   #15
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I'd say it wasn't as complete as it could have been but you did OK. How long was the sea trial?

We actually penned a sales agreement before the trial. We specified 2 days of trials and the owner agreed. We motored for 4 hours with several starts. We did 360's, backing and so forth. We really wanted to wring out the engine.

We sailed the boat for 6+ hours over 2 days. The owner was there on day one and couldn't make it on day 2. Day 2 was when we got a little "zen" with the boat.

We talked a lot about the maintenance history, what was changed, replaced and when. He had pretty good maintenance records but not stellar. We got te impressoin he was dealing straight with us. He was known to other members of our club as a stand up guy so we felt pretty good about things.

We all understood it was a 20+ year old boat and not new.

The sales agreement stipulated the price subject to reduciton negotiations at both parties options depending what the survey and sea trials revealed. We found a few things and knocked about 15% off the asking price.

I know this all is hindsight for you but I thought I'd share.
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