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Old 07-13-2013
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Re: Sea Trial Only After Sales Contract?

Julie, the purpose of a sea trial is not to see how the boat handles. It is to see if there are any problems or defects that are not apparent at the dock, i.e. if the engine overheats under power, if water comes in from a loose keel, if the sails and rigging are working or perhaps blown out.

You can't tell how a boat handles from one sea trial anyway. How does it handle in flat seas? In fifteen knots? Or fifteen plus a six foot chop? Does it need to be reefed at 10 knots, or 16? You can't tell from a sea trial. Does it round up? Or balance? You can't tell, since the mast could be out of plumb, the sails out of trim, or blown out, or just not balanced properly. So trying to find out how a boat handles during a sea trial would be kind of pointless.

That leaves you with chartering and bumming rides, and most folks can only guess from reviews how which boats handle. You'll see used boat articles where owners discuss the handling, and a rare few boats that get praised for good handling. The rest, you have to try bumming rides (yes, that may often mean beercan racing crew) to actually experience the boats.

I know a boat that was generally very well mannered and nicely balanced, that was useless in a two foot chop in light wind. Bow slammed into each wave and the boat lost all momentum. Put it in heavier winds and waters, and it rode nicely. Go figure.

But a sea trial? Is to see what's wrong, not what's right. Of course everything is negotiable, but few brokers or sellers are going to let you go for a test ride to see how it fits.
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