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post #1 of 7 Old 01-29-2002 Thread Starter
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What to expect in a sea trial

I am starting to shop and wondering what Kind of time I should expect to have testing the boat? from a seller or a broker?
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-30-2002
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What to expect in a sea trial

A sea trial is going to depend a lot upon the kind of boat you''re buying. Most trials I''ve been on, for boats around thirty feet or so, have taken a few hours. You''ll perahps find out if something leaks, perhaps learn a couple of idiocyncracies, and see how the helm feels, and how the sails look. Unless you''re getting something huge, don''t expect too much.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-30-2002
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What to expect in a sea trial

I''m relatively new to sailing, so at sea trial for my boat, I insisted on bringing along a friend of mine who is an experienced sailor. Made sense.

P.S.-this is not "advice" so please no emails from angry salts
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-30-2002
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What to expect in a sea trial

Hopefully none of your sea trials will go like ours when we bought our Flicka 20 a few years ago. Our boat was up on a trailer and the owner launched it and helped rig the mast. The owner headed off for other errands while we stepped aboard with the broker. We rigged the sails, warmed up the engine and slipped the lines. Note that we launched from the north end of Lake Union in Seattle where the lake narrows into a channel and the shore is lined with moorage for everything from runabouts to 200'' crab boats along with barges and all sorts of misc craft. The engine quit shortly after leaving the dock...got it started a couple more times but it was clearly full of air and needed bleeding real bad. The broker, a young woman with lots of experience sailing in the NW suggested we just get the sails up a tack our way back south to their dock. We didi a good job slam tacking out of the channel into Lake Union proper. This was in late February and just as we thought we had it made, a series of squalls started moving in from the west packing cold rain and gusty winds. We made our way further south and things were getting pretty miserable so the broker suggested we head for a restaurant dock just to the north of their facility. We made it to the dock, barely being able to get alongside as the wind pushed us away and tied her up. We decided that the boat was just right for us as we were able to handle it well in tight spaces and nasty weather. A few days later, I spent some time with the owner going through the fuel system and we ended up sailing from the restaurant dock to the brokers dock under sunny skies and a light breeze. After a thorugh bleeding, the engine ran like a champ and we moved forward with closing the deal. So even though the sea trial was a bit torturous, we learned a lot about the most important characteristics of the boat

John Calhoon
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-30-2002
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What to expect in a sea trial

We''ve found it varies with the surveyor and the time of year. High season sometimes gets you a short sea trial but mostly its at least one to three hours. Do insist that the batteries and fuel are fresh before heading out. All mechanical and electrical systems should be checked out while underway, particularly the water systems and bilge pumps.

We''ve found that carrying a pocket audio tape recorder and standing next to the surveyor helps you recall all the points he/she made.

Whether or not the owner goes along is an issue. Remember with the broker and owner aboard, there is often pressure to discount what appear to be a collection of minor concerns. Before you head out to trial, check sailnet''s lists and ask other owners what to look for...this worked nicely for me and it put a few things on the list for the surveyor to pay attention to that was not on his general list.
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-31-2002
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What to expect in a sea trial

I usually try to do a series of things during a sea trial. I try to run the engine under load for at least 20 minutes to a half hour. I watch for signs of overheating, smoking or leaks. Most surveyors have miniature tachometers and temperature guages that they use to sort things out. If I am not familiar with the model, I will steer while motoring, and do a series of trials. Using a crab trap or other floating marker to help see how things go. I will approach the marker and than back down the engine to look at prop walk and braking. I will then back for a distance up and down wind at varying speeds to see how easily the boat backs. I will swerve with rudder to feel for play or slop under load. I will motor at cruising speeds and motor at idle. I will let the engine push the boat at idle and then watch the exhaust when I power up.

Under sail I try to test a boat in a range of conditions. It you go out on a windy day you can often get a sense of how the boat behaves in a breeze. You cna often find a lee to see how the boat behaves in lighter air. I try the boat on all points of sail and will also try each function on the boat. I raise the sails myself to get a sense of the friction in the sheeaves and adequacy of the winches. I also tack and jibe trying each of the positions on the boat. Since I single hand a lot, I also will typically singlehand a tack and jibe to see how well the boat is laid out for that purpose. Under sail I check each sail for shape and ease of changing lead. I operate the outhaul, reeflines and vang under load. I will try to knock the boat down by adjusting the sails for a beat and then bearing off sharply to a beam reach. I am trying to see is the boat will want to round up and if it can be controlled if it does. I will send someone to the bow and gently try that again.

While the boat is heeled (both tacks) I walk through the cabin and try each function down there. I flush the head (some boats can''t get intake water when heeled over on one tack). I look at the sinks and Icebox to see if they have taken in water when heeled. I lie in the bunks.

You should come off of the water with a basic understanding of the boat and its problems or merits.

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post #7 of 7 Old 01-31-2002
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What to expect in a sea trial

Make sure you have a firm understanding when you sign the contract of what the sea trial will entail. Some selling brokers will tell you that your "sea trial" will be the sail between the slip and the haul out for survey. That would be unacceptable.

Having just turned down a boat because of the sea trial and a few other things, I can say that what Jeff points out above is most important. You should have a list of what you want to "test" before setting out. Write it down and have it handy. How the boats handles both light and heavy air is important... not just for its sailing and sea keeping ability but whether it exhibits weather helm, how you like your access to the cabin, the funtionality of the cabin at heel, etc. The surveyor should be along at sea trial to test the engine under load, electrical system and a several other things.

Make sure all the electronics are working and are actually hooked up! And to reiterate Jeff''s point, absolutely raise the sails and be active in sail trim.

This will be your last chance to walk away from the boat or realize that there are certain characteristics that you will have to live with.

And... don''t be adverse to walking away if you don''t like the results. Don''t feel or be made to feel locked in, you are not.

Best of luck.
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