Sea Trial Tomorrow, Now What? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 26 Old 06-03-2008 Thread Starter
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Sea Trial Tomorrow, Now What?

Hi, all. The survey is scheduled for 8:00 am tomorrow, with the sea trial to follow. What do you do on a sea trial? Are there specific steps? Do you let the owner operate everything for you? How long should it last? BTW, my surveyor is going along on the trial.

Stupid questions, but hey, I have to ask somebody.

Thanks again in advance.


Odyssey, '79 CSY 44 Cutter
Channel Islands, CA

"There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage."
Mark Twain
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post #2 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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Montenido: These are not stupid questions. I had my first sea trial this season. Let the owner take it from the dock and back to the dock. Other than that, it is on you to put her throught the test. You should hoist the sails, let the owner steer temporarilly. When the owner is at the helm, inspect the engine while under power. If the boat has cockpit access to the engine, take the cover off and watch the engine at idle, and at incremental RPMs up to full power. Don't forget reverse. Listen for vibrations. Make sure you aren't getting black or white smoke from the exhaust and that enough water is exiting with the exhaust. When you are at the helm, try to feel what you can. You really want to sail her hard if you have enough wind. Once you are back at the dock and you sign the dotted line, it is your boat. Don't be shy about raising issues that the survey highlights. The owner wants to sell you this boat and should/will make some concessions. Best of luck to you!

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post #3 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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Just noticed your picture. You look like Mel Gibson! Forgot to mention, the sea trial is over when you are satisfied or when you know you don't want the boat.

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post #4 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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Check all engine functions HARD by all means...but also check every single thing that you could not check on land...depth sounder, speedo, hot water heater, water pumps, heads, etc.
Hoist the sails, work the winches, work the furlers.
Steer under both sail and power to get the feel. Bury the rail and check for any leaks if you can. Good luck!

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post #5 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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I agree with all of the above plus the surveyor should be looking at everything also. He will know better than you what to look for and don't hesitate to ask him questions about everything, you'll learn a lot from him. I would also share what you find with the owner, it will make negotiations easier. The surveyor should also be checking that everything in the listing is there and functional.
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post #6 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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All good advise above, after the sea trial I would not commit to the boat (even if everything goes well) until I get the written survey in hand.
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post #7 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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I would have the surveyor onboard for the seatrial.
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post #8 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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Sea Trial - What to do and look for

Sea trial are VERY important. Basically the boat is in the water in the environment that it was designed to operate in.

What you and your surveyor should do:
  1. Open and Close EVERY Through hull fitting. Check for leaks and easy of opening.
  2. Check ALL Hoses from through hulls for leaks or cracks
  3. Operate the Head (if it has one)
  4. Turn on ALL Electronics and make sure that they work
  5. Look at engine oil and tranny fluid. Right level, Clean?
  6. Thoroughly check engine for oil/coolant leaks - especially after you have run it for several minutes - Wait till it cools a little though
  7. Sea Water Strainer - Clean? Put a flashlight behind it, can you see the light on the other side? Good if you can
  8. Engine Belts - Loose (Bad)?
  9. Start Motor - Easy start? Good Water flow out of exhaust?
  10. Run Motor from idle to max RPM in Nuetral and Under load - These should be same or very very close to the same number.
  11. Check Oil Pressure and Engine Temp after the Engine warms Up.
  12. Does the motor excessively vibrate? Alighnment? Bad Cutlass Bearing?
  13. Stuffing Box - Excessive Leaking/Too Dry? A drip or so every few seconds while the propeller shaft is turn is desired.
  14. Helm (Wheel) - Does wheel have a lot of play? Bind? Does it have stops that don't allow the ruddert to do a 360?
  15. Tranny - Go forward and reverse - positive "click" in between gears? (FWD/NEUTRAL/REV)
  16. Raise Sails - Condition of sails/halyards?
  17. Headsail fulrer - Smooth operation or binding?
  18. Standing Rig - Loose/Tight - Broken wire filamanets excess corrosion
  19. Sails go up and down easy?
  20. Mast straight
  21. Running rigging - frayed, worn, dirty?

That's my initial list, I am sure others will chime in.

Also, make sure that the surveyor you, and the owner or present when every major system is turned on. That way everyone sees the same thing if there is an issue.

Ask the surveyor to review each section and make notes after each section, and not a brain dump at the end. Ask questions if you are unsure about the operation or condition of anything or if you want to look at some thing not checked out.

One more very important thing - BILGE Check each compartment - Excessive water, especially if it was just splashed is a indication that something is amiss. Also, check that the bilge pump is directly wire to the battery and not through a on/off switch.
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post #9 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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Been a lot of good posts already, hope you have a printer running.
Open every locker - make the owner tell you specifically what stays with the boat and what leaves with him. List items you want to be sure stay. Understand that you will be cleaning his garbage off, once you buy it it is yours.

Ask the owner to show you how to operate every single system on the boat.
Do it twice. It's not just about sailing, it is also about understanding your boat and how every single piece of it merges into a entity underway. Other than finding another Catalina 30 owner you won't find someone to show you anything.

Catalina 30's are good boats, the Chevy Impala of the US sailing world. Check the ports for leaks, and see if the owner bothered to add a fuel filter (my buddies 1986 never had one).
Bother the hell out of the surveyor with questions, you are paying him so his time is your time.

Note the condition of things like the batteries, oil, etc.. if these vital parts are neglected imagine what the rest of it looks like.
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post #10 of 26 Old 06-03-2008
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I've been on five seatrials, both as buyer and seller - and none went exactly like the others. The first sea trial with surveyor present, I was the buyer and the surveyor worked for me. He was the boss-man in my mind, having decades more experience with these things than I, the reason why he gets the big bucks. Therefore, I followed his lead. Always use the seller's broker's advise with some level of suspicion.

I suggest you spend some time with your surveyor, well in advance of leaving the slip. Ask him what you should do to optimize the time away from dock - and he should give you some wise advice.

Even though we consider the sailing rig important, in my experience, the mechanics are most important and repairs to such could represent some huge dollar amounts.

As much as you'd want to stay at the helm - go down to the engine with the surveyor and watch him check engine temps with his digital thermometer, shaft alignment under load, potential leaks and any suspect and excessive vibrations. These could be signs of serious issues.

Then take the helm under power and sail, experience how well she tacks and gybes, potential issues with the furler and winches, and imagine yourself going through these motions without a crew to assist you.

After allowing the owner, or his broker, to dock the boat - step aside with your surveyor and talk about any potential issue he has with the boat . . . important to do this before he writes his report. He may suggest things that may otherwise go unmentioned.

Best of luck in your seatrial, hopeful positive negotiations and the closing process that follows.

True Blue . . .
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