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  #11  
Old 08-29-2011
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IMHP a seatrial is to see that the systems work correctly in real world use

NOT THE TIME to decide the boat has some sailing quirk you do not care for which should have been know about by doing research before buying that boat
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  #12  
Old 08-29-2011
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I just went through this process on for my much smaller Contessa 26; The Contessa is a very simple boat and I still felt it was necessary to get out and test the systems.

Having said that, here's what I learned...
1. Find someone skilled to do the sea trial with you.
I hired someone who turned out to not live up to their resume. This has resulted in a few unexpected surprises that I found on my 6-week shakedown cruise.

2. Test all systems, not just 'go for a daysail'.
Some things my sea trial didn't turn up (because we only tested the sailing system); The head pump wouldn't "un"prime itself, New pump; The galley faucet leaked, replaced 3 O-rings; The galley pump dribbled, siliconed the pump seal; Ice box drain was plugged, unclogged with my universal coat-hanger tool.

3. Don't "be lazy". Put up all the sails. Try all the halyards. Try different track settings.
The guy I hired barely looked at the genoa, I found out last week that the UV protection was rotted and now it's removed and replaced with a foresail cover - $500. Secondary mainsail was covered in mildew (which I expected but never verified) and was later sold. The topping lift is incorrectly rigged under the radar bracket. The genoa cars and traveller had not been changed position in 5 years so they were slightly seized, a little lubricant eased them. Boomvang had seized over the winter.
--- the only thing my lazy sea trial surveyor commented on was the boomvang... which I had pointed out.

4. Check the engine.
An engine might run quite happily for 30 minutes, until warm. An engine might start up easily, if the previous owner has always warmed it up before you got there. Make sure you give the engine a thorough workout... it's the single most expensive piece of equipment in an older boat.

For other boats, I'm sure you have other systems and so-on to check. Water, sewage, air conditioning, manual/auto bilge pumps, dinghy/motor, windvane, autohelm, radios, radar etc.

Sometimes you just need to get your hands dirty and have someone with you. Even if you're new to sailing or boating, you can tell if something isn't working well.

Best of luck,
J.
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Old 08-29-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
IMHP a seatrial is to see that the systems work correctly in real world use

NOT THE TIME to decide the boat has some sailing quirk you do not care for which should have been know about by doing research before buying that boat
Not necessarily, Tom.

Whilst you're correct that production boats should be quite predictable on the water, enabling you to focus on the yacht's systems instead, if there were production defects in that hull (eg. a slight twist), if the boat has been damaged and the repair isn't obvious (eg. skeg slightly off center with keel), if the rig isn't quite right (eg. incorrect mast rake forward-aft or side-to-side) or if the boat is ballasted wrong (eg. engine replacement with heavier engine) - it's far easier to detect these things during a sea-trial than relying on a surveyor on a tight schedule to pick them up with the boat on dry land.

Of course if the boat is a custom one-off, no amount of research will make up for 10 minutes under sail.
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A unanimous decision

Thanks to everybody who took time to respond to my post...a sea trial it is.
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Interesting post.

I crawled over a boat the other day and it looked immaculate.
The boats has good providence insofar as known history, maintenance log book and receipts for everything.
The owner is very very attentive.
I have recieved good feedback on the boat and as it is located a fair way fro me I am toying with the idea of no survey and no sea trials. I know what a boat of that model sails like and i know that this boat has just made a passage for 7-8 days.

Therefore I think the sea trial is redundant.
I am trying to figure out what a survey may turn up,

So i would argue survey first sea trial second.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailpower View Post
Bubblehead, I've been meaning to ask you if you are/were a submariner? I was a seven year Polaris sailor and qualified on 610 Blue back in the day.

BTW, I've had two Pearson 30's and they are fun boats. Both of mine were diesel.
Yes, I think perhaps I was after your time though. I was on fast boats:

650, 723, 761 and 767,
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanH View Post
I just went through this process on for my much smaller Contessa 26; The Contessa is a very simple boat and I still felt it was necessary to get out and test the systems.

Having said that, here's what I learned...
1. Find someone skilled to do the sea trial with you.
I hired someone who turned out to not live up to their resume. This has resulted in a few unexpected surprises that I found on my 6-week shakedown cruise.



Best of luck,
J.
See, this just pisses me off about surveyors. The whole purpose of hiring one, is so that you have an "expert" to find things that you, the "amatuer" would not find.

So you pay for an expert, and end up finding a bunch of system failures that he missed, that are blatanly obvious to you, the amatuer. I'm sure the same thing happens with so-called "home inspectors" when you buy a home, but still...

My recent purchase budget was only $4,000-$9000 so I did a bunch of research on Pearsons, research on general sailboat systems, Atomic-4's, various diesel engines, seacocks, through-hulls etc, and went shopping.

When I would find a likely candidate, I'd bring even more experienced friends with me to check it out to make sure I wasn't looking at the boat emotionally, with "rose tinted glasses".

This worked well, and I've had no surprises. If I was spending more, or looking at more complex boats, I definitely would have hired a surveyor and done sea trials, but I would have shopped several different surveyors, and asked for a lot of references to make sure I got a good one instead of a shyster.
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I find the seatrial to be more beneficial for things like operating the engine at cruise speed, which not only tells you something about the motor, but also the shaft, transmission and prop. That can't be done at the dock or in the slings. It is also the only way to really test some systems, like the autohelm, if you have one. You might want to test the VHF from the water. It is worth going out.

As far as sailing characteristics go, I've not really felt any surveyor (good or bad) was extremely helpful in this regard. A glaring problem should be noticed, such as a rigging problem or worn sails and that has value if you are buying your first boat. They just can't be familiar with every hull and sail plan out there to know every subtlety and you are naturally only going to sea trial in one wind condition.
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When I mentioned "sailing characteristics", I didn't mean that the surveyor should point them out, I meant that YOU, the prospective buyer should observe the sailing characteristics, and determine if they meet your desires and intentions.

Sure, we all sit around and opine on the sailing characteristics of a particular boat, but there's nothing like sailing the boat to see what it's really like.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
When I mentioned "sailing characteristics", I didn't mean that the surveyor should point them out, I meant that YOU, the prospective buyer should observe the sailing characteristics, and determine if they meet your desires and intentions.

Sure, we all sit around and opine on the sailing characteristics of a particular boat, but there's nothing like sailing the boat to see what it's really like.
And this is what I was driving at in my OP for this thread. As a new sailor, the subtleties of sailing characteristics will be lost on me due to having a few points of comparison, so unless there is something glaring a new sailor is not likely to notice it. But as others have rightly pointed out, the trial is valuable still for a number of reasons.
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