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Old 08-29-2011
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The significance of sea trials

I'm wondering about the significance of sea trials for someone buying their first sailboat and whether this is worth the time/effort/money or is it a dispensable part of the boat buying process in these circumstances.

Having just learned to sail on a rather large (43') boat that is not going to be similar to whatever boat I'm likely to buy (30-34') and having little else to compare it to, I'm not sure what exactly I would be looking for in the sea trial.

Is there something I'm not considering about a sea trial even as a new sailor? I would appreciate some input from the veterans. Thanks.

GRR
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Based upon your last thread, with the amount of money you're looking to commit to the purchase of a sailboat, I would definitely insist upon a sea trial.

The sea trial allows you to sail the boat to see if it rides and operates the way that YOU want it to, as well as testing systems under load (engine, rigging, sails, etc) in a way that cannot be done in an ordinary survey at the dock.

The less money you spend, the less vital these things become, because they have less and less return on investment. For instance, you wouldn't bother paying $500 for a survey on a $2000, 25' boat. At that point, the purchase is simply a calculated risk and you inspect the boat yourself, as best as you can, and maybe have some sailing buddies look it over with you.

In your case, you'd hate to spend $10 - $30k on a boat, only to find that even though it passed a survey with flying colors, you hate how it sails or that you learn that due to some quirk, the cabin layout doesn't suit you.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
Based upon your last thread, with the amount of money you're looking to commit to the purchase of a sailboat, I would definitely insist upon a sea trial.

The sea trial allows you to sail the boat to see if it rides and operates the way that YOU want it to, as well as testing systems under load (engine, rigging, sails, etc) in a way that cannot be done in an ordinary survey at the dock.

The less money you spend, the less vital these things become, because they have less and less return on investment. For instance, you wouldn't bother paying $500 for a survey on a $2000, 25' boat. At that point, the purchase is simply a calculated risk and you inspect the boat yourself, as best as you can, and maybe have some sailing buddies look it over with you.

In your case, you'd hate to spend $10 - $30k on a boat, only to find that even though it passed a survey with flying colors, you hate how it sails or that you learn that due to some quirk, the cabin layout doesn't suit you.
Very good points that I had not thought of. Thank you for the feedback.

I see that you are a Pearson owner. I looked at a Pearson 34 recently and really liked the boat. I may be looking at a few more 34's and 33's in the coming months. If you happen to know anything about these models or someone who does, I'd appreciate the information. Thanks again.

GRR
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I've only been sailing for 2 years, and I've only owned the P-30 for less than a month. Like you, my decision was based on build quality, performance, and cruising comforts. As others have said, past maintenance is the driving factor in these older boats.

Armed with new knowledge and experience, I was able to find an older Pearson in fine shape. The deck core is bone-dry, since it's a solid glass hull, there are no blisters, and the Atomic-4 is smooth and reliable.

The Pearson 30 is very competitive in the Chesapeake racing scene, and although it's not as roomy as a Tartan 30 or a Catalina 30, it rates faster, and can easily be sailed to it's rating. It's still pretty cozy, with standing headroom throughout, private head, berths for 6 and a galley.

In your original thread, you mentioned shallow water cruising and I'll just repeat the old adage that all boats are compromises. You will sacrifice some performance if you get a centerboard. If you are willing to give up some shallow water capability for a fixed 5' keel, the Pearsons will serve you well.
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Would you buy a used car with out a drive on the road? Buying a boat without a sea trial is like buying a pig in a poke.

Some things can only be tested on the water, when I bought my current boat the sea trial was very positive but I did learn that she was overpropped. Not something that bothered me as I sail not motor but it was something that could only be checked on the water.

There are also tales of boats with loose internal joinery that sounded as if you were herding rats when they worked in a bit of a chop.
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[QUOTE=TQA;767345]Would you buy a used car with out a drive on the road? Buying a boat without a sea trial is like buying a pig in a poke.
QUOTE]

Right, but then again I've been riding in cars all my life whereas with sailboats I don't have many points of comparison. But that is why I asked because even though I don't have much to compare to, I may still learn things about the boat I'm buying from the sea trial. Thanks for your input.

GRR
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Old 08-29-2011
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[QUOTE=Grand River Raider;767348]
Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
Would you buy a used car with out a drive on the road? Buying a boat without a sea trial is like buying a pig in a poke.
QUOTE]

Right, but then again I've been riding in cars all my life whereas with sailboats I don't have many points of comparison. But that is why I asked because even though I don't have much to compare to, I may still learn things about the boat I'm buying from the sea trial. Thanks for your input.

GRR
While you may not have the experiences to make comparisons, your surveyor should. And any reputable surveyor will be along for the sea trial. Like Bubblehead mentioned, there are several things that simply cannot be properly evaluated dockside or in the slings. Rigging that looks great at the dock may reveal problems once under stress; engines that purr like a kitten without a load may cough and wheeze like a 80yo chain smoker once pushed; etc, etc.

No doubt for me -- on a 30' boat you should certainly insist on a sea trial.

Last edited by PorFin; 08-29-2011 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 08-29-2011
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[QUOTE=BubbleheadMd;767344[/QUOTE]

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.

Last edited by sailpower; 08-29-2011 at 10:50 AM.
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I agree with what everyone else said.

Our survey and sea trial were done at the same time and that worked out perfectly. And, as I mentioned in other survey threads, we were able to trail behind the surveyor and ask questions.

The surveyor crawled in, around and under while underway and was able to find a rudder shaft leak that only happened when we motored at full throttle. He detected a small CO leak (people with diesels don't usually think about CO emissions) and some other stuff that would have gone unnoticed at a dockside-only survey. Our engine is 30 years old and the issues the surveyor found while it was running were exactly the problems we had later so we knew they were coming and could plan accordingly.

The boat was kept in a yacht club slip so we motored and sailed to a nearby yard where it had been arranged to have it pulled so the surveyor could look at the hull and thru-hull fittings and whatnot. On the return trip we raised the sails so he was also able to see them under those conditions. Back at the slip he went aloft and checked the rigging.

Overall, I think we spent about 5 hours with the surveyor. Not all that time was underway, there was down time waiting for the boat to be hauled (where we bought him lunch and continued to ask questions) and then when we returned to the slip. Before we parted (away from the owner) he then told us what other Catalina 30s in the same condition that he had surveyed had sold for so that added to our negotiating powers.

Since the owner was on the sea trial/survey with us, he was able to hear what the surveyor said and know what issues were pointed out to us and we could also ask him on the spot for background info. But another advantage to that was that there was nothing that the owners could get wishy-washy about (if they were that sort) because we all heard and saw the same things under the same conditions.

It was the best $300 we could have spent on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and a week later we were emailed a detailed 40-page document that we used as our starting point for our To Do list. The surveyor also allowed us 30 days to contact him with any additional questions after reading the final document. I imagine after 30 days his memory wouldn't be as reliable.
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Last edited by DRFerron; 08-29-2011 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 08-29-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
I've only been sailing for 2 years, and I've only owned the P-30 for less than a month. since it's a solid glass hull, there are no blisters
Just for future reference, whether or not the hull is solid glass or cored has no effect on it's propensity to blister - blisters generally occur in the outermost layer of glass mat behind the gelcoat.
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