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03-18-2014 07:25 AM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

I guess if you are realy experienced a sea trial will give you feedback on the boat and operational issues. A survey will give you the structural condition from a good shipwright. I spent an entire day with the surveyer on the boat i ultimately bought and came out with a notebook full of information and a to do list. Certainly more info than was on the survey and a good feeling that the boat was sound and appropriately priced.

It is a big deal when you are inexperienced,
03-18-2014 05:40 AM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

FWIW, I bought a boat out of season, "contingent on survey and sea trial" standard verbiage. But the way it worked for me, and this was validated by my contract as well as by other, unrelated folks I spoke with, was that you accept the deal if you're happy with the survey, you pay for the boat, but some percentage (usually the same percentage as your initial deposit) is held in escrow pending sea trial in case other issues come up. By that point you'll have a good idea, hopefully. It's a risk, and not for everyone, especially if something like the above-mentioned bulkhead issue doesn't show up until sea trial, but something worth considering if a boat you're really interested in is available at a good price out of season. A good surveyor is likely to notice hints of potential hidden issues before launch. The caveat, of course, is that once you accept the boat, I would imagine your recourse is limited to the amount in escrow, and you'd probably have to fight pretty hard to get that. The risk of buying out of season, right?
03-13-2014 01:44 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
The surveyor remained in the cabin while we tacked back and forth and somehow caught that the main bulkhead was shifting. We actually put tape on the bulkhead on one tack and measured the offset on both tacks. The bulkhead was moving somewhere between a 1/4" and 3/8". The seller claimed that he had no idea that was happening but needless to
Funny you should mention that, I've done the same thing with a small crack in bulkhead veneer. In my case it was eventually shown that the entire liner was not bonded to the hull and this 1yr old boat was pulling itself apart.
03-13-2014 01:28 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

So it's snowed all day in Toronto yesterday and my work is all backed up with no weather break in sight. So I sit up all night and jotted down a few things on .....

Sea Trials ... it ain't just a boat ride.

I seem to have a different take on sea trials than some people on this thread.
01-26-2014 04:53 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???


As noted there is lots of good information in this thread.

Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but it seems that you are new to the process of purchasing and older, inexpensive boat. The process usually goes something like this:
-You dream about buying a boat
-You do some thinking about what kind of a boat meets your needs (day sailer, racer, cruiser, live aboard, etc.). Then you kind of decide on a budget and, or, length of boat.
-Use this site to ask lots of questions and learn as much as possible.
-Now you have to actually go look at various makes and models of boats that sort of fit your requirements. I found it very helpful to go on Yachtworld to find boats close (less than 2 hour drive) from me and then go and meet the broker and see as many boats as possible.
-Eventually you will find a boat that you think is the right one for the right price.
-The process is now usually:
-Make offer
-Get offer accepted (seller goes down in price, you go up in offer, etc.) and send deposit (usually 10% of purchase price)
-Boat gets surveyed (you pay for survey and associated costs, owner agrees to make boat available and operates the boat during the survey - usually the broker does this)
-You review survey results and either accept the boat, reject the boat (and get your deposit back), or renegotiate purchase price
-You pay balance due and sail boat away.

Make sure you understand the difference between survey and sea trial. The SURVEY will be done on land and in the water. The survey is to check all systems of the vessel for proper operation, inventory all gear included in the sale, check the integrity of the hull, electrical, plumbing, and other things. As far as I know, a sea trial is to make sure that the boat sails correctly. So, in a sense, the broker was right in that a sea trial won't provide you with much information. Assuming you are buying a common production type boat, like a Catalina 30, Tartan 28, C&C34, etc., the sailing and handling characteristics of those boats are well understood and you would lot learn a lot from a sea trial. I can understand the broker's point of view regarding a sea trial. Ask about a survey and his response better be along the lines of 'of course you should have a survey performed.'

The second part of your question, regarding how to buy a boat this time of year (if you
live in the north east) is that you don't. It's just not really possible or necessary to buy a boat this time of year. Wait until April at the earliest, march if you are just crazy to buy a boat.

Good luck,
01-26-2014 02:07 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

My broker and I did the sea trial and briefed the service folks after.
01-26-2014 02:00 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

Sounds like you are on the right track now, Bill. There are lots of boats in Maine, but darn few in the water right now. I bought one a few years ago in January and made the purchase contingent on the survey and held back 15% for the sea trial. The seller took care of a few niggles on the survey and ended up buying me a new fridge and Radar which did not work on the sea trial. My Broker was Dave Perry at Robinhood (really a pleasure to work with), I don't think he is related to His Eminence, Bob. What are you looking for and how much is your budget, we have tons of experts to weigh in on the details.
01-26-2014 01:52 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

Actually, the broker works for...the broker. He wants a deal done as quickly and as painlessly as possible. He'll push his client under the bus if it makes the deal go faster. Buyer AND seller beware.
You wont be sailing the vessel during trial. Either the broker or the owner does. You AND YOUR SURVEYOR are along to observe how the boat performs under power and under sail. Many issues cannot be seen until this is done.

01-26-2014 12:50 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

I would add a couple notes to this. First of all if you live and sail in an area that has a strong sailing community, then unless you are considering a very unusual make or model, it makes no sense to buy a boat long distance.

But if, from your perspective, this boat has unique charms that warrant a long distance purchase, you should be working through a local broker who you trust. This simplifies many of the basic transactions such as simple sign off on contingencies and escrow and final payments. That said, once you contact the selling broker directly without mention of your local broker, that option is usually off the table.

In terms of the sea trial question, the seller's broker does not sound like he is being forthcoming, which he is under no obligation to be. It does mean that it is prudent to trust him less than you might with someone who offers good advice. But it does not necessarily mean he is dishonest or incompetent. I do consider the question reasonable. If the broker is going to structure a deal that he can sell to his client he needs to understand what you personally would like to learn from a sail trial. In that case a list of concerns may be helpful.

There is a big difference between someone seeking to know how well a boat sails, and conveniently she is rigged, subjective factors which could kill a sale, versus more pragmatic issues such as does the transmission work properly, do the thru-hulls and below waterline plumbing leak, does the depth sounder and knot meter work, does the wind instruments, and other mast mounted electrical and electronic components work, and do the winches work properly when under strain (very important for older winches for which parts are unavailable or hard to come by). In other words, things which might potentially impact the price of the deal but not kill it. I bought my current boat when It was completely out of commission, and sitting disassembled in a farm field in Maine. There was no practical or cost effective way to do a seatrial. We escrowed funds to address specific items which could not be tested on the hard, and stipulated line items for each and a period by which I needed to commission and test these items or the funds were automatically paid to the seller.

There is another category that is harder to define. Twice in my life I have seen otherwise perfectly good boats fail survey for structural reasons found while sailing. The first case was a friend who asked me to crew on his sea trial of an older Hinckley Yawl. The surveyor remained in the cabin while we tacked back and forth and somehow caught that the main bulkhead was shifting. We actually put tape on the bulkhead on one tack and measured the offset on both tacks. The bulkhead was moving somewhere between a 1/4" and 3/8". The seller claimed that he had no idea that was happening but needless to say, my friend did not buy the boat. It worked quite well except that I did not think to put the refrigeration system on that list since it ran, but we could not run it long enough to determine whether it would cool the plates.

In a simlar case, a friend was looking at an old Cal I believe. When they cranked on the hydraulic backstay the head door would stick. The surveyor figured out that the bottom end of king post was rotted in the bilge. I was not there for that one so I ma not sure how they sorted that out, but the deal did not go through/

I hope this is helpful, good luck.

01-26-2014 12:25 PM
Re: Should I be scared??? What would you do???

Remind me what kindd of boat we are talking about. If it's a well known type we may be able to write off the sailing qualities end of the sea trial.
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