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No dog in this fight about owner being on sea trial but... as surveyors Sharon and I refuse to discuss the vessel if the owner shows up for survey or sea trial. We politely inform the owner that we work for the buyer and will not discuss the boat with them. We've seen too much acrimony from sellers. We are there to find fault to a degree and they are there to tell us we are wrong.

There are a few owners here that know their stuff and know their boats but lemme tell ya you are rare. Most don't have a clue.
 
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When we bought our boat the broker took care of everything. They brought the boat from it's home marina to the yard for the survey, and took us out for the sea trial, and then returned the boat to the home marina. The owner had no involvement whatsoever. We didn't even meet the owner until after the deal was done.

The broker takes full responsibility for the boat while they are showing it, and I am sure they are insured against any damage that might occur while the boat is in their care.

Keep in mind, by the time the deal gets to the sea trial stage there is already a signed sales agreement. It is not as if they are just on a joyride.

I don't think any responsible broker would allow the buyer to do something silly like hoisting the sails in heavy air. I don't think it is unreasonable to run the engine at full throttle as that will reveal a cooling system problem that otherwise could go unnoticed. I would be very suspicious if a seller who wouldn't allow that.

I believe the seller should keep their distance and let the broker do their job. Ideally they should not be present at all.

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Buyer visits the boat with a broker... Probably owner is there to answer questions.
I flew to the MidWest to see a boat on the Great Lakes and the owner met the broker and I at their indoor storage yard. The owner absolutely sucked the air out of the room, telling me how great everything was they had done to the boat. A very friendly guy, but didn't want us to miss any little detail he was proud of. I think we had to stand next to the dinghy and listen to a speech on it for 5 minutes. I swear he was more proud of his dinghy than the mother ship itself. OOOPH.

I left that viewing feeling like I couldn't do what I went to do. If I opened anything, I got a 10 minute story. I think most owners would make this mistake, because it's too personal and they don't know how to sell.
 

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For sure the owner should not be present for the majority of the survey, unless their help is needed for something specific, and for sure the owner should expect to not have any part of the survey discussed with them. But the sea trial is different. This is a relatively short part of the survey, and the owner owns the boat and is responsible for its operation. The surveyor, buyer, and broker don't have to discuss any of the sea trial with the owner, - the owner just has to get the boat off the dock, make sure the equipment is operated properly, and get the boat back to the dock.

Would you as a surveyor take all responsibility for any damages or personal liability? Our insurance requires us on board during operation. If we aren't, then any damage isn't covered, so at a minimum we have to be onboard.

Besides, I trust no broker, buyer, or surveyor to have the skills to operate a complicated boat. It is unlikely they even know where many of the controls are.

Mark
 

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When we bought our boat the broker took care of everything. They brought the boat from it's home marina to the yard for the survey, and took us out for the sea trial, and then returned the boat to the home marina. The owner had no involvement whatsoever. We didn't even meet the owner until after the deal was done.

The broker takes full responsibility for the boat while they are showing it, and I am sure they are insured against any damage that might occur while the boat is in their care.

Keep in mind, by the time the deal gets to the sea trial stage there is already a signed sales agreement. It is not as if they are just on a joyride.

I don't think any responsible broker would allow the buyer to do something silly like hoisting the sails in heavy air. I don't think it is unreasonable to run the engine at full throttle as that will reveal a cooling system problem that otherwise could go unnoticed. I would be very suspicious if a seller who wouldn't allow that.

I believe the seller should keep their distance and let the broker do their job. Ideally they should not be present at all.

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I mostly agree. If the broker has insurance for damaging other people's boats, then I have no issue with them using it.

I made the point earlier that the sea trial was a relatively short part of the survey that was to check that all the gear worked. It is not an opportunity for the buyer to see if the boat is suitable for them wrt performance and handling, etc. So the sea trial would not involved a lot of tacking upwind, running spinnakers, getting a "feel" for the boat, etc.

The engines should absolutely be run at max throttle for a good period of time. In fact, this is pretty much 90% of what a sea trial constitutes.

The seller should keep their distance, but I disagree they shouldn't be present at all - unless they are comfortable with the broker's insurance coverage on their boat.

Mark
 

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I flew to the MidWest to see a boat on the Great Lakes and the owner met the broker and I at their indoor storage yard. The owner absolutely sucked the air out of the room, telling me how great everything was they had done to the boat. A very friendly guy, but didn't want us to miss any little detail he was proud of. I think we had to stand next to the dinghy and listen to a speech on it for 5 minutes. I swear he was more proud of his dinghy than the mother ship itself. OOOPH.

I left that viewing feeling like I couldn't do what I went to do. If I opened anything, I got a 10 minute story. I think most owners would make this mistake, because it's too personal and they don't know how to sell.
Should have told him to get lost. Really. It's not rude to expect to examine a potential purchase without any interference. In fact, the broker should have told him to get lost.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I certainly see the point (from the remarks made above) of the owner (me) not being there, but I would then want a qualified captain (someone I trusted and who would look after my interest in keeping everyone safe and keep the boat from harm) to take the boat out. The local broker says they work for me, not the seller; I don't think the buyer would bring their broker along, especially if from out of town. I would not have a problem of them running the engine at full RPM for a reasonable period, but really I think that in the sea trial you just want to show that the boat will reach or get close to hull speed under the conditions. Otherwise you can just run the engine at the dock. Same with raising the sails, if conditions allow then raise them to see their condition and how the boat behaves and sails. Under heavy weather a captain alone (who know what sailing experience the buyer, broker and surveyor have) might not be able to set full sails safely; I have done it only during race conditions when I had a full competent crew of at least 3 other people - yeah I know I am a sissy.

Again thanks for all the responses, I think I am coming to a position on the subject.
 

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Would you as a surveyor take all responsibility f I certainly don'tor any damages or personal liability? Our insurance requires us on board during operation. If we aren't, then any damage isn't covered, so at a minimum we have to be onboard.

Besides, I trust no broker, buyer, or surveyor to have the skills to operate a complicated boat. It is unlikely they even know where many of the controls are.

Mark
Surveyors are there to observe. Any surveyor that operates the boat in a sea trial is an idiot.
I know one surveyor who ran a large boat aground during a survey. It cost him his livelihood. He was an idiot.
This article on our website shows how we approach sea trials.
Sea Trial ... It ain't Just a Boat Ride
 
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This article on our website shows how we approach sea trials.
Sea Trial ... It ain't Just a Boat Ride
Yes, this is exactly how and what I expect a sea trial to be, and to be performed. You do mention you expect the owner or the owner's representative to be present for operating the boat. That was also my point.

I'm surprised that anyone would do a sea trial before the rest of the survey, but I suppose if the boat has to be delivered a distance to the survey haulout, then a sea trial during this time could kill two birds with one stone.

I'm also surprised anyone would have a sea trial without a surveyor or mechanic present. What would be the purpose?

Mark
 

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I just sold my Sabre 30, and I operated the boat during the sea trial. Personally, I was more comfortable doing that than having a stranger or my broker do it. I also think that I smoothed things over a number of times because I know exactly how my boat operates, and this limited opportunities for silly stuff that would confuse the buyer to happen. It also gave the buyer a chance to ask some simple questions about various issues that ultimately put his mind at ease. I think one thing to recognize is that by the time you get to sea trial, the boat has been surveyed, and major issues (engine excepted) will have been identified. The buyer has also invested at least several hundred dollars in the survey process, and they are at least a bit committed to buying the boat unless something dramatic happens.

As far as things that are done on the sea trial.... it's a pretty simple test of the bits that need to be in the water to be tested. We raised and lowered the sails, tested pumps and such that move water in and out of the boat, and tested the engine and engine mounts. The engine tests involved running the engine at max rpm both under and with no load, monitoring temperatures, and running the engine at high rpm in reverse for a few seconds while the boat was moving forward with a few knots of speed in order to test the engine mounts. These are the same tests that we did when buying my new (to me) boat, and I think they are standard. As others have said, I would not permit anyone to take my boat out for a sea trial in marginal conditions, and - personally - I'd much rather be there than not.
 

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I flew to the MidWest to see a boat on the Great Lakes and the owner met the broker and I at their indoor storage yard. The owner absolutely sucked the air out of the room, telling me how great everything was they had done to the boat. A very friendly guy, but didn't want us to miss any little detail he was proud of. I think we had to stand next to the dinghy and listen to a speech on it for 5 minutes. I swear he was more proud of his dinghy than the mother ship itself. OOOPH.

I left that viewing feeling like I couldn't do what I went to do. If I opened anything, I got a 10 minute story. I think most owners would make this mistake, because it's too personal and they don't know how to sell.
I had a similar experience on survey day. The owner would not shut up. Thankfully the owner didn't show up until after the surveyor completed all the heavy poking and pinging on the boat. The surveyor was basically transcribing his notes and gathering miscellaneous specs like battery size and tank size. My wife who is a better people person than I went and had a chat with the owners so that I could talk freely with the surveyor.
Now, after the sale, I wouldn't mind sitting down with the previous owner to hear his stories. The previous owner had the boat for 30 years and knew the original owner. So like SanderO, he knows a lot of history behind his the boat. I just don't want an owner interjecting stories while I am inspecting the boat.
 

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Now, after the sale, I wouldn't mind sitting down with the previous owner to hear his stories.
That’s an important point. You want a positive relationship with your prior owner, because they have knowledge you’ll need. If they feel threatened or criticized, they are fairly likely to go radio silent. I’ve always had a nice relationship with prior owners. Makes it hard to take a critical look at the boat and nurture that relationship.
 

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Abuse and other unacceptable behaviors aside, we’re not talking about a stranger going for a joy ride on ones boat, as we currently know it. You’ve decided to sell, you've agreed to a price, received a signed contract and a deposit. This quick ride is the absolute last physical thing standing between you and a done deal.

I’m not suggesting any of us would let the sea trial occur in an unsafe or incompetent way. However, at this stage of the sale, I think most would be far more accommodating than in the moment before agreeing to sell.

If the prospective buyer wanted to wash the boat before that sea trial, I bet we’d all let them. :)
 

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You only need to run at wide open throttle long enough to record RPM, STW, temperature, charger from alternator and fuel flow, if it’s available. That would not take a full minute. 10-15 seconds should be plenty. My last survey recorded this at each 100 RPM starting at about 60% of max rated.
 

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I think it would take more than 10-15sec. The point is to see where the temperature stabilizes, and to make sure it doesn't climb above spec, as well as to make sure revs are in spec. I would expect at least a minute if not a few of them. I don't understand why people are afraid to run their engines hard.

Again, my only concern about a sea trial is that I as a seller be on the boat to operate it. I have no problem running the engines at WOT for a time not exceeding the manufacturer's recommendation (which is like 20min or so).

Mark
 
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