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Old 02-05-2020, 10:39 AM   #1
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Sea trials

Hello all. Currently a sailboat owner I have been reading this forum and learning while searching for a suitable trawler. We had our present sailboat surveyed when we purchased it but did not sea trial, and had no regrets. However a twin engine power vessel is much more complex and we will want a sea trial but have no idea how to conduct one.
How is one done and what do you look for? Does a surveyor or mechanic go along?
Thank you for any advice.
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:03 AM   #2
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For a start,
A. boat survey
B. Separate engine surveys
C. Generator engine and electrical end.
D. Oil samples of engine and transmissions and generator.
E. Watch all temps and oil pressures
F. Run generator under load ie 2 A/C, battery charge, hot water heater for at least one hour.
G. cycle all hull valves.
H. ALL electronics working including the autopilot
I. make sure the sanitary over board pump works
J. take fuel samples from the bottom of the tank.
K. Fresh water pump works
L. Extensive out of water hull survey.

That's a start.
Find your own surveyors, dont rely on seller's or broker's recommendation.

I would hope others will make additional comments and suggestions.

These are the minimum your surveyors should accomplish
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:34 AM   #3
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Assuming a modest 35-45 foot boat that does not require a multi-day survey, here are some general guidelines I like to follow (see attached checklist/template as a starting point):

1. Sea Trial is a work-day, not a social day. Don't invite friends unless they are there as your consultant.

2. A checklist like the attached is a good way to work your way through the systems. I'm sure others will chime-in with improvements.

3. Sea Trial should not be a simple trip to the yard for a haul, which is what the broker will suggest. I personally like to keep them separate.

4. The seller/broker should provide a captain to drive the boat. I personally do not touch the helm at all during a sea trial, though I will ask the helmsman to demonstrate the boat completely - docking, figure eights, backing-down, etc.

5. I do suggest having a mechanic aboard. They will instruct the helmsman to run-up the engines to WOT and take heat measurements. If there is reluctance to run-up to WOT, there's a problem. If it's a planing boat and can't get up on plane easily, there's a problem. Could be a really dirty bottom. If so, reject the boat and redo the sea trial after its been cleaned.

6. Do NOT ignore electronics. Really need to make sure all the sub-systems are properly interfaced (A/P talks with chart plotter, radar overlay shows correctly on chart, radar is oriented correctly, engine controls display correctly, correct version of firmware, etc. ). Folks who diagnose and fix problems with electronics are expensive, and troubleshooting can take a while. If this is an expensive boat, you may want to buy a few hours of time from an electronics expert knowledgeable in the installed systems.

7. Out of water Survey. for 40-ish foot boats, surveyors can usually do the out-of-water sork in an hour or so. If so, try for a "Noon Hang" where the boat is hung in the travelift slings for an hour while the yard crew is at lunch. It's less expensive than blocking, and keeps the broker from talking you into making a quick purchase decision "Might as well get her painted while she's in the yard...." Survey is a sunk-cost. Get her back in the water as quickly as reasonable.

8. Do not miss the survey. This is your time with the surveyor. If the owner or the broker shows up, be cordial, but ask them to leave. There are things the surveyor may tell you verbally that he/she cannot put in writing. While I'm at it, I've always looked for NAMS surveyors, with SAMS being a second choice.

9. Survey Credits - Do not be a jerk. Depending on the age of the boat and how it was represented, it will usually have issues and you'll have to decide what's a fair resolution. Asking for a brand new thruster on a 20-year old boat isn't fair (unless it was represented as new).

Overall, you will do better with a friendly approach than trying to be hard-nosed. People who own boats have an emotional attachment to them - telling them their baby is ugly usually isn't the best way to getting the best deal unless they're super desperate.

Good luck!

SeaSkills Sea Trial Template 1[1].0.pdf
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:40 AM   #4
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For a start,

F. Run generator under load ie 2 A/C, battery charge, hot water heater for at least one hour.
Suggestion to load-up the genny for a while is especially good. Hadn't thought of that.
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:38 PM   #5
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Of course you want the boat surveyor and the engine surveyor to go on sea trials.
Somethings can ONLY be checked when the boat is underway.

Oh, two more thing, make sure the refrigerator and freezer are operating properly.
IF there is a water maker on board, has it been used and properly maintained
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by OldDan1943 View Post
For a start,
A. boat survey
B. Separate engine surveys
C. Generator engine and electrical end.
D. Oil samples of engine and transmissions and generator.
E. Watch all temps and oil pressures
F. Run generator under load ie 2 A/C, battery charge, hot water heater for at least one hour.
G. cycle all hull valves.
H. ALL electronics working including the autopilot
I. make sure the sanitary over board pump works
J. take fuel samples from the bottom of the tank.
K. Fresh water pump works
L. Extensive out of water hull survey.
WOW! I have never heard of anyone doing all those things on a survey!
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:58 PM   #7
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WOW! I have never heard of anyone doing all those things on a survey!
Unless you want to spend the big bucks repairing and rebuilding, you will do these things and more.
You will spend more money adding things and updating things making the boat "yours."
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:12 PM   #8
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Unless you want to spend the big bucks repairing and rebuilding, you will do these things and more.
I agree Dan. A couple years ago, a good friend bought a 3-year old Horizon 52 PowerCat. Despite being a knowledgeable boater, my friend skipped a few steps because the boat was so new. He has spent well over 15% of the purchase price (a 6-figure purchase price) in resolving issues that would have been largely discovered during a comprehensive sea trial/survey. Who knew that getting the motorized blinds to work would be a $4000 repair?
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:21 PM   #9
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WOW! I have never heard of anyone doing all those things on a survey!
I'm use to all those things and more being done. Which items do you find unusual?
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:30 PM   #10
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Wow Great input. Thanks so much.

Curious what does a surveyor charge? I'm not interested in somebodies friend, but a real licensed surveyor. Thanks!

Pete
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:36 PM   #11
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Any certified hull (boat) surveyor should have a checklist that covers all that has been mentioned and much more. Your insurance company and/or lender may require certified surveyors. Engine surveyors do the standard items mentioned, but I've found more variability in what they look for. On a boat with typical trawler systems, it's a full day job including the haul out and underway portions. Air Conditioning and Heating hasn't been mentioned (may be in the checklist attached above), but you need to know what does and doesn't work to decide a negotiating position with justification.

If you're doing one soon, good luck, and let us know how it goes.

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Old 02-05-2020, 02:22 PM   #12
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Wow Great input. Thanks so much.

Curious what does a surveyor charge? I'm not interested in somebodies friend, but a real licensed surveyor. Thanks!

Pete
There is nothing wrong if you bring a knowledge friend along too but, you will need a licensed surveyor. He may see something that needs additional attention.

Alas, based upon my own experienced, all surveyors are looking for the next job so if he shoots down a sale, he may never work with that broker or maybe other local brokers again.

You might ask your potential insurance company what they expect from the survey.

Sometimes I think surveyors are blood relative of the broker. LOL

I went to Chapman's school and asked them for a couple of recommendations from those they had graduated.
Just so happened, they recommend a black man..... He did not miss anything of even a minor importance so I was happy.
I guess my broker was happy because I know he used the surveyor again.

I will admit, I felt fairly confident in the boat before I had it surveyed. At the time, it was about 2 years old and I had owned a trawler before.

When it gets time for me to sell my AT34, I expect a line of folks wanting to buy it. I have made MANY improvements for storage. You wont find another AT34 with as much storage and the gen and main engine has been maintained beyond the next buyer's expectations SMILE
I really dont use the boat except to live aboard. Once every couple years I take it to the yard for haul out, bottom paint and inspection then back to the slip.
I have not updated the "working" electronics because any updates I make now will be outdated when I sell the boat. LOL
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:50 PM   #13
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Alas, based upon my own experienced, all surveyors are looking for the next job so if he shoots down a sale, he may never work with that broker or maybe other local brokers again.
Dan, If a surveyor is concerned that an honest survey for the potential boat buyer may lose him surveys from a broker down the road . . . that is NOT a surveyor that I want surveying a boat I am looking to buy!

There are several types of surveys:
Buyer's Survey
Seller's Survey
Insurance Survey . . .

I want a Buyer's Survey when I am looking to buy. Pull no punches, tell me what is right, and what is wrong with a boat, estimate costs of repair if possible (although it's kind of rare for a surveyor to give you cost estimates).

Before I hire a professional surveyor, I will have done a pretty thorough job of looking over the boat. I may even provide a list to the surveyor of specific items I would like them to look at. Never had a surveyor take offense to this, but I'd like their take on whether something I think may be important is important in THEIR PROFESSIONAL opinion.

Also, let the surveyor know that if they see a show stopper early on, let me know, I can chose to continue or stop the survey at that point and pay him for the time he has worked. For example. If the surveyor finds signs of water soaked stringers or massive delamination in the decks, I want to know immediately, and not bother paying him to provide an in depth written report. It wastes his time, and my time and my money. I'll move on to the next boat. Good luck in whatever you buy!
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Old 02-05-2020, 04:38 PM   #14
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Wow Great input. Thanks so much.

Curious what does a surveyor charge? I'm not interested in somebodies friend, but a real licensed surveyor. Thanks!

Pete
Four years ago in Anacortes our NT37 was surveyed pretty thoroughly, I thought, including an hour hauled out, and an hour sea trial. A very full day. Cost $760 plus haul out, IIRC.
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Old 02-05-2020, 04:47 PM   #15
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M/V Weebles, that is a great resource! Thanks for sharing it.
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:02 AM   #16
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Thank you all for the great advice. I have printed your lists and the excellent link. Will you let you know how it works out. First have to get offer accepted.
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:35 AM   #17
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I specifically ask seller to provide a written statement that all systems & equip are in good working order with only listed exceptions ahead of a survey. That way we both can expect that any deficiency be fixed or compensated for.
I have done this when selling boats, cars, motorhomes and it seems to work especially where there are some stated items that either dont work or are less than 100%.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:38 AM   #18
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Also remember, you cannot start the main engine and generator until your offer is accepted and perhaps a 10% refundable deposit too.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:49 AM   #19
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I specifically ask seller to provide a written statement that all systems & equip are in good working order with only listed exceptions ahead of a survey. That way we both can expect that any deficiency be fixed or compensated for.
I have done this when selling boats, cars, motorhomes and it seems to work especially where there are some stated items that either dont work or are less than 100%.
As a seller, I like to give a disclosure statement (perhaps a survey) to a buyer as part of their due diligence package just prior to making an offer. Not to anyone, but to a qualified buyer who will be making an offer. If anything pops-up that is not on the disclosure, we'll chat. Otherwise, they are making their offer with knowledge of the defects and I am not inclined to make concessions. My sense though is this is not commonplace unless compelled by law or local custom (house-selling in California, for example).

For the most part, I assume anything the seller says is not correct. Not saying they are dishonest, just that I assume they are either misinformed or have rose-colored-glasses on. I have been pleasantly surprised on occasion - when I purchased my W36 in 1998, the selling couple clearly loved the boat and were happy to see it pass to Cheryll and myself - he was a Silicon Valley engineer-geek type and was very precise in walking me through the boat. There were very few defects (bottom blisters was the only one I remember) and the transaction went smoothly.

At any rate, I'd encourage the OP to ping this forum with more information - type of boat, engines, etc. It's a brave proposition to expose ones self to the sometimes harsh comments of a forum, but within the neanderthal chattering will be several nuggets of wisdom. If you're looking at a 1980's vintage 40-foot single engine trawler with 10-year old electronics, well, advice is a lot different than if you're looking at a 5-year old offshore passagemaking 40-footer for $500k.

Best of luck!

Peter
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:18 AM   #20
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Your sea trial is concurrent with your mechanical survey.

Your mechanic will NEED to put the boat under full power to perform his survey.
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