Summer is just around the corner and your friends and family can’t wait to get out on the water. But there are a few serious considerations and some due diligence to attend to before putting a pen to the checkbook and declaring yourself the proud captain and new owner of your dream yacht. 

Requesting a sea trial

Once you’ve identified your prospective vessel, you’ll want to request a sea trial. Not sure if she’s “the one”? Hold off until you’re fairly certain that you want to commit. As opposed to a casual boat ride, a proper pre-purchase sea trial takes time and planning, and will likely involve a monetary investment as well (the expense is normally the responsibility of the buyer). Of course, even if the boat turns out to be in perfect working order, a sea trial can confirm or challenge your decision to purchase based on handling, comfort underway and more.

There are any number of things to look for when considering a boat purchase, and it’s well worth the extra effort to ensure a buying decision that won’t surprise you with unplanned expenses anytime in the near future. Especially when it comes to large vessels, repairs can be costly and involved.

Finally, boating safety is a factor that makes a thorough sea trial and survey even more critical. A mechanical or systems failure at the wrong time can lead to vessel damage or loss, passenger injuries or even a life threatening situation.

Sea trial procedure

If you are very familiar with boats and systems it’s possible to conduct a sea trial yourself, especially when purchasing a small vessel. But a qualified surveyor or mechanic can go a long way toward ensuring a sound purchase that’s the right fit for you and your family. When you’ve decided to seek a professional, look for someone with the experience, confidence and inquisitiveness to snoop out any hidden potential issues. 

Before your sea trial, prepare in advance to be on full alert with a digital camera and notepad in hand. Be ready with an itemized list of all the things to be inspected, and bring no extra passengers to distract you unless it’s a particularly observant mate. 

If possible, conduct the sea trial on a windy day with choppy seas. You’ll want to observe the vessel’s overall onboard comfort and rough-water capabilities. A sea trial should determine if all systems are in working order and functioning properly even when running hard, and in less than ideal conditions. It’s also a good idea to inform the owner about the amount of time required so that the trial isn’t rushed in any way. 

Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for the sea trial procedure to lapse into a pleasure cruise of sorts, so stay on task and make sure your hired professional remains fully engaged in the process. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make sure that a rigorous, comprehensive sea trial is performed.

What is a boat survey

What is a boat survey, and what does it include? A pre-purchase survey is a thorough “top-to-bottom” inspection of a boat by a qualified marine surveyor, and will usually include a sea trial, as well as in-depth reports and information to assist the buyer with making a final buying decision. When purchasing a pre-owned yacht, both insurance companies and lenders are likely to require a marine survey. But even if it isn’t required, it’s highly recommended.

The pre-purchase survey should involve a haul out for a full inspection of the hull and underwater gear. A good surveyor will use sounding and a moisture meter to determine whether there are voids, rot or delamination in the hull. They will also check all the electrical systems, plumbing, hardware, fuel systems and more. Surveyors also verify that the vessel meets required standards and regulations, including certain safety standards.

If possible, plan to be present during the survey process so you can get familiar with the boat systems, and the surveyor can discuss any important findings with you in person. It’s also an opportunity to ask any questions that may come up, even if it’s not an issue that would be included in the written report.

Survey procedures and inclusions do vary, so be sure to establish in advance the type of survey that will be performed, and what written reports you can expect to receive upon completion. 

Boat sea trial and survey for peace of mind

Finally, remember that it’s important to get a sea trial and survey even if the yacht you are considering has paperwork from a recent survey. The condition of a boat can change quickly, particularly if it’s been grounded. 

In the end, a professional survey is well worth the time and expense even if only to provide peace of mind for you, and added safety for your friends and family. 

Find out more

Our experienced yacht sales team can help you find the perfect new or pre-owned yacht. Shop our world-class selection of yachts, including sailing monohulls and catamarans, as well as powercats. Alternatively, you can read more about boating topics on our blog.