Boating safety class without a boat? Seatrial without knowing how to drive?

Discussion in 'Newbie Lounge - NEW' started by cryptyk, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. cryptyk

    cryptyk New Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    I'm looking for a used boat. I plan on spending the next few weekends making appointments to look at a bunch of boats to learn more about them, look at conditions of boats, etc. When I finally decide I want to make an offer and see the boat at seatrial, how does this work? Does the owner typically take the boat out and you ride along? Does the broker take it out? I don't know how to drive the thing =)

    Which leads me to: How do I learn how to drive this thing? How do I learn what all the fancy buttons do? Once I buy my first boat, do I just read the manual? I'm thinking the seller isn't going to want me calling him up and asking the best way to parallel park...

    Is there a "I don't have a boat but want to learn safety and how to drive and park and know what the buttons do" class I can take?
  2. comsnark

    comsnark New Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    NJ Shore
    SeaRay SunSport
    Fair question for the newbie forum.

    First. . .where are you boating? What kind of boat are you looking for? The answers will differ slightly for a 220 select and a 460DB.

    Second. . ."seatrial" also can mean different things depending upon the money involved. If the money is "significant" (for me that would be start at about $20K), then seatrial would involve YOU (not the broker) hiring a professional surveyor who will go over the boat with a fine tooth comb. During the seatrial, the broker (not you, not the owner) or his designee would drive the boat while the surveyor sees how it runs (not overheating. . reaching specified RPM . . no weird vibrations). If the power plant is complex (say, two big diesels), you would have seperate engine and hull surveys. (i.e. you get an engine mechanic to check over the engines)

    Third: Check insurance in advance. They may require a survey to be performed. That would logically be during the "seatrial" step in the buying process.

    Fourth: Do you have any friends that boat? They would be best to learn from. And you probably want to take a "boating safety course" to learn all the important safety stuff. Not just the legal limits on alcohol. . but how to read nav bouys and what safety gear you really want on the boat. Beyond that . . trial and error does wonders for learning.
  3. cryptyk

    cryptyk New Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    I'm looking at a 320/340, so yea, it's a big investment. I'm in San Diego, and will be doing weekend runs to Catalina, as well as overnights in various places around San Diego.

    And since it's my first boat and I don't have any boating friends (yet!), I'm placing a *** lot *** of faith in my surveyor.

    I'm absolutely going to take boating courses (plural).
    I'm a fast learner, and read a lot, but I've got to say I think I'll be pretty nervous the first time I have to pull out of/into a dock.
  4. Buckeye Boater

    Buckeye Boater Member

    Jun 19, 2007
    Wooster, OH
    215 Weekender 2006
    Merc 5.0 MPI 260 HP

    You will definitely want to sign up for safety courses. Check with your local Power Squadron.

    Once you have finalized the deal, you should ask the previous owner or the broker to provide you some detailed training.

    You should also inquire at the local dealer if they can suggest a captain that you could hire to provide a day (or two) of on the water training. That person would help with not only handling the boat, but should be able to explain the systems on the boat.

    Good luck in your search.
  5. Alex F

    Alex F Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.

    I think this is when dealing with local SR dealer like MarinMax might be a good idea. You will pay more, but when you buy from them you become part of the "their customers community", which includes helping you get proper training and priority for servicing your boat. It's like buying a package. This is just one of the options people in your situation take. There are mixed opinions weather it's worth to deal with MM, but I think in most cases it's still positive rather than negative.

    just MHO.
  6. Vince_nj1

    Vince_nj1 Active Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Aug 25, 2008
    North Barnegat Bay
    2006 320 V-Drives 6.2s, Bow Thruster, Generator, Raymarine C80, Radar, Fish Finder
    6.2 Horizons 320HP
    I would recomend that you buy and read Chapman Piloting.

    There is a lot to cover on owning, maintaining and driving a boat. Its not like driving a car. Sounds like you are planing some off shore trips. You really need to get training beyond how to start the boat the put it in gear.

    Read as much as you can and ask a lot of questions.

    You can probably find a licensed captain around the marina that you can hire to take you out for lessons.
  7. comsnark

    comsnark New Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    NJ Shore
    SeaRay SunSport
    Yes. . .for this size boat, get survey's. It will cost a bit over one boat unit ($1K). . you probably want a hull survey by a licensed surveyor and an engine survey by a certified mechanic. This however, just tells you if the boat is sound. While you can lots of info, these are not people who will train you on all aspects of boat ownership.

    Going the dealer route will get you certain priviliges like priority service and a few training courses for free. It's a nice way to start. There is value in this, but don't let them overcharge you significantly for the boat!

    I bought a brokered boat through the dealer, and it was nice that issues uncovered during survey were fixed that day by the dealer. It was also nice to have someone to call when something (serious) broke after 4 hours of use! BUT by the end of my first season, I found the dealer to be a high-cost and low-quality maintenance option.

    Hiring a captain for a day or two is an excellent idea for learning. I did that with chartered sailboats, and it helps build confidence. Docking and handling the boat in rough water are two major challenges for anybody new.

    Vince's recommendation for Chapman's is very good. This ain't a car. You can get into serious (serious as in life-threatening) trouble if you get overconfident. Take it slow, accept the fact that you will do something stupid that will cost a few boat units to fix, and relish the stories that result.
  8. tmhudson2

    tmhudson2 New Member

    Aug 30, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    I agree with both the purchase and reading of Chapman's, and hiring a captain for lessons, although I have no idea how comprehensive the dealer's lessons would be. As Casey suggests, check out the courses provided by your local Power Squadron ( ), and not just the basic Boat Safety courses they and the USCG Aux. offer; they may suffice for around the bay boating, but when you go offshore, you are going to sea, and the basic course will not be sufficient when (not if) something goes wrong.
  9. wkearney99

    wkearney99 Active Member

    Feb 23, 2006
    Bethesda, MD, USA
    Twin 6.0L w/ZF inboard V-drives
    First, be sure you grasp how much you'll actually use the boat and how. All too often someone buys the wrong boat and their boating experience gets ruined in the process.

    Like not understanding that their spouse and family doesn't want to go along. Guy next to me last season had that happen, found out his wife really didn't like boating, took a real financial hit unloading the boat (less than what divorce would've cost though!)

    Or getting too large of a boat and discovering the added expenses (slip fees, fuel, cleaning, etc). Or too small of a boat and not being able to comfortably bring along the desired amount of people and gear. The 320/340 sized boats are a good choice for what you've mentioned.

    The USPS courses and meetings are a good place to start. The courses are not the end-all authorities on the matter but they do cover a lot of basic essentials. That and the instructors and fellow members are often a great source of local boating knowledge. The Chapman book is an excellent reference and well worth owning. But it's a bit much when just starting out. But it will cover just about every condition you're ever likely to encounter (and trips to Catalina will certainly raise a few).
  10. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    The US Coast Guard Aux, offer alots of boating courses and most insurance companies will give you a discount on your boat insurance if you take the safety course.

    Taking the safety course by the USCGA will definitly get you alot of the "Driving" information you need to know.

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