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How to Determine the Seaworthiness of a Power Boat

Part of the Power Boating For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Whether you’re buying a new or pre-owned power boat or preparing to sell yours, you need to make sure that the boat is shipshape and seaworthy. The following list spells out the checks to make before you buy or sell a power boat:

The boat is approved by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The upholstery is firm, the stitching tight, and the vinyl snug with no wrinkles.
The screws are tight, and the heads are snug and level in their holes. In sea trials, the boat feels solid and takes reasonable waves without heavy rattling or flexing.
The wiring is logical and easy to trace, and the connections are tight and free of corrosion. Storage compartments are ample and easy to access, and they have drains.
Every switch and lever and the items they control function properly. The hull is dry in the bilge or engine compartment (or at least the water is slight and not increasing in quantity).
The stereo and speakers produce normal sound. (Plug a CD and an MP3 player into the system.) Every through-hull fitting is tightly clamped and caulked to the hull, and all hose clamps are tight. Through-hull fittings below the waterline on the best boats are double clamped.
The hatches and doors fit and latch — and stay latched even if you hit waves. Any panels that open and close should function and latch properly. The engine compartment hatch fits tightly and latches and won’t pop up while underway. At wide open throttle, the wind can rip an engine compartment hatch all the way off if it pops open. (You’d be surprised at how many boats fail this test!)
The windshield is on straight and firm. The engine should idle smoothly without stalling, accelerate smoothly, and accept sudden acceleration and deceleration of the throttle without stalling.
Ladders, rails, and grab handles are firmly fastened. Ladders should be deployable from in the water. The boat should reach its wide-open throttle (WOT) revolutions per minute (RPM) without missing or sputtering at wide-open throttle. (You can find this specification on the particular engine maker’s Web site.) Too low or too high an RPM range at WOT indicates a poorly matched propeller or a poorly running engine.
Caulk is evenly applied around hatches and other areas that should be watertight. The caulk bead is smooth, and the caulk is in good condition and not peeling, moldy, or cracked. *
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Power Boating For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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