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How to Determine the Seaworthiness of a Power Boat

By Randy Vance

Part of 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.
*