This page updated: March 9, 2001


Static inspection:

Identification

Take pictures.

Boat name and port 
Manufacturer
and model
 
Asking price 
Boat location 
Hull number 
Registration number 
Owner's contact info 
Broker contact info 
Previous owner 
Mechanic/boatyard 

Specifications

LOA 
LWL 
Draft 
Beam 
Displacement 
Ballast weight 
Rig type 
Boat age 
Cockpit placement 
Mast height 
Various ratios 

Quick livability check

Cabin layout 
Cabin ventilation 
Standing headroom 
Storage 
Cockpit layout 
Deck layout 
Exterior wood 

Hull

Material 
Solid/cored
below waterline
 
Reinforced with
stringers/stiffeners ?
 
Hull/deck joint type 
Look for
depressions/bulges/blisters.
(Blisters especially at
or just below
the waterline.)
 

Deck

Material 
Solid/cored 
Color 
Walk on every
square foot to check for
crunching/flexibility
 
Look for cracks 
Rub-rail:
should stand out
well, want
steel/rubber/bronze-capped,
not plastic
 
Amount of free space 
Swim platform 
Hose down deck and
look in cabin for leaks
 

Keel

Shape / type 
Have X-rayed to
see if bolts
are sound ?
 

Ballast

Material
(lead better
than iron)
 
Internal/external
(external better)
 

Rudder, Propeller, Steering

Condition 
How protected 
Rudder shaft thickness
and mounting
 
How easy to service 
What type of propeller 
Tiller/wheel 
Steering linkage type
(cable pull-pull, hydraulic,
rack-and-pinion, worm gear)
 
Propeller shaft
parallel to waterline ?
 

Engine

Type 
Condition 
Age (years and hours) 
When rebuilt 
Maintenance records 
How easy to
access and service
 
Oil drip pan ? 
Size (want 1.5hp to
2hp per 1000lb)
 
Type of water-cooling
(raw, heat-exchange or keel;
want fresh-water cooling ?)
 
Type of block
(want cast iron ?)
 
Type of gearbox
(want hydraulic)
 
Shaft brake 
Exhaust system 
Fuel filters (want 2) 
Look clean 
Size/placement
of fuel tanks;
access ports
 
Sniff around engine
to smell antifreeze
(indicates overheating)
or burnt oil
 
Send fluid samples
to a testing lab
 

Ground Tackle

Anchor types/sizes 
Rode types/lengths
(all-chain ?)
 
Bow platform 
Anchor windlass 
Chain locker
(drains overboard ?)
 
Easy to deploy
anchor quickly
 
How easy to raise ? 
Boat hook 

Mast and Spars

Keel-stepped or
deck-stepped
 
Material 
Condition 
Instruments and
hardware at top
 
Condition of
mast-step
 
Halyard number
and routing
 

Safety

Lifelines/stanchions/toerails
(how high ?)
 
Deck configuration 
Sloping deck surfaces bad 
Halyards come to cockpit 
Bilge pump
number and types
 
Strength of
hatches and ports
 
Weight distribution 
Cockpit
size/drainage/bridgedeck
 
Cabin escape route
through forward hatch
 
Lightning protection 
Propane locker
vents overboard
 
Lifesling, overboard pole 

Sails

Number and types 
Condition (check batten
pockets and all edges)
 
Age 
Material and thickness 
Type of reefing/furling 
Chafe 

Deck Hardware

Quality 
Method of attachment
(through-bolted with
backing plates)
 
Winches
(self-tailing,
2-speed)
 
Cleats 
Blocks 
Hatch hinges
and fastenings
 
Port and hatch
materials
 

Attachment Strength

Bulkhead-to-hull 
Hull-to-deck 
Mast-to-hull 

Finish

Blistering 
Cracking 
Rotting 
Waterlogging
(recent painting could
be hiding cracks that
will come back)
 

Cockpit

Size 
Drainage 
Layout 
Sole type 
Lazarettes 
Visibility with and
without dodger
 
Traveler in cockpit ? 
Layout of gauges
and controls
 
Livability 

Cabin

Layout

 
Standing headroom 
Comfortable seats
with headroom
 
Size/number/length
of berths
 
Lie down in every berth 
Size/number/placement
of ports
 
Upholstery 
Paint 
Sole type 
Safety 
Lighting 
Ventilation 
Smell 
Look for stain line
that could indicate
recent sinking
 
Floor cracks
could indicate
recent severe impact
 
Number of
structural bulkheads
 

Through-Hulls (including propeller shaft)

Number 
Material 
Condition 
Sea-cocks 
Double-clamped
hoses
 

Access

To bilge 
To very bottom
of bilge
 
To engine 
To stuffing-box 
To through-hulls 
To plumbing/tanks
and electrical
 
To deck hardware
backing plates
 

Rigging

Condition
(dye testing for
cracked fittings,
magnetic testing
for swages ?)
 
Type 
Redundancy 
Routing to
cockpit, deck or mast
 
Any places where
chafe is likely
 
How easy to rig
jibe preventer
 
Dutchman or lazy jacks 
Extra halyards
and winches
 
Spinnaker pole and type of spinnaker jibe 
Whisker pole 
Traveller 
Boom vang 

Comfort

LOA and beam 
Deck layout
and space
 
Cabin space 
Ventilation 
Fans 
Layout 
Lighting
(natural
and artificial)
 
Storage space 
Dryness 

Electrical

Proper type of wire ? 
Proper type of
connections (soldered) ?
 
DC return wires used ? 
Switch/fuse panel 
Corrosion/zincs;
bonding system type
 
Accessibility 
Battery configuration,
size, condition
 
Battery compartment
separate from
engine compartment ?
 
Charging system
(solar, wind,
water, alternator,
generator)
 
Inverter type and size 
Shore power connection
(does it have GFI
and circuit-breaker
and isolation transformer)
 
Exposed on deck,
in cockpit ?
 

Plumbing

Condition 
Manual backup pumps 
Inspection ports
on water tank
 
Way to bypass
waste tank
 
Bronze instead
of plastic
 
Sizes/types/placement
of tanks
 
Shore connection
(does it have
pressure limiter)
 
Tanks shouldn't be
near heat sources
 
Water heater type 

Leaks

Water/mold/stains/smells
in bilge/lockers or
around mast/ports/hatches
 
Deck hardware attached
with screws
 

Galley

Stove type 
Refrigeration
size and type
and power source
 
Icemaker 
Watermaker 
Microwave 
Layout / access 

Head

Type 
Size (stand and sit
with door closed)
 
Access for
repair
 
Manual operation 
Holding tank 

Instruments

RADAR 
GPS 
LORAN 
Depth meter 
Depth finder / SONAR 
Auto-pilots 
Compass 
Barometer 
Knotmeter 
Anemometer 
Inclinometer 
Radios, antennas
and grounds
 
Where are
sensors placed
 
Gearbox
oil-pressure
 
Engine
oil-pressure
 
Engine
temperature
 
RPM 
Running
hours
 
Fuel gauge 
Voltmeter 

Tender

Type 
Condition 
Size 
Mechanism to
lift it
 
Place to
stow it
 
Motor
type/condition
 

Liferaft and Abandon-Ship Bag

Type 
Condition 
Size 
Place to stow it
(want on-deck stowage)
 
Supplies
(watermaker,
shade, food, etc)
 

Additional Items

Dodger/bimini 
Fenders 
Tools 
Spares 
Charts 
Books 
Logs 
Owners manuals 
PFDs 
EPIRB 
Extinguishers 
Bilge blower 
Fume detectors 
Automatic
fire-suppression
 
Jack lines
and tethers
 
Fishing tackle 
Ladder 
Sail and
instrument covers
 
Awning 
Rain-catcher 
BBQ 
Air conditioner 
Heater 
Deck hoses 
Deck shower 
Audio/TV 
Mast-climbing
gear
 
Courtesy flags 
Sea anchor 
Drogue 

General Use

How/where has the boat
been used in general
and in recent past ?
If ocean passaging right
up to present, probably
is well maintained and fitted.
If was used for day-sailing
and has been sitting idle
at broker's for 6 months,
probably is not well
maintained and fitted.
 

History

Any major accidents,
repairs,
refits,
changes from
original equipment ?
 
Prior
survey reports ?
 
Prior owners ? 
USA documented ? 
Inspect log book ? 
Maintenance records ? 

Aesthetics

 

Usability

How easy to get
on/off from
docked/swimming/tender ?
 
Free deck space
(with tender on board)
for sleeping/partying/sitting ?
 

Balance

At dock,
is boat listing,
or down at bow/stern ?
 

Miscellaneous

 




Sea trial:


Do sea trial with tanks full, all gear on board.

Balance

Pitching 
Heeling 
Balanced
steering
 
Weather helm 

Under Sail

Speed 
Visibility 
Sail-handling 
Responsiveness 
Dryness 
Motion 
Stability 
Tacking angle 
Behavior at all
points of wind
 
Behavior at various
strengths of wind
 
Behavior with
minimal/typical/full
sails up
 
Performance of
auto-pilot
and wind-vane
 
Sounds when below 
Raise/lower
every sail
 

Motoring (run engine as long as possible)

Engine
starting ease
 
Speed at
various RPMs
 
Noise 
Vibration 
Exhaust 
Leaks from engine 
Engine
temperature
 
Performance
in reverse
 
Maneuverability
turning radius
 
Sounds when below 
Turn on all electrics
and run at same time,
see what happens
 
New oil in drip pan
(put cloth down at start) ?
 

General

Water in bilge 
New water in bilge
after pumping it out ?
 
Water through
open ports
 
Pounding through seas 
Behavior when anchored
in wind and swell
 
Operate every instrument
and control
 

Tender (do a "sea trial")

Stability 
Wetness 
Capacity 
Motor 
Launching/stowing 






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