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SBoat for a Test Rideo you’ve narrowed down the list and decided to make an offer on a boat. There is just one more thing to do, make the deal contingent on a successful test or demo ride. What is important to you depends on your type of boat.

Fuel Economy
Most boats today have gauges that monitor variable fuel consumption. Note the changes at different speeds.

Visibility from the Helm
Some boats have poorer visibility from the helm position than others while reaching planing speed. Look to the front and back of the boat while driving. A boat with a hardtop or an enclosed helm may make it more difficult to see another boat coming up your wake or passing too closely. How well can you see an object under your bow at cruising speed?

Planing Speed
A planing hull has better stability and steering when it’s on plane. Use the tachometer and GPS display, keep the trim tabs and drives down, and begin bringing the speed down by 200 RPM intervals, pausing for at least a minute until the boat falls off plane. Solid whitewater will be behind the transom rather than a V pattern. Maintain minimum plane while making some turns. A slower minimum plane is better in rough seas and not as important in a calm lake.

Self-Bailing Cockpit
Grab a friend or two and stand at the transom while taking a dock hose and squirting water in the cockpit. See how fast water drains.

These are just a few of the things that might help you decide if you’ve found the right boat. Ultimately, you will want to be comfortable behind the wheel and have a boat designed for your type of activities.


Falvey, K., 2017. How to Sea-Trial A Boat, https://www.boatingmag.com/how-to-sea-trial-boat-0

Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors Inc.
(SAMS): marinesurvey.org

National Association of Marine Surveyors
(NAMS): namsglobal.org

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