When you signed those documents at the end of the handover, you have confirmed towards the seller that the boat is as intended and without faults, unless you have pointed some out and included it in the handover protocol. It is also the time when the warranty starts and the boat is yours, finally the adventures can start.

If it has not dawned on you already, this is a pretty important decision to make, that the boat is ok as presented to you. Do not take it lightly and make sure you are working off a thought through checklist.

If you can be on site at the time of rigging, it is a good idea to take a photo of the serial numberfor the mast and boom. This can be more difficult to get to after the mast is in place.

First check all the options to make sure nothing is left out. This is pretty obvious but you might find that you have paid for something you did not get. In my case, I had paid for 3 heads whilst I only have two! Luckily, I discovered this as I reviewed the options list to prepare for the handover and did not need to ask for money back.

Second make a list of all functional equipment like instruments, heaters, watermaker, air conditions and so on. All these devices needs to be tested to make sure they work properly. Before you start with any setup, configurations or tests, make sure all updates are installed to the most recent versions. You can find information about updates on the vendor’s websites. The electronic navigation systems might also need a bit of setup. Make sure you know how depth is setup, that the compass is calibrated and that the autopilot works. The autopilot has different modes, make sure they explain to you and show you how the different modes work. I prefer it to be water under the keel, but it might not be setup that way initially. A good way to start a checklist is to list all the options usually listed under “Dockside setup/calibration” and “Calibration” Usually there are more than one datasource for speed, wind etc. Ensure that in the dockside setup you are reading the input from the correct sensors!

Next check the radar offset and compare it to landmasses as you overlay the radar with the chart on the chart plotter. The radar images and the landmasses should be on top of each other. When the setup is done, go out sailing and make sure you read the correct data.

Third make sure to test the AIS and EPIRB/safety equipment works as intended. Check that the test alarm shows up on the chart plotter. Have a look at the chart plotter to make sure you see all other AIS targets on the screen and that you do not get a proximity alarm from your own boat. If you do, then you have more setup to do and you might have not configured the AIS with your own MMSI.  Your VHF radio probably needs some setup to work as intended. Make sure the MMSI is programmed in the VHF and that it receives GPS signals. This is vital for the SOS button and DSC Emergency calls to work correctly. Do not forget to do a radio check.

Air hose bent 90 degrees. No air flow!

Fourth do a visual inspection for marks and dents, check all the furniture, especially side panels if any. Inspect the engine room to make sure all hoses are connected correctly and that there isn’t any oil spills or other spills indicating a leak in the engine room.


Inspect the rig visually:

Rigging screw

  • All splints are put in correctly and not bent back, should be at about 20-35 degrees.
  • The halyards are the correct length and brings the sails all the way to the top without leaving any slack.
  • Inspect the riggings crews. They should be in the middel when the rigging is completed to allow for adjustments, which will be needed as you start sailing. Make sure you inspect the rigging screws inside the furlers as well. Mine was set to completely open as I made a comment on the forestay being to short. They should have changed the wire, but instead opened the rigging screw completely.
  • If you can, go below deck and take a photo up the mast form the saloon to check for any issues with the rigging. It should be straight and have a slight even arch backwards.

Fifth go sailing. While sailing, test the engine and that it reaches it intended speed at max RPM. Check the reverse as well. Test all the sails and make sure the sails are coming out as they should. Check furlers, winches, blocks and shackles for any problems. Make sure the chartplotter, radar, AIS and autopilot works as intended. Create a route and ask the autopilot to follow it, set a heading and make sure the autopilots follows it etc. Set protective zones on the radar and make sure the alarm goes off when another boat enters it. Here is also a good time to make sure the AIS reading and radar blips are aligned and on top of each other. If you see a radar blip and get an AIS reading a few degrees to either side, then you need to align the radar again. Test the MOB function!

After completing the sailing test, do a walk through to make sure nothing has come or is loose.

Last and this is important. Do not sign off the handover protocol until all the issues you found are fixed!

Contact me if you have any questions or just want to discuss your new boat purchase. I am happy to share my experiences with you.

Categories: Buying a boat

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