Buying a stock fiberglass boat is a pretty safe undertaking. You know what you’re getting, and since production boats are designed to appeal to the tastes of the average boating family, chances are you’ll be satisfied — if you’re an average boat owner.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As the formal inquiries into the July Fourth Long Island Sound tragedy continue, Soundings asked Eric Sorensen, a regular contributor, to discuss boat design principles, especially as they relate to seaworthiness and the physics of buoyancy and stability. Sorensen is the author of “Sorensen’s Guide to Powerboats”; consults for boatbuilders, the Navy and boat owners; and was the founding director of the J.D. Power and Associates Marine Practice.
Sooner or later your boat-handling skills will be put to the test. Is your boat up to the task, and will you be on your game?
If you use your boat often enough and have the normal boater’s sense of adventure, it’s pretty likely that you’ll eventually find yourself in big seas. One minute you’re heading another five miles offshore to follow the fish reports. A few fish later and, the next thing you know, you look up from the fishbox to see that the wind has piped up and the 3- to 4-foot seas have turned into 5 to 6 feet — and growing.
If the idea needed reinforcement, there’s been plenty of it in the news recently — big ship or small boat, there’s no room for complacency at sea.
The media attention devoted to the 100th anniversary of the April 1912 Titanic disaster reminds us again that the term “unsinkable,” at least as it applies to larger ships, is not an absolute.
Conducting a comprehensive sea trial is essential when buying a new or used boat. Do it right and you’ll obtain the data you need to purchase with confidence or move on. Do it wrong and you might end up buying a boat that’s a bad fit for you and your family.
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