A sea trial is one of the best parts of buying a new boat. After all that dreaming, you finally get to put your boat through her paces. It's the sweet culmination of months of researching, shopping and negotiation. You’re finally at the helm, setting the sails to let her dig in and go.
Your First Sail is a Time of Celebration and Learning
By all means, grab that rush and hold on to it. But not for too long because your sea trial is a tremendous learning opportunity, with rare access to expertise right there in front of you on your new boat.
A sea trial is a normal part of a boat purchase, giving you a chance to learn about your boat as you take your first sail. Leopard is on board with this and will work with you since you should have confidence in your new boat.
Your Leopard broker and a captain will take the boat out with you and demonstrate the best ways to operate your new beauty and make the most of her capabilities.
With the Leopard team on board, you have a wealth of knowledge and skill available to you. Don't be shy about asking questions. You will have a chance to discuss anything you see, and observe the boat in action, so don't miss that opportunity.
By the sea trial, you'll be very familiar with your boat’s systems and features. Make a list of any questions you may have about their operation. The intent is to put the boat through her paces, and you want to make sure that happens, and you see everything in action.
Speak to the broker ahead of time and make sure you agree about what the sea trial entails. You also want to sail the boat on different points of sail, but you should also plan to run the electronics and go over even the most basic systems. Turning on all the lights and running the microwave before you take possession of a new boat will help you when you head out the first time. After all, you don’t want to be fumbling for a light switch your first night at sea!
Bring a notepad with you, and keep your cell phone handy for pictures and videos. Your Leopard broker will undoubtedly provide a ton of insight and pro tips. Take lots of notes.
Learn The Ins + Outs
When you see a boat at a show, you get little chance to explore the boat. It's a showroom experience, and showboats are often privately owned vessels loaned for the event. So you usually can't lift floorboards, open cabinets and stick your head and shoulders deep in the engine room with a flashlight to see what's there.
This Leopard, however, is almost yours. The sea trial is your first real chance to take a deep dive into the boat to learn where things are. So bring your own flashlight, and stick near your broker as the floorboards come up and systems are revealed. Boat builders are brilliant about concealing system works beneath an elegant interior finish, but your broker knows where Leopard puts them.
If you don’t see the owner’s manual during the sea trial, ask for it. You’ll want a chance to look it over before the final walk-through when you take ownership.
Go All Out
There's a temptation to baby a boat during a sea trial, and that’s a mistake. You shouldn’t do anything dangerous, but Leopards are built tough. They can handle the ocean on offshore passages in severe conditions. So there's no reason you can't put all the sails up in a breeze and see how big of a smile your new boat can put on your face.
When you hop off your Leopard at the end of your sea trial, your biggest memory might be how you felt the first time the sails filled. But you’ll have notes, pictures, and the final report. Use that information to build a list of questions to bring to the closing.
Then, when you finally get the keys from your broker, you'll be better prepared to take the helm for a lifetime of adventure.