June 08, 2006
To Sea Trial or Not To Sea Trial – There Is No Question
Matt Provenzano, RIBCRAFT’s Director of Operations
When folks ask me why I spend so much time on our boats, I quote Kenneth Graham’s famous line, “There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
My goal since I started at RIBCRAFT was to build the best RIB in the industry, period. And spending large amounts of time on the water on our RIBS as well as our competitors’ boats is the best way I have found to flush out desirable and undesirable characteristics. As everyone at this company will attest, I don’t go “boating” - I go out with the sole purpose to put these boats to the test every time I hit the water. The Sea has a way of finding any kink in the armor and exploiting it. My goal and job is to find that kink first.
I typically spend at least two days a week on the water sea trialing boats. At RIBCRAFT we sea trial every boat that leaves our factory with an engine. I would argue that the sea trial is one of the most critical parts of the building process. It allows for the evaluation of a boat’s performance, machinery, controls and operating systems in addition to the overall comfort and safety of the boat. Prior to any sea trial, our quality control manager runs the boat through the paces on the hard. (RIBCRAFT’s quality control process inspects and evaluates over 300 different aspects of the boat.) Even after all this and primarily out of habit, I go through the boat personally before I splash her.
Here’s a small list of what I typically look for:
•First, I look over the tube to ensure that all tube seams and patch work is tight, the tube is holding air, and each of the chambers is inflated evenly. Running a RIB at low or uneven pressures will in short order ruin a set of sponsons. Optimal tube pressure is between 3.0 and 3.5psi.
•Second, I thoroughly inspect the hull. First I check to insure the hull is clear of scratches or damage. I then climb aboard and open every hatch and to look inside. Additionally, I check to make sure there are no scratches to the gelcoat. After all the fiberglass components are inspected, I look at all hinges and fasteners making sure that each is properly installed.
•Next, I look over the boat’s electrical systems. I test all electrical systems to ensure that they are operational. VHF and UHF radios are tested to ensure clear transmissions. I also check wire and battery terminations in the console to make sure that all wires are secure and protected from chafing hazards. On our larger boats, I look over wiring on the arches and radar towers. Our guys do a great job with installing electrical systems that exceed ABYC and USCG standards and it is rare if I encounter any issues in this area.
•Finally, I inspect all mechanicals. I always start with the steering system. Turn the helm lock to lock. Note any feelings other than pure smoothness. On hydraulic helms check to make sure the oil level is topped up, while rotating the helm visually inspect for leaks at hose terminations and throughout the hose run. I also always pop the cover on the engine and check vital fluids before I make my way to the harbor. At the same time I ensure, throttle and shift cables are tight and locking pins have been installed. Once the boat is fueled, I evaluate all fuel fittings and tank penetrations to ensure there are no fuel weeps. Checking bilge pump operation is critical as is checking for or removing any debris in the bilge that could choke a pump.
When practical, it is best to put the boat through its paces in reasonably windy and bumpy conditions. RIBS truly show their colors when the weather picks up. I have weathered conditions in RIBs that most boats just simply could not handle. Once on the water, I run the boat at varying RPM’s and record engine and performance statistics for each boat. Here is a small list of what I also check while on the water:
• Tachometer reading at wide open throttle
• Constantly watch all engine gauges and alarm indicators
• Check throttle and shift detents and tension to ensure proper adjustment
• Inspect helm and steering linkage at all bolted connections
• Check for fuel leaks and fume build up
• Recheck electrical equipment operation and verify bilge pumps are working
• Check for any water leaks.
• Once back at the dock recheck all engine fluids and bilge levels.
If you ever find yourself in Marblehead and you would like to go for a ride please call and I will personally take you out myself. Just remember your foul weather gear.
Posted by ribcraftusa at June 8, 2006 05:57 PMBack To Index