IN THE COCKPIT
ROOM FOR BOTH CHEEKS
Sit at the helm. If the seat feels too small, you may have caught the boatbuilder skimping to make the cockpit seem bigger. A seat should be at least 1'6" deep. In a performance boat, bucket seats provide better support than back-to-back models. After you get up, give the seat cushioning a jab with your finger. The fabric and foam should spring back immediately from the indentation you made.
Stretch out on the aft sunlounge. Does it feel as if you're going to roll off or is it secure? Well-designed sunlounges are recessed slightly below the aft edge or are encircled by safety rails.
STITCH IN TIME
Check the seams in the upholstery. If those on an edge have piping sewn in, they'll last longer. An extra row of stitching on each side of the seam makes it stronger. Also, stitches should be pulled tightly down into the fabric so they don't abrade.
When you pick up a seat cushion, you should see a base of rotocast plastic or a similar material. Some builders use plywood, but this can rot unless it has been treated. The bases should also be vented on the underside to improve water drainage.
All boats should have a tachometer, fuel and voltmeters, and oil pressure and water temp gauges. Big outboards and stern drives need trim gauges; go-fasts need mechanical trim indicators. Is there space for a compass, which is about the size of your fist? Or a depthsounder, which averages two fists side by side?
RIGHT OF PASSAGE
Make your way from the cockpit to the bow. Imagine what it will be like trying to get to an anchor line in the middle of the night with 4' waves and a 20-knot wind.