When I bought my boat it was out of the water, rig out and a $400 truck ride each way to get launched. I opted not to launch the boat but was fortunate that a previous buyer had gone through that trouble and I had the report from the mechanic who did the sea trial. It took some of the risk out, but not all. We did run the engine with a hose on land but without any load, it really doesn't tell you much. Ultimately it worked out, but I do have some issues with the engine under WOT (black soot in the exhaust). My mechanic here believes the injectors should be serviced and I will likely have that done. Only way to have found that would have been to do the sea trial myself. If I replace the injectors it would still cost about the same as it would have for me to launch and sea trial the boat myself. I guess you place your bet and roll the dice.....Survey Wednesday! It will be squeezed into an afternoon as the surveyor added it on to a morning survey the same day, on the request of the broker to avoid a month delay in performing a survey.
Added to that, with trucking the boat 500 miles it is impractical financially to put it in the water for a sea-trial, so the motor will only be tested on a hose without being under load, not ideal at all. But the several thousands of dollars to commission and decommission the boat will go toward preparing for trucking. This of course is nerve-wracking but almost universally this is the approach taken according to multiple sources. I'd like to hear opinions on whether this is just a really bad idea to not splash the boat and check the various systems in the water especially the rig and engine. It has almost new instruments and the autopilot has recently been worked on.
Therefore, any suggestions on how to maximize the survey time and especially weak points to watch for on the J Boat and indeed any 30 year old boat would be welcome. Some items I have found on reviewing J Boats:
-the original Harken lower rudder bearing is prone to failure and the recommended replacement part is $2500
-there are various other areas where the J/40 is prone to high moisture in the core. Especially around the genoa tracks and chain plates. In prior surveys there has been some question of moisture in various areas which ultimately was felt to not need immediate attention.
-the cabin sole is a total PITA to replace and this one has a little dark wood on the edges by the settees supposedly from water tanks weeping when heeled
I don't think there is any way to verify the bearings need work without pulling the rudder. If it is tight with no slop and turns easily, then most likely you are good, but something to consider.
The tanks should be checked. I suppose you could get some leakage from the inspection ports in the tank but I would investigate that a bit further.
I really think the biggest issues with J boats is water intrusion into the core so that would be my focus. Atleast it was when I was shopping. The hardware and equipment is all likely getting up in age so any component over 20 years old is overdue for replacement. The boats were generally well built (to a price point) and equipped with higher quality gear than most production boats. It is not a Hinckley or Swan, but it is better than most production boats and will sail really nicely.
Good luck and keep us updated...