Yes, a deposit is standard. That is what I did on my last buy.
That said, not always. I have taken and given test drives before; if the seller like to sail and the boat is in the water, it's a matter of convincing the seller it's not a "boat ride." In my case the test sails always seem to be in challenging conditions and out of season, which proves everyone is serious.
As for "good conditions", you are better off with a nice small craft advisory. You'll learn more. Every boat is smooth and dependable in the calms; that's just an engine test.
(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")
"Well, I just climb up to them."
by Joe Brown, English rock climber
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