Our broker just called and said he's about to list a boat that might interest us. We scheduled a time to see it next week and asked about taking it out for sea trial. He said that's usually done only after a sales contract has been drawn up. I was unaware that was standard practice.
I understand taking a boat out on the water isn't the same as taking a car for a test drive. On the other hand, making an offer on a boat that you have no idea how it handles takes away a valuable piece of information for the buyer and could deny the seller a better offer if it's a good performer and in good shape.
So if we get to writing up the sales contract, I guess we stipulate the sea trial first? Or does a potential buyer usually not have that power? Like, "I don't like the way it handles. The deal is off." kind of thing.
The broker is correct, sort of.
The thing is, you are buying a sailboat, not a car. If you want to know how a certain boat handles, charter one, crew on one, read up on that model, etc. I understand that this may sound strange but that is how it works.
It would take the better part of a day to arrange a "test sail" and in reality you won't find the variety of wind and sea conditions to find out how it really behaves on all points of sail in all conditions. So a "test sail" is just a waste of everyones time. Well, except yours because you get to go for a free ride on someone elses boat.
Now I said sort of because you are the one with the money. There is no reason the broker cannot contact the seller and at least talk to him about the option for you to get a ride.
The broker really has no idea you are serious until you give him a 10% deposit and set up a survey.
That being said, most "test sails" are done as the last part of the survey with the surveyor and broker on board.
If you are really not sure how a boat will "handle" you should charter one for at least a day or two. You will gain a wealth of knowledge and find things you love about the boat, and possibly hate. Even things that might seem silly as getting in and out of a berth, hand holds, the location of the head, galley, etc.