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Old 08-10-2004
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Sea Trial

I recently contacted a broker to discuss viewing a boat and possibly doing a sea trial. The response I recieved confused me. I''ve never bought a boat from a broker before so this may be totally normal but the response was this "We do not go on sea trials until we have an
accepted offer with a deposit."
Am I naive to think that one should be able try before you buy? What if this boat has lee helm or just soaks you every time you cross a wave or numerous other annoying things a boat can do? What if sailing it just doesn''t "feel" good? My first impulse when I read this was to run, not walk, from this broker/boat. Am I deluded?
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Old 08-10-2004
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Sea Trial

Your not deluded!

I ran into the same thing last week. Im taking a good friend (who I had hoped to take on the sea trial) with me to look at the boat prior to entering into a contract. Its the broker/owners way of limiting test drives to the truly serious buyer.

Good luck!
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Old 08-10-2004
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Sea Trial

I don''t think most sellers are interested in providing lookers with test drives. The purpose of a sea trail is to confirm the proper operation of equipment that can olny be tested underway. Only after offer-acceptance would not be unusual.

You wouldn''t learn a lot about the characteristics of a boat in a brief sea trial. Use other methods, and do your homework before you start looking seriously. When you get down to a few satisfactory models, join the right newgroups, network, talk with owners, hit up other owners for day sails, and charter as needed to learn what you need to know.
When you start shopping you should know what you want and be be ready to buy when you see a good example. Then go through the offer, boat survey, engine survey, re-negotiation, and finally sea trial.

My advice, find an experienced, knowledgeable local broker, and turn your boat search over to him/her. They will save you a lot of time and wasted trips, and if you are buying an over $20k boat, you wont pay anything extra since a broker fee will be in place most likely and it just gets split. Just like buying a house...

Good luck.


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Sea Trial

I get the fact that brokers don''t want to provide ever T D and Harry w/ a test drive but talk is cheap and its clear to me that owners of boats aren''t always quick to point out the bad things about the boat they sail. I have done my homework (narrowed to 3 models that span a thousand miles of coastline) but the boats I''m looking at aren''t as ubiquitous as a Hunter so hitting up other owners for rides isn''t an option aside from the fact that I live in MN and will be traveling thousands of miles to do the viewing. I''m dealing with another broker who doesn''t mind contacting the owner telling him that someone is crossing a continent to see his boat in particular and the owner was more than willing to accommodate. O''well, just complainig I guess, but it is unfortunate for the owner of that boat because his/her broker wasn''t willing to contact them to let them know the circumstances and I in turn would not be willing to go under contract without taking the boat out first. So, to all brokers who read this, consider the larger picture before you lay down your silly policy''s.
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Old 08-11-2004
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Sea Trial

You are totally deluded. You are shooting the messenger. The broker is only telling you the time honored position of the boat''s owner. You are allowed to try before you buy. That is what a seatrial is about, but you need to demonstrate that you are serious about the boat by coming to terms (i.e. getting a signed contract in place) and putting up a deposit. If you find that the boat the boat unsuitable, or you find its condition unacceptable, you can get out of the deal and get your deposit back or you can chose to renegotiate a lower price.

As an owner I would never give a broker permission to allow someone who was not a serious enough buyer to make an offer and put up a deposit to take a sail trial on my boat if she were for sail. I am not in the business of giving free rides on my boat to anyone who has a vague notion that perhaps they are interested in my boat but not so serious that they are willing to negotiate a price and put up a deposit.

Doing a sea trial means that the broker and I need to commit time out of our lives to take you sailing, when you aren''t even willing to commit make a reasonable offer and a refundable deposit.

I know that individual owners will sometimes size up a buyer and decide to chance a sail trial without a contract or offer, but if you look at most Broker codes of ethics, that is not considered ethical for a broker to do.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 08-11-2004
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Sea Trial

Hello,

I bought my current boat back in June. The broker was clear, no sea-trial without a contract. Of course, as pointed out, you can sign a contract, take a sea-trial, then back out of the deal if the boat does not meet your needs.

The contract the broker provided was very reasonable, and protected the owner (as expected), and me too. It included provisions for damage to the boat during the sea trial (owner was responsible for any damage, not me), and many other valid points.

Barry
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Sea Trial

Jeff_H---
What I said earlier is that another broker contacted the owner to aprise him of the situation and the owner made the decision to "chance a sea trial" not the broker. So what I found most interesting in your reply was this ---"I know that individual owners will sometimes size up a buyer and decide to chance a sail trial without a contract or offer, but if you look at most Broker codes of ethics, that is not considered ethical for a broker to do." As in real estate, what is ethical for the broker to do is to give the decision to the owner and let them make that decision. Remember, I''m not walking down the dock looking to "kick the tires" I''m traveling thousands of miles from MN via Mexico to SF to look at 3 specific boats(how do I decide which would suit my preferences best without entering into a contract on all three?). So if, as you said, I "...find that the boat the boat unsuitable" is it as simple as just saying that and getting out of the contract or should I ask for somthing to be written into the contract saying something like --Buyer reserves the right to back out of contract for any given reason."?
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Old 08-11-2004
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Sea Trial

Most sellers won''t be too keen on a blanket "out" following a sea trial. My experience -- having bought 3 boats and sold 2 (one just a couple of weeks ago) -- is that the sea trial is customarily for the purpose of making sure the engine turns over, the sails bend on, the depthsounder works, etc. -- stuff you can''t test while the boat is on the hard. It''s a quick test of systems, not a cruise. By the time you get to this point, the seller will already have had the boat subjected to walk-through, survey, and haulout/blocking (because surveys are typically done out of the water), and now has to launch the boat again to allow for a sea trial. Also, the price may have been renegotiated as a result of a survey, expenditures may have been made to make survey-recommended repairs/changes, etc. So, by the time you get to sea trial, both parties have gone a long way, and spent more than a few bucks.

The fact that you are coming from a long distance complicates matters, and you may find a seller who is willing to give you a test drive on that basis. If you had come to look at my boat, and wanted more than the customary (minimal) sea trial, I would expect a contract with a deposit, reimbursement for costs of launching (as well as hauling, if you were to reject the boat), as well as a payment for the sail -- since not only would I and my broker be taking time out for it, but also because I''m assuming a level of exposure to risk by taking strangers out on my boat. To require less would leave every boat seller out there in the unintended position of giving free rides on their boat to anyone who can make a claim that they are shopping for boats.

Incidentally, I bought all three of my boats without the test drive -- the last two we closed on in February (with boats out of the water and conditions too cold for sailing), with nominal dollars held in escrow pending a sea trial in the spring, intended only to confirm that the engine worked. By the time we held the sea trial, we owned both boats. However, I had already chartered a boat of the type I purchased most recently, so I knew what I was getting.

Your best bet is not to rely on the willingness of a seller to give you a test drive, but to thoroughly research the type of boat you are buying and be prepared to follow through.



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Sea Trial

The contract for my boat purchase allowed me to cancel the deal at any time for any reason.

The boat I looked at was out of water. The brokerage agreement covered splashing the boat for the survey and sea-trial. If I went through the sea trial and decided not to buy the boat, I was responsible for paying to have it hauled and blocked again. I would receive my deposit back.

Some other interesting conditions in the contract include what happens if the seller decides not to sell. In that case, the seller must pay for any survey costs I incurred.


Good luck,
Barry
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Sea Trial

Ditto on what''s already been posted. It isn''t a hard and fast rule about sea trials but is the norm not to do one without a contract. In Florida it means little for someone to travel 1000s of miles to view a boat...that is a daily happening here and to hold a boat off the market for your visit would require a contract too.


I''ve bought and sold more than a handfull of sailboats. Most were surveyed in water before contracting. I have never had a seller or broker turn me down on this either. If you don''t know what to look for take a surveyor to look it over and give you a verbal conditional report on what he can. You don''t need a formal written survey at this time to tell you a major portion of info about the boat. Do the contract after this if it looks good. Then pull the boat and do the bottom survey and follow up in writing.


Boat brokerage shouldn''t be compared to real estate business...in most states it is a LAW that licensed real estate agents present any and all binding offers (contracts) to the seller. It doesn''t matter how low they are.
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