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Old 08-06-2021, 08:50   #1
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Buy a boat you've never sailed?

I am thinking about buying a new boat and it has been a while since I have gone through the process. I just want to know what the norms are now, and whether I am asking too much of the seller.

I do not like the idea of buying a boat that I have never sailed before. I found something I really like and I want to go see it and sail it. It looks great from the description and appears to have everything I want. I asked the listing broker if I could arrange to go for a short sail before committing. He said no, and that I would have to have a boat survey and that I could sail on it when the surveyor puts up the sails etc.

The boat survey is expensive. If I sail on the boat I may not want to go through with a purchase. I even offered to send a refundable deposit but the boat broker said "no way", which I thought was kind of rude. He said I needed to be committed to buying the boat before I could go for a sail.

I would like everyone's honest opinion. Would you commit to buying a boat you have never sailed? I wouldn't buy a car without driving it first.
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Old 08-06-2021, 09:03   #2
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Here is the typical process:

1) View the Boat, or have a representative view the boat

2) Make an offer through a signed Purchase and Sale (P&S) agreement P&S should include terms (Subject to satisfactory Survey and Seatrial (or possibly even buyer financing and/or insurability)

3) Offer is accepted, P&S signed by the seller (If not then counter-offers, until an agreement on price is arrived.

4) Survey the boat, or wave rights to survey.

5) Seatrail the boat, or wave rights to seatrial

6) Close on the sale, or counter based on remediation recommendations from survey and seatrial.

Asking for a seatrial prior to steps 1 ~ 4 is asking for a ride. Sellers and brokers won't waste their time with such requests. They'd be taking many, many boat rides before they received their first offer.

If this were a thing, I'd book a sea trial everywhere I went on vacation to get a nice ride to view the location from the water.
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Old 08-06-2021, 09:11   #3
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

One of the duties of a broker is to fully qualify and separate prospective buyers between those that are solid leads and those that are not so solid so as to minimize time and effort involved by both the broker and the seller. Segregating the looky-loos from the serious and discerning buyer.

Typically, a serious boat buyer will know the make, model and year(s) of the boat and its accoutrements that they are desiring.

Indeed there is a bit of the chicken or the egg issue as to a potential buyer needing to have had time and experiences on various boat types to have the ability to know what it is they truly desire, but that is not role that a broker is to fulfill.

You need to garner such first hand experience from having developed access from networking with the boating community. Even when one goes to a boat show, the boats are not taken out for "test sails".

Then when you know what boat or boats are right for you then that is when one goes through the formal offer, survey and trials procedure.

A potential way for you to evaluate the boat might be to arrange your schedule around when the seller might be going out for a day sail and then tag along.
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Old 08-06-2021, 09:37   #4
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Agree with the above answers. Another thing you could request is to do the sea trail first. I know some surveyors that will discount the survey if you bail after this as they have done a lot less work. You will still be out some money but not the whole cost of the survey.

What are your concerns with the boat? Through research and/or talking with ownera of like boats should be able to answer most questions. Look for an owners group for the make you are interested in. If there is an active members group you might be able to get a ride with someone on a like boat.

Good Luck

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Old 08-06-2021, 09:47   #5
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

It can be hard to convince both brokers and owners to do a sea trial separate from the day of the survey. There is a lot of coordination involved and a lot of people out there willing to put down earnest money for what amounts to a free boat ride. It is just easier to schedule one full day to go about both together. And, knowing that the buyer has skin in the game, with the surveyor and often haul out, helps insure someone isn't out for a free boat ride.

So, if a separate sea trial is that important to you, then this probably isn't the boat for you. I imagine brokers are very busy right now and neither brokers not sellers are too concerned about bending over backwards for any individual buyer. Such is a booming market.
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Old 08-06-2021, 09:49   #6
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Call the owner directly as the broker commission is protected.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:02   #7
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

I guess we were lucky as I thought a sea trial before survey was the norm. Maybe it was because we bought from a dealer who had the boat at their docks.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:04   #8
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
Here is the typical process:

1) View the Boat, or have a representative view the boat

2) Make an offer through a signed Purchase and Sale (P&S) agreement P&S should include terms (Subject to satisfactory Survey and Seatrial (or possibly even buyer financing and/or insurability)

3) Offer is accepted, P&S signed by the seller (If not then counter-offers, until an agreement on price is arrived.

4) Survey the boat, or wave rights to survey.

5) Seatrail the boat, or wave rights to seatrial

6) Close on the sale, or counter based on remediation recommendations from survey and seatrial.

Asking for a seatrial prior to steps 1 ~ 4 is asking for a ride. Sellers and brokers won't waste their time with such requests. They'd be taking many, many boat rides before they received their first offer.

If this were a thing, I'd book a sea trial everywhere I went on vacation to get a nice ride to view the location from the water.
Shrew's got it right. Make offer contingent on sea trial. It's a bit surprising for a big purchase, but doing sea trials all the time takes a lot of effort and time.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:07   #9
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

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Originally Posted by canyonbat View Post
I guess we were lucky as I thought a sea trial before survey was the norm. Maybe it was because we bought from a dealer who had the boat at their docks.
It can be done either way at your direction. If you are iffy about how the boat sails, then do it first. Especially if it's in the water.
Beware that sea trials are usually more done toward if everything is working well.... often the weather doesn't cooperate that well to see a boat's various sailing characteristics... A boat that is fast in light air could have troublesome weather helm at 18 knots of wind... etc...

If a used boat and you are iffy about it's condition, survey first.

You dont have to survey the same day as sea trial... unless you want the surveyor n board for the trial.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:08   #10
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

It may make a difference whether or not the boat is currently on the hard. If it is in the water, making an offer contingent on sea trial and out-of-water survey and insisting the sea trial be done first is not unreasonable. If the broker is unwilling to convey that offer to the owner, I'd walk anyway.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:10   #11
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WindLove View Post
If I sail on the boat I may not want to go through with a purchase.

There's no harm in asking, many sellers will be happy to take you out for a sail, but the sellers are under no obligation to do so. The amount of time and effort to take a potential buyer for a test sail can be significant and if, as you say above, it doesn't result in a sale the seller's time is wasted. Maybe the seller did take out the first four or five who asked but now is reluctant. Boats are often on the hard when they are put up for sale, making test sails even more problematic.



Try to find a ride on another example of the same model if you can. Even if it isn't exactly the same, something close may give you the experience you need to make a decision. Otherwise, yeah, you have to go through the whole process, put up the deposit, and pay the surveyor and possibly other costs for getting the boat sea trialed. Nobody ever said buying a boat was cheap.


I was in this position myself, wanting to buy a one of a kind boat, but not without sailing it. It was on the hard and winterized, of course. I put down the 10% deposit (fully refundable), paid a surveyor, paid the yard to launch it, sailed it, decided it wasn't what I hoped, paid the yard to haul it again and re-winterize. I was out a big chunk of change, but it was cheap compared to buying the wrong boat.


Good luck!
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:17   #12
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WindLove View Post
.........Would you commit to buying a boat you have never sailed?..........
When I purchased my last 3 sailboats and 2 powerboats the purchase agreements were all "contingent" on financing (where required), sea trial and survey(s) with each giving you an out before the next purchase step. So you can perform a sea trail and decide not to proceed with the haul-out and survey and expend that cost, albeit I have never done that. Just looked at the purchase agreement for my Hunter 46 sailboat (purchased 2 years ago) and Symbol 50 powerboat (recent purchase) and that is the way it read. Others in the forum might have a different view.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:21   #13
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WindLove View Post
I am thinking about buying a new boat and it has been a while since I have gone through the process. I just want to know what the norms are now, and whether I am asking too much of the seller.

I do not like the idea of buying a boat that I have never sailed before. I found something I really like and I want to go see it and sail it. It looks great from the description and appears to have everything I want. I asked the listing broker if I could arrange to go for a short sail before committing. He said no, and that I would have to have a boat survey and that I could sail on it when the surveyor puts up the sails etc.

The boat survey is expensive. If I sail on the boat I may not want to go through with a purchase. I even offered to send a refundable deposit but the boat broker said "no way", which I thought was kind of rude. He said I needed to be committed to buying the boat before I could go for a sail.

I would like everyone's honest opinion. Would you commit to buying a boat you have never sailed? I wouldn't buy a car without driving it first.
this is a simple charter-type boat you want to buy.
When charter companies selling boat lot people ask sail try, no problem. Charter boat 1-day or 1-week and test what you want (if you have documents for allowing requirements charter boat)
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:29   #14
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

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Originally Posted by lvictorlucas View Post
Call the owner directly as the broker commission is protected.
Most brokers I know will direct their clients not to discuss anything directly buyers brokers or the prospective buyer.

You may also put off the prospective buyer. I would personally not appreciate get called directly from the buyer. I hired a broker to handle that nonsense. I only want to see the signed P&S's.

If I wanted to take those calls I would have listed the boat FSBO.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:31   #15
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Re: Buy a boat you've never sailed?

I recently sailed with the owner as race crew on a Shipman 63. The most awesome cruising sailboat I’ve ever seen. Luxury accommodations including large watermaker, washer, dishwasher. Beautiful cabin. Flush decks, no cleats, all lines internal, hydraulic halyards and winches. It easily turns light wind into 10 or more boat speed. 15 to 20 in decent wind. This particular vessel was solo sailed Hampton, Va to English Harbor, Antigua last November in 7.5 days.


For a small knock around, I have a Tornado Cat. Fast and fun.
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