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Thread: Survey and sea trial contingency language

  1. #1
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    Survey and sea trial contingency language

    I'm about to make an offer on a boat, and am wondering if anyone has good examples of survey and sea trial contingency language from their contracts. I'm looking for something that has words like satisfactory, surveyor of buyer's choosing, etc. but eloquently stated. I find the brokers to be a little underwhelming, and would like some protections a little more spelled out.
    Also, I would appreciate any advice on how it works for requesting a sea trail when making an offer on a great-lakes boat in December.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    I asked a local broker for a copy of their offer agreement form. My understanding is that there is a "standard" form that most of them use.

    This one (screenshots attached) is from Sail Northwest (Seattle-area broker)

    Section 4 covers a sea-trial
    Section 5 covers a survey
    Section 7 covers other contingencies

    If this is useful to you and you want a copy, PM me. I can send in Word or PDF format...

    Bruce

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    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
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  3. #3
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    The tradition is to decide you like the boat, make an offer that is accepted, and schedule the sea trial.

    At your convenience along the way hire a marine surveyor, haul the boat so he can look at the bottom, and maybe attend the sea trial. Optional is rigger inspection and an engine inspection, because marine surveyors don't climb the mast or test the engine.

    Your offer is made on the understanding that there will be a new round of negotiation after the inspections. If expensive issues are found, the buyer and seller work out a compromise.

    Brokers exist to handle the interactions. Basically both sides in the deal have to be satisfied, and either side can walk away at any time (and your deposit will be returned).

    Most people who decide to make a deposit, have a sea trial and pay for a survey wind up buying the boat. They want the boat and have spent maybe $1,000 confirming their hopes. The seller is very motivated because the buyer is the real thing, and the real thing is rare. It's a good faith thing. Post sea-trial demands to lower the offer by $5000 because you found a stain on the upholstery will not be well received.

    Contracts? Me, I hardly read them. Nobody can force anybody to do anything in these deals. In fact, if after all the checks and months of psychological preparation, if on the day of the sale the owner changes his mind--that's his prerogative. Happened to me once. The broker said, "Sorry, but as a practical matter you can't really make somebody sell you his boat."

    The paperwork exists to provide a rational, mutually agreed path of steps to ownership. Enforcement isn;t practical.

    One factor listed is sort of important--the closing date after the sea trial. Two weeks is standard, you can ask for month.

    The boat remains on the marketplace through all this. Hahahah. As if folks were lining up....
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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    Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm Sati's Avatar
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    Another important piece of parliamentary procedure is to make sure after the sea trial, that additional requests for money off are submitted as "requests for concessions" rather than a brand-new offer on the boat. It's a subtle difference and ultimately kind of BS, but if the seller doesn't like your request for concessions, you get a chance to say "Ok, maybe asking $5000 off for the upholstery stain was silly. I'll buy at our previously agreed price." whereas if it's submitted as a whole new offer, the buyer could theoretically reject it entirely and go with the next guy's offer. And the broker will want you to know that there definitely is a next guy....he's right outside, and he's offering $1000 more than you!
    Geoff W.
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    One more very important inspection is the engine inspection. A diesel properly maintained is good for about 7- 9,000 hours. Not maintained, far less. That hunk of metal under the companion way is a $10,000 item so you don't want a bad one.

    In Terra Nova's case, the engine was sound but the wiring was questionable. In fact, it looked like the wiring had been done by an over caffeinated hyper active spider. I bought the boat anyway as everything else looked good. Good sails, two spinnakers. Top flight electronics, etc. I knew I could put them back together properly. I wanted to sail the new boat so I put off the rewiring until winter. The result was three engine failures that summer. In the five years since the rewiring, there have been no failures. I have the yard invoices for all of this horrible work so don't necessarily think you will get good work from the pro's.

    I reduced my offer by $2,000 to cover the wiring. The offer was accepted.
    Last edited by supersailor; 12-11-2018 at 12:48 PM.
    Bob Morrison
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    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    I was able to get a hardheaded owner down the last $2,000 by suggesting he keep his (old, tired) 12-foot inflatable and 20 hp outboard. Which was worth, well, something to somebody, maybe. But it saved him face. That's important, too.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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    Thank you all for the advice and assurances. This all makes me feel better about the contract as it's written, and not so worried about getting jargon right but simply making expectations of what has to happen clear all the way around.
    I've got questions about timing then, but I'm sure all these details will get worked out through the broker. Still, any insight would be appreciated.
    We saw the boat this fall and were scrambling to schedule a survey and sea trial before it got hauled out, but simply ran out of time. We were feeling rushed and that wasn't a position we wanted to be in.
    Now that we've taken our time to consider, we want to move ahead with an offer. What might we expect to happen in the spring then? Are we going to end up paying for de-winterizing and commissioning in order to splash the boat for the sea trial? It just seems like it's basically the opposite process of normal, so everything I've read up on is backwards.
    Gives me plenty of time to shop for a surveyor, who I imagine can help answer some of these questions too. Any recommendations for surveyors on the west shore of lake michigan anyone? (Sorry. Thread drift. My alias is very inaccurate).

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    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    When we bought our boat we had an excellent surveyor, and a separate engine/drive train survey. Both of the guys were eager to show me what they were doing and did find some neglected stuff that subsequently got repaired at the seller's expense. Both of them saved me more $ than their fee.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftless View Post
    Thank you all for the advice and assurances. This all makes me feel better about the contract as it's written, and not so worried about getting jargon right but simply making expectations of what has to happen clear all the way around.
    I've got questions about timing then, but I'm sure all these details will get worked out through the broker. Still, any insight would be appreciated.
    We saw the boat this fall and were scrambling to schedule a survey and sea trial before it got hauled out, but simply ran out of time. We were feeling rushed and that wasn't a position we wanted to be in.
    Now that we've taken our time to consider, we want to move ahead with an offer. What might we expect to happen in the spring then? Are we going to end up paying for de-winterizing and commissioning in order to splash the boat for the sea trial? It just seems like it's basically the opposite process of normal, so everything I've read up on is backwards.
    Gives me plenty of time to shop for a surveyor, who I imagine can help answer some of these questions too. Any recommendations for surveyors on the west shore of lake michigan anyone? (Sorry. Thread drift. My alias is very inaccurate).
    Just saw this thread. I am located in Virginia. We found our E380 in Rhode Island late in 2017 and finalized the purchase in January of 2018 while the boat was still on the hard. I had a surveyor meet me at the boat and he did all of the survey that could be done and we left it that I would have him meet me at the boat in the Spring to complete the survey, which was to be the sea trial and the systems that couldn't be checked due to they were winterized. The broker put $3000 of the purchase money aside into an escrow account that was held until after the sea trial. If anything was found during sea trial that money was ear marked to cover it. Our boat sit on the hard until we flew up late May, at which time we all met the surveyor (me, broker, seller) and did the sea trial. I was not expecting any problems as the previous owner had given the boat tremendous TLC and I had made several visits to the boat in preparation for the journey home. And there were no issues found during the sea trial. Upon completion of the sea trial the broker had a document of boat acceptance which released the funds to the seller and I accepted the boat as is. It was a really fun day. The seller walked around the boat giving pointers and tidbits of how things worked. The day after the sea trial me, my wife and another couple left for a two week vacation bringing the boat home. It all worked out great. We were all still friends at the end of the trip. All you need is the perfect seller, honest broker, a great surveyor and well maintained boat. And lots of planning.

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  10. #10
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    What boat is it? Different factors E26 vs. E38. If it's a listing, post it and the group will have comments.

    I ask because, re the spring launch, I would think the owner will have to do that. It's easier to sell a (big) boat that's in the water.

    The "sea trial" is mostly about the sails, the rigging, the engine. Good to see everything in place, makes inspection easier. The sailing qualities are the least of it, because model to model they're predictable.

    On the other hand, the best inspection of spars and rigging is when they're down, and a surveyor can do most of his other inspections on the hard, too. So if you;re interested, take advantage of the opportunities.

    I don't think it's crazy to survey the boat now, lock in a refundable deposit, and make the contract final after a sea trial in spring. That is, if you're ready to commit and have not been able to find another boat suitable.

    You'd still be able to back out for no reason at all. But the owner would know you're serious, and have spent the survey money, and are the "real thing." Boats are hard to sell.

    Good luck. I myself would probably have this boat burning a hole in my pocket all winter, worried somebody else would pip me at the post (hahahaha--they won't), trapped in double and triple-think, unable to stop planning improvements, and wondering if spring would ever come.

    You may be more stable. Let us know how it goes.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  11. #11
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    Christian's post made me remember that as part of the purchase I was responsible for the cost to splash the boat. I bought the boat as it sit on the hard. This added about $2600 onto the sale price when all was said and done. The boat was shrink wrapped with the mast removed, so splashing the boat meant the mast and rigging installed and they also got all the systems ready. But the mast being removed allowed the surveyor to look over the rigging top to bottom, which was nice.
    Every deal is different. Depends on what you work out with the seller and how you feel about the boat and its condition.
    Leslie Newman
    E-380 #15 "Osprey"

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