Buying a boat

by Adrian Waters

So you want to buy a boat, where do you start, what type, size, make, model, new or used and so on. With so many choices it could make your head spin. Look to buy the boat that best matches what you want to get out of it on the water. Those that bought a boat and then regretted it bought the wrong type of boat for their needs, abilities and limitations.

Which type of boat to choose

First, to decide what sort of boat you want you have to answer one question, where will you be using it? Whether you'll be gliding up and down the rivers and inland waterways or stretching your sea legs to sail the coast or trail a water skier or two on a calm lake. Where you use it will greatly influence the type of boat that would be right for you.

How is it powered, the next question, sail or motor. This depends on what challenges you're after, how competent you are and how many people will be using it.

New or used

Now that you have some idea as to the type of boat you want, finance will be the major factor in making a decision. A new boat will cost more, but shouldn't have the same maintenance costs as an older boat. As well as this a new boat bought from a dealer or manufacturer will have the peace of mind of a warranty.

However new boat prices generally just cover the basic specifications and may not include some essential items of kit. Also depreciation will be significant in the first few years. Some new boats may have unintentional faults built into them, this can be remedied with the warranty that should cover such faults and niggles.

A used boat on the other hand should give you more boat for your money, a five-year-old model can be up to half the price of a brand new boat and provided the previous owners used the boat regularly then any early faults should have been taken care of. But the full history may not be known and private sellers won't offer warranties.

Checking the boat

If buying a new boat then it is a good idea to check the model above and below it. Finding out about all optional extras, colour schemes, delivery lead times, warranty terms, any part exchange if available, payment details and their first asking price. Next is to have a trial of the boat on the water where a check of the handling, steering, stability, and feel of the boat can be gauged in a variety of situations, from confined areas to open water/seas. It's worth making a note of the weather conditions as trying to compare one boat that was tested on calm flat water with little wind with one that was tested on choppier seas and strong winds is not going to be worthwhile.

If buying a used boat then the rules are slightly different, a thorough inspection should be made to check the condition of the boat and any improvement work that you feel may need to be done. For the first time buyer getting a reputable surveyor to inspect the boat is a must, be expected to pay for this as a matter of course, although any problems or recommendations highlighted by the surveyor could be used at a later date to get a reduction in the sales price. At the very least it will give peace of mind that the boat is in good condition and is safe for use.

Sales price

New boats generally don't sell for the list price, with a discount of anything between 2 and 8 per cent dependent on the time of year, availability, model age and demand. Deals can be done at boat shows and towards the end of the financial year. Also it pays to be aware when a boat is to be replaced with an updated design as deals can be done on the outgoing model. If the discounts aren't as high or not on offer then negotiating for secondary equipment to be included may prove more worth while, as the cost to you is higher than the charge to the dealer to supply these items with the sale, such as GPS, depth sounders, ropes, plotters, life jackets, fenders, deck cushions and even some entertainment equipment.

Used boats are trickier, the only way for a discount is if in your eyes or from a surveyors report there are faults or improvement work that needs to be done to make the boat safe and ultimately usable for your requirements. If the price seems high and the seller won't budge on the price then walk away as there will always be other boats. You need to be happy with the price that you are paying otherwise it will detract from the experience.


Now unless you have the agreed sales price tucked away in a bank account somewhere then financing the purchase is going to be a loan either from a bank, building society or a specialist marine finance company. If a broker/dealer suggests a company be aware that they may be on commission from the company for referring the business and so it may not be the cheapest, so shop around for the best deals. And don't forget to add associated costs to the price of the boat itself like cost of transportation if necessary, any additional equipment needed that was not included in the sale, insurance, mooring fees and to a lesser extent estimated running costs (there's no point in buying it if the cost of repaying the loan means there's no money left to run it when you want to use it).

Boat insurance

When searching for reliable, cheap boat insurance make sure that the minimum covered is theft, fire, malicious damage, accidental damage, loss or damage to personal effects, loss or damage while in transit and third party liability insurance. All these are covered as standard at Insure My Boat with our fast efficient quotation system, same day coverage and secure online payment methods, that will give you peace of mind when away from your boat and security when you're out and about enjoying life on the water.

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