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NickD

New Member - Boat Purchase Advice

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HI all,

My Wife and I are looking to buy our first boat on the broads, travelling up this week (COVID-19 restrictions permitting) to spend some time looking at Marina's, country walks and maybe looking at some boats, we have some thoughts that are making the decisions difficult, so any advice you can give will be great:

Some notes:

  • This is our first boat.
  • I am ICC, VHF and RYA PowerBoat Level 2 Qualified (with my advanced booked in)
  • We are only really looking at a £15K budget (as its our first)
  • We are from London so will look to travel up on Weekends/bank hols.
  • We are both 31, healthy and active.
  • Mostly just be on the Broads, though I would like to get some coastal time in.

Questions:

  • Petrol vs Diesel - we have read the masses of posts and opinions on this subject and know Deisel still seems to be the better option, but with so many petrol boats in our budget, will it make much difference on the broads? I don't really like the idea of storing lots of petrol on-board. Happy to pay the extra thirst on the few coastal hours we will get.
  • BSC - A few boats we have looked at need a new BSC shortly, we know the cost is in region of £150 and that's not a problem, but worried, 'what if it fails?', would the pre-purchase survey cover what the BSC would and give us some piece of mind?
  • River vs Motor - I'm a Motor cruiser fan but Kirsty likes the space and light you get on a river cruiser so any experiences of river cruisers doing coastal runs, Canopy space vs hard top space or any other clear differences when it comes to own we should note?
  • For initial purchase we have factored Tolls, Mooring, Insurance, surveys. Are we missing anything?
  • In general, excluding Insurance, tolls and mooring how much do you factor a year for other boating costs?

Sorry for all the questions from a newbie, know there are lots of posts around, all responses would be highly appreciated!  

Nick & Kirsty

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Hello Nick & Kirsty,

Welcome to the forum.

A lot of questions and know doubt our forum members will give you many varied answers in due course.

I would go for a diesel or a twin diesel option if you are contemplating taking a boat out to sea, of course if you are thinking of sea use then you have to price in flares, ship to shore, a life raft. The insurance will be greater for sea usage.

A canopy will reduce your overall height but canopies need washing, reproofing and repairs yearly. To give you an idea the last time we had our canopy canvas replaced to fit our frame in 2010 it was just over £2000.00, stitching is constantly ongoing and panels replaced.

The first thing you need to agree on the type of craft, the size, air draft, number of berths before you visit any boatyards. Look on websites such as the NYA for the boats they have available, they have branches at Horning and at Brundall.

If you are thinking of going to sea then ideally you need to look at moorings on the Southern Broads.

The costs of boating is all down to what you want to do with your boat, improvements/upgrades. To give you an idea over the last two years our syndicate has spent over £20,000 per year on operating costs and upgrades to our boat Ranworth Breeze.

One of the things that you have to include into your costs is boat recovery and dive insurance, I suggest that you check out the options that Boulters offer, You may like to register with the Small Ships Registry. Maintenance will be your biggest outlay, mooring, insurance, the cheapest will be the river toll dependent on your boats size.

Regards

Alan 

 

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Brilliant post Nick, giving most of the information needed.

I admit I am bias I have an Elysian Bounty. A 27ft, soft top, stern cockpit, diesel engined, cruiser that has, albeit limited , sea capabilities.

Such a craft should be within your budget, offer most of what you seem to be looking for and will hold it's value.

Frequently (though not as often as I would like) able to go under Potter Heigham such a craft is able to access all the broads.

The disadvantages of such a craft is that it's design is far from modern (mid 70s build) and, at 27' space is at a premium.

There is a slightly more modern version for sale at Potter Heigham.

https://www.watersidemarinesales.co.uk/boat/bounty-27-red-princess/

I certainly recommend  a Diesel boat.

 

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Welcome to the forum, I agree with Alan go for diesel. Our boat cost 30k  shes ex hire.Great for the broads, but not sea,not enough power.Moorings large range of costs.We more at cove Brundall. Loos showers electric gas and fuel available.Very good place to moor,close to Norwich. There are much cheaper places to moor,however for us cove is safe to moor and lots of friendly faces. We use our boat alot,biggest cost being fuel.How much does it cost?How long is a piece of string.All my costs to keep the boat going about 3.5 thousand pounds. Nest month we are having some work done on the boat,which will cost £1000.Some thing will crop up often batteries. My advice look for a boat that's comfortable in good,condition, appearance, and engineering. Ask lots of questions.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Ian.

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Warm welcome to the forum :) 

My best piece of advice is dont rush into the first boat you see like we did. (Embarrassingly we ended up buying three boats in a year) The first one rapidly became too small.  Look at as many boats as you can, and spend a decent amount of time on each one. Is it easy access for all passengers including dogs if you have them? Do you want to go under most bridges or would you rather see over the reeds?  Our centre cockpit with canopy has resolved both these issues for example.  

There is never the perfect boat, (i really wanted a well deck) and you will need to compromise on something.  We had petrol with our first two boats which was a faff and to be honest, I personally didnt feel that safe and it guzzled fuel. We now have diesel and we can go for miles and miles on a tank.  Factor in your travel costs to and from the boat.  

Good luck and have lots of fun looking and let us know the outcome! 

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one of the reasons people are saying diesel is the lack of ready availability for petrol on the broads, though petrol boats are frequently cheaper, you will soon get fed up of lugging cans of fuel back and forth to the boat, there are also the inherent dangers of transferring fuel from can to fuel tank.

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Yes our first boat shetland 4+2 from new.lovely boat.Petrol yes a pain getting fuel very little available on the river.

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Hi Nick Do you want to do camping or comfort unless you are good with DIY £15,000 won't get you a sea going boat unless its sail, petrol engines are quirt lower, servicing and smaller BUT you will have to carry 30 or 40 gallons of fuel for a two week sailing holiday, do you want heating this is more difficult with petrol power. Most people get there first boat that is too small difficult to moor to cramped, for comfort 30ft would be the minimum, But nothing like gaining experience if your pockets are deep enough. how long do you intend to use it, weekends or two/three weeks holiday plus weekends. the minimum amount of canvas covers is also beneficial for comfort and ease of mooring stern on, what will you do in the evenings when cold and or raining read a book or tv this requires battery power same with heating a fan heater is only good if shore power is available.. it is cheaper to get a boat in good order than get a wreck and do it up, but as you are in your thirties and in good health! the world's your oyster. best of luck. John

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Alan, £20k per year for last 2yrs spent on Ranworth Breeze. Is that a typo error?

Nick, take your time and don't rush also much like buying property be prepared to be disappointed when viewing the boat that looks perfect in the photos.

Some boats have been up for sale for ages so no harm in asking forum members any questions but fear you may get conflicting replies, bit like asking a plumbers forum what is the best boiler. :default_icon_e_biggrin:

Oh, and :default_icon_wave: :default_welcome:

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Lots of looking, test runs and don't hold back making offers lower or much lower than asking price.

If you make an offer on a boat near to needing a BSS make your offer subject to the seller obtaining this first.

A full survey is fairly expensive but can save you thousands plus you're likely to get at least some of the cost back negotiating any work that needs doing

There is always work that needs doing!

Welcome and most important of all... enjoy 👍

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Hi both and welcome. Two people at 31 will hardly make a dent in the average age on this forum, which somewhere around "fossil".:default_coat:

Your first boat is likely to be a bit of a throw away as you find out from experience more precisely what you need, so take your time and look for a bargain.

The BSC shouldn't be too much of a problem if it's a renewal but a boat having it's first one may require a fair amount of work. Pay particular attention to the fridge; if it was fitted since the previous BSC then it should not have ability to run on gas. Hence 12V fridges are pricey!

 

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Katie and I spent over a year until we found what we wanted , many were discarded along the way .

We wrote a list of must have and  would like to have which were (for us)

Must have 

Diesel engine , shaft drive, outside space , hot/cold water incl shower, separate berth that can be left made up, fridge and cooking facilities , holding tank WC, low enough airdraft for Ludham Bridge at low water, heating . 
 

would like 

original gel coat, shore power , bow thruster , inverter , lower airdraft for Wroxham  poss Potter bridges.

 

Initially our set budget was £15k we finally spent approx £30k to get what we wanted .

its now three years since our purchase and we have so far spent a further £3k on additions and every single penny has been worth it , we settled for a boat that can normally pass Ludham (but not since December grrrrr!!) has all of the above requirements excluding inverter (may fit this summer) and bow thruster (negated by twin screw) .

Is she perfect , no , stern access is limited but we wouldn’t change her for the world , during your search you will step aboard one that just feels right and only you will know when .

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We bought our first boat last year, saw a few, narrowed the choice to two and bought the one we thought would be best for our requirements.  Getting it right has been costly, there are still a couple of things to do that need to be done and more money to be spent.  Someone told me once that boat is not actually a word, but an acronym for Bring Out Another Thousand and I kind of regret not taking it seriously.

We now have something close to what we anticipated buying last June, with the help of the proprietor of our marina, who has given us good advice and done a great deal of work on it.  Some jobs were not essential, but helped to make it feel ‘ours’, whilst others were much needed.  What has become obvious is that our survey was not the most thorough and several major issues became apparent whilst other work was in progress. 

This has proved to be a steep learning curve.  Should we ever buy another boat, previous mistakes should guide us to having an easier purchasing experience next time.  We are happy with our choice of craft, it is perfect for our needs, but being a two berth, it does make taking friends and family out for a cruise more difficult.  I should retire in just over two years and we will wait until that has happened before making any decisions about changing (or that is the plan at the moment) for anything bigger or more family oriented.
 

Advice . . . . . . . make sure your survey is carried out by a surveyor who has remembered to take his spectacles on the day and save some funds in reserve for unexpected expenses.  More importantly, be ready to enjoy the peace that cruising the Broads affords.  Despite the issues we’ve faced getting our boat sorted, we still look forward to every opportunity to get out on her with eager anticipation!
 

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2 hours ago, OldBerkshireBoy said:

Alan, £20k per year for last 2yrs spent on Ranworth Breeze. Is that a typo error?

Nick, take your time and don't rush also much like buying property be prepared to be disappointed when viewing the boat that looks perfect in the photos.

Some boats have been up for sale for ages so no harm in asking forum members any questions but fear you may get conflicting replies, bit like asking a plumbers forum what is the best boiler. :default_icon_e_biggrin:

Oh, and :default_icon_wave: :default_welcome:

Hello Kevin,

No typo that is the amount we have spent per year over the last two years.

New bow thruster, new heating (cracked casting so could not be viably repaired), ship to shore with whip aerials, new upholstery in the lounge and forward seating, electric mud weight winch fitted, CD/radio replaced, new carpets as well as the general maintenance.

More than likely most syndicates operate on a budget of £15000 to £18000  some are managed by companies that usually charge £6000 to £8000 per year for their services;  Ranworth Breeze being self managed all our management fees  provide the money for operational purposes and upgrades to the boat.

Regards

Alan

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Hi Nick,

Lots of good advice given here , it is crucial you take your time, I have been on the Broads for seven years now and finally bought the boat ideal for our needs, wish I'd bought it three boats ago !!

In the boating world mistakes are costly and then some.............good luck.

 

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Thanks all for the warm welcome!

Regarding Diesel vs Petrol, this was our suspicion so good to have some guidance and clarity...carrying Gerry cans for 20 mins back and forth takes away some fun!

@floydraser We went on a cruise at 23 and where the youngest couple there, we often enjoy the calmer 'fossil' company :default_icon_e_biggrin:.

@Ray The advice on 'subject to BSS' is a great idea and one we will keep in mind.

Generally it seems everyone is suggesting the extra £££'s now will save us in the long run...which leads me to...

2 hours ago, Paul said:

There's a cracking Sealine 240 for sale at NYA at the moment, single diesel, under 20k. Over your budget a bit but lots of boat for the money

https://www.nya.co.uk/boats-for-sale/sealine-240-3/

@Paul - This is one of the only boats that we have both really agreed on, is a little out of price range so may have to wait see if it still available in a month or two.

Any advice on what kind of flexibility can you make on a boat offer? understand it depends on sellers circumstances but is there a general guidance?

 

2 hours ago, CambridgeCabby said:

Katie and I spent over a year until we found what we wanted , many were discarded along the way .

We wrote a list of must have and  would like to have which were (for us)

We have been considering/ looking for over a year, getting to the point where we are wanting to jump in as, are you ever really ready? it's one those hobbies I think comes from experiences. 

Really like the list building.

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The Sea-line is a cracking boat but less than ideal for side on mooring and no walkway , also being stern drive you are facing higher maintenance costs than a shaft drive , if you do proceed do ensure that you have a very thorough survey (which can cost approaching £1k including lift in / out) 

which ever boat you do finally choose please don’t consider buying without a full survey , minor faults highlighted give you great bargaining power and major faults prevent a lot of heartache .

as said before enjoy looking and hope you find her soon 

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18 minutes ago, CambridgeCabby said:

less than ideal for side on mooring and no walkway

Great advice from CC, access, even for you young and fit guys, is a big issue in actual use. Obviously popular boats like these work out just right for loads of people but the number one reason our first boat wasn't right for us was we struggled every time we had to get on or off. Add in a creaky knee or two plus mooring in wind and tide then the ability for crew to safely be nimble makes the difference between fun and stress..

That's not to put you off, they are nice boats, just something to bear in mind as you look her over.

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Hi one other thing you might like to try is to take a A4 size pad with you so you can sketch the layout of the boats you look at,  it will save a lot of heart searching for when you get home and cant remember each boats lay out that you have look at.. John

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Sealine 240 good looking boat but not a lot of boat under the water (draft) coupled with single engine stern drive in windy conditions would be a handful to moor, as mentioned by CC no walkway so its all down to the helmsman, in my opinion its a brave choice for a first boat.

 

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Best buy a boat in October, prices tend to be lower, and negotiable!

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There are two main elements at work whenever you buy a boat, head and heart. You have to decide which one has greater precedence. Don't ever let anyone try to tell you which, it's your choice and yours alone.

It's relatively easy to decide on petrol versus diesel, especially on the broads where the supply of petrol is such an issue. It's easy to decide how many berths you want or need. What type of boat you want is a different matter and it sounds like you already have two contrasting opinions, which is quite the norm in these situations. My list of preferences would not be the same as yours and neither of our lists would match any of the other posters on this thread. 

So I would suggest sit don together and imagine yourself out on the river. What do you want? Do you want to be sat outside in the sunshine driving the boat waving to passers by? The flip side of that is when it's cold and raining are you prepared to be sat under a canopy in your woollies? Do you want lots of space on deck to be able to sit and relax and watch the sunset at the end of the day? It sounds idyllic but that deck space comes at the cost of interior space and usually means beds hidden under the deck with limited headroom. 

Consider your coastal use. By that do you mean a quick trip onto the briny then back to freshwater, or a trip along the coast to Southwold or Aldburgh, or are you thinking of venturing further afield? For serious coastal use twin engines are highly desirable but they come at an extra cost. Most river cruisers are not particularly suited to ocean passages though one or two of the more intrepid members here have taken normally river cruisers out to sea, some as far as the Thames, but experienced sailors travelling in convoy. 

Everything with boats is a trade, interior space for exterior. On a sunny day you cannot beat an outdoor helm, on a cold windy day you'll want to be inside. On a hot summers day there is nothing like a glass of wine and a spot of lunch on deck, on a cold winters evening nothing like hunkering down in a spacious cabin with jacket spuds in the oven. You need to decide what you want most. 

I would seriously think of getting up for a weekend, our the boat sales brokers at Brundall, Wroxham, Potter Heigham, Horning etc. Get onboard a few, get a feel for them and at least you can start narrowing down the field a bit. Whilst I would normally agree with JM about October being the best time to buy, this year is going to be a strange one. With Corona Virus around my guess is not many people will be thinking of buying a boat. Now might be just the right moment. 

As for offers, you can only ask, make an offer and see. The vendor can say yes, or they can say no but whatever you end up deciding on that afforementioned survey is vital. 

And just to correct a point above the Sealine 240 does have side decks, unusual for a sport cruiser. 

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Hi Nick and welcome, some great advice, as ever,  from the members on here. Some good starter boats to consider may be the Freeman 24 at around 10k or the Freeman 27 always good value at 15k. There is also a Princess 30ds on fleabay,might be worth a cheeky offer. Good hunting.

Paul

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Have a look at the Hire Boat brochures and websites to look at the various types they have to rent which might take your fancy; then come up and have a look at them and possibly hire them for a weekend to see what you think. A couple of hire charges is preferable to buying the wrong craft.

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