Guest Blog Written By Tony Jones Author Of 'The Liveaboard Guide'
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Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 11:14am

Guest Blog Written By Tony Jones

Tony Jones is the author of The Liveaboard Guide. It's the ideal practical guide for anyone considering buying a boat to live on, and of course, features information from us here at Whilton Marina.
Tony agreed to write a guest blog for us and sent this exclusive, a sneak peek from the manuscript of his second book which is to be published in 2014.

Buying a second hand boat

Buying a second hand boat is much like buying a second hand car. Used boats are cheaper certainly to buy but be aware that you will likely be buying some imperfections and headaches too, some of which might be unnoticed until after the sale is completed. This route into boat ownership will invariably require a degree of compromise too as you are unlikely to find exactly the boat you are looking for, be it issues with the layout, paint job or specifications. With that said; a little bit of compromise can often buy you a lot of boat that is very close to the one on your wish list at a much lower price.

Front Cover of The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones

Buying a second hand boat will require plenty of research to ensure you end up with one that is suitable. Read all you can, but there is no substitute for stepping aboard as many boats as you can to comparing every feature until you are satisfied that you know what you are looking for. Don’t be suckered into buying a ‘bargain’ until you are quite sure you know what you are taking on and what it will cost to renovate and run. There’s a lot to learn before new boaters are discerning enough to make a good choice and it is frighteningly easy to spend too much money on an unsuitable boat that ends up being an expensive headache. The importance of conducting thorough research cannot be over-emphasised. Hasty decisions are rarely conducive to happy boating. Find out exactly what you are looking for and speak to as many boat owners as you can before deciding on the type of boat you think you want. Once you've compiled a list of features and specifications the search really begins, but be aware that you will invariably need to compromise at some point.

Buying a second hand boat is not entirely a scientific process though. Just ask those who have already been through it and most will tell you that they bought their boat because they fell in love with it, despite the compromises it enforced from their list of ideal specifications. Older boats, like older houses and older people, will always display a degree of character that is inherent with their age and experiences. You’ll find that almost every boat you look at will have a feature or character trait that you will not have seen before, some of which will add to the allure of that particular vessel. This is one of the great joys of buying a used boat and engaging your heart in your purchase process is unavoidable and often commendable, but it is unwise to let your heart rule your head if you find that the boat you have fallen in love with turns is a donkey.

The Bridgewater Canal At Lymm


It is usually wise to pay for a survey to be conducted to establish that the boat has no hidden major flaws. For boats over a few years of age an out of water survey is advisable, as this will enable the engineer to test the thickness of the hull to determine any corrosion. A full survey will look at the efficacy of the running gear, plumbing, electrics and heating systems as well as giving advice about any other noticeable flaws that can be found. A survey will invariably find things wrong with any boat so you should take independent advice about the severity of the findings and the cost of making right the issues. This can often mean that there is some room for negotiation with the owner regarding the sale price if the issues have not been highlighted to you before the survey is conducted.

Be prepared to walk away or be prepared to shoulder the costs of any problems the survey finds. Be prepared that some issues might constitute a deal breaker. Be prepared to walk away and keep looking. There are plenty of boats out there and the one for you is you among them, somewhere. But above all, be prepared to compromise and be realistic and sensible about the boat you are considering, despite what your heart might be screaming.
Golden Light On A Narrowboat

Once you have found the boat of your dreams you’ll need to go through the formalities. Your used boat might come with a limited warranty if you buy it from a brokerage, but private transactions will usually be sold as seen. Brokerages will also ensure that the legalities of ownership transfer are taken care of too, so be sure to get enough documentation and legal reassurance if you buy privately.

Buying a pre-Loved Boat – Top Tips 

  • Compare lots of boats before compiling a wish list of features and specifications
  • Make sure your finance is in place before negotiating a purchase
  • Brokerage fees are usually paid by the seller so confirm this before you shake hands on the deal.
  • Your new boat is unlikely to be in A1 condition and is unlikely to feature the latest technology and kit. Be ready to spend money on repairs and upgrading old equipment once the boat is yours.
  • Remember that most novice fit outs and paint jobs will be relatively poorer quality compared with those done by professionals.
  • Make sure you know what is included in the price and what will be removed from the boat post sale.
  • The listed price is very rarely the final purchase price. Haggling is usually to be expected, but be sure to haggle sensibly. The best deals are always the ones where both parties are satisfied by the negotiations.
  • Maintaining a good relationship with the previous owner is a good idea as they can be very helpful during the first few months of ownership 

Tony Jones

"It is good to have an end to journey towards,
but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
Darryl Kempster