Top Questions To Ask Before Buying A Used Canal Boat
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Wed Jun 22, 2016 at 11:14am

If you have decided to take the plunge and buy a used narrow boat this year, good for you! However if you are a little hesitant because you are new to boating and not sure what you should ask the seller, don't worry we can help.   

Whether you buy privately or through a professional brokerage company these are the key questions you should ask the seller/broker and yourself before making an offer and buying a narrow boat.   

1 Has the boat had a recent survey? 

It's important to ask this question as the survey will highlight any issues the boat may have. If the boat is second hand boat and hasn't got a recent survey then we advise you to get one organised. This survey is for your benefit and could be the difference in buying a serviceable narrow boat or buying a sinking wreck.   

2 What are the estimated running costs?

The owner or the brokerage company should be able to give you some estimated running costs for the boat. Ask for an average monthly cost based on; the time spent on the boat using all the facilities and the number of people on board at the time. Knowing in advance what sort of bills you will incur will help you when you come to sort out your finances later on in the process.   

3 Can you afford it?

Consider the following costs involved in owning a narrow boat. You will need to be able to afford the following;

  • Purchase price
  • Running costs 
  • License
  • Surveys
  • Insurance
  • On going maintenance
  • Moorings  

4 How will you finance the purchase?

Will you be selling your land home to fund the boats purchase, or will you need to approach a finance company like Pegasus Finance to apply for a personal loan. There are many different ways to fund your purchase, so do your research to find the best solution for you.  

5 What style boat will best suit your needs?

Consider how often you are going to use the boat, how many people will be aboard at any one time, where you will moor the boat and how much cruising you intend on doing. Styles available include; semi trad, trad, cruiser or wide beam.

6 What length boat will best suit your needs?

The length of the vessel is a important factor as this will determine where you can cruise, your mooring costs, how much your insurance will be and also affect your maintenance bills. Our advice is to get aboard as many different lengths and style boats as you can to get a good feel of the boats size before making a purchase. Visiting a marina will easily enable you to carry out this task. 

7 Ask about the engine

It's quite reasonable and right to ask the seller to start the engine for you. Tip - It should start from cold!  

8 Do the facilities on board meet your expectations?

How is the boat heated, are you happy with the utilities such as the appliances in the kitchen and bathroom. Is the shower and toilet to your liking These fittings should be in good working order and in a satisfactory working condition. If the interior fittings don't meet your expectations, can you afford and are you happy to replace them.  

9 Where will you moor your narrow boat?

If you are not going to live aboard and continuously cruise, then you need to decide where to keep your boat. It's important to sort out where you are going to moor your boat before purchase. If you have a mooring already organised, you'll need to make sure that you buy a canal boat that is the right length for your available mooring.   

10 Ask to see paper work

Now the boring bit, the paper work is important and some documentation will be needed by the insurance company, so make sure you see it, and if you buy the boat get to keep the relevant paper work.        

Have you got a question you want to ask us?


Charles Kelly | Sun Jul 22, 2018 at 7:27pm
What paper work should I receive when buying s boat
Whilton Marina | Mon Jul 23, 2018 at 5:20pm
Hello Charles, If you were to purchase a boat from Whilton or Venetian Marina, you would receive a Bill of Sale, which acts as proof of ownership of the boat.
Paul | Sat Feb 22, 2020 at 10:31am
Hi New laws come into effect in 2021 banning the sale and use of fossil fuels ( coal ,wood) does anyone know how this will effect narrow boats which only have one source of heating which is a wood burner ?
Whilton Marina | Mon Feb 24, 2020 at 1:29pm
Hello Paul, Owners of wood burners, stoves and open fires will no longer be able to buy house coal or wet wood, under a ban to be rolled out from next year in England. Wet wood - a type of wood which produces more pollution and smoke. The changes will mean: Sales of bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose house coal direct to customers will end by 2023. Sales of wet wood in small units (less than 2m cube) will be phased out from February 2021. Wet wood in volumes greater than 2m cube will also have to be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning. It is not banning wood or coal burning stoves. Dry or seasoned wood - which has been dried out, often in a kiln - has a moisture content of 20% or less. Alternatives produce less smoke and pollution, and are cheaper and more efficient to burn. Wood briquettes, made from compressed dry sawdust and/or wood chips, are one example of an alternative fuel which will be allowed.
Christopher Dyer | Mon Aug 2, 2021 at 6:55pm
can you live onboard a boat without a shoreline ?
Andy george | Thu Mar 3, 2022 at 6:42am
hi , do i need a special licence to drive a narrow boat ?What fuel is better to use for narrow boats diesel or petrol ? also is it better to have a log fire or something else ? is fibre glass more durable ? whats the maximum price i should pay for a good Narrow boat you reckon ? thank you@Godbless u
Whilton Marina | Tue Mar 8, 2022 at 10:09am
Hi Christopher, Yes you can live onboard a boat without a Shoreline.Depending on what you need to run on your boat will depend on whether you need 240 volt.
Whilton Marina | Tue Mar 8, 2022 at 10:15am
Hi Andy, You do not need a licence to drive a boat, all narrowboats are diesel engines. Log fires are very common on narrowboats, steel narrowboats are more durable. Prices and demand is high at the moment, for a narrowboat that is fit to live aboard with out having to complete minor work, you'd be looking around 30k-40k Thanks

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