23 May 2023
Buying your first boat is an exciting time, but can also be a little daunting. You’re probably used to buying cars or houses, but there are a whole host of unique elements to consider when purchasing a boat.
Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a complete newcomer to the world of boating, this guide will walk you through the essential steps to ensure that your first boat purchase is smooth sailing.
That very much depends on how you want to enjoy your boating, and what sort of budget you have.
Before setting sail on your boat-buying journey, pinpoint the primary purpose of your vessel. Are you looking to cruise around inland waterways like the Broads or do you want to heads out to sea? Understanding your intended use will help you determine the boat type, size and features that best suit your needs.
If you want to stay inland, there’s no point buying a large, twin-engined vessel capable of 30 knots. But if you think you might want to go offshore, there’s no point buying a Broads cruiser.
Our advice to first time buyers is to begin your search knowing how you want to enjoy the boat. Walking onto a boat is like walking into a house, it either feels right or it doesn’t. Look at several boats in the flesh. You can’t get a real impression of a boat from an advert. Once you’ve found something that appeals consider whether it is suitable for your use and find out about running costs.
At NYA, we sell boats of all sizes, shapes, ages and prices, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something to suit.
The most important thing is that you buy a boat you’re comfortable with and, after some instruction, you feel confident handling, but which is large enough for your purposes.
For example, how many people do you want to take on the boat, how many do you want to sleep on board, and do you want the option of going offshore when you have more experience?
Although the principles of controlling a boat remain the same whether it’s a 24ft or 50ft, many newcomers do opt for a smaller boat to learn in. After all, not many people jump straight into a powerful sports car when they’re learning to drive.
But if you feel confident, and don’t want to go through the process of trading up, there’s nothing to stop you buying a 50ft, sea-going boat.
The most significant differences between a river cruiser and a sea-going boat are the hull design and the engine power. You will also need more safety and navigation equipment at sea.
A boat capable of going offshore will need a more powerful engine than a river cruiser to provide the greater performance required at sea.
We can match you to a suitable boat if you’re looking for a dual-purpose vessel.
Brokerage boats are sold on behalf of a vending owner without any prior inspection or guarantee from the broker.
Once you have signed on the dotted line she’s yours, so assessing the condition is important. We always recommend a survey and mechanical inspection before you buy. We can help put you in touch with the relevant professionals.
It’s very different with a dealer stock boat, where a trader has a legal responsibility like a used car dealer.
At Norfolk Yacht Agency, we prepare all our own used stock to a very high standard including valeting and a detailed pre-delivery inspection. Most of our stock vessels are sold with a mechanical warranty, providing our clients with peace of mind. For an insight into our pre-delivery inspection click here.
Buying new or second hand will depend on your preferences and budget. As with a car, a new boat will be more expensive than a used boat of the same type and will depreciate faster.
The engine, equipment and fittings will all be brand new and, if ordering a vessel such as a new Haines boat, you can have it built to your own specification, if you’re prepared to wait. We do also carry a small stock of pre-built brand-new boats.
You’ll know that everything is in perfect condition and will have the peace of mind of a full manufacturer’s warranty.
If you are new to boating you might want your initial outlay to be lower and you may prefer to start with an older boat whilst you find your feet. You can then upgrade to something newer in a couple of years.
It might also suit your budget better to buy an older, second-hand starter boat. You can then carry out all the checks, including a survey, to make sure you get the best boat for your money.
Many people will think that the ideal boat would be shaft driven with an inboard diesel engine fully enclosed in the boat.
However, particularly for smaller boats, there are advantages to outdrive or outboard propulsion. The space freed up by locating the engine at the rear of the boat usually provides more internal accommodation, not to mention steerage astern. In planing boats, there is also greater performance and efficiency.
A vessel fitted with an outdrive has the engine located in the aft (rear) of the boat with the drive mechanism outside the boat.
An outdrive will need regular out of the water maintenance. Most manufacturers recommend a service every 2 to 3 years dependent on use. However, outdrives can be expensive to fix if not regularly maintained.
Smaller boats are powered by an outboard motor, a self-contained engine and gearbox mounted on the transom at the back of the boat. The latest generation of 4-stroke outboards are whisper quiet, smoother, less smelly and much more economical than many boat owners are used to!
There are three common types of hull design on a boat and all have different characteristics on the water.
Planing hulls are V-shaped and are designed so that the boat glides on top of the water when enough power is supplied, allowing the boat to skim over the water at high speed.
The bow of the boat will rise as speed increases and the boat may roll or bank in sharp turns.
Powerboats and sea-going sports boats capable of higher speeds are most likely to have planing hulls.
Displacement hulls have a rounder bottom and move through the water by pushing it aside from the bow and along the length of the hull, which remains fully in the water at all times.
This “bow wave” creates a resistance to the hull, and therefore the maximum speed of the boat is limited by its length at the waterline, no matter how much power is applied.
Lower speed boats, such as Broads cruisers, have displacement hulls.
Semi displacement hulls are not constrained by these rules of physics, and are a cross between the two above. They can achieve greater speeds than a displacement hull when required.
They will operate in displacement mode at lower speeds, with some flatter sections partially lifting the forward section of the hull out of the water to decrease drag for higher cruising speeds.
A bow thruster is a propulsion device fitted at the bow of the boat that provides lateral thrust, making the boat more manoeuvrable and therefore easier to moor or control in tight spaces.
They often come fitted to newer, larger boats, but can be retrofitted to older or mid-sized boats.
It’s particularly useful when mooring in strong winds, currents or in crowded mooring areas, allowing skippers to turn to port or starboard without forward propulsion.
You’ll find much debate on boating forums, from purists who believe all that’s needed to moor a boat is proper boat craft, to those who wouldn’t be without them.
There’s no doubt they are a useful aid, particularly for beginners, providing extra control when it’s needed and therefore boosting confidence.
Buying a boat can be one of the largest purchases you’ll make and at NYA we can help arrange loans and Marine Mortgages with a wide variety of packages, subject to status, with our trusted partners Lombard Marine. Read more here.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to a boat budget. It very much depends on you and how you want to use your boat.
Once you start looking at adverts for boats, you will quickly see the type of boat you can afford and then it’s all about finding the best boat you can for your money, whilst fitting with your requirements.
You can buy a small, second hand Broads cruiser for as little as £7,000 to £10,000, right up to new or used sea-going boats for £350,000 or more.
The most important thing is to buy a boat that’s right for you and have fun!
If you come to us with an idea of your budget and how you want to use your boat, we will do our best to find something that meets your requirements.
Most people will buy from a boat dealer such as NYA. Going to a dealer means you have a good range of vessels to choose from. A reputable dealer will usually have a sales area where you can see several craft at any one time.
A professional brokerage should also be a member of the British Marine Federation and the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA), who ensure a code of conduct. They cover such things as how title is guaranteed and money is securely handled.
NYA can provide advice on which is the best boat for your needs, as well as ongoing support after the sale, including access to training, maintenance and mooring.