Power Boat Buyer’s Guide - Part 1

The first part of our power boat buyer’s guide is all about doing your homework and how to search for the right boat. So if you’re buying or selling a power boat or thinking about entering the world of boating in the near future, take a read of our new series of guides.

Power boating is amazing fun. There is nothing quite like the moment when you are clear of the harbour entrance and you push the throttle lever forward. The bow rises, the boat comes alive and you’re off. The sense of freedom is as real as it gets, especially if you are out on the water on your own boat.

Buying a Power Boat - With ownership comes responsibility

large motor cruiser bow

If you are looking to buy a power boat, a bit of background knowledge is essential, especially if you have limited boating experience. Doing your homework will help you make the right decision and not one that you might live to regret.

As skipper of your own boat, you are responsible for the safety of everyone aboard, as well as the boat itself. In the UK there are no laws to stop you buying a luxury sports boat and heading out to sea at 30 knots. Fun as that may sound, most boaters have their heads screwed on pretty well and take things step by step. Rest assured, there are some really excellent training schools around our coasts that can help you get started and improve your existing boating skills to expert levels.

Some useful questions to help you get started…

  • What do you want a boat for? It might seem obvious but it is important to choose the right boat to suit your lifestyle and needs.

  • Do you want a high performance boat that you can live on comfortably for weeks at a time or one that you can escape to for occasional weekends, or a few days at most?

  • How large? How many berths?

  • Do you want a boat that can be used for fishing, or waterskiing, or cruising?

  • Where are you going to keep it? UK marinas are convenient, secure but expensive. Have you checked out the best deals? Would a swinging mooring be an option?

  • Are you going to buy new or used? There are pros and cons for both.

  • Do you have a budget? Remember that the purchase cost is just the beginning - running costs of a large power boat can be substantial - including surveyor’s costs, fuel, maintenance, equipment and repairs. Then of course there are the marina costs, harbour dues and insurance. Have you factored all the costs in?

  • Is it best to buy through a broker and if so when is the best time to buy?

  • Do you have enough boating experience for the type of boat you have in mind?

  • What rules and regulations if any will I need to comply with?

Your Budget

It is important to consider all the costs you are likely to incur on an annual basis, not just the capital costs. You may have already thought about a purchase price but your budget should factor in all the expenses that you are likely to incur on an annual basis. Here is a checklist of budget items:

  • Survey - essential if you buy a used boat

  • Marina fees - costs vary according to location in the UK, it is worth shopping around

  • Mooring fees - usually less than marina costs

  • Harbour dues - if you are based in a harbour, expect to pay annual fees

  • Engine servicing - get quotes from service engineers before you buy

  • Maintenance - antifouling, hull cleaning and polishing, props, above and below decks

  • Haul out and launch fees - needed for annual maintenance / storage ashore

  • Tender - larger boats will need a tender plus outboard

  • Equipment and spares - this will vary according to how well the boat is equipped when you buy. Don’t forget clothing, life jackets, safety equipment

  • Visitor mooring / berthing fees - factor in costs for trips and cruises

  • Fuel - make a generous allowance for fuel, based on expected annual usage

  • Repairs - wise to factor this in, even if an unknown

  • Power boat insurance – view more info on motor boat insurance.

Searching for a power boat

Once you have a better idea of the type of boat you are looking for and have worked out your budget, then in many ways the search becomes easier. The best place to do this in the early stages is by searching online. Most online marketplaces enable you to refine your search to suit your requirements and some have advanced search features which will notify you if a boat matching your search criteria comes on the market. Here are some recommendations:

sold sign on power boat

Visit the boat shows if you can, not only to look at the boats, but talk to the people working in the boating industry - designers, manufacturers, finance people, the training schools and more. Most will happily offer their advice at these shows and are used to doing so. There are many boat shows held around the UK during the year, the largest being London (every January) and Southampton (every September).

It is also advisable to talk to a few power boat brokers in your area as they will be able to help guide you through the boat buying process. Most are happy to offer advice and can show you round boats in your price range, providing you have made appointments in advance.


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