Power Boat Buyer’s Guide - Part 2

The second part of our power boat buyer’s guide takes you through the steps involved in buying a new or used power boat.

You have narrowed down your search and found a number of power boats you are interested in. They suit your budget and you want to arrange viewings. Where do you go from here?


Buying a used power boat

Boat In Marina

When buying through a broker, make sure the broker is a member of an industry approved organisation such as the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA) or the Boat Retailers and Broker Association (BRBA).


Buying through a broker

While it is in the interest of a broker to make a sale, being a professional they will also want to build a good reputation with both buyers and sellers for being helpful, reliable and for acting fairly. A broker will know the state of the market and the prices paid for similar boats. They will arrange viewings and also put you in touch with local surveyors and can help with arranging finance. They will also ensure that any outstanding marine mortgage is paid off on completion of the sale.


Buying privately

When buying privately you will need to be more careful with your checks as a broker will not be on hand to do this. However, if you and the vendor have experience of buying and selling boats then the process can run smoothly and you will have the added benefit of being shown over the boat by someone who knows it thoroughly.


Boat Inspection

A second viewing and careful boat inspection of the boat you are interested in is advisable as checking it over with a more critical eye will help you decide whether to go for it or not. Here are some things to look out for:



  • Check there are no visible distortions in any parts of the boat, especially the hull.

  • Are the hull surfaces smooth - are there any indentations?

  • Are the decks sound and firm? Flexing can indicate the laminate in the hull is breaking down.

  • Check the props and rudder for any obvious damage.

  • Are there any signs of oil leaks in the engine compartment?

  • Are engine hoses and connections all good?

  • Check for leaks in the interior - especially around hatches and any through hull fittings.

  • Bad smells in the interior warn of potential problems - e.g. rot, damp and leaks.

  • Are there any signs of corrosion on metal hulls inside or out?

  • Are the electrics corrosion free? Check the batteries and wiring are in good condition.

  • Check that damp has not affected wooden veneers below decks.

For a more thorough boat inspection checklist and some excellent advice from one of the world’s most experienced power boating experts, check out Dag Pike’s Boat Inspection on the Safe Skipper app.

Sea trial

A sea trial is always advisable because until you get the feel of the boat out on the water you cannot know for sure whether this is the boat for you. You should expect to pay the launching costs if the boat is out of the water. To make the trial as thorough as possible, consider taking along a surveyor or someone with plenty of boat buying experience to give you an unbiased second opinion.

The contract

The next step is for the broker to prepare a standard agreement for the sale of a vessel that fully sets out the obligations of both parties. Once approved by both parties this is then signed with witnesses by the vendor and buyer. The broker then prepares a Bill of Sale which is then recorded with the British Register of Shipping.

Your offer

If you decide to make an offer, make sure it is subject to survey.

Once you have agreed the price with the vendor, then it is normal for the buyer to pay the broker a 10% deposit which they then hold in a Client Account.

If it is a private purchase then there are standard agreements which can be downloaded from the British Marine Federation (BMF) or Royal Yachting Association (RYA) websites:



The good news is that if they are well looked after, most boats hold their value pretty well, certainly much better than cars of the same age.

If you are buying your boat outright there are a limited number of finance providers in the UK specialising in marine mortgages or hire purchase agreements. Most require a deposit of at least 30% with typical repayments spread over 10 years, but these figures can vary up and down.

The Small Ships Register (SSR)

It is advisable but not mandatory to register a pleasure boat up to 24 metres long with the UK Small Ships Register (SSR) for use at sea. This is important if you plan to take the boat abroad as it proves the boat’s nationality.

See details here: https://www.gov.uk/register-a-boat/the-uk-ship-register

You need to register or license your boat if you want to keep or use it on inland waterways - i.e rivers and canals. To get a boat registration will require a Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate.

See details here: https://www.gov.uk/owning-a-boat/overview


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