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The essential 27 questions to ask before buying a boat

Whilst buying a boat is an exciting experience, it can also be a daunting one. Whether you’re considering purchasing a new or second hand vessel, it is essential to ask the right questions ahead of making any final decision. Our colleagues at Val Wyatt have shared the top questions buyers should consider, as well as essential questions to ask the broker or seller, before taking the plunge.


Key questions to ask yourself before buying a boat


  1. What is my reason for buying a boat?

Before beginning your search, it’s crucial to understand your primary purpose for wanting to buy a boat. Are you looking for a vessel for leisurely cruises down the River Thames with family and friends, or do you plan on partaking in water sports or indulging in some fishing? Your answer will help to dictate the type of boat you need. We also have a handy blog on the most popular types of boats

  1. What is my budget?

Setting a realistic budget is key when looking to purchase a boat. It is also important to consider the additional costs of owning a boat – including insurance, maintenance, storage, and fuel. Remember, you’ll also find a number of pre-owned boats on the market that may provide better value for your money.

  1. Should I buy new or used?

While a new boat may come with warranties and the latest technology, a used boat can offer significant savings. However, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection of a used boat and consider potential maintenance costs. We discuss “new vs second hand boats” in this blog post.

  1. What size boat do I need?

The size of your boat will depend on your intended use, storage options, and the number of passengers you plan to accommodate. Smaller boats may be easier to manoeuvre and store, but larger boats typically offer more comfort and facilities.

  1. What type of engine should I choose?

The choice between inboard, outboard, diesel, petrol, electric or hybrid engines depends on your own preferences and how you intend to use the boat in the years to come. Try to consider factors such as fuel efficiency, boat engine maintenance, location and performance when making your decision. Each type of engine will have different characteristics too – for instance, a diesel engine will be better for long distances, whilst an electric engine is quieter.

  1. How will I transport and store my boat?

Seek advice with regards to the logistics of transporting and storing your boat, as well as the cost for doing so. If you don’t have space at your property, research local marinas and storage facilities to better understand availability and pricing.

  1. What type of insurance will I need?

Boat insurance is an essential aspect of boat ownership. Research various insurance providers and policies to determine the best coverage for your needs and budget. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the right boat insurance.

  1. What are my financing options?

If you’re planning to finance your boat purchase, take the time to explore the different financing options available. It is important to research interest rates, the terms of any loan, and any additional fees before committing to any boat purchase.

  1. What are the ongoing costs of boat ownership?

The cost of maintenance, marina fees, licensing, insurance, and fuel need to all be factored in when budgeting for a boat. This useful blog will provide some guidance.

  1. How experienced am I as a boater?

If you’re new to boating, you may want to start with a smaller, easier to handle vessel. However, there are no limitations. Consider taking a boat handling course, or the RYA Inland Helmsman certificate, so that you know the rules of the river and can boat safely with confidence.

  1. Do I need a licence to own a boat?

Boat owners are required to obtain a boat river licence for their boat in order to use it on specific waterways, regardless of whether or not the boat has a motor. Here’s our in-depth article on the subject.

  1. What safety features should I look for?

Research essential safety features such as navigation lights, bilge pumps, fire extinguishers, and life jackets. If choosing to buy a cabin cruiser with gas installation, it must have a CO alarm. Ensure the boat is equipped with the features relevant for the waters you’ll be cruising in, or that the boat has the capacity to have them installed

  1. Are there any boat shows or exhibitions I can attend?

There are many boat shows and exhibitions across the UK each year which provide the perfect opportunity to view a variety of boats and gather information from industry experts. The Southampton International Boat Show is a highlight in the boating industry calendar each September along with Boatlife that takes place at the NEC in February each year.

  1. What type of boating community or clubs are available in my area?

Explore local boating communities and clubs to connect with fellow boaters and gain insights into boat ownership and the local boating scene.

  1. What are the specific requirements for boating on the Thames?

Familiarise yourself with the regulations and requirements for boating on the River Thames, including boat licencing, speed limits, and mooring restrictions. The Environment Agency oversees the Thames, as well as rivers across East Anglia and the River Medway.  You will need a river licence from the relevant body, as well as a Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate. We have written a blog with everything you need to know.

  1. How easy is it to navigate the Thames locks with the boat?

Consider the boat’s ease of handling through locks, which are very common on the Thames. Our experts are happy to take new boat owners through a lock in order to show them the ropes.  It can be tricky at first, but it just takes practice.

  1. What do I need to know about the new UKCA (United Kingdom Conformity Assessed) marking for boats?

Research the requirements and implications of the UKCA marking for boats. Currently, the two sets of standards (EU RCD and UKCA) have the same requirements, which will initially make the transition somewhat seamless, however, we are aware things could change in the future.

  1. Where can I read about other people’s experiences with boat ownership?

Research online forums and blogs to learn about other people’s experiences. We have a brilliant selection of case studies focusing on different models, including the Corsiva 650 Tender, the Interboat 19, and Interboat Intender 700.

  1. How can I be sustainable on the water?

There are a number of different ways for boat owners to prioritise sustainability when out on the water – including recycling and opting to use environmentally-friendly products. We go into more detail in this blog post.


Key questions to ask the seller or broker before buying a boat

By the time you reach this stage in the buying process, you should be armed with a decent amount of knowledge and be ready to make a better informed decision in terms of buying the right boat for you. However, you will also want to ask the seller or broker these key questions when looking to buy a boat.

  1. How comfortable is the boat?

You will want to be comfortable on your new boat.  Consider the boat’s features, including seating, the cabin, and overall layout – especially if you plan to spend extended periods on the water.

  1. How fuel efficient is the boat?

If it’s a used boat, speak to the seller to gain an insight into the boat’s fuel efficiency. This will allow you to gauge your fuel expenses for the year ahead. However, be warned, this is a very difficult question to answer, as it is subject to so many variables – from load, to tide, to driving style. Generally, it’s fair to say that boating inland uses significantly less fuel than at sea.

  1. What kind of warranty does the boat have?

If you’re purchasing a new boat, enquire about the warranty coverage and its terms. For used boats, ask if any warranties are transferable.

  1. How easy is it to find replacement parts for the boat?

Investigate the availability of replacement parts, especially if it’s an older model or a less common brand. Your broker should be happy to steer you in the right direction, and many marinas will offer boat maintenance services.

  1. What is the boat’s maintenance history?

For used boats, it’s crucial to understand the boat’s maintenance history. Request service records and consider having a marine survey to ensure the boat is in good condition.

  1. What is the boat maintenance schedule?

Familiarise yourself with a standard boat maintenance schedule, including tasks such as antifouling, and servicing various systems, to keep your boat in optimal condition. Purchasing a boat is a big investment, so make sure you keep on top of maintenance.

  1. How does the boat’s resale value compare to similar models?

A boat is a significant purchase and should be considered an asset. Therefore, consider the boat’s resale value and how it compares to similar models. This could impact your decision if you plan to sell or upgrade in the future.

  1. Can I take a test drive?

A test drive will always form part of the buying process. When selling boats through our brokerage, a trial is included before the buyer takes ownership of the boat. This usually happens after a deposit is paid and is designed to ensure the vessel runs as it is meant to, as opposed to whether you like it or not.

A boat is a significant investment. Therefore, it is crucial to ask the right questions to make well-informed decisions. By doing so, you’ll not only find the ideal boat for you and your family, but also enjoy better experiences when you’re on the water. Our team of experts is always on hand to answer your questions to help you find the perfect boat. Contact them here, or on 0118 940 3211.