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Keymaker

Help need finding a boat for liveaboard

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Hi New here,  so have managed to save up £15k so I can get a narrowboat for liveaboard.  and have been looking around for a few months now checking prices, seeing what is on offer, and there have been a few bargains about.    I've missed out on a couple in the last few days, as sellers have either just ignored contact or contact after a day or two just to say the boat was sold.

I keep seeing everywhere, people stating get a survey done before you buy and not to bother trusting a survey that's been done previous.
How practical is this to actually do before someone else just turns up and buys?
What if the boat is miles away?  What if the boat is not actually moored up anywhere near a marina or somewhere you can get it lifted out and surveyed?
What if during the liftout/survey someone else just waltzes in and pays the asking price?   (I am guessing this is why people use a brokerage?)
 

I don't really want to be paying out money for something that I don't even own yet, and like others, I don't really want to buy something that will end up sinking in a few weeks, because it's a lot of money just to throw into a canal.  I've bought a couple of motorbikes previously, and they had their mots done a week prior to me buying. Couple months in and there is no way they should have passed an mot, but I know hell of a lot more about bikes now.
.
So am budgeting roughly £15k for a boat, and then I have some cash spare for obviously survey, some repair work, blacking if needed,  (maybe adding solar if it doesn't have already),
I am aiming for something somewhere between 30-40 feet, as it will just be me.   I'm not particularly fussed on the inside, though open plan would better and that way I could customise layout with DIY.
I've watched vids and checked posts on what to look out for, thing is buying

I'm not even sure what questions I need to be asking when approaching someone who is selling their boat.

Though I do need to move soon as am getting evicted at end of oct, and I don't want that to just influence me into buying 1st boat available in my budget, am currently living in london and the plan is to continuous cruise here.  I really could use some hints, tips and if anyone willing to help walkthrough some of what I need to look out for.

Cheers
Paul

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I suggest you use the search engine, this subject has been done to death and as soon as you say you want to cc in London alarm bells ring out loudly on here.

  • Greenie 1

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As a rule of thumb was (or used to be) roughly £1000 per foot then you will be hard pressed to find anything in your price range.

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8 minutes ago, Keymaker said:

Though I do need to move soon as am getting evicted at end of oct, and I don't want that to just influence me into buying 1st boat available in my budget, am currently living in london and the plan is to continuous cruise here

It may not be what you want to hear but, I'd strongly suggest that you use your £15k to get yourself a flat to rent. 

I could explain why, but if you search the forum for liveaboard in london you will see some reasons why.

 

C&RT are currently holding a consultation on looking at ways of reducing the numbers of boats in London as they have doubled in the last few years, you will struggle to CC and find mooring spots, there are a lack of waterpoints and a great shortage of toilet emptying stations.

You may well buy a boat and then find yourself 'eviceted' from London.

 

Use your money elsewhere.

  • Greenie 2

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As above, the idea of cheap living in London is not sustainable, best to rent a room and save up another £15K, I may be wrong, but I wonder if you can get a job somewhere else, and live in a conventional way.

 

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9 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

It may not be what you want to hear but, I'd strongly suggest that you use your £15k to get yourself a flat to rent. 

I could explain why, but if you search the forum for liveaboard in london you will see some reasons why.

 

C&RT are currently holding a consultation on looking at ways of reducing the numbers of boats in London as they have doubled in the last few years, you will struggle to CC and find mooring spots, there are a lack of waterpoints and a great shortage of toilet emptying stations.

You may well buy a boat and then find yourself 'eviceted' from London.

 

Use your money elsewhere.

Wifes just helped a chap through the lock today who had his first night onboard his new boat last night. A realy nice chap the missus said, he was on his way to London to liveaboard.

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25 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Wifes just helped a chap through the lock today who had his first night onboard his new boat last night. A realy nice chap the missus said, he was on his way to London to liveaboard.

Another one who heard Dick Whittington mutter something about gold cobblestones

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9 minutes ago, Mike Tee said:

Another one who heard Dick Whittington mutter something about gold cobblestones

In my opinion the beauty of a boat is that it moves and enables anyone to get the hell out of London, not end up stuck there!!

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7 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

In my opinion the beauty of a boat is that it moves and enables anyone to get the hell out of London, not end up stuck there!!

Hopefully, that's part of the plan, and spend a couple of months of the year elsewhere.

  • Greenie 1

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At 15k you are looking at bargain basement narrowboats. You are likely to only find older boats, which may well suffer from thinning hull plating, unless already overplated. So spending a few hundred quid on a lift out and survey, only to be told what was entirely predictable, is not exactly a good use of your limited cash. But then neither is buying a colander which sinks soon after you move on board.

As you are only looking for a smaller boat you should consider looking at GRP cruisers instead. You generally get a better boat for your money at that level. There's a few threads on here discussing GRP options.

  • Greenie 2

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23 minutes ago, David Mack said:

At 15k you are looking at bargain basement narrowboats. You are likely to only find older boats, which may well suffer from thinning hull plating, unless already overplated. So spending a few hundred quid on a lift out and survey, only to be told what was entirely predictable, is not exactly a good use of your limited cash. But then neither is buying a colander which sinks soon after you move on board.

As you are only looking for a smaller boat you should consider looking at GRP cruisers instead. You generally get a better boat for your money at that level. There's a few threads on here discussing GRP options.

I did look, and i thought about a grp cruiser, but was concerned about them being wider than 7ft as would be hoping to spend a few weeks in birmingham next year and then onto manchester and back and looking at some of the canals in birmingham a grp isn't going to fit.

I could do smaller narrow boat, but then there seems to be more issues with very small springers (due to thickness of steel in their construction.

Cheers for the info, I am looking at all possible options and looking at other threads on here.

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12 minutes ago, Keymaker said:

I did look, and i thought about a grp cruiser, but was concerned about them being wider than 7ft as would be hoping to spend a few weeks in birmingham next year and then onto manchester and back and looking at some of the canals in birmingham a grp isn't going to fit.

 

There are 7' wide GRP narrowboats, a really really nice 30 footer sold on Ebay some time ago.

Keep your eyes open, but I doubt you'll find anything (either Steel or GRP) before you are evicted at the end of the month

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1 minute ago, Jerra said:

I know nothing about GRP boats but this one, as an example, claims to be only 7 feet wide.

 

https://www.boatsandoutboards.co.uk/Inland-Cruisers-for-sale/nauticus-27/329283

The boat would be fine, but the drive system (outdrive leg) with a 3 foot draft will be fine for 'London' but would not give an easy life on the canals.

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1 minute ago, Alan de Enfield said:

The boat would be fine, but the drive system (outdrive leg) with a 3 foot draft will be fine for 'London' but would not give an easy life on the canals.

I just did a quick google for GRP canal Cruisers and that was the first I saw, I was merely wondering about beam and was surprised the beam on the first was 7 feet.

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Just now, Jerra said:

I just did a quick google for GRP canal Cruisers and that was the first I saw, I was merely wondering about beam and was surprised the beam on the first was 7 feet.

There are quite a few makes / models of GRP NB

 

Here is a 32 foot NB moored alongside my 35 foot WB

 

 

 

CAM00019.jpg

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To answer one of the OP's questions: If you book a survey the vendor will know you're a serious prospective purchaser and so should take the boat off the market once you've got your survey booked - or at least put other prospective buyers on hold until your survey is complete. You need agreement about that from the vendor of course. 

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2 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

You may well buy a boat and then find yourself 'eviceted' from London.

 

 

Indeed, living on boats is totally different from land. They even have a different word for getting rid of you ;) You get no security. 

 

Ok so you also get no security with rental but the difference is that when you get evicted from rental you only have yourself and belongings to move but when you get 'eviceted' from towpath you have the problem of a boat to remove. 

 

If you don't remove it then the navigation authority will do it for you.

And yes, they do. 

 

Apologies for making light of a spelling error. 

 

 

Edited by magnetman
Edit to remove mild sex reference
  • Haha 1

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2 hours ago, Keymaker said:

I did look, and i thought about a grp cruiser, but was concerned about them being wider than 7ft as would be hoping to spend a few weeks in birmingham next year and then onto manchester and back and looking at some of the canals in birmingham a grp isn't going to fit.

I could do smaller narrow boat, but then there seems to be more issues with very small springers (due to thickness of steel in their construction.

Cheers for the info, I am looking at all possible options and looking at other threads on here.

There are several makes of 6'-10" grp cruisers.If you see one advertised,you can check the dimensions on Google. Nauticus,Norman,Burland and Creighton are 6'-10".

For livaboard nothing smaller than 23'will do If it has a diesel engine it will usually have a Z drive.Some swing up when they hit a shopping trolley or the bottom,others don't.They are expensive to repair,and have a poor reputation for reliability on canals.

There was a case on here recently where a poster bought a Freeman 22 grp cruiser advertised as narrow beam,however when he got stuck in a lock he measured the beam and found it was 7'-5".

Grp cruisers are cheaper than steel boats  and don't have corrosion problems that you will most likely get with an old cheap narrowboat.

Certainly worth considering in your position.

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Its up to you to decide exactly what you want.

Are you interested in boats, and what they look like? and a boating life? or are you just looking for a bed when not working or out socialising?

 

In general steel narrowboats are in a different class to plastic cruisers, with no disrespect to those who keep very nice cruisers  as hobby boats.

If it all goes wrong can you afford to loose your "investment" or is it your lifes savings?

If you hope to get up to B'ham you need a boat that works, some "local" continuous cruisers even manage to get by without an engine but not many would go to Brum.

Boats are more expensive in London, cheaper up North.

15k is at the bottom and dangerous end of the market, it buys a risky boat but is probably a lot of money to risk.

Its like cars, you either pay several thousand for a good one or £500 for a banger and regard the money as a bet.

A survey costs much the same on a 15k or 75k boat.

Do you have practical skill and the time and inclination to fix things?

Quite a few cheap boats just get a for sale notice in the window and might sell by word of mouth rather than by adverts/brokers. Get yourself into boater circles and ask around, let it be known you want a boat. Boating is still something that has a human connection rather than 100% www.

 

...............Dave

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17 hours ago, Keymaker said:

Hi New here,  so have managed to save up £15k so I can get a narrowboat for liveaboard.  
 

I'll start from here - look at cruisers at that price.

When I was looking to do something similar a few years ago I had about 18k to play with. I got a 45 foot narrow boat for that but until it had come on the market I had been thinking of cruisers because you get better boats at this end of the market. My boat turned into a money pit (and a time pit) and I ended up selling it at a knockdown price just to get rid of it. It is now in a farmers field in Wiltshire where someone with the money to do it properly is gradually doing just that.

 

My cabin cruiser (Juno) is a bot small to live on at 23 feet but there are longer versions. Juno has needed NO structural maintenance in the ten or more years I have had her, and she's well over 30 years old. She is dry inside except for where one window leaks. I'm about to refurbish her but this is more to make her a bit nicer than because it's necessary. Boats like Juno can be had for £6-7k, boats like Juno but bigger  with diesel engines and cabin heaters can be had for £15k 

 

Second bit of advice - find a way of NOT working in London!

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1 hour ago, magpie patrick said:

I'll start from here - look at cruisers at that price.

When I was looking to do something similar a few years ago I had about 18k to play with. I got a 45 foot narrow boat for that but until it had come on the market I had been thinking of cruisers because you get better boats at this end of the market. My boat turned into a money pit (and a time pit) and I ended up selling it at a knockdown price just to get rid of it. It is now in a farmers field in Wiltshire where someone with the money to do it properly is gradually doing just that.

 

My cabin cruiser (Juno) is a bot small to live on at 23 feet but there are longer versions. Juno has needed NO structural maintenance in the ten or more years I have had her, and she's well over 30 years old. She is dry inside except for where one window leaks. I'm about to refurbish her but this is more to make her a bit nicer than because it's necessary. Boats like Juno can be had for £6-7k, boats like Juno but bigger  with diesel engines and cabin heaters can be had for £15k 

 

Second bit of advice - find a way of NOT working in London!

Same here! Bought a 30ft steel narrowboat for 15K.Like you it needed more money spending on it than I was willing to spend.

Sold it at a loss and bought a grp cruiser.

Quite happy with it.

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17 hours ago, Keymaker said:

I could do smaller narrow boat, but then there seems to be more issues with very small springers (due to thickness of steel in their construction.

Beware of small overplated boats - the additional weight %  has a large impact on buoyancy and stabilty Add the weight of a couple of people and the vents suddenly can become below the water line.

 

Here is one result :

 

https://www.pla.co.uk/assets/sb1of2012-narrowboatsinking-inadequateventsfreeboard1.pdf

 

The hull of the vessel had been completely double plated and the increased weight of this plating had resulted in a reduced safety clearance; with the bottom of the engine room vent being positioned approximately 65mm above the waterline. With 3 persons positioned on the aft deck the bottom of the engine room air vent became submerged beneath the waterline by 50mm, the resulting downflooding and sinking of the vessel was inevitable.

 

 

Just goes to show that surveys can not always be trusted they are only an 'opinion'.

 

Extracts from the inquiry :

 

 

It was noted by the PLA that the vessel had been the subject of extensive overplating. Whoever had recommended the overplating had also recommended partly blocking off the engine room air jalousie on the port side as its bottom edge was considered even then to be too near the waterline. 

The buyer of the MINI MOO bought the boat on the strength of a survey report provided by the seller. The marine surveyor concerned had estimated the height of the engine air intake jalousie from water level marks on the hull although the vessel had been out of the water for a considerable time prior to his survey. He had estimated the intake to be 200 mm above the waterline but when it measured after the salvage it was only 65 mm. The marine surveyor had covered himself with the caveat that it was an estimate only. In that particular case, when the vessel sank, no life jackets were on board and at least one person on board could not swim. The survivors were very lucky that nearby boats managed to pluck them from the water immediately.

 

The fact that a marine surveyor’s report perhaps covers him with words such as estimated does not provide much comfort if bodies have to be pulled from the water.

 

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield

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