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golden_chapati

Buying your first boat - what would you have done differently?

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1 hour ago, ditchcrawler said:

I would suggest my boat costs more than that Licence, insurance, moorings, blacking, batteries, BSS, servicing (DIY)  water pumps, toilet bits, painting and that is before you step onboard, then Diesel, Pumpouts,

I'm not disputing that fact, Halsey said you must allow £5k per year for ownership, well my house is £3k and thats just council tax £1400, gas& elec £1300 metered water £300min. Add on insurance, general maintenance.That doesn't include a car and associated costs. It's roughly £2k more but what price quality of life? You're only here once 🙏

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We bought our first boat off EBay for £6500 - bargain, right? But 2 years later we'd spent pretty much the same again on improvements and maintenance. And that mostly wasn't what you might think of as 'big' jobs, like problems with the hull or engine - it was a long list of things that needed doing just to bring a tired and tatty boat back to properly useable condition: add a water heater, replace the rotten front doors, new shower and toilet, new kitchen worktop and shelves, new sink, new hob... Lesson learned was to avoid 'project' boats at all costs! The people who bought that boat off us for £10k got a far better deal than we did.

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I'd be buying a boat as a place to live on not as an asset. For a single person living in a one bed in the city centre I'd be looking at 600-1200 including utilities but not council tax. Locally, where I live right now, a single bed would be 450-550 excluding tax. Renting doesn't appeal - noisy neighbours, bad landlords, and not being able to paint the walls, etc., really puts me off. It is really dead money too. Presumably a boat after a few years does not depreciate that much if it's maintained well? 

 

But talking money is good - I was thinking a £3500 p/a approx for general maintenance, mooring and insurance etc. Maybe I should be factoring in 5k? But I must stress, I'm not doing this to make money: more because it seems like an interesting way to live for a couple of years, without taking out a mortgage and having some freedom to change cities if I want to after I complete my qualifications. My friend has a 35ft Springer and she moors it in the city centre for 150 a month plus whatever she uses on electricity. This just sounded really cheap to me.

 

Other than that, I think really it's going to be a case of finding a decent second hand boat which doesn't need any major work. Like I say my budget is about 23k plus another few k aside for upgrades, repairs, etc. -- I think I'm pretty set on it to be honest! I usually jump in and learn as I go along, but certainly, buying a solid first boat seems to be my objective, but seems easier said than done!

 

Should one avoid boats that have had major hull work as well as ones which need it? 

 

 

Edited by golden_chapati

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A common response on this forum to someone thinking of buying a boat to live on is to try hiring first to get a feel for what it's like, especially in winter when hiring is cheaper and some of the problems boaters encounter can be more apparent. It's quite good advice, because buying a boat is a commitment which some will regret, but yes hiring does cost money.

 

There is the alternative route to learning about life afloat which I followed; I've never hired a boat. It consists of taking up whatever opportunity you can find to crew for other people, but there is a chicken and egg problem here; the less boating experience you have, the less useful you are as crew! I got started when my brother and his wife (who had previously hired boats quite often!) bought their own and sometimes invited me along for a weekend now and again. Having gained a basic knowledge of operating locks and had an occasional go at steering, I then started crewing for others off the forum, the first such trip being just to do the locks for an older couple who were very experienced boaters but wanted someone more active than them aboard for that purpose.

 

Later I joined the Narrow Boat Trust and nowadays much of my boating is with them, a week or so at a time. I might never buy a boat because I have a nice house to live in. There are other organisations offering crewing opportunities, e.g. some restoration societies run day trip boats.

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11 hours ago, KevMc said:

I was lucky I guess... I bought direct from the owner without a survey and only having looked at 2 other boats. I paid cash (well bank transfer) and took the keys - never looked back.

 

Well except that after 12 months I realised that the boat wasn't really suitable to live on full time so I traded up to a longer vessel - but by then had decided that life afloat was for me.

 

I don't think the boat will turn you on or off life afloat but you may find  that no matter how much you spend on your first boat you'll learn exactly what you like and don't like about it so that your second will be closer to what you really want .... and then maybe by the 4th or 5th it'll be perfect (until the 6th one comes along) :cheers:

The same as us :-))

 

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12 hours ago, golden_chapati said:

Thanks Sam; to avoid this situation, is looking for boats which have had a recent survey a good idea (and then if is suitable, getting another one done?). 

 

I've seen a few boats that have had major work done on them, such as this one - which seems to have had a 'hull restoration'. Is it nevertheless best to avoid something like that (it's a beautiful boat but 35k seems way too high anyway?) and go for something more recent, but with a solid hull? Basically, does hull work mean that the boat has not been properly maintained? 

 

Thanks again,

Ross

Much too dear for a 1970s boat.The vendor seems to be stressing the benefits of the mooring,but it is a leisure mooring, ie, non residential. It may well have had a"complete hull restoration" but the amount of work done and the quality can only really be judged by a qualified surveyor.The interior looks ok,but I suspect a "cheap and cheerful" re-fit.At £35K I think the vendor is dreaming a bit,and with the greatest respect,is waiting for someone like you to come along,a novice.I don't think anyone who has had a boat before would pay anything like that price for a 40+ year old boat,unless of course it was a genuine historic boat.

I would guess from reading the ad and looking at the piccies,about half the asking price.

I speak (write) as someone who has been cheated before,and in the words of an old jazz song, "Is'e done got wise"

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4 hours ago, golden_chapati said:

I was thinking a £3500 p/a approx for general maintenance, mooring and insurance etc.

Depending on where you end up you could be paying all of that budget just on a residential mooring (the worst case of London, they are up to £15,000 per annum)

A residential mooring in Nottinghamshire (Kings Marina) would be just over £4000 per annum.

 

It is always suggested to allow an AVERAGE of £5000 per annum for running / maintenance cost.

One year may be only £3000 the next year could be £15,000

 

Licence will be (in round figures) £700+

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14 hours ago, golden_chapati said:

I've seen a few boats that have had major work done on them, such as this one - which seems to have had a 'hull restoration'. Is it nevertheless best to avoid something like that (it's a beautiful boat but 35k seems way too high anyway?) and go for something more recent, but with a solid hull? Basically, does hull work mean that the boat has not been properly maintained? 

 

That's a Shropshire Union Cruisers boat dating back to the 70s, which has just been refitted. It looks to have a GRP cabin and wooden handrails. On boats of this age there are often leaks at the interface between the different materials.

 

The hull restoration probably refers to overplating  I.e. welding a new steel skin over the original. Fine if it has been done well, but it isn't always. The ad says the boat originally had gravel ballast. This holds water against the steelwork, so the hull may  have corroded from the inside.

 

The boat itself is worth nothing like £37k, but moorings in Bristol are sought after, so it might be worth paying the premium. Strictly, you can't live on a leisure mooring, but in many places a blind eye is turned. Don't ask the mooring management, but have a word with nearby moorers to see how it works there.

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You are on the bottom of a very steep learning curve, you will not know how steep until you have a boat, no mooring, knackered engine, no licence and knee deep in water.

An old boat kept licence legal, moored residentially legal and in running and saleable order in a city center is going to cost you £6K plus I reckon if you have a good year. A bad year will be double.

 

Please, read up and gen up you are deluding yourself into thinking it is easy, it aint.

Edited by Boater Sam
smellings & Added

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52 minutes ago, The Bearwood Boster said:

It's the things that happen which are unexpected...that empty your wallet !

Too true! This is always the way, I'm good at ignoring it though... but yes, I'm figuring boats can really get expensive.

 

*

 

I found two which caught my eye: a 35ft - but "believed to be 6mm" for the hull, should be 10mm no? Otherwise layout is nice and tidy. But 19k? Maybe more like 16k, assuming no nasty surprises? 

 

https://www.apolloduck.com/boat/colecraft-35-cruiser-stern/572936

 

The next is much larger and it really looks a nice boat - interestingly, was on sale two years ago for 29k - so either was sold to a broker and furniture removed but not sold, or was bought and sold within a two year period? Mmmmm, it has a GRP superstructure, not steel... maybe worth 20k?

 

https://www.apolloduck.com/boat/narrow-boats-cruiser-stern/565564

 

Am I right in thinking some people list to sell and other people just throw boats on sale with heavy price tags and see if an idiot like me comes along?

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On 08/01/2019 at 16:54, golden_chapati said:

My friend has a 35ft Springer and she moors it in the city centre for 150 a month plus whatever she uses on electricity. This just sounded really cheap to me.

 

 

My 35ft Springer costs £4k a year to run and I'm not a liveaboard.

 

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6mm hull built in the 70s is normal. Unless dealing with water leaks is your hobby then forget GRP tops on boats, wooden tops as well.

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I don't have a "big" steel narrowboat, just a 23 feet GRP (fibreglass) cruiser, and I don't live on it. But I bought it within the last 3 months, and it was my first boat.  So I was in the same boat (if you'll pardon the expression) as you.  The main problems I had to overcome before being able to go to my boat and step aboard whenever I liked, were to do with finding a boat, buying it, and tying it up where I wanted it to be:

 

1 - I didn't know anything about boats - just always wanted one, though not to live on. So before taking the plunge,  I joined this forum (and another one for the make of GRP boat I had decided on getting) and spent a very long time reading through previous posts. I read everything. This taught me a lot about what I was letting myself in for - costs, pitfalls, legal requirements and so on and on and on.  I learned a lot.  I think this was the most important preparation for boat ownership that I made.

 

2 - I didn't have anywhere to keep a boat.  This is something you need to think about before you buy.  Where is it going to live? Can your hoped-for mooring-place accommodate you? What will you do if it can't?  In my case, there were two marinas relatively close to my home, one 35 minutes from home by car, and one 45 minutes away.  Both could fit me in.  I went for the least costly one, which happened to be the nearest one. 

 

3 - When you find you ideal boat, where is it?  My ideal purchase happened to be 55 miles by road from where I wanted to keep it, or 65 miles and 104 locks by canal, which would take me between 5 and 6 days.  As a beginner, I didn't fancy doing 5 or 6 days, single-handed, on an unfamiliar boat.  It cost me several hundred pounds to have the boat craned out of the canal at one end, moved the 55 miles by road and craned back in again at the other end. 

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

 

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On 08/01/2019 at 16:54, golden_chapati said:

I'd be buying a boat as a place to live on not as an asset. For a single person living in a one bed in the city centre I'd be looking at 600-1200 including utilities but not council tax. Locally, where I live right now, a single bed would be 450-550 excluding tax. Renting doesn't appeal - noisy neighbours, bad landlords, and not being able to paint the walls, etc., really puts me off. It is really dead money too. Presumably a boat after a few years does not depreciate that much if it's maintained well? 

Most of the comments on here about the costs of owning a boat seem to be comparing with having a mortgage (presumably from people who have or had a mortgage). If comparing with renting then the equation changes somewhat. I'm certainly not ignorant of all that - I used to have a mortgage, paid it off, but my ex now lives there, so the alternative to living on a boat for me was renting. My current financial situation wouldn't allow me to get a mortgage, however I am in the fortunate position of having plenty of capital (though not quite enough at the moment to buy a house with cash), hence I could afford to buy a decent boat - my attitude is that it might not appreciate like bricks, but if looked after properly neither should it depreciate significantly, hence it's an asset. I've read lots of comments on here, done the sums again and again and I'm still convinced it's far cheaper than renting, at least for me given my circumstances - a single bed is no use to me as there's no space for my kids (my boat has a second cabin for them), hence I'd be looking at £800+.

 

Of course it does all depend on your exact circumstances but as an alternative to renting, living on a boat certainly can make financial sense IMHO.

 

On 08/01/2019 at 17:01, Peter X said:

A common response on this forum to someone thinking of buying a boat to live on is to try hiring first to get a feel for what it's like, especially in winter when hiring is cheaper and some of the problems boaters encounter can be more apparent. It's quite good advice, because buying a boat is a commitment which some will regret, but yes hiring does cost money.

 

There is the alternative route to learning about life afloat which I followed; I've never hired a boat. It consists of taking up whatever opportunity you can find to crew for other people, but there is a chicken and egg problem here; the less boating experience you have, the less useful you are as crew! I got started when my brother and his wife (who had previously hired boats quite often!) bought their own and sometimes invited me along for a weekend now and again. Having gained a basic knowledge of operating locks and had an occasional go at steering, I then started crewing for others off the forum, the first such trip being just to do the locks for an older couple who were very experienced boaters but wanted someone more active than them aboard for that purpose.

I've never hired a boat either - instead I started living on one in winter! As the OP discovered, hiring can quickly eat up a lot of money compared to buying - even at long term winter rates. I suppose it depends on how prepared you are to take a risk - but not only on that but also what other experience you're coming in with. The OP mentions that he's happy with camping and that living on a boat would be a step up - in that case he's unlikely to have big problems with the living conditions in winter IMHO. That was one of my considerations when I decided to get a boat - I don't need luxuries (though as it happens I have plenty on my boat) and happy to cope with all the stuff some people seem to think is difficult. Sure I might have only been living on board for 3 months and have a lot of winter ahead, but I'm nowhere near my discomfort zone at the moment despite several nights of frost - TBH it's not really anything like camping, it's far easier than that, but coming at it with a camping attitude makes it all seem fine.

 

The other point you mainly cover is the moving a boat aspect - I'm not sure how much of that the OP is planning on doing, but again I've found it nowhere near as hard as some seem to make out - certainly not if you're young and fit as I'm guessing the OP probably is (I'm not so young myself, but way fitter than most 20 year olds). I gained my basic knowledge of steering and working locks on the first day I owned my boat! Well that and through doing a huge amount of research in advance, and a lot of experience of sailing dinghies which helped a lot with the boat handling.

1 hour ago, Tom Morgan said:

2 - I didn't have anywhere to keep a boat.  This is something you need to think about before you buy.  Where is it going to live? Can your hoped-for mooring-place accommodate you? What will you do if it can't?  In my case, there were two marinas relatively close to my home, one 35 minutes from home by car, and one 45 minutes away.  Both could fit me in.  I went for the least costly one, which happened to be the nearest one. 

Personally given my circumstances there was only one possible option of where to live - my whole voyage started when I found there was a mooring available here. It is indeed the most important thing, I didn't commit to buying a boat until I'd got the mooring confirmed.

1 hour ago, Tom Morgan said:

3 - When you find you ideal boat, where is it?  My ideal purchase happened to be 55 miles by road from where I wanted to keep it, or 65 miles and 104 locks by canal, which would take me between 5 and 6 days.  As a beginner, I didn't fancy doing 5 or 6 days, single-handed, on an unfamiliar boat.  It cost me several hundred pounds to have the boat craned out of the canal at one end, moved the 55 miles by road and craned back in again at the other end.

Again it depends how confident you are about doing new things like this - my trip to get here was 80 miles and 130 locks and took me over a week single handed. The first time I'd ever driven a narrowboat was when I had to get mine out of the marina where it was moored (which is still the hardest thing I've ever done, it's way easier getting in and out here). The first time I'd ever done a lock was about an hour later, the first time I'd slept on one was a few hours after that. Most people probably think I was a bit mad, but I made it here without any major mishaps and now kind of know what I'm doing. I'm so, so glad I did that - it was an adventure with a purpose which I'm never likely to repeat.

 

It is sensible to set a limit on range when looking though for practical reasons - that was about the furthest away I was considering (though plenty of choice within that range for me).

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On 08/01/2019 at 17:01, Peter X said:

A common response on this forum to someone thinking of buying a boat to live on is to try hiring first to get a feel for what it's like, especially in winter when hiring is cheaper and some of the problems boaters encounter can be more apparent. It's quite good advice, because buying a boat is a commitment which some will regret, but yes hiring does cost money.

 

There is the alternative route to learning about life afloat which I followed; I've never hired a boat. It consists of taking up whatever opportunity you can find to crew for other people, but there is a chicken and egg problem here; the less boating experience you have, the less useful you are as crew! I got started when my brother and his wife (who had previously hired boats quite often!) bought their own and sometimes invited me along for a weekend now and again. Having gained a basic knowledge of operating locks and had an occasional go at steering, I then started crewing for others off the forum, the first such trip being just to do the locks for an older couple who were very experienced boaters but wanted someone more active than them aboard for that purpose.

 

Later I joined the Narrow Boat Trust and nowadays much of my boating is with them, a week or so at a time. I might never buy a boat because I have a nice house to live in. There are other organisations offering crewing opportunities, e.g. some restoration societies run day trip boats.

Yer but Peter you are doing it cos you luv botes etc not to save a few quid.

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On 09/01/2019 at 23:31, Tom Morgan said:

...

3 - When you find you ideal boat, where is it?  My ideal purchase happened to be 55 miles by road from where I wanted to keep it, or 65 miles and 104 locks by canal, which would take me between 5 and 6 days.  As a beginner, I didn't fancy doing 5 or 6 days, single-handed, on an unfamiliar boat.  It cost me several hundred pounds to have the boat craned out of the canal at one end, moved the 55 miles by road and craned back in again at the other end. 

...

 

then:

On 10/01/2019 at 01:50, aracer said:

...

Again it depends how confident you are about doing new things like this - my trip to get here was 80 miles and 130 locks and took me over a week single handed. The first time I'd ever driven a narrowboat was when I had to get mine out of the marina where it was moored (which is still the hardest thing I've ever done, it's way easier getting in and out here). The first time I'd ever done a lock was about an hour later, the first time I'd slept on one was a few hours after that. Most people probably think I was a bit mad, but I made it here without any major mishaps and now kind of know what I'm doing. I'm so, so glad I did that - it was an adventure with a purpose which I'm never likely to repeat.

 

It is sensible to set a limit on range when looking though for practical reasons - that was about the furthest away I was considering (though plenty of choice within that range for me).

It's a common problem faced by many people buying a boat who have little previous boating experience; the boat is at A and they intend to keep it at B, perhaps living aboard in a marina and not moving a lot, but A and B are a long way apart and they don't know someone with the knowledge to help them get there. In some cases, road haulage or a professional boat mover will be the best solution, but both cost money. With the right attitude, i.e. read about it first, go carefully and learn from other boaters as you go along, it's quite possible for a beginner to move a boat single handed as aracer did. But it's better to have someone along, especially at first, and getting out of some marinas without hitting anything can be a very tricky operation for a beginner.

I've helped a number of boat owners with this A to B problem, and it works well; I get a cheap boating holiday, they save the cost of other methods, get help and gain knowledge, and will get along faster than they would single handed. I'd recommend anyone in this situation to write a post in Crew Swap; I'm not the only forum member who does this.

21 hours ago, mark99 said:

Yer but Peter you are doing it cos you luv botes etc not to save a few quid.

Both really! I have my house to live in, but I do like a cheap boating holiday.

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2 hours ago, Peter X said:

It's a common problem faced by many people buying a boat who have little previous boating experience; the boat is at A and they intend to keep it at B, perhaps living aboard in a marina and not moving a lot

Just as an aside, I feel I should point out that whilst I do live in a marina and one of the main reasons I got a boat is as somewhere to live, I do plan on moving quite a bit - I guess somebody who did mainly just want a floating flat might be less inclined to do a long delivery trip?

2 hours ago, Peter X said:

With the right attitude, i.e. read about it first, go carefully and learn from other boaters as you go along, it's quite possible for a beginner to move a boat single handed as aracer did. But it's better to have someone along, especially at first, and getting out of some marinas without hitting anything can be a very tricky operation for a beginner.

I've helped a number of boat owners with this A to B problem, and it works well; I get a cheap boating holiday, they save the cost of other methods, get help and gain knowledge, and will get along faster than they would single handed. I'd recommend anyone in this situation to write a post in Crew Swap; I'm not the only forum member who does this.

I probably should point out that in a lot of ways I'm quite unusual - not only for a first time narrowboater, but also for a middle aged bloke. I'm fitter and more agile  than the vast majority of 20 somethings, so jumping on and off the boat at locks for single handing isn't a big deal. I've also done a lot of dinghy sailing and like new challenges so was feeling fairly confident - I can understand why the idea of doing that is rather more daunting for most people. I should also point out that I needed some help getting out of the marina! Would probably have been OK without the crosswind which I had to make a very tight turn into - in retrospect I'm still not sure it was possible just from normal boat handling (not without a bow thruster!) but faced with the same situation now I'd probably walk up to the bow and pull the boat round with a rope.

 

It is a good suggestion to ask for help - I did think about it, but I also thought I might get some of my friends to come and help. In the event the first help I got was when my kids arrived when I was halfway down Tardebigge, by which time I'd already done almost 100 locks and kind of knew what I was doing! Though I started off on the GU sharing locks which helped a lot.

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I would not have bothered to get my first boat overplated when the survey showed the hull was thin in places and just walked away instead of getting involved.

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"Buying your first boat - what would you have done differently?"

 

 

Bought a field to stand in while I ripped up £20 notes for 45 years.

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9 hours ago, blackrose said:

I would not have bothered to get my first boat overplated when the survey showed the hull was thin in places and just walked away instead of getting involved.

Is this because the overplating went wrong or was just more expensive than first thought? 

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https://www.apolloduck.com/boat/narrow-boats-cruiser-stern/591300?id=591300#contactForm

 

Found this, really like it. Want to put an offer in. Boat listed on eBay for 27k, then taken down, listed before for 28k. Spoken to seller, it's a private sale. I like the boat. It looks very tidy inside. Recently been blacked. Any red flags? I'm viewing tomorrow :)

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35 minutes ago, golden_chapati said:

https://www.apolloduck.com/boat/narrow-boats-cruiser-stern/591300?id=591300#contactForm

 

Found this, really like it. Want to put an offer in. Boat listed on eBay for 27k, then taken down, listed before for 28k. Spoken to seller, it's a private sale. I like the boat. It looks very tidy inside. Recently been blacked. Any red flags? I'm viewing tomorrow :)

A put-up bed.

Had one once, never again.

It might seem a minor thing but having to put the bed and bedding away every morning, then putting it all back down again at night, then putting it away ……………………..

 

OK for a weekend but day after day after day weeks and months on end. No thankyou.

 

A 47 foot boat should be laid out well enough to have a permanent bed.

 

 

The toilet and basin looks as if it is just sat 'in the middle of the boat' , no sign of any doors or a bathroom ?

 

What's the story with the stair gate behind the basin ?

 

 

If it is as good as it sounds it is not overly expensive, but it is 25 years old - it will probably need a survey to get insurance. Check with your chosen insurer if they will accept the existing survey or want a new one done in your name.

 

It wouldn't be for me its "London White Emulsion" (splashed over to look good for a quick sale) and I don't go a bundle on newspapers stuck on the wall as wall-paper.

Its a good job we are not all the same.

Edited by Alan de Enfield

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