If you're new to boating or are thinking about buying a boat, the BIG question is...
"With so many different types of boats and yachts, how do you find the right one"..?
It usually begins by searching for boats for sale online whilst dreaming of sunny days on the water cutting through the waves, or gently cruising the waterways to stop for lunch at waterside pubs
note: the sun is always shining in these dreams...
The reality is it's probably going to be one of the most significant purchases you make in your life, so it's important to make informed decisions and understand what type of boat or yacht will work best for you
note: for the record, the sun won't always be shining...
Working with Boat Owners and Boat Brokers throughout the UK, we've put together a list of questions you may want to ask yourself before you buy a boat, which could help you make the right decision.
What type of Boat is right for me?
Consider how active you want your new boating lifestyle to be. Are you looking for stress-free, relaxed "turn-key" boating, or do you want exhilarating voyages which will see you reefing sails and crashing through the surf..?
A little research at this point into what's involved, such as the level of physicality required for different classes of boats, along with any training requirements should help steer you in the right direction.
There are many training courses and skippered charters throughout the UK where you can trial various styles of boating, and we think it's a great way to start the buying journey.
How much time will I spend on the Boat?
It's not just the amount of time you'll spend on the boat, it's also about how you want to spend your time on the boat.
Are you looking for countless summer weekends, holidays, or day trips with family and friends..? The amount of time you plan to spend onboard can help determine the best style and layout of boat for you. If you're looking to regularly overnight with family and friends a decent galley, heads and cabin arrangement are a must. Alternatively, if you're looking for the occasional day trip to a beach, or a "pootle" around a lake with a picnic in tow, do you really need great cabins or a galley..?
As a general rule, boats have a habit of shrinking once you get used to them, so if you think you'll be spending a lot of time onboard, why not go for a space that will work for you now and in the future.
Do you know what boats you can handle?
We just said that boats have a habit of shrinking so consider your space carefully, but that being said, you'll also need to consider whether you can handle a larger boat. The length and beam of a boat give you the space, but as boats get longer and wider, they can be more difficult to manoeuvre.
It's wise to enrol on a training course with a qualified skipper, as this will help you to understand your limitations and establish the size of boat you feel most comfortable with. You wouldn't buy a lorry before you passed your driving test and the same should apply with boats.
Who else will be using the boat?
The thought of other people on your new boat probably sends shivers down your spine, but it will happen and a lot more than you might initially think...
If you're planning to entertain often or have lots of guests on your boat, it's worth checking a boat will provide a good and safe environment for everyone.
It's great to share the boating experience with friends and family, but certain boat types will require an extra pair of eyes (especially with children) as they can present more hazards than others. Your Training Instructor will highlight safety protocol for guests, but we think it's also worth considering factors such as the age of children and the ability of all guests to access/board the boat and be comfortable when onboard. Boats are rarely "one size fits all" so have a think about who you plan to invite.
Always spare a thought if you're bringing four-legged friends onboard (espescially the Dachshunds). Can they navigate the boat safely and is there a secure area for them when you're underway - or is it simply better to find a dog-sitter closer to home?
Do you need to understand all the Boating Jargon?
You'll pick up Boating Terminology (what we call affectionately the "Jargon") throughout your boating life, but at the outset it can be pretty baffling and confusing.
When you view boats for sale online, you'll be presented with so many options that you probably haven't heard of such as: Bluewater Cruiser, Bowrider, Sloop, Bay, Schooner, Yawl, Cuddy Cabin and Motor Sailer to name a few. It gets more confusing when we move on to Engine types, let alone Hull Materials such as Hypalon, Roplene, and Ferro-Cement (you'd be forgiven for wondering how the last one actually floats).
The truth is you don't need to know all the terminology, or research every single boat type before you buy as there are experts on hand to help you.
We recommend you speak to Boat Brokers in detail about how you want to use your boat, what it needs to provide and ask for their recommendations based on your requirements and the price you're looking to pay. This way you avoid researching boats that aren't suitable, and you won't be discounting other boats that could be suitable.
The Boat Brokers will run through all the technical information and explain the specifications of a boat in detail once they've filtered down the options based on what you want.
Are you fully prepared to own a boat?
The team at Boat Central receive enquiries every week from new boat owners who have purchased a boat but have nowhere to moor it. We also receive enquiries from new boat owners who have no safety equipment onboard and don't even know how to take the helm. All pretty frightening stuff.
Training is of paramount importance and a quailifed skipper will run through all details of boat ownership, the pitfalls, the joys and all necessary items you'll need along the way. It's also advisable to research marinas and check availability prior to purchase along with the costs of a mooring.
Have a good long look at your life, your work commitments, your family ties and consider the impact of adding boating to your life. Are you planning to start a family, or is there a chance a relative may need your care in the near future. Life happens and many things can't be avoided or planned for, but if you've got things on your personal horizon that could prevent you sailing towards one, it's best to consider whether now's the right time.
Do you understand the costs involved?
Whether you've got the money in the bank, or have the ability to finance a purchase, the costs don't stop here - they simply begin.
Ongoing ownership costs should always be considered before you decide how much you want to invest in the initial purchase. Different boat sytles will have differing associated maintenance costs and there's a long list to consider such as engine servicing, sail and rigging repairs, antifouling, canvas replacement and hull blackening to name a few.
Speak to the brokers to get an overall idea on the costs associated with various boats types as this could influence your decision on the style of boat you buy, and always have a survey as this will help avoid unexpected and nasty surprises.
It's also a good idea to talk to local marine businesses to enquire what the annual maintenance costs would be if they were to carry out the works. We list 1,000's of marine businesses throughout the UK and you can easily find your local marine businesses by searching here>>
You can also limit costs by undertaking work yourself, but it's worth considering whether you have the time or the skill set to do this. Would you prefer to be out on the water in your spare time, or to be cleaning the hull in a boatyard on your free weekend?
Whilst the costs aren't the same, the process is fairly similar to owning a car. You'll need somewhere to keep it, insurance, finance, servicing and replacement parts - and that's why we always recommend you start by passing your test..!
Taking the time to ask yourself a few simple questions can help you decide how you want to spend your time on the water
With some careful consideration, you'll turn your dream into a reality and we look forward to seeing you out on the water on your perfect boat...!