The first decision is new or secondhand boat?
Narrowboat, canal boat, river cruiser, wide beam, barge or sailing boat?
Canal, river, inland waterway or sea?
So where do you begin?
Most people embarking on boat ownership will start with a secondhand boat.
Before deciding to enter into what for most is the biggest investment of their lives after a house purchase, unless you already own a boat or have done a lot of boating, we would advise hiring a boat of a similar design to what you think you want. Take a note book, pen and tape measure. Make notes of what you like and don't like, what you miss, and dimensions of the good and bad points. Armed with this information you will be more likely to get it right when making your first purchase.
Click here to visit Boat Hire UK, Britain's leading operator of canal boat holidays
The type or design of boat will to a large degree depend on where you want to use it, how much money you have available, and how long you will spend on the boat each year.
You can purchase a boat privately or through a boat broker. Like buying a car they have both plusses and minuses. Buying through a broker means you get the benefit of the broker's experience and facilities, and they will act as an intermediary in the payment and transfer of ownership process.
A good broker will have written procedures and agreements for both the selling and buying of a boat which can avoid a number of pitfalls and disappointment.
Once you have decided you would like to purchase a second boat on brokerage, you will be asked to sign an "Agreement to Purchase" and pay a deposit of at least 10% of the purchase price.
Click here to see an 'Agreement to Purchase' Form
At this point you will also need to decide whether you wish to arrange for an independent survey of the vessel. (Brokers do not normally carry out a detailed survey or warranty a boat)
If you decide to make an offer less than the asking price, the broker will contact the vendor to ascertain if the offer is acceptable to them. If the offer is accepted the sale will proceed as above.
Deposits may be paid by cheque, bank draft or direct transfer to a 'Clients Account'. If you wish to pay by cash you will normally be given details of a bank account and asked to pay the money directly into that account which can be done over the counter at any Bank.
The agreement to purchase sets out the time scales required to complete the sale dependent on whether or not a survey is to be carried out.
Most brokers are also licensed credit brokers and can provide you with forms and advice in arranging finance from several specialist marine finance companies.
Click here for information about Boat Finance
If you require a survey on the boat it is your responsibility to contract with, and pay the costs of a surveyor to carry this out on your behalf. You can find details of surveyors listed in the waterway press. The average cost of a full survey is approximately £350 - £500 dependent on the boat size and type.
You will need to ask the surveyor and marina to liaise regarding any lifting or dry-docking required to carry out the survey. The costs of this are again the purchasers' responsibility and are approximately £100 - £350 dependent on the boat and facilities provided.
Once the survey is complete negotiations can take place regarding any remedial work that might be required. Once agreement is reached on this matter the sale must complete as set out in the agreement to purchase.
Ownership of the boat can only pass to you once the total agreed price of the boat has cleared through the broker's Client Bank Account, and the owner has signed the "Bill of Sale". The boat can't be removed or altered in any way until all funds can be identified as being cleared.
Once the "Bill of Sale" has been signed you will be responsible for all costs regarding the boat such as insurance, licence and mooring fees. You will find information regarding boat insurance which can be arranged with a specialist inland waterways insure on the left hand links.