I found buying a boat far more difficult than buying a flat and must have looked at more than 50 boats before deciding to buy Bristol Fashion.
At first I wanted a cruiser style narrowboat. I saw a boat, Blue Moon, at Iver which not only had a wide enough space at the back of the boat for table and chairs but in the lounge had a built-in desk perfect for an IT worker. But it sold before I could put in an offer.
I made a special journey to Braunston and Whilton marinas where I could look at dozens of boats in a weekend and have a bit of a holiday too. Bristol Fashion was moored at Whilton Marina. I hadn’t considered buying a Dutch barge style boat and she cost more than I meant to spend – but my mind was soon made up. I loved Bristol Fashion’s cabin; and the lounge and the galley and the bedroom. The boat was clean, the paintwork was fairly good and she was an attractively shaped and stylish boat, like a little ship.
It took a few months to complete on the sale of my flat, arrange a loan with my bank, instruct a boat surveyor, arrange for some repair work to be done and finalise the purchase of Bristol Fashion. Eventually, in October 2005 I took her on the long drive to London.
A few observations:
There are a lot of boats on ebay but the thought of bidding in an auction put me off and so many of the sellers make caustic remarks about time wasters that I felt it wasn’t working for them either.
The state of sale boats is, generally, awful and gets worse the closer to London you go. No attempt made to clean inside or paint outside; junk left in the boat; some boats that are more rust than steel; and worst of all in my book, not all the owners bothered to do a pump-out before taking the boat to the marina. Yet they all looked great in the photos in the marina office.
Marina staff were invariably been an excellent source of advice and as a first-time boater I never felt taken advantage of or pressured in any way.
The surveyor’s report (I used Paul Smith) was a very useful document and I still refer back to it if something goes wrong – of course it missed a few things (e.g. the broken boiler) but overall it gave me the confidence to buy the boat safe in the knowledge that she was generally physically sound.
Get a friend’s opinion, preferably a boater friend, before you buy.