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Buying advice for a newcomer!

We are going to see a 68ft Mike Greation cruiser stern narrowboat, built 1995 by Stone Canal Carrying Company. It's a private sale.I've noted various comments re ownership, slightly concerned about loans etc that may be secured on the boat as no way of telling, but also it has a BSS to 08/2021 with no advisories but last survey available is 2013. Would it be naive to buy without a survey - can a lot happen to a boat in 4 yrs? Also, anything we should be wary of when buying a +20yr old boat? Comments greatly appreciated.

Asked by: Graham Jones  | 3.16pm, Tuesday 15 August


WW says:

The Boat Safety Examination is like the MOT for cars and is done every four years. It covers safety aspects of the boat for the benefit of it's occupants and third parties moored nearby. It should not be confused with a full survey on the condition of the boat. You would therefore be strongly advised to have a full survey done to ensure that everything is as it should be and you are not likely to run into problems and expense. A boat of this age could still be in very good condition but, if it has not been properly maintained, it could have many faults in the engine and the various systems, and the hull could be suffering from corrosion.


  • If the BS certificate runs until 2021, the examination must have been done in 2017 and the previous on in 2013. Nowadays, certificates are produced digitally and can be printed off. It may be that the boat was examined in 2017 and passed but the certificate was not printed.

  • You should certainly try to find out if a loan has been secured on the boat. If it is being sold through a broker, they may be able to help.

    Graham Booth  | 4.18PM, Tuesday 15 August

    I have just spotted that you say you are a newcomer. In this case, you may find that the Inland Boat Owners Book - published by WW and available through this website - is a useful source of information for you.

    Graham Booth  | 4.23PM, Tuesday 15 August

    It is very difficult to say without seeing the boat and knowing more about its history. If it has not had too much use, not been used simply to charge batteries for long periods and been well and regularly serviced, the engine could have many more years left in it. If the opposite is true, you could be looking at a replacement in the not too distant future.


  • The only way to be sure is to have a full pre-purchase survey. It will not be cheap as it takes some time and the boat will have to be out of the water but at least you will know what you are letting yourself in for. If the boat is under budget, perhaps some of the money you would have spent buying it can be used for the survey.

    Graham Booth  | 11.17AM, Wednesday 16 August


    Readers say:

    Thanks for that Graham. Although the boat appears to have been well maintained, am I right to be cautious that on a +20yr old boat,the engine for example might be nearing end of life? It's an Isuzu 42, regularly serviced apparently. Although quite a bit under budget, I'm cautious - being somewhat mechanically challenged! - that it could turn into an expensive buy?

    Graham Jones  | 10.26AM, Wednesday 16 August

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