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buying a boat

i reach retirement age next year and seriously thinking of having a 70 ft by 12.5 ft narrow boat style built. i will live on it full time and cruise full time. i will also take it to france to cruise there from time to time. most of the time i will be cruising solo,i will take what ever lessons are needed and spend as long as it takes to become competent at solo cruising.my question is this. i am willing to spend up to 400,000 pounds on the boat to get the best spec possible but how can i be confident in who to trust.if i was buying a car i know what i am doing but buying a narrow boat seems to be hoping you have chosen the right builder. i am not used to spending that sort of money and hopping. it is getting to the point where i am thinking of forgetting the whole thing. which would disappoint me. how can be sure of getting the best boat for my bucks. also they all seem to give a 12 month guarantee which is pathetic they cannot have much faith in their work.

Asked by: Mr Vernon Whitehair  | 1.10pm, Wednesday 29 June


WW says:

The first question that comes to my mind is 'how much inland boating experience do you have?' Your statement that you will start by taking lessons suggests that it may not be very much. If this is so, I would strongly recommend that you take a few holidays on a hire boat - preferably out of season - to find out what inland boating is like and whether the life style really suits you. If the answer to this 'yes', you should buy a copy of the Inland Boatowner's Book, published by WW, which will give the answers to the vast majority of your questions.

Graham Booth  | 10.20AM, Friday 1 July

Also, I presume that by "taking to France" you will have it transported there, rather than going by water- a channel crossing is not for the inexperienced, and is certainly not recommended for a narrowboat-style wide beam boat. In fact, as it would be a Cat.D boat, the French may not take kindly to you arriving by sea in any case and could impound the vessel!

Mark Langley  | 11.54AM, Friday 1 July

It is very hard to offer a long warranty on a boat, purely from the fact that how they are used is very much beyond the control of the builder!
While a car, for example, might have a 3 year warranty, it is assumed that the car will just be used on roads... a boat might not move much for three years, or do limited cruising, while another might be bashed into every lock it meets on a hectic cruising schedule. The variety of uses that boats are put to, and how well they are maintained by the owner, is so wide that is would be impractical to give a warranty.
Most problems with the hull and woodwork would show up quickly anyway (and paintschemes); other appliances,the guarantee is limited by the manufacturer, such as the engine mariniser, and are beyond the warranty provision of the boatbuilder.
As for the size- 70ft by 12ft6" is at the limit of operating on most broad UK canals- and completely rules out many of the northern waterways. You don't mention where you will be keeping it/cruising before moving to France.
While it is perfectly feasable, with experience, to handle such a large boat, you might find boating on canals such as the Grand Union painfully slow single handing.

Mark Langley  | 1.10PM, Monday 4 July

It is always worth when buying a new CE marked boat with a 12 month guarantee, to get it examined by an independent Surveyor or Boat Safety Examiner. Although the boat should meet all the relevant requirements, sometimes things get missed. By flagging them up before the guarantee expires, not four years later when the boat needs it--s first Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, will give peace of mind.
As to what equipment to specify for your boat, this is down to personal preference. Simple systems are often best for live aboard boats since reliability is important. Also duplication of systems where possible; for instance having central heating and a multi-fuel stove, two ways to charge the batteries etc.
Rupert

Rupert Smedley  | 10.58AM, Monday 18 July

It is always worth when buying a new CE marked boat with a 12 month guarantee, to get it examined by an independent Surveyor or Boat Safety Examiner. Although the boat should meet all the relevant requirements, sometimes things get missed. By flagging them up before the guarantee expires, not four years later when the boat needs it--s first Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, will give peace of mind.
As to what equipment to specify for your boat, this is down to personal preference. Simple systems are often best for live aboard boats since reliability is important. Also duplication of systems where possible; for instance having central heating and a multi-fuel stove, two ways to charge the batteries etc.
Rupert

Rupert Smedley  | 11.17AM, Monday 18 July


Readers say:

Are you for real ?

fred  | 9.09PM, Friday 1 July

under the heading BUYING A BOAT i posted a question. i appreciate the time taken by those who gave answers, thank you. first to Mark Langley. i would not dream of trying to cross the channel in a canal boat, it would be transported, if that is possible with a 70 ft boat. thank you for your concern, your answer did make me laugh. maybe the way i constructed my question led you to believe i might be stupid. although i must admit in my early 20s i had a 28ft Tremlet day-boat on which we were fishing of the needles on a glorious day and decided(of the cuff) to cross the channel. that was stupid as it took all day and we had to wait 3 days before we could come back, but i was young and people do stupid things when they are young, well i did. secondly to Graham Booth i will take your advice and purchase the inland boatowners book. as far as hiring a boat to see if it would suit me, i have twice before been on a canal boat 4 days then 7 days both times in april the second time the weather was atrocious but i loved it and have never forgotten it. i loved the peace the solitude and being close to nature. i thought then that one day i would like to do this full time. i am not looking at this through rose coloured glasses, i do realise mid winter can be very bleak, that would not be a problem to me, as long as my boat was warm and comfortable. which brings me back to my original question, what generator ,inverter heating etc etc would i need to insure i had a boat that was warm and comfortable. as i explained money would not be the governing factor. thirdly Fred yes i am for real! i would like to spend x amount of years doing something i would enjoy before it is to late. i could not live on a boat 7ft wide x 58ft long that is why it would have to be 70ft x 12.5ft for me to be comfortable. do you think that is to big for one person to handle if so please explain why. Fred you do not get to climb mount Everest by looking up and thinking how slippery it looks. with all today's technology i would have thought it possible but maybe i am wrong i am willing to listen. the main thing that concerns me is passing through the locks. i look forward to any answers thank you. PS if anyone thinks i do not know what bleak is come and live in Bulgaria where i am at the moment they have every year 2-3ft of snow which stays for at least 2 months and temperatures between minus 10 to 20 for 2 to 3 months.

Mr Vernon Whitehair  | 9.54AM, Saturday 2 July

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