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Basic Steps To Buying A Boat


Boat Buying
Boat Finance
Boat Surveys
Boating Beginner
New Boats
Used Boats

Are you looking to buy a boat but are unsure of the steps that must be taken?

Well fear not, this handy blog post will walk you through all the necessary elements that should be considered when purchasing your boat!


Type Of Boat:

Deciding what type of boat is right for you is a crucial part of the process, knowing what you want from a boat will make everything that much easier for you.

Prior to any research into makes and models, you may have already decided what you want from your boat, e.g. leisure, relaxation, family needs, lifestyle, fishing, water sports etc.

Once you know what the purpose of your boat is for, finding the right boat for you will then become so much easier, and our brokers can even assist you on giving recommendations of what will suit your needs!


Do Your Research:

Before committing to such a big purchase, it’s best to do your research - you need to know the various models available that suit your needs.


Knowing what type of boat you want is great, but will it fit within your budget? Another important part of the process.

Boats can be costly and so it will be important to you to get the best out of your budget!

Test Drive/Sail:

Just like buying a car, you will usually want to take it for a test drive before purchase. This is again something you should consider before making that all important decision.

You want to know what you’re buying before you make the commitment, if you can, make sure you can test the way the boat feels on the water.


Checking the details of new boats is easier than that of used boats, new boats = no previous owners and all paperwork is provided by our brokers.

Checking the details of Used boats is very important, there’s documentation that confirms ownership a little bit like title deeds on a house. You also need to make sure that you have proof that the boat is CE marked and that any tax liability has been paid on the boat. Bear in mind that the process of checking these details should be carried out by a qualified broker or boat paperwork administrator as it is easy to think you have the right paper work, you don’t want to find out later that all is not what it seems.

The title of ownership is also the only way to establish that the vessel has no outstanding finance it, below is listed the paperwork that you should look for:

  • Builders certificate,
  • Declaration of conformity
  • Proof of tax paid
  • Bills of sale on an MCA approved document showing at least five years of ownership

The Buying Processes

New Boats:

Dealers will usually take a holding deposit to book the build slot or to take the boat off the market while allowing you the time to read through the full contract before fully committing to the purchase. After this stage, you are then normally required to make the deposit up to 20% of the boats value.

It is only when the boat is leaving the factory that you are required to pay the final funds to the dealer. Once the boat is yours, the boat dealer should then carry out a pre delivery inspection and then arrange a handover to go through the boats systems.

Depending on the boat and experience this normally follows with a sea trial.

Used Boats:

When purchasing a used boat, the payment of a holding deposit varies depending on the broker or dealership you’re buying from. Some dealers will ask for a holding deposit to take the boat off the market while you make sure your finances are in place and for your survey to be carried out – surveys are an important part of the process and ensure that you know what you are buying before making your deposit up to 10% which then makes the contract binding.

Following this then you will be required to make payment of the full funds depending on the agreed time scale in the contract and completion of any survey works.

A few brokers / dealers will offer a handover of the vessel at this stage.

Once you are happy and sure you’re wanting to make the purchase, it’s then time to make an offer on that dream boat of yours!


Survey’s act as a safeguard against buying a boat that could appear to be a bargain, but in fact it actually needs costly work to make the structure sound.

If a survey uncovers any issues, it enables you to amend the selling price or to agree on works to be carried out by the owner. However, if a survey comes back positive then it offers you some peace of mind on your purchase!

Read more on surveys here.

Insurance & Storage:

Your next step is to then think about insuring your boat and thinking about where you want to store the boat. Boat insurance should be in place at the time you pay your final funds as it is at this stage the boat falls into your ownership and this will protect your asset.

You may also want to think about moorings – where would you like to moor your boat and are there any local to you? Etc.


Congratulations – you’ve purchased your boat and you can sail away happily in the knowledge that you’ve followed every step to ensure you’ve purchased the right boat for you at the right price!