Thinking of buying a boat in London?

If you're looking at boats in the capital (and you don't know boats) then beware that there are some rotten deals. Often ancient hulls that are probably pretty knackered, painted up, done up nicely inside, but being offered at a premium to people who want a cheap apartment.

Never compare a boat to a flat to decide whether it's a good deal, compare it to other boats.

The hull (and the age of the hull) is the most important thing. Try to buy as new as you can afford. Because the hull is the most difficult/expensive thing to fix. Followed by the engine. Everything else you can alter.

Find out the hull builder (so many in the small ads don't tell you the most important things - builder and age of boat.)

Owner fit-outs (as a general rule of thumb) should be cheaper than a pro fit-out. For all you know the electrics inside an owner fit-out could be like a rats nest and be dangerous.

I've been trying to work out if it's based on size, age, type or what but it's hard to work out when you don't know your stuff! I assume that the ones costing around £12,000-£20,000 are just the boat on its own with no mooring rights but not sure as the classified ads don't give much away...

Boats with transferable rented moorings often come with a premium for the mooring. If you buy a boat like this, there is a risk if you sell you won't be able to make the money added on for a premium back. There is a consultation going on at the moment which could mean that the right to transfer a boat for a premium may be ended.

The older the boat, the more risk. Once a boat gets past a certain age it can be trickier to insure and the insurer may demand a survey.

Where are the nicest places to buy a residential mooring and boat in London without breaking the bank?

Residential moorings rarely ever become available to buy, most are rented. The most available residential moorings are at Engineers wharf, most boaters would say 'not cheap' but I suppose they still compare favourably with the price of renting a flat. The Canal And River Trust's moorings are auctioned (like on ebay) on The Canal And River Trust Moorings Auctions website but are quite scarce. CRT are looking at providing more new moorings but not in central London.

I plan on learning to fix my boat as much as possible on my own but wondered how you keep a check on things? Do you get someone to come look? Take it to a boatyard? how do I know if it's going to suddenly sink because a big hole has rusted through under water?

We dry dock every three years and reblack (repaint the hull) ourselves. That way we know our own boat and if there are any problems with the hull we will discover them. Get a hull survey from a professional boat surveyor before you buy as the surveyor will ultrasound test the thickness of the hull which should throw up any problems. Boats don't suddenly get holes in, any deterioration happens over a period of time.

Do boats appreciate or depreciate in value much if looked after?

They tend to depreciate more when new, then slow down, if you keep them in good nick then they won't depreciate that fast, just don't buy one as an investment, they are not houses. But the better quality hull you buy, the more they will keep their value.

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