By Harriet Meyer
Saturday 25 July 2009 19.01 EDT
A spot of snorkeling in a secluded cove with no tour guide to hurry you along, cruising the coast to look for dolphins when the fancy takes you or simply bouncing along the waves at high speed - yes, owning a boat can bring many pleasures.
But they come at a price. If you’re considering buying a craft, whether a one-man canoe or luxury cruiser, it’s vital to consider all the costs. Depending on the scale of your ambition, it can set you back as much as a car or a house.
Aside from the boat itself, there are running expenses such as mooring fees, winter storage, maintenance and insurance - and you must account for the accidents that can happen at sea.
“As a rule of thumb, running costs are about 10% of the purchase price for mid-range boats of around 36ft long,” says Stuart Carruthers, cruising manager of the Royal Yachting Association.
“Some, such as motor boats, will cost much more as the price of fuel has risen significantly since November.”
Where to buy
If you are keen to start researching a potential purchase, Boatshed.com and ybw.com (Yachting & Boating World) detail secondhand boats for sale. You could use them as a starting point to check whether the price demanded by another seller, say, resembles that of similar models on the site.
Another option is online auction site eBay, which tends to have small boats at competitive prices.
Check the state of the boat before payment. For yachts, you should enlist a marine surveyor to report on its condition. “Don’t pay anything to anybody until this is done, even a deposit - and make sure to get a competent surveyor who has indemnity insurance so that if they tell you a pack of lies you’ve got somebody to sue,” says Carruthers.
“Also check they are a member of a recognized organization such as the International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS) or the Yacht Brokers, Designers and Surveyors Association (YBDSA).”
For smaller boats - dinghies - just research whether you’re paying the right price given the condition.
Keeping things covered
Before taking to the waves, check safety equipment. And in case you do get into trouble on the water, make sure your marine insurance is sufficient to cover damage to the boat and any other costs arising from an accident.
You should also check on the amount you can claim, should your boat end up in a watery grave.
Boat insurance is not compulsory, but most marinas and harbour authorities insist on third-party insurance, as does British Waterways, which controls most of the rivers and lakes in the UK.
This form of insurance predates all other types of cover, and policies vary in detail and price, which can make comparison tricky. Also, prices will vary widely depending on whether you intend to race or simply cruise along.
It pays to do research and decide on your priorities. Boat owner Damian King, 30, realised the value of his insurance cover when his boat was taken for a joyride by some drunken revellers off Brighton beach this month.
“My laser dinghy was left washing up all night,” he says, “with bits strewn across the beach and out to sea - it took a bit of a pounding and I lost quite a few items that were stored in the boat.”
However, the science teacher is content with his insurer Noble Marine, which provides “new for old” cover. “I always thought I’d need to replace something on the boat, from damaging it through racing, but I never thought that it would be as a result of an incident like this.”
He is claiming on his policy for repair of the boat and the lost items, including spars and sheets. The comprehensive cover costs £130 a year.
If you want to find out if you are paying the going rate for insurance, you might want to check the websites that give you an instant quote. Craftinsure.com and Covermyboat.co.uk are two such sites.
GJW is the UK’s largest direct boat insurer and publishes the full policy document on its website, so you can see exactly what you’re covered for, as does Noble Marine.
Always check what is included because, for example, medical expenses are not a feature of every policy.
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