Buying a Narrowboat

Buying a Narrowboat: Where to Start

There is a lot of interest in buying narrowboats at the moment, which is no surprise as they offer a sense of freedom and exploration in a period of restricted activity. Once the canals have re-opened to leisure travel, boaters will be experiencing the joys of their narrowboats once again.

The first question to ask when buying a narrowboat is what will you use it for? Do you want to live aboard, or just use it for weekends and holidays and perhaps loan it to friends? Living aboard can be a big lifestyle change with many factors to consider, so for the purposes of this article we’ll assume that you want your narrowboat for leisure activities.

Research narrowboats

Research and planning is crucial when buying a narrowboat, but it can also be part of the fun. You can glean a lot of information by talking to boaters – they are a friendly bunch and very happy to offer advice. If you’ve only ever taken weekend trips on a narrowboat, then consider hiring one for a week or two, and at different times of year. Autumn and Winter can offer beauty and tranquillity on the waterways, but they can be wet and windy too, and very different to a balmy summer evening! You can also visit marinas and boat shows once they are operating again, and there is a wealth of information online.

Size of narrowboat

Narrowboats have different lengths and widths, so what you want to use it for will help you to decide how big it needs to be. Consider how many people it needs to accommodate and where you want to travel. To move around the entire canal network, you’ll need a narrowbeam boat with a maximum length of 57ft. However, if you want to potter around locally, a wider boat will give you much more space without adding too much to the cost.

The Condition of your Narrowboat

While most people focus on the interior and living space of a narrowboat, these can be modified or upgraded relatively cheaply. The hull, engine and electrics on the other hand, are where your biggest investment lies. Check that the hull is solid and in good condition, that the engine and gearbox have been regularly serviced and maintained, and that the electrics, gas and plumbing installations are safe, compliant and in good order. They are much more expensive to fix if something goes wrong.

You wouldn’t buy a house without an independent survey and a narrowboat is a significant investment, so a pre-purchase survey by a qualified marine surveyor will give you peace of mind.

Consider Narrowboat Running Costs

It’s important to consider the running costs of your narrowboat when calculating your budget. As well as fuel and maintenance, mooring fees need to be factored in plus narrowboat insurance and a boat licence. You may also want to consider breakdown cover.

Keep the Paperwork Legal

Similar to owning a car, your narrowboat requires certain paperwork. This includes a boat safety scheme certificate ownership papers, narrowboat insurance and a Canal & Rivers Trust licence .

Narrowboat Insurance

Your narrowboat is a large investment for you, so it’s important to make sure that you have the right level of cover. Assist Insurance Services Ltd have insurance policies designed specifically for narrowboats which provides you with comprehensive cover as standard. There are many optional extras to choose from too, so that you can tailor the insurance around your individual circumstances. Request a quote for your narrowboat today and one of our specialist advisors will contact you at a time suitable for you.

We hope you enjoy your adventure into boating and if you have any questions about narrowboat insurance call one of our boat insurance specialists on 01604 946 779.

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