If you have £20,000 to spend, it’s perfectly possible to buy quite a capable and versatile new boat package from the likes of Bayliner, Dell Quay or Olympic - and there’s no doubt that if you have that much to spend on a three-man personal watercraft, you can buy yourself something genuinely thrilling. But it only takes a quick glance at the used powerboats market to see just how much further your money will go. Boats you might not have been in a position to consider from builders you only ever read about in glossy magazines suddenly begin to drop within realistic range.

3 Fairline

Browse the used powerboats listings long enough, though, and the illustrious and the semi-exotic begin to tempt you away from common sense and into a world you really can’t afford – so before you get carried away, you need to decide where you want to be on the ‘New v Old’ and the ‘Large v Small’ spectrum. After all, the fact that you could buy a 1970s Ferrari with a massive V12 engine for the same money as a frugal new Fiesta doesn’t mean that you should.

So here, in this brief £20K cherry-picking rundown, we have avoided trying to tempt you with wholesale insanity. Instead, we start with some relatively small, new (and modest) boats and get older, larger (and arguably more revered) as we go on. Just be aware that for insurance purposes as well as peace of mind, the need for a survey becomes ever more acute as age and scale increase...


(1) Trophy 1902 WA (2010)

In terms of big return on modest investment, almost nothing can beat a small used Walkaround model from Trophy.

Trophy 1902 WA: Best used powerboats

This four-year-old Trophy 1902 WA comes with a 115 Mercury four-stroke, plenty of electronics, a generous fuel tank and a cuddy cabin.

This particular craft (the 1902 WA) is only four years old and yet for £19,950 it offers a small cuddy, a sheltered helm and ample external deck space, enabling you to use it not just as a fisher but as a cruising companion or family weekender. It comes with a Mercury 115 EFI four-stroke outboard, plus all the kit you would usually have to buy (Danforth compass, Northstar Explorer 710 DSC VHF radio, Garmin GPSMAP 551 chart plotter and 160c Fishfinder). The double berth houses a portable toilet with pump out and you also get a generous 208-litre fuel tank, plus rod holders and a pair of bait wells behind the seats with integrated water pump. With boarding ladder, bimini top and console cover also included, it looks like good value – but with some good, hard haggling, it could turn into a genuine bargain.

Price: £19,950

Location: Clipper Marine, Poole

Search all Trophy 1902 Walkaround for sale - www.boats.com


(2) Boston Whaler 190 Outrage (2006)

Nobody loves Boston Whalers half so much as those who have already owned one – and if that isn’t reason enough to approach the brand with confidence, I don’t know what is.

Boston Whaler 190 Outrage: Best used powerboats

A classic open fishing boat / runabout from Boston whaler that still has two years left on its 10-year hull warranty.

Here we have a Boston Whaler classic in the form of a 190 Outrage, complete with 150hp Verado outboard. With just 183 hours on the engine, this beamy little 20-footer is a centre console model dating from 2006 and it comes with the usual Verado fly-by-wire throttle, plus hydraulic steering, trim tabs and a stainless steel three-bladed prop. You also get a galvanised trailer, a console coverand four rod holders – and there’s even two years left on that original ten-year hull warranty. If the package is as tidy as it looks, this ten-man open fisher and multi-purpose runabout should give you a great many years of very affordable and varied entertainment.

Price: £21,950

Location: Red Ensign, Falmouth

Search all Boston Whaler 190 Outrage for sale - www.boats.com



(3) Fairline Targa 27 (1990)

As you might expect, this 30-foot cruiser from the much-respected Fairline stable is extremely well equipped, with trim tabs, an electric windlass, a 400-litre fuel tank, a 200-litre fresh water tank, a pair of cabins, a heads compartment, a full galley, shore power inlet and a generous range of electronic navigation gear.

Fairline Targa 27: Best used powerboats

A 30-footer that looks ready to go to sea with plenty of recent TLC despite being nearly 25 years old.

All the cushions, tables and covers are also in place and it has also enjoyed a recent renewal of the cockpit upholstery plus new carpets, curtains and canopy. Powered by a recently serviced pair of 205hp Volvo Penta 431 V6 petrol engines, with a fresh antifoul and a full boat polish in August 2013, this 1990 model looks well cared for - and after a price drop of £2,500, it even manages to sneak just below our £20K budget.

Price: £19,950

Location: Hutchins Marine Sales, Berkshire

Search all Fairline Targa 27 for sale - www.boats.com


(4) Marex 277 Holiday (1984)

From the stable of high-end Norwegian builder, Marex, this splendidly cool 277 Holiday is a spacious, shaft-driven, semi-displacement, 30-foot cruiser that will sleep four people in two cabins and run as happily on coastal waters as she will on the inland waterways.

Marex 277 Holiday: Best used powerboats

The name should speak for itself – a four-berth Marex at £20,000 is an exciting prospect.

Dating from 1984 and powered by Yanmar’s 55hp 4JH-TC inboard diesel, this particular model features an Autohelm speed/log and depth gauge, a Garmin GPS 120XL, a DSC-equipped VHF radio and an electric anchor windlass. You also get Eberspacher heating, a serviceable mini-galley with two-burner gas hob, a head with a 100-litre holding tank, an overall winter cover and a new cockpit cover. Certainly, Marex has built much sexier boats than this in its time (and much quicker, more dynamic ones too), but there’s no getting away from it - £20K for a four-berth Marex (even a 30-year old model) remains a very enticing thought.

Price: £21,000

Location: Waterside Boat Sales, Port Solent

Search all Marex 277 for sale - www.boats.com


(5) Hardy 25 (1983)

How about a venerable old Hardy 25 for £20K? Dating from 1983 with a Volvo Penta four-cylinder inboard turbocharged diesel engine, this tough, beamy 26-footer offers a double berth in the bow and a second convertible double to the starboard side, opposite the galley.

Hardy 25: Best used powerboats

Hardy by name, hardy by nature – the searchlights are included in the price.

Even with both beds rigged, you still get access to the separate heads compartment with its manual toilet – and you also get full standing headroom throughout the main section of the boat, plus a stainless steel fuel tank. Naturally enough, it comes with all the seamanship ephemera a salty seadog needs (including Incastec Log and Echosounder gear and some roof-mounted search lights) and while it’s not the most glamorous boat in the world, neither is a brand new Hardy. In short, if this is the kind of boat you enjoy, this one demands a closer look.

Price: £20,000

Location: Rhu Marina, Argyll and Bute

Search all Hardy 25 for sale - www.boats.com


More top tips for buying used powerboats from www.boats.com

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Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.