When searching for used powerboats it’s easy to get carried away and buy a boat with four berths or 200hp just because (to your astonishment) you can. But do you really want to spend your evenings and weekends replacing worn fittings or rotten bits of timber? Do you really want to be commissioning replacement parts and investigating ways to tackle that peculiar smell? And if your budget is just £5,000, can you really afford to fill the tank of a boat that drinks fuel six times faster than you earn the money to pay for it?
The answer is probably no, so rather than over-reaching yourself with a cash and time-draining liability of a boat, you need to stay realistic. Look for a relatively small (generally open) boat with a careful owner, evidence of servicing and modest power demands. That might sound a bit dull, but as the following five boats illustrate, if you are able to keep your buying criteria quite modest, you can afford to keep your standards remarkably high – which means you can get straight out on the water without fuss, delay or prohibitive expense...
(1) Seastrike 14
West Midlands builder, Seastrike, is famous for its knockabout aluminium open fishers and day boats – and here, in its Semi-V 14-foot model, there is plenty to like.
Built from 2mm marine grade aluminium, this 2008 example comes with a Honda 20hp outboard of the same vintage. It has apparently been regularly maintained by the local Honda dealer and on the back of just two season’s use has fewer than 100 hours running time. You also get an SBS road trailer, some oars, a cushion set and an anchor. Of course, it’s only a three-man boat (one man and 75kg less than the ‘Semi-flat’ Seastrike version of the same length) but if your load-carrying demands are minimal and you want a reliable estuary cruising and fishing vessel that’s strong, light, efficient and low-maintenance, this pristine example should give you years of faithful service for very little money.
Location: Salcombe · Price: £4,995 · Contact: www.willsmarine.co.uk
(2) Mayland Dayfisher 17
The peculiarly elegant Mayland Dayfisher 17 comes with a two-berth lockable cabin with upholstered seating that converts into a bed – and in this case, even the trailer (that most commonly neglected element of a cheap used boat) is in good order.
The galvanised Indespension roller-coaster comes with a spare wheel and bearings that were replaced as recently as September 2013. In addition to all the usual gear (anchor, lines, fenders, rod holders and tie-down straps), you get a couple of 12V outlets, some nav lights, a stereo, a lovely custom-made tonneau cover, a Garmin 160 Blue Fishfinder and a Standard Horizon Quest 1500E DSC Marine VHF Radio with remote station inside the cabin. There’s no information on the age of the boat itself but it does come with a 2008 Tohatsu four-stroke 30hp outboard with power trim and tilt and the reassurance of a documented service history.
Location: Lancashire · Price: £5,500 · Contact: 07096 545416
Search all Mayland boats for sale - www.boats.com
(3) Salcombe Flyer 440
The Salcombe Flyer 440 is a great little driver’s boat. When fitted with the top-end 60hp outboard, it has the ability to go beyond 40 knots and control it in a way few boats of a similar scale can match.
Okay, so in this case, the 30hp Mariner outboard (2007 model) doesn’t take full advantage of the 440’s sporting DNA but it still offers seating for five and user-friendly handling – and it also comes with a trailer, trailer lock and spare wheel, plus a Garmin fish finder, lifejackets, fenders and rod holders. In short, this is a brilliant (and deceptively capable) little boat and at only a third of its original purchase price. This lightly used and well-kept 2002 model looks like very sound value indeed.
Location: Lancashire · Price: £4,850 · Contact: 07096 552406
See also Alex Smith's Salcombe Flyer 530 sport review on www.boats.com
(4) Weymouth Pilot 20
This deliciously snub-fronted workhorse is known as the Weymouth Pilot. Built in 1988, this 20-foot model is powered by a Lister 30hp inboard diesel via a direct drive and three-bladed prop.
It offers a sheltered helm with full standing headroom plus a wide-open, fishing-friendly aft deck space. Naturally enough, that means the forward space is quite compact and offers room for a single berth only, but in all other regards, this prosaic little lump of GRP is a versatile and dependable sea fisher. It is all about heavyweight build, modest speeds, long range and big space and this particular model also comes with a GPS and fishfinder/depthsounder plus lifejackets and a radar reflector. Of course, it has all the elegance of a builder’s butt crack but it’s an awful lot of boat for the money – and the fact that it happens to be sitting at its mooring on the Dart Estuary (unquestionably one of the most beautiful on earth) only adds to its appeal.
Location: Dartmouth · Price: £5,250 · Contact: www.yachtsofdartmouth.com
Search all Weymouth Pilot boats for sale - www.boats.com
(5) Wellcraft 160 Fisherman
Built in 1999, the Centre Console 160 is the smallest of this builder’s ‘Fisherman’ line (and smaller in fact than any boat it currently produces), but it remains a proper little sea boat for keen fishermen.
To that end, you get grown up features, like a large anchor locker, aft transom wells and stainless steel side rails. You also get a trio of rod holders, a proper windscreen, nav lights, stainless cleats, an anchor light with removable pole, a fitted winter cover and an electric bilge pump. Seating comprises a bow seat in the front of the console and a twin helm seat with reversible seat back. You also get a coolbox in the bow and further fishing rod pods on the sides of the console moulding. The Tohatsu 60hp two-stroke outboard with electric start and power tilt and trim (last serviced in September 2013) is a very rugged unit - and you also get an SBS trailer to help transport this (very easily towed) package to your favourite cruising ground. Yes, it’s £300 over budget but with a touch of haggling, it should easily drop beneath the magic £5,000 mark.
Location: Cornwall · Price: £5,299 · Contact: 07096 556545
Search all Wellcraft Fisherman boats for sale - www.boats.com
More used powerboats
For more advice on buying boats on a budget, see: 5 new powerboats under £5,000 or 5 of the best used boats for £10K.