Wednesday, 19 September 2012

1st time buying narrowboat, what you should know.

It has amazed us that, after deciding to pay a deposit on Freyja and Christina, after, we thought, working our finances out to the last penny, several unexpected and fairly expensive extras surprised us.

We had read that surveys cost around £140, this is the cost of a safety survey, not the price of a hull or full pre-buying survey, we ended up with the prospect of paying £800 per boat, £1600 for the pair.
We decided to do a hull only survey on the butty at £530 and told the surveyor that if the hull needed serious over-plating we would call it a day, and not proceed with Freyja's survey. As Christina's survey showed her to have a sound hull we decided to go ahead with a hull survey on Freyja at £530, this turned up a problem with the bow, it had rusted from inside, due to a leak on the water filler pipe, and needed re-plating, but it was within the £1000 we were prepared to add for any repairs.
So now we told the surveyor to go ahead with the full survey this added £270, bringing the total to £1330, and turned up a few other things that needed sorting, and added more to the repair bill.
Unfortunately, we allowed the marina to choose the surveyor (Small Boat Surveys) NEVER DO THIS!!!! 
We have since found many serious faults missed by the surveyor, four that almost resulted in Freyja sinking! The survey was made out in the name of Nick the salesman at Aqueduct Marina, even though we were the ones who paid for it. The small print says that only the person named has any redress. We were taken advantage of, as we were first time buyers.
Now we were told that once our offer was accepted we would have one week's grace and then have to pay for the hardstanding or for moorings at £81 per week.
Also we learnt that it would cost £105+vat to have each boat put into the water, another £252. Then the marina dropped Freyja back into the water earlier than they said they would, we weren't there, they did not grease the stern gland and water had come up over the starter motor!
Once paid for, insurance has to be in place, as our newly acquired boats were not covered by the brokerage insurance, this cost £153
We'll have to pay our licenses £769.21 for 55 foot motor Freyja & £369 for Christina ( half the normal price for a butty over 50 foot) a total of £1138.21 before they go back into the water.
We searched for moorings, the nearest to Essex were either on the rivers Lee & Stort, Roydon marina quoted £6700 linear or £4600 breasted on a widebeam mooring, these moorings are within easy reach of London so carry a premium.
We looked at the river Ouse, but it would mean a longer trip though the drains to get onto the canal system.
Then we looked at the river Nene, Billing looked good and on the way home we visited Willy Watts marina in Ringstead, but were too late to ask prices, I rang the next day and we were offered moorings on their new Blackthorn Lake Marina for £2500.
We now owned our boats and decided that we wanted to black them ourselves, this cost us about £200 as the boats were already out of the water, so we did not need to pay to have them lifted out.
The surveyor was not qualified to test the gas (As Freyja is fitted with a modern 'Bubble Tester' he should have been able to test it and sign it off Grrrr!) or the electrical systems, and advised that the wiring needed upgrading 'to modern standards', so our insurance will not cover any claims made due to electrical or gas problems, until we can prove we've improved the electrics and had it all tested and had the gas tested.
The next big expense was moving them from Church Minshull near Crewe to Ringstead, near Northampton. We did this by leap-frogging a car, asking the pubs we ate in, if we could park for a day or two.

The prices quoted are the ones we encountered and would vary according to the length of boat (and would obviously be less for only one boat)
Also prices at brokerages and marinas vary greatly.