Ex Hire Narrowboats for Sale. What You Can Expect To Pay.

Ever heard what ‘boat’ actually stands for? Break-out-another-thousand! There is a common misconception that a boat can be a floating black hole that you throw money into. However, if you are in the market to buy you might save yourself thousands by looking at ex hire narrowboats for sale. Read on, you might be surprised at how good it gets.

What are the benefits of buying an ex hire narrowboat?

Well, where to start? How’s about cost?

If you are looking for a boat to call home then you might be making a really great and substantial saving by buying an ex-hire canal boat. Want to know how much? Well fixtures and fittings aside a 70ft used ex hire boat will set you back by around £44000.

Does that sound expensive? Well, get this…

A similar boat, bought new will cost you around £99,000. That’s a lot of cash for something which may be quite similar.

Alright so we already knew it was bound to be cheaper, what else makes it worthwhile?

Well you may be surprised to learn that ex hire canalboats are actually more reliable. There is a very logical reason for this. Hire companies only make money if their boats are well maintained. No one is going to pay to be stuck by the side of the bank. If a boat was dangerous, for a hire company, that would be a PR disaster. To guard against this their boats are serviced and kept in working order pretty much 100% of the time.

This doesn’t just relate to engineering either. No one wants to go on a boating holiday with a leaky or dishevelled boat. So, you can expect the fixtures and fittings to be in relatively good and new condition.

Twinned with this, hire companies only make money when their boat is out keeping people entertained. Time is money. As a result, you’ll find that access to essential components is very user friendly compared to ‘houseboats’. By allowing easy access the hire companies can reduce their maintenance times.

Like most vehicles, canal boats don’t like to be sat dormant for long periods of time. Regular use is actually a good thing. With a hire boat you can be assured that the boat has been kept ticking over right up until the point of sale.

There are more great features that you will find as standard with ex hire boats. You’ll no doubt be aware that people often hire a canal boat as part of a group. Why is this a good thing? Well, you’ll find ex hire narrowboats have lots of berths. Great for if you want more space or intend to have a lot of company. It gets even better as the interior of the boat is normally designed in such a way as to ensure privacy.

Want to know how many berths you could potentially get?

A good average is around 12. Granted it might be a little bit crowded, but considering it’s a narrowboat, that better sleeping capacity than most people’s houses! Winner winner, pub for dinner!

What are the downsides with ex hire narrowboats for sale?

Well, as the saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch” and if ex hire boats were always the best option, everyone would be doing it. Here are some reasons that might prevent you from considering buying an ex hire canal boat…

Firstly, let’s talk aesthetics. In particular the paint job. If you aren’t fussy this might not be an issue, but you may not want everyone else to know you’ve bought an ex hire… Or heaven forbid, be confused with a ‘muggle’ when you are in fact a liveaboard. The solution is of course to repaint your boat. But if you have seen our article that is going to cost you, either in time or money.

Secondly ex hire boats for sale tend to be fitted with more windows than is considered standard. From a privacy point of view this might be an issue, and secondly from a security point of view this might put you off slightly.

The last thing with aesthetics is about protection, and it’s a good and bad thing. Many ex hire boats have been given a rubber ‘shoe’ around their hull, to protect against rough handling by the inexperienced. Now this means the chances the boat is scuffed is reduced. But your pride and joy might not look quite so great if you are forced to motor around with a rubber sausage around your waist. This leads us conveniently to our next point…

Now this might seem obvious but it’s an undeniable fact. There is a good chance that your hire boat probably has had a rough life compared to a brand-new equivalent. Narrowboat training takes the best part of an hour. And then potential punters are let loose to wreak havoc on the surrounding cut.

As a result of this you can expect an ex hire narrowboat to have a touch of ‘bank rash’ where it has been scraped alongside locks, banged into bridges and generally scuffed and knocked up and down whichever waterway it was unfortunate enough to come into contact with. The damage might be cosmetic only, which is no problem. However, a lick of paint might not fix underlying structural issues which might be present, although it might have been used to cover them. Just as in the used car game, there are unscrupulous retailers out there who might not give you the full picture. Remember, it is easier to buy something than it is to sell it.

As a final point let’s consider warmth. How is this different on an ex hire narrowboat? We hear you ask… Well…

Think about when your average boater wants to go for a week out in the UK. Is it more likely to be June or the depths of February? Which is the warmer month… What we are getting at is that many ex hire boats are built primarily for use in summer. As a result, they may not be quite as well insulated, leading to you as a purchaser being chilled to the bone for at least three months of the year… It isn’t a big deal and canal boats aren’t famous for being all that warm anyway, but it bears thinking about.

Tips for buying

There are as many canal boats as there are purchasers and we couldn’t possibly tell you everything about every boat you might encounter, but we’ve got a few guidelines that will get you off on the right foot.

The first is where to look for a decent ex hire boat. Here is a list of a few websites that we have seen that sell ex hire boats: –






There are of course hundreds more and a quick search will reveal this. Established operators have a steady stream of stock and most hire companies will be in the market to sell their boats at the end of a season to make way for newer stock.

Why is this a good thing? Well, there is a big difference in an operator selling to ensure that they have the latest gear and one who sells to stay afloat (pun intended). If an operator is struggling, would you feel confident that they have spent all that they need to in order to make sure a boat is in the best condition?

The point we are making is to choose your supplier wisely. An established company will give you quality offerings. “Budget Bobs Boat Shack”, might not be the place to go to find your new home.

Aim to find a boat that is between 3 and 5 years old. You’ll be getting something relatively young, yet can expect a substantial discount against a like for like new boat.

Another crucial piece of advice is as follows. Ignore this at your peril. When you are buying a used boat, you MUST see it out of the water. The depths of the marina can hide a multitude of sins. You can assess the boats blacking and even if the hull is warped or been banged in any way. Not to mention the prop and the possibility of a shock loaded engine. Scrapes along the bottom can indicate that it has probably had a very rough life.


As when buying anything used you are very much at the mercy of ‘sold as seen’ when considering ex hire narrowboats for sale. As you are making a substantial investment, it is worth seeing as much as you possibly can before purchasing. It is better to ask questions first and pay later than the other way around. If you are just about to pull the trigger and live your dream, we can only offer you the best of luck. We look forward to welcoming you to the club.











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