Want to buy a boat but dont know where to start? Let marine assist guide you on to the water. Here are some of the things you may need to consider…


  1. Who can buy a boat/ what do I need?
  2. Where are you going to use a boat?
  3. How & Who is going to be using the boat?

1. Who can buy a boat?

There are no regulations in the UK that restrict who can buy a boat, dependent on age or the need for a licence. Although vessels are not regulated to the same level us cars, and you do not need a licence, it is still recommended that you complete a RYA training course to give you experience, and understanding before you take to the water. There are a range of course available depending on the boating that you want to do, from jet skiing to being commercially endorsed. Not only do these courses give you experience but can also make your insurance cheaper as they prove competence, and that you have basic knowledge. Also unlike a car you do not need to insure a individual to drive a boat but instead insure the vessel itself.

2. Where are you going to use the boat?

Where you keep your boat will impact on what you need to buy, such as if you keep a boat on the Thames, you will need a river license, boat safety certificate and insurance, however, if you are berthed on the south coast you may only need a insurance.

Inland water ways

Inland water way cruising is certainly one of the most relaxing and stress free ways of getting out on the water. It is important to take in to consideration the height of bridges and the water depth of your cruising area when looking for a boat, as well the cost and availability of moorings. It is essential on nearly all water ways that you have insurance to protect your own vessel as well as others. Most inland water ways require you to have a boat safety certificate that is renewed every 4 years and is needed to buy a river/canal license. To travel on the water ways you will need to purchase a licence for your boat, you can often purchase a annual, 6 month, 1 month or shorter visitor license depending on how long you are going to be on the waterways. These can be purchased from the governor of the waterway such as the environment agency or canal and river trust.


Coastal boating is not to be taken lightly, although the sea may look calm and appealing it can quickly change as well as hiding sand banks and rocks beneath its shimmering surface, requiring you to be alert at all times. Coastal boating can offer much more thrill as most of the sea does not have a speed limit so you can drive as fast as your vessel allows you, not only this but you anchor off in bays, beaches and make the most of the British sunshine. Although you don’t need a boat safety certificate or river licence to use your boat on the sea, some harbors and rivers may require you to have a permit to explore them or keep your boat there depending their rules, these can be found on there individual websites, we have a few popular ones linked below. Although you don’t need insurance to use your boat at sea it is strongly recommended that you do insure you boat in case you do have an incident. Nearly all marinas require you to have insurance to be able to have a mooring with them not only to cover yourself, but to cover other boat owners as well.

Residential boating

Living on a boat is becoming more and more desirable, as a way of escaping fast pace life and the hustle and bustle of a highly populated area. Living on a boat offers a secluded space with the soothing effect of being surrounded by water like nothing else. Living on a boat comes with its own issues, such as finding moorings, as the majority of marinas only offer recreational berths often making residential moorings in high demand and therefore more expensive.

3. How & who is going to be using the boat?

Are you a family of four looking for some day trips, a couple looking to retire and some short getaways or a group of mates looking for some weekend fun? Whoever you are, getting out on the water is great fun for everyone, but deciding how you are going to use the boat, whether it is just for day trips or week long getaways makes a huge difference on what type of boat you are looking for. Firstly how many people are you looking to get on the water, if its just for the four of you then a mid sized boat may offer more pleasure with easier handling, and more mooring availability, along side your favorite pub. However if your looking to take friends and family out then a larger boat is need to provide all the space you are in need of. Secondly, how are you going to use the boat? If your just looking to use it for days out then a open boat may be a better option for you, offering more outside space so everyone can enjoy the sun. Although, if you looking for a boat that you can cruise on for a period of time, then a cabin boat is critical to offer you the inside space for accommodation and living, but still getting sufficient outside space that you can enjoy catching some sun. Take a look at our listed boat brokers in your area and see what they have to offer you and there advice. What you want to achieve from boating, as well is another consideration, such as are you looking to build adrenaline, bouncing off waves in the Solent, or do you want to cruise at walking pace down the Thames in silence? This is important to take inconsideration when looking at boats and there hull shape whether they are planning hull, or displacement.

Useful websites