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Pointers For Buying A Used Boat

We know that feeling when you’re all excited - you’re getting a new boat! But whether it’s your first boat or you’re more seasoned to the process, it’s always handy to know what to look for when viewing used boats.

We’ve been selling new and used boats here at Windermere Boat Sales for over 30 years, but instead of waiting until you get here to view our boats, we thought it would help you to feel more confident about your purchase if you’d already done a little homework. So, eyes forward class here’s the lowdown on used boats...

First things first, it’s best to have a very clear idea of what type of adventures you are planning to use your boat for. In the same way you know whether you’d like a 4x4 or a mini, WAY before you go and view any cars, it’s the same with boats. This will help to keep you grounded if the first boat you set eyes on looks an absolute beauty but isn’t fit for purpose.

As cool as buying a boat may seem to some, this isn’t a time to be acting cool as there's a lot to it, so have a checklist drawn up of what to thoroughly check. Breaking it all down, these are the main areas you’ll want to inspect:

  • The Hull - whilst the boat is out of water
  • Below Deck
  • Electrics
  • Engine
  • Sails and Rigging

Inspecting The Hull And Overall Condition

Check the boat hull

As soon as you set eyes on the boat, you’ll get a general impression of its condition but don’t be fooled as you’ll be amazed at what a lick of paint can do. If you think that your safety is on the line here, you’re almost playing detective.

Does the boat look like it may have had bumps or knocks or been patched up at all? A few chips or knocks are easy to repair yourself, but if the bottom of the hull has gouges or bad scrapes along with it, you’ll need to investigate a little more.

There are two biggies to look for here too - the separation between the superstructure of the hull and deck as this is nigh on impossible to remedy and the second is blisters as they indicate osmosis. This is when the water has penetrated the gel coat and reacted over time with chemicals in the laminate and can be extremely expensive and time-consuming to correct.

Below Deck

When they say follow your nose, this is where that comes into play as the smell of damp or bad odours can be signs of problems. If it feels damp or smells musty, check floorboards to make sure they are not rotten or warped, check woodwork for any blackened patches and any upholstery will probably have stains if there is a damp problem. Check the head for trapped algae or seaweed as this won't smell good plus leaking hoses or connections too.

Check The Electrics

Pay particularly close attention here as the electrics are where many boats get tinkered with but the main cause of onboard fires is faulty electrics. A full rewire done professionally can be expensive hence owners trying to service the electrics themselves.

If you suspect that the electrics have been tampered with, are overloaded with too much kit or if there are loose connections which can cause corrosion, we'd highly recommend you get a professional opinion. Believe us - you may be tempted to skip the cost but this is one thing well worth paying for peace of mind for.


Check The Boat Engine

If you're totally new to boats, think of this like buying a car. You'd ask for the service history and do a few higher-level checks. Checking service records is a good indicator of how well maintained the engine is and reveals any previous issues but you can also do a few engine checks yourself too. Check out its general state of repair - look for signs of rust, any hardened or corroded electrical connections, cracked or worn hoses or cracked belts. Check the dipstick for milky looking oil as this will show whether water has got into it at any point too.

Sails and Rigging

Again you'll need to know the age of the boat here, as insurers tend to suggest replacing rigging every 10 years as you never know when the rigging may fail. If you decide not to fully replace the rigging, you'll need a proper inspection carried out or you risk invalidating your insurance.

Back to checking it yourself though, rigging often goes at the swaged ends because of chafing against the fitting, so inspect these closely when the mast is down. Look out for broken strands particularly near the swages, and check how straight the stays are running. If not washed with fresh water and looked after, headsail furlers can seize, so check these as you're looking at £2,000 to £4,000 to replace them.

As it takes the bulk of the compression load of the rig, check the mast foot too for any movement or signs of corrosion. Finally, check the mast for cracks or potential problems around the fittings, as well as the gooseneck, shackles and U-bolts for signs of wear. Always try to take the boat out for a test sail, asking to see all the sails in use. This way you can open them out fully to check them as well as gauge the condition of her lines.

As kit is so expensive, just replacing one or two pieces can really mount up so try to check the full inventory from the anchor and fenders to the tender. What appears to be a full kit could cost you heavily if most of it needs replacing.


Ensure you check the boat trailer condition to make sure the boat fits correctly and is safe to transport.

The main things to bear in mind here are whether the trailer is road legal and whether launching into saltwater has caused any damage. Besides the obvious road legal requirements such as tyres and lights, if the boat doesn't fit the trailer properly it won't be road legal so check the boat is well supported when on the trailer.

The exposure to water, especially salt water is where the fun begins so check for any rusty or corroded areas and bang them with a hammer. If they have the metallic clang you'd expect, you're likely to be okay. Check the bearings by holding the wheel on either side and rocking it as any movement will need further investigation. Make sure the brakes haven't seized too and that the coupling bolts are tight as well as all cables being in order. Don't forget to check the winch mechanism too, giving the cables a really good once over.

So there you go folks - class dismissed!

Whilst you may not be a qualified expert now, you'll have far more of an idea what to look for when buying used boats. You'll feel more confident about what you're looking for and you'll also have a better idea of the value of the boat you're viewing which could help when negotiating your price.

We always have a great selection of new and used boats for sale, so why not come and take a look? You can put your new lessons into practice! As always though, if you have any questions or need any help, simply get in touch and we'll be happy to help.

The company accepts no liability for the content of this email, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

Windermere Boat Sales is a trading name of Bowness Bay Marina Limited. 
Registered in England 514559. Directors A.J Rothwell, R.A Rothwell, S.M Carradice

Things to do in Windermere

Things to do in Bowness on Windermere

The lake district is one of the most beautiful places to visit within the UK.  The views, walks, shops, attractions and the lake itself provide an overwhelming selection of activities perfect for people of all ages.

Whether you are here for a day, week or month, the memories you create will stay with you for a lifetime!

So, without further ado, we wanted to give you an amazing insight into a few of the amazing places to visit during your stay in Windermere.

Bowness Bay Marina

Bowness Bay Marina is the best place to hire a boat in Windermere.

Let’s start with the main attraction, Lake Windermere!

What better way is there to enjoy the lake by hiring a motorboat?

Exploring the lake will allow you to see a side to Windermere that mere land dwellers will not!

You can see the islands at close hand, cruise to any of the lakeside hotels and bars for a spot of lunch or have a family picnic surrounded by stunning views, the options are endless!

The motorboats for hire by Bowness Bay Marina are set up to cater for most budgets allowing everybody to enjoy the lake. The boats on offer allow couples, families and groups to enjoy the lake.

There are standard and premium options available that can be seen on the Bowness Bay Marina website.

To book one of the boats or find out more information please contact the Windermere Boat Hire team on 015394 45535

Lakes Aquarium
Lakes Aquarium is a great place to visit when in Windermere.
The Aquarium is ideal for families and groups looking to experience animals and climates from a range of different areas such as Asia, the Americas, Africa and of course, the lake district.

Guests can experience a variety of fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians from around the globe, from cute clownfish to poisonous dart frogs to meat eating Piranhas, the aquarium has it all.

The journey starts by following a map through the different sections allowing people to take pictures to document the journey.

We definitely recommend this place during your stay, especially if you have children.

For more information visit the official Lakes Aquarium website here.

The World of Beatrix Potter
The Beatrix Potter Museum offers a fascinating insight into the mind of Beatrix and her characters.
The World of Beatrix Potter provides a magical journey through the eyes of Potter´s most famous characters, Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit.

The tour starts with a short film that gives you a fascinating insight into all things Beatrix Potter!

Beatrix Potter wrote most of her children´s tales while living in the Lake District, and this fascinating attraction highlights her life and works in a child-friendly environment.

The museum is literally a 2-minute walk from the lake and will keep children of all ages entertained for hours.

When you have visited the museum why not treat yourself to some fish and chips courtesy of Vinegar Jones, one of the most famous chip-shops in the UK.

The museum tour can be booked here.

Steamboat Museum
Steam Boat Museum
The Steamboat museum in Windermere plays home to a unique collection of historic steamboats and motorboats including the SL Dolly of 1850, the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world. Amazingly, the SL Dolly is still in running order

There is a range of boats to view alongside knowledgeable staff who are able to answer any questions.

The museum is located on Rayrigg Road, Bowness, LA23 1BN.

On top of the walks and other attractions, exploring Windermere can be hungry work which is why we have to mention one of the most popular places to relax and experience great food and drink.

Porto Restaurant
Porto Restaurant Windermere
The Porto restaurant is an award-winning restaurant in the heart of Bowness. The AA Rosette awarded eatery has a range of impressive menus catering for all lovers of fine food.

Customers can choose from a selection of Cumbrian classics, 3-course meals or something truly special off the a la carte menu.

The restaurant has several elegant dining rooms to choose from as well as a heated roof terrace to make your experience much more special.

For more information please view the official Porto restaurant here.

And there we have it! Just a few of the most popular things to do in Windermere. Should you have any questions regarding any local activities or anything boat related please contact us directly.

Things to do on Lake Windermere

Things to do on Lake Windermere

rsz winderemere boat sales

If you haven't heard about Lake Windermere, where have you been hiding? It is the epicentre of the glorious Lake District. Windermere is, in fact, the largest lake both in the Lake District and in England with ‘an estimated 10,000 boats registered to sail on its waters', according to

It is also home to our boat showroom and Bowness Bay Marina, our boat hire company. We feel incredibly lucky to call Lake Windermere our home and love how people from near, far and wide come to experience what the area has to offer. However, we noticed that most guides tell you about what you can do IN Bowness-On-Windermere. We’re going to tell you what you can do ON the lake itself instead.

Head to Bowness Bay Marina

Hiring your own boat allows you to experience the serenity of the lake without the crowds of passenger boats. It is so peaceful looking at the hills and mountains on one side and the unique Lake District architecture of the houses on the other side.
Bowness Bay Marina, our sister company, also in Bowness-On-Windermere, is the place you need to go to hire your own boat. The marina has several options that we’ve broken down for you. That way, you can get an objective point of view of what will suit your needs, budget and experience.
Of course, we are located here too. Pop in and see what boats we have if you are thinking of becoming a boat owner yourself.

What to hire:

Electric boats are ideal for families and small groups looking to explore Lake Windermere.

Electric Boats
Electric boat hire is the ideal option for those with little boating experience. They are easy to operate and boat hire companies on the Marina always provide thorough safety talks and life jackets.  Families love hiring these boats, as they are great fun and reasonable in price to hire. There are plenty of variations in size, but you can fit up to eight on some.  Even the kids can have a go navigating. Make sure that you take a little picnic to have on board.

Two tips you must remember:

 1 – Book in advance

We recommend that you book your boat hire in advance, especially in the peak season. This can be the day before, but it is the best way to avoid disappointment. Queues can become very long and popular boats are snapped up quickly.

2 – Boat Navigation

It is best to stick to the middle of the lake to avoid the commercial ferries. It is easy to navigate your way to the middle and it allows you to enjoy the relaxing surroundings without too much disruption. It takes roughly an hour non-stop to make your way north to Ambleside. Or, allocate a good 3-4 hours to make it a leisurely journey where you can stop to have a bite to eat on the open waters – highly advised on a clear sunny day.

Traditional Rowing & Steam powered Boats

Windermere Boat Sales have a range of boats for sale and hire.

When you prefer a slower pace or want to do as the Victorians did, we suggest hiring out a traditional wooden boat from Bowness Promenade or Ambleside Pier.

You can normally hire these for one to two hours, depending on what your arms can withstand. The joy of this boat hire is the abundance of history.

Did you know that Windermere has its own rowing/steamboat design? One famous passenger boat is the Osprey. Windemere Jetty has lovingly restored the Osprey to steam power and tours are running to experience this small passenger boat in all its glory. This is only at certain times of the year, so check in advance before you commit.

Sailing tours with Lunch or Dinner

Sailing is a completely different experience to boating. It’s wonderful to watch this joyous skill in action, making the experience of travelling across Lake Windermere even more serene.

Several companies in the area offer sailing tours with included dining. This is the option for you if you love the idea of being on Lake Windermere, but prefer to relax rather than navigate and cater for yourself, although you can assist in driving the yacht.

These guided tours are often a great way to start your stay at Lake Windermere, as you’ll get some ‘insider’ tips and ideas on what do elsewhere.

You can only book in advance, but as the Trip Adviser reviews will tell you, these trips are brilliant treats to celebrate special occasions.

Lake Cruises

These are the main tourist attraction on Lake Windermere, so we'll be shocked if you don't partake in the lake cruises. They provide an excellent hop-on, hop-off experience on magnificent Victorian steam liners and cruisers and visit some of the main lakeside attractions from the Lakeland Motor Museum, to Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole, and Fell Foot Country park. It’s a much more serene way to travel around Lake Windermere than by car, and more enjoyable too.

Don’t be afraid of trying Watersports

Watersport activities such as skiing and wakeboarding are allowed on the lake providing no speed limits are broken.

Lake Windermere is probably the perfect place to try out watersports for the first time. It may look daunting from the shore, as people zip across the water with ease, but see this as a positive. Whichever ever watersport you choose, your guide will be incredibly experienced.

Head to the quieter and calmer parts of the lake at the top end of Bowness-On-Windermere and enjoy a session of paddle boarding. It’s perfect for beginners, as you can stand or kneel and you can take part in a guided tour too.

The same tours can be done by kayak and canoeing. With islands to explore, such as Thompson Holme, you can also enjoy a relaxing picnic away from the hoards of tourists. Sounds perfect to us.

At Low Wood Bay, to the north of the lake, you can also enjoy the thrill of powerboats and water skiing, wakeboarding and knee boarding. This has to be a favourite of ours, as experts in powerboats. Again, Low Wood caters to all abilities and ages, so don’t be afraid to visit and try. Guides are very knowledgeable and will make you feel at home straight away.

Head to the waters

Make sure you incorporate an activity on the waters beyond the cruise line tourist trip next time you visit Lake Windermere. You will need to book in advance, but trust us when we say that being on the lake is the greatest feeling. We think you’ll get hooked and will be soon heading to our showroom to invest in a boat of your very own.

5 Great Reasons to Boat on Lake Windermere

5 Great Reasons to Boat on Lake Windermere

The Lake District is well-known throughout the UK for its picturesque scenery, peaceful atmosphere and incomparable lakes, the highlight of which is the beautiful Lake Windermere.

While experienced boaters are well aware of the countless benefits to taking to the waters of Lake Windermere, we thought we’d share a handful of fantastic reasons for new or prospective boat owners to choose Windermere.


Contact Us

Windermere Boat Sales
Bowness Bay Marina
Winander House
Glebe Road
Cumbria LA23 3HE

Office 015394 22695



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