Free Boats For Sale On The Norfolk Broads Stalham

Published date: June 2, 2022
  • Location: Stalham, Norfolk, United Kingdom

So you found yourself on the Norfolk Broads and now you're at the time when you're considering buying your boat. A lot of people that I come across on the Norfolk Broads have been coming here for literally decades. There are also hundreds of people who are here for the first time. For those people who have discovered the Norfolk Broads on a sunny day and have no idea how to buy a boat...Read up! as there are a few pitfalls you really need to know about before you cross the threshold to buying your boat.
On that note, I'm going to assume people reading this article have absolutely no knowledge of the Norfolk Broads whatsoever and that way we cater for everybody who's thinking about buying a boat.
The very first thing that people really need to know about is that the Norfolk Broads has a lot of bridges and the vast majority of them are very low indeed. It is an easy mistake to overlook the bridges on the Norfolk Broads simply because when people come to Norfolk and look for the waterways by road, technically speaking they have great difficulty finding it because the the county is so flat. The only way you can see the Norfolk Broads is to be in a boat itself
Although there are some higher bridges in Great Yarmouth and Norwich, mainly Postwick, the vast majority of the bridges are still very low bridges.
So to travel across the Norfolk Broads you have to be able to travel through several low bridges. Let me give you an example, let's imagine you were travelling from Stalham to Reedham, on the way there you will go through at least six bridges just to get to Reedham
The first thing to consider when buying any boat on the Norfolk Broads is just how many bridges can this boat get underneath. My recommendation is that the a boat should at the very least be able to get under Wroxham Bridge during low tide.
If you have a boat which can get under Wroxham Bridge? you're pretty much going to be safe everywhere else on the Broads. It may be a bit tight on Potter Heigham but on a spring tide in the right conditions you should be able to get through it to the best of my knowledge.
If you're unsure? you can pay the bridge pilot to take the boat through.
The reason why it is essential to travel through all these bridges on the north Broads is quite simply down to one major fact and that is the best locations on the Broads are all through bridges.
Even Wroxham which people regard as the capital of the Norfolk Broads, which I totally disagree with by the way is probably one of the nicest stretches of river.
Years ago until the big flood of 1913 I believe that the River Bure was navigable up to Aylsham. Sadly it is no longer the case.
if somebody considers buying a boat which will not get through Wroxham Bridge, then immediately you're faced with concerns about getting through other bridges like Ludham Bridge and if you can't get through that one? believe me, you're going to have a lot of trouble. At the end of the day, you're not going to be able to access the famous Barton Broad and you're missing out on half of the Norfolk Broads.
There are also very low bridges in Norwich city, there are so many bridges in Norwich city that I have lost count of them.
There are low bridges inBeccles too and yet again the best part is from Beccles up to Gelderston. if you can't get under that low bridge? you missed out on the best bit.
My recommendation is if the boat that you are looking at buying has an air draft of seven or eight feet or above (the air draft is the distance from the highest point of the boat to the water line) then really you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. There's going to be a lot of the Broads that you just quite simply won't be able to see.
If you can get under any low bridge during spring tide, you will probably be stuck there until the water recedes and believe me in the winter time this can take weeks.
Now you're aware of the many low bridges on the Broads and probably wondering why people didn't tell you about them before they were trying to sell a boat to you...suddenly folks now begin to realise that half the boats for sale on the Norfolk Broads are not suitable for the Norfolk broads in any shape or form whatsoever.
As one travels up the River Bure through Horning and into Wroxham there are some lovely riverside properties. Most have these magnificent boats outside with their flying bridges. Although as impressive as these vessels are, they can't go anywhere on the Norfolk Broads without any great difficulties.
For this article what I'm going to do is completely eradicate any boat on the Norfolk Broads that has an air draft of over seven or eight feet. At the end of the day, it's pointless buying one.
the only real exceptions to this are if you're on the Southern Broads and you're likely to be going out to sea in this vessel.
Anybody familiar with the Southern Broads will also be familiar with the very large boats that are in In the Brundall area. Some boats are 50 feet and above in length, some with enormous flying bridges. This is fine if you're going out to sea otherwise it won't be long until you come to a standstill because you quite simply can't get through many bridges.
So then you have to go through the man-made canal section to avoid St>Olaves but then arriving in Beccles you will not be able to go any further. You can go from Beccles to Brundall and to the outskirts of Norwich city...and that's it
Now that we have eliminated all the oversized boats what we are now dealing with is the boats with an air draft of seven or eight feet or less.
Bearing in mind there are 120 miles of navigable waters it is pointless buying a boat that won't go anywhere especially on the northern rivers as these are the most scenic and beautiful.
The second subject which people fall for all the time when they buy a boat on the Norfolk Broads is buying a boat with a petrol engine.
I think the only exception to this is if somebody's buying a boat that has a petrol outboard. Using a petrol outboard at the end of the day I can't see it being a major issue because you can bring your petrol in your own petrol cans etc however, if you have a petrol inboard on your boat? that is a very different story indeed because keeping that topped up with petrol might turn out to be a bit of a chore... again there are exceptions.
If you have one of these old Ford Anglia engines? there is no problem filling up with jerrycans, however, if you make the foolish mistake of buying a v8 twin petrol engine on the Norfolk Broads? I can tell you now you're going to have enormous problems keeping this topped up with petrol also, you're going to have problems selling it because nobody will want to touch such a large petrol engine on the Broads.
You can buy diesel on the Norfolk Broads no problem. You are going to find it extremely difficult to find somewhere that will fill you up with petrol.
If you have a petrol boat with a big v8 inboard engine? I can tell you now to come from somewhere like Wroxham Broad back to Stalham is going to cost you about £40 in petrol.
In comparison, making a journey from Stalham to Beccles with a BMC 1500 diesel inboard, you could probably do it using 15 litres of diesel.
Now bear in mind the speed limit on the Norfolk Broads is very low. The highest speed you can go on the Norfolk Broads is six miles an hour and that's on the southern rivers. On the northern rivers, it could be anywhere between three to four miles an hour.
There are two things to look out for, one the height of the boat which is the air draft. Very important to keep it below seven or eight feet. Secondly, do not buy a boat with a petrol engine unless it is an outboard or a small-sized inboard.
The third matter to consider is are you going to be staying on this boat or is it just a day boat? if it is going to be a vessel that you are likely to be spending more than two or three days on at any given time? then I would suggest considering something like an ex-hire boat.
I refer to the flat bottom dodgem types known to many as bathtubs. The reason why these boats suit people is because at the end of the day they are like floating caravans. You will have every convenience you can possibly want on there from showers, toilet to domestic size cooker and even log burners. It is essential to have heating if you're going to be there in the winter.
Although these are pretty ugly at the end of the day they are purpose-built. However, tread carefully when buying an ex-hire boat, they have often been maintained very cheaply and a full boat survey is essential. There is a reason why they are being sold.
Yhey do sell well and the odd thing is even though they're ugly ducklings they sell all day long. They hold their price and this is even with ex-hire boats which have been bashed around for decades.
Understandably these boats are not everybody's cup of tea because they are drab and boring and awkward to navigate.
Speaking to people who sell boats on the Norfolk Broads, I can confirm that in the summer of 2021 boat sales were up by at least 20 percent. The Covid 19 pandemic has had an influence on these things so if you don't fancy an old bashed up hire boat? even though they are quite practical, then really somebody should be looking at something a little bit more classical.
It is at this point now that we start to look into what has turned out to be very popular boats particularly on the Norfolk Broads for four to five decades. These are of course the Freemans. Freeman's mark 1 to mark 3 etc they are enormously popular boats and have a cult following.
My understanding is that they were made by a caravan manufacturer and that is why they have similar characteristics in their appearance namely the windows especially with the mark one, two and three.
You can still buy boat parts for these today from Sheridan Marine. Interior parts like the wardrobes etc can be physically unscrewed and removed just like they can with caravans.
Although most of these boats are now 50 years old plus they are quite beautiful boats. Freemans are people's favourites and I do think this is a great contender.
Another popilar vessel is is the Hampton Safari range. Like the Freemans there are different versions of these and I believe they were made locally. These are fantastic boats for one stroke maybe two people. You have the luxury of being able to tackle most of the bridges on the Norfolk Broads and if you have a sliding roof what more could you possibly want? These boats are perfect and in many ways I wish all the hire boats were restricted to this size. I've seen these Hamptons go anywhere from six thousand to twenty-five thousand that's for a really good one.
There are some other boats in this range. One of them is the Elysian also, you have got the Wind Boats which has the ferrocrete type hull , there are Sea Masters, Bounty which is I think is similar to the Elysian (and also a bath tub version) there are Birchwoods, Fjords, Shetlands etc.
You've got to make sure that you can get under the bridges. Does the windscreen fold down? is the air draft too high?
I would not recommend buying some of the Viking boats. I don't recommend the Viking boats for two reasons. One, they have a very narrow gunnel (that's the bit down the side of the boat that you'll be walking down) it looks extremely difficult to walk down because it's very narrow. Two, they seem to be very top-heavy. On seeing people on top of these boats they do rock over a lot and they look extremely dangerous from a stability perspective. I think they're pretty much made for the canals and I would avoid these narrow types at all cost.
The Birchwood is a nice sized boat but I see a lot of them have a fixed canopy and windscreen which will prevent you from going anywhere of any interest.
If you concentrate your interests of buying a boat within these ranges, then you're going to have a boat which will go through most of the bridges and you will have a boat which you can always sell in the future. These boats described sell all day long.
The only alternative to these is to buy a sailboat. A sailboat at the end of the day doesn't appeal to a lot of people because they are hindered by the many bridges. You have got to be dedicated to keep lowering a mast.
On that note a purposely built Norfolk Broads sailing boat is the only sensible option.


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