Our resident used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best boats under £250,000 that can be found on the secondhand market.
Peruse the new boat market and a quarter of a million pounds might not buy what it once did. However, it’s still a hefty chunk of cash and deployed carefully in the slightly more challenging secondhand arena, it can still yield a hefty amount of boat.
As ever, the sliding sides of the used boat triangle come into play: size/year/price. Having fixed the price, you can then play with the other two sides and decide whether to go bigger but older or smaller but newer.
To illustrate that point, we’ve selected four very different but equally appealing craft currently for sale from an immaculate looking current model Cranchi Z35 open sportscruiser built in 2018 to a considerably older but much larger and still very desirable Fairline Squadron 52.
Filling the 17-year age gap between them are a very tidy Sealine C330 from 2016 and a stunning Oyster LD43 ‘gentleman’s cruiser’ from 2006. As the saying goes, you pays your money and takes your pick.
4 of the best £250k boats for sale
But the Z35 harks back to what Cranchi has always done so very well. With a back catalogue that includes the enduring and appropriately named Endurance 39/41 and the hugely popular Zaffiro 34 (a model that it sold over 1,500 units of), this 35ft sportscruiser is heartland stuff for the Italian builder.
It’s quite refreshing to see that Cranchi has stuck with the time honoured mid 30ft sportscruiser layout that dates right back to the 1980s and boats like the Fairline 33 Targa and Princess 36 Riviera.
There’s a double bed in the owner’s cabin forward (a centreline double, which those earlier boats didn’t get) and a mid cabin aft with two singles that convert to a double. An L-shaped dinette to port sits opposite the galley and heads. It feels upmarket down here too, with well chosen high quality finishes in pale colours.
There is a similarly traditional bent to the exterior as well. There’s no hardtop option, no tender garage and no high-low hydraulic bathing platform – just a spacious cockpit beneath removable canopies.
Like the interior, it’s a time-served layout that just works with a big dinette area aft, a wet bar, and then a step up as you move forward to find an L-shaped seating area to port adjacent to a helm to starboard. The advantage of no hardtop is you can shade this area with a bimini whilst leaving it completely open around the sides.
Cranchi offered just the one engine option, a pair of D4 260hp sterndrive diesel engines (later upgraded by Volvo to 270hp).
But it was a wise choice as these engines suit the boat perfectly. Top speed is approaching the mid-30 knots (we achieved 34 knots on test), making 3,000rpm and 26 knots a very comfortable and relatively economical cruise.
Good helm ergonomics, a dry ride and a “spot-on running attitude” was how we described this boat on test.
Length: 37ft 11in (11.5m)
Beam: 11ft 6in (3.5m)
Draft: 3ft 0in (0.9m)
Displacement: 7.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 600 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D4-260 260hp diesels
Contact: Tingdene Boat Sales
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The ‘coupe’ C330 launched a year later with the sole purpose of offering a more weatherproof enclosed main deck saloon. This is not simply a case of enclosing the hardtop, it is a demonstrably different boat.
While the S330 puts all of its interior living space on the lower deck (saloon, galley, cabins etc), the C330 uses its enclosed saloon on the main deck to gift the boat its interior living spaces.
So you’ll find a dinette to port and the galley opposite, behind the helm position to starboard. Although this is clearly an internal zone, Sealine has gone to great lengths to bring the outside in should you choose.
So as well as the bi-fold aft door, there’s also a lift window making the connection with the cockpit almost seamless, a sliding roof above the helm lets more light and air in, and there is even a sliding door next to the helm.
Putting all the living space on the main deck creates plenty of space on the lower deck for two decent cabins plus a generous heads.
That opening of the interior is useful because inevitably the actual outside cockpit area is far smaller. There’s an L-shaped bench seat across the inside of the transom and a choice of short or long bathing platforms when the boat was new (this boat has the shorter platform).
A deep side deck to starboard links the cockpit to the helm door, and then a step up leads you to the foredeck where there’s a rather nice forward facing seat at the bow.
Potential owners could choose a single or twin engine installation when initially speccing the C330. The twin Volvo Penta D3-220 option fitted to this boat was the motive power for our original test boat, which hit 31 knots and cruised at about 25 knots.
The helm position was described with the ever popular “spot on” vernacular, and it was noted that the C330 was significantly quieter than the S330, making it a more pleasant cruiser.
Length: 32ft 10in (10.3m)
Beam: 11ft 6in (3.5m)
Draft: 2ft 11in (0.9m)
Displacement: 7.1 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 570 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D3-220 diesel engines
Location: Penton Hook
Contact: TBS Boat Sales
In 2005 Ipswich-based Oyster Yachts, justifiably famous for its world-girdling luxury sailboats, decided that its customer base needed a motor boat. Designed to appeal to its refined yachting audience, a “gentleman’s cruiser” is how we might once have got away with describing it.
More a luxury runabout than a long-distance cruiser – apparently LD stood for Lunch and Dinner, the idea perhaps being that it was the ultimate picnic boat.
It’s a statement backed up by the interior, which has just the one dedicated sleeping cabin, unusual in a world where anything much over 30ft generally has at least two (in fact there was a two-cabin option, which displaced the galley from the lower deck to the main saloon to free up space for cabin two, but it was far less popular).
As a result of not trying to cram too much in, it feels spacious everywhere. That one single cabin is a generous size, as is the heads, and the galley lives up to the LD moniker. Two huge captain’s chairs dominate the forward end of the saloon with a pair of leather settees aft.
Open the central aft door and drop the windows either side of it, and the saloon and cockpit become one big entertaining space. This is where the fine dining takes place, courtesy of a large drop-leaf table which takes centre stage, flanked by two more comfortable settees.
Alternatively, head ashore and find a waterside restaurant but make sure it has views of your boat because this is a beautiful looking machine.
It’s not just with the concept and layout that Oyster went its own way, the drive systems are unusual too. A pair of Yanmar 480hp diesel engines is pretty normal but you don’t usually find them linked to jetdrives.
Said to offer improved manoeuvrability – aided by MouseBoat, a computer mouse shaped joystick docking control – they thrust the boat up to about 27 knots as well as offering a shallow draft.
The helming experience matches the rest of the boat. Ensconced in that high backed armchair, cruising in this boat is a jolly nice place to be.
Length: 43ft 6in (13.2m)
Beam: 13ft 5in (4.1m)
Draft: 2ft 3in (0.7m)
Displacement: 9.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,660 litres
Engines: Twin Yanmar 6LY3M-ETP 480hp diesel engines
Contact: Berthon International
Fairline Squadron 52
At the beginning of this century, Fairline was keen to bust out of the usual cookie cutter layouts that boats of this era mostly fell into. In particular, it reasoned, why should boats be all about the maximum number of cabins?
Most buyers of 50ft+ boats are 50+ years old with kids that have flown the nest. So the Squadron 52 has two great cabins, not three that are inevitably more compromised.
This was the era before the ubiquitous full beam mid cabin was a thing. This boat has the mid cabin, but it’s not quite full beam. It is, however, an excellent size with an owner’s cabin feel to it.
There’s a second cabin forward, and these two cabins are so similar that either could be the owner’s, although the mid cabin has the better heads (complete with bidet!).
There’s a small two-berth crew cabin under the cockpit seat as usual, but less usual is a third cabin that spears off from the galley that’s positioned at a lower level off the saloon. Not quite big enough to grant three-cabin status, it’s more like a compact crew cabin/utility room that houses the washing machine as well.
Squadrons are top of the range ‘motor yachts’ according to Fairline, which is why you get some lovely and stylish touches like the elegantly curved (rather than the usual flat panel) glass saloon doors.
The cockpit has access to the bathing platform on both sides, and steps lead up to a usefully large flybridge that has a vertical radar mast rather than a raked back arch, another nod to its motor yacht ethos.
Surprisingly for a 2001 boat, it has the D-series engines where most boats of this era have the previous TAMD units. The twin D12 700 motors should push the speed up toward 30 knots with a very easy 20-knot cruise.
Bow and stern thrusters make close-quarter manoeuvring far easier, especially as there is a remote control for these, which is great for taking the pressure off the lines when on the dock if shorthanded. Out at sea you should be able to count on the safe and steady gait you would expect from an Olesinski hull with straight shaftdrive.
Length: 52ft 6in (16.0m)
Beam: 15ft 3in (4.6m)
Draft: 3ft 7in (1.1m)
Displacement: 20.1 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 2,200 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D12-700 700hp diesel engines
Contact: Parker Adams Boat Sales
4 more £250k boats from the October 2021 issue of MBY
Sunseeker Superhawk 43
Sunseeker’s reputation for sporty vessels is founded in a rich history of high-performance craft that date back to boats like the XPS34 of the mid 1980s and the Hawk and Superhawk series of the 1990s and 2000s. It was a dynasty that finally came to an end with the Superhawk 43 – the boat you see here that was manufactured between 2006 and 2009. Now only the rather left-field Hawk 38 flies the super high-performance banner for Sunseeker.
Modern boats are all about cabins. Anything much past 35ft has to have two cabins plus a saloon, and even boats as small as 25ft are now available with at least one separate sleeping cabin. So it’s intriguing to discover a 43-footer that has just the one open plan space downstairs.
With a double bed in the bow and an L-shaped settee opposite the galley, it’s all you really need for a couple to weekend comfortably aboard. Sunseeker sensibly ensured the settee backrest also lifts up to create a Pullman-style berth, freeing-up the space for an occasional two more.
The reason for that minimalist interior layout is evident from the outside – this is a proper performance boat designed from the outside in. It’s long, low, narrow and fast. It still looks sensational. There’s a pretty decent cockpit sunk deep into the boat to keep the height and centre of gravity low. The cockpit has a double helm forward and a wet bar opposite a dinette with a swing-out table plus a raised sunbathing area back aft.
Sunseeker offered a pair of Arneson surface drives mated to 480hp Yanmars or triple 325hp Yamaha diesels, but the twin Volvo Penta 350hp motors fitted to this boat are the mid-range choice and arguably the most practical and financially efficient solution, which still give an exhilarating 40-knot top end.
A proper deep-vee twin-stepped high performance hull means that the Superhawk 43 has both power and control. It corners like a motorbike, cranked over so far that you feel like you might get your ears wet, and just as impressively, it cleaves the sea like a laser.
Sunseeker Superhawk 43 specification
LOA: 44ft 3in (13.5m)
Beam: 11ft 11in (3.6m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 8.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,000 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6-350 diesel engines
Location: Port Solent
In 2000 Princess launched the V65, flagship of its sportscruiser series at the time. It was the first boat that Princess fitted a proper hard top to. It was an open-backed affair over the cockpit with a sliding fabric roof, rather than one with doors at the back to create an enclosed deck saloon, but it proved popular, quickly filtering down the range, so when the V58 came out in 2002, it too had a similar hardtop on the options list. Everybody seemed to want it, meaning that almost no V58s left the factory without it. Almost…
2003 predates the current convention for full beam owner’s cabins in the centre of the boat, so the standard layout of the V58 had an owner’s cabin in the bow with a double bed, and an asymmetrical pair of cabins aft to give one large cabin with an offset double berth and a smaller third cabin with bunk beds.
Unusually, this particular boat was originally ordered by an owner clearly ahead of his time. When he ordered the boat, he specified that the two aft cabins be made into one full beam midship cabin – it’s palatial!
Clearly no follower of convention, the other area that differs markedly from the majority of Princess V58s is that the boat was ordered without the hardtop, making it one of the largest fully open sportscruisers Princess ever built. It makes for more work with the canopies, but the result is a proper ‘wind in the hair’ experience for anyone lucky enough to be enjoying the exceptionally spacious cockpit.
Princess offered Volvo Penta D12-715 715hp, MAN D2848 800hp and MAN D2840 1,050hp engines, all in twin shaftdrive format. Most got the 800hp motors, including this particular vessel, which resulted in a top speed of about 35 knots and a high 20-knot cruise.
To test its on-paper attributes we took a Princess V58 out for a blast in Mallorca. You won’t be surprised to hear that we found that a combined 22 tonnes and the Olesinski-designed hull made short work of batting aside the choppy sea whipped up by a stiff breeze outside of Palma.
Princess V58 specification
LOA: 58ft 8in (17.9m)
Beam: 15ft 2in (4.6m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 22 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 2,500 litres
Engines: Twin MAN D2848 800hp diesel engines
Contact: Princess Motor Yacht Sales
We’re heavy on sportscruisers here for two reasons. Firstly, pickings are slim on the used boat market, you take what you can find to some extent, and secondly because I like them and I’m choosing them. However, in a bid to provide balance and choice, I’ve found a very practical (or ‘super’ practical, as modern vernacular irritatingly has it) deck saloon boat, hailing, as these things often do, from Scandinavia.
Function, function and function, says the Nimbus website, and it’s fair to say that we’re now about as far away from the Superhawk 43 as it’s possible to get. But the Nimbus 365 is indeed incredibly functional. The deck saloon offers great one-level living, being a step-less stroll from the cockpit and housing the galley as well as a large dinette and the helm.
In fact the only reason to visit the lower deck is to use the heads or to sleep in one of the two double cabins (there’s an owner’s cabin in the bow and a second cabin that extends back under the deck saloon). Sliding overhead glass hatches add light and a side door next to the helm open this area to the elements or can be closed to banish them as required.
Wide side decks and high rails make this an easy boat to work, as does that side access door at the helm. Back aft, the cockpit is deep and sheltered, with an L-shaped run of seating and a demountable table.
A vee drive gives the benefits of shaft drive while keeping the engine well aft. Single Volvo Penta D6 330 and D6 370 engines were offered at launch, with this boat upgraded to the D6-435, which should improve upon the 24.5 knot v-max when we tested this model with a D6-370.
That vee drive results in less responsive but steadier handling than an outdrive. Close-quarter handling is a challenge, but the bow and stern thrusters fitted make amends. Offshore, we said: ‘Nimbus romped over everything, treating us to a soft landing and only the slightest of shudders.’
Nimbus 365 specification
LOA: 35ft 9in (11.0m)
Beam: 11ft 3in (3.5m)
Draught: 3ft 8in (1.2m)
Displacement: 6.2 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 700 litres
Engine: Volvo Penta D6-435 435hp diesel engine
Contact: Offshore Powerboats
Fairline Targa 44GT
Fairline’s Targa 44 is a boat of choices. When new, alongside the usual selection of interior upholstery colours and woodwork options, buyers could opt for sterndrive or IPS power and choose an open boat or an open-backed hardtop with a sliding roof. This boat was clearly a no-expense-spared specification, coming as it does with the costlier IPS drives and the hardtop over the cockpit.
Fairline does boat interiors so well, and Fairlines of this era in particular. Finished in satin oak, it’s modern and classy. Spacious too, with a decent cabin at either end (the aft featuring scissor berths that swap easily between singles and a double), two heads and a dinette opposite a generous galley.
While the open boat experience was an option, many owners opted for the hardtop version, which adds the GT to the nomenclature. It retains the same cockpit layout, with its wraparound seat alongside the double helm for a sociable area for crew and a simply enormous run of seating on the lower aft cockpit section complete with a useful wet bar.
The hardtop itself features a solid sliding roof section which traded its inevitably smaller aperture for the resilience and weatherproofing of fibreglass over the fabric alternative.
Fairline offered a huge range of engines in this model, all Volvo Penta twin installations. You could also choose from sterndrive or IPS pod drive. Smallest were a pair of D4-300 engines that still gave a decent 30-knot top end. D6-370s on sterndrives up the ante to about 34 knots. This boat, with the largest IPS600 D6-435 435hp engines clocked about the same when we tried one, although it was slightly down on revs, suggesting there might have been a knot or two more to be had.
When tested we described the Targa 44 with IPS drives as having ‘the perfect response to the wheel. It’s sporty enough to have fun with, but solid enough for a long cruise with the autopilot engaged.’
Fairline Targa 44GT specification
LOA: 44ft 11in (13.7m)
Beam: 13ft 3in (4.0m)
Draught: 3ft 4in (1.0m)
Displacement: 13 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 996 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesels
Contact: Peter Keats Boat Sales
First published in the October 2021 issue of MBY.
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