Our resident used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best boats under £500k available on the secondhand market.
Half a million pounds is a lot of money, no matter who you are. Put it this way, if you dropped it in the street, you’d stop and pick it up.
And so inevitably, it accesses a lot of variety on the used boat market, although due to incredible demand for boats currently, perhaps not as much choice as you’d think. At the time of writing there were about ten boats for sale in the whole of the UK close to this price point.
Nonetheless, I was able to find you a high performance sportsboat in the shape of a Windy 37, a year-round walk-around ultra practical Botnia Targa, a fantastic family sportscruiser – the Princess V40, and even a mini superyacht in the shape of a Horizon 20M. Enjoy!
An evolution of the Princess V39 that launched almost exactly a decade ago in January 2012, the V40 takes that boat’s winning formula and brings it bang up to date.
The most obvious change is the stylish hull glazing replacing the portholes for a more modern look but without losing any of the core values that made the original such a success.
One of the best things about the Princess V40 (and its V39 forebear) is that, despite being the least expensive boat in the Princess Yachts line-up, there’s no sense of compromise in the finish.
You’ll find the same quality of woodwork (satin finished walnut in this boat although lighter oak was also offered, both with a high gloss alternative), the same fittings in items like light switches and door handles, and therefore the same sense of quality.
What you lose, of course, is space, but this is still a 40ft boat, so there are two decent cabins, a single but generous heads and a comfy dinette opposite an L-shaped galley.
One of the great things about the Princess V40 is the sense that both interior and exterior living spaces get equal billing. So despite a pretty generous cabin, you’re far from short changed in the cockpit.
A standard fit open-backed hard top features a fabric sliding roof, and a canopy encloses this area completely.
One interesting option on this boat is the sunpad at the aft end of the cockpit because, instead of encroaching on seating space, it extends out across the top of the tender, a sliding backrest allowing you to choose between more sunbathing or more seating.
Princess only offered one engine option on this model, twin Volvo Penta D6s, although the power rating has recently been upgraded from the 330hp engines of this boat to the latest spec 340hp engines on all future boats.
Impressively, the top speed is north of 35 knots, allowing for an easy mid 20-knot cruise.
The V39/V40 hull was designed with a more variable deadrise than normal, its deep vee forward segueing into flatter aft sections for a lower planing threshold and better economy.
The result is a slightly firmer upwind ride but it’s still a very capable hull.
Princess V40 specification
Length: 41ft 6in (12.6m)
Beam: 12ft 5in (3.8m)
Draught: 3ft 4in (1.0m)
Displacement: 10.1 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 730 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6-330 330hp diesel engines
Contact: Salterns Brokerage
Article continues below…
Secondhand buyers guide: Best boats under £200,000
Best boats under £250,000: 4 of the best secondhand dream machines
Half a million pounds is an awful lot of money but if you don’t mind dropping back a few years, it will buy you an awful lot of boat!
The Horizon 20M is probably as close to proper motor yachting as you can get; indeed many of the features – waist deep bulwarks, watertight doors, 40mm diameter handrails and side deck overhangs feel decidedly superyacht.
And that’s no coincidence. Take a look at the Taiwanese builder’s current range and you’ll discover that it stretches from 70 to 150ft!
The inside of the Horizon 20M is vast. Featuring three ensuite double cabins on the lower deck, plus a large ensuite crew cabin that would easily double as cabin four, the sense is of a complete lack of compromise.
It’s a similar story on the main deck where the galley is forward, opposite a dinette and close to the helm, leaving a huge saloon area. As with all Horizons, the woodwork is exemplary.
From the stainless steel rails around the bathing platform to those wide and deeply bulwarked side decks, every area of the exterior of this vessel feels safe, accessible and seaworthy.
The bathing platform will take a RIB as a tender, the flybridge crane providing lifting and launching duties. The flybridge is every bit as palatial as you’d imagine and features an interesting helm station – there’s a GRP clamshell section that rotates to protect all of the instrumentation.
Sat in a full height walk-in engineroom, Caterpillar C18 engines are another nod to the serious business of motor yachting – these engines are very popular on the large boat scene. But even with 1,000hp a side, performance is stately rather than spritely.
Flat out the Horizon 20M will just about reach 25 knots, with a natural cruising gait of up to 20 knots. Drop the speed to 8 knots and you will triple the range of its 3,800 litre tanks from about 230 miles to 750 miles.
Nearly 40 tonnes of displacement, when fully loaded with fuel and water, should go a long way to flattening out most seas, and thanks to good visibility from both helms the skipper should be comfortable too.
Horizon 20M specification
Length: 66ft 3in (20.2m)
Beam: 17ft 4in (5.3m)
Draught: 5ft 7in (1.7m)
Displacement: 34 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 3,800 litres
Engines: Twin Caterpillar C18 1,000hp diesel
Contact: Berthon International
Botnia Targa 35
The Targa 35 joined Botnia’s production of fast practical seaworthy commuters in 1998 and has sat resolutely in the middle of a range that spans from the smallest 23-footer to the 46ft flagship ever since, with Botnia gently and pragmatically evolving the model without ever losing what has always made this a great boat.
This is emphatically not a floating holiday home. If your priority is acres of internal volume then look away now. What you do get, however, is sturdy to the point of bulletproof and shot through with practical features, like a dinette table that slides up and down a pole so it can be adjusted to any height or raised up to the ceiling when not needed.
Head aft from the wheelhouse and you’ll drop down to a lower deck with a double berth situated on one side, single on the other, as well as the heads.
There’s a further cabin on the lower deck forward, usefully augmented by the CFC (comfort fore cabin) option that not only significantly increases headroom but also frees up space for a further ensuite heads.
Outside is where the Botnia Targa 35 is at its most practical. Wide deeply bulwarked decks encircle the wheelhouse and fore cabin making this boat an absolute doddle to crew safely.
One upgrade worth looking out for is the HiFly flybridge that extends the upper helm position across the roof creating far more seating than the original perch at the trailing edge of the wheelhouse of early examples. Introduced in 2005, every Botnia Targa 35 the UK importer has sold has been specified with this game changing addition.
Mostly sterndrives (IPS is a recent and expensive alternative), all Targa 35s have twin engine installations. There’s a wide range of choices, from a pair of Volvo Penta D4s through to the D6 engines in 330hp, 370hp and 400hp guise. This has the largest, giving a genuine 40 knots!
Legendary. In terms of design priority, speed and seakeeping are Job #1. The Botnia Targa 35 blasts through the rough stuff like an Exocet, throwing up huge curtains of water on either side.
Botnia Targa 35 specification
Length: 34ft 9in (10.6m)
Beam: 11ft 5in (3.5m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 7.8 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,185 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6-400 400hp diesel
Contact: Wessex Marine
Windy 37 Shamal
At over 500ft long and almost 80ft wide, Dilbar is one of the largest and most famous superyachts in the world. She was designed by Espen Øino, who also designs superyacht tenders, including a couple for Windy, but the 37 Shamal was his first production boat design.
Unashamedly a performance boat, the emphasis is clearly not on accommodation. That said, there’s plenty of space for a weekend aboard for a family, or a week for a couple.
And that’s because Windy has focussed on sleeping space down below – there’s no dinette or galley, the idea is that the cockpit is the living space.
There’s a vee-shaped double forward and another two berths further aft beneath the cockpit floor with a neat bi-fold door that folds flush against the bulkhead when open to create an open plan layout.
There’s a heads too of course, which rather impressively features a separate shower stall. What is most noticeable is the quality, from the beautifully wrought carpentry to the stainless steel detailing.
The cockpit stretches across the full beam of the boat (there are no side decks, foredeck access is through the screen) and includes a galley module and a large U-shaped seating area around a folding table. A bimini stows away under here, with side sections that enclose the whole cockpit.
But ultimately this is a driver’s machine, hence the three chunky forward facing seats behind the wraparound screen (complete with trademark grab rail), all with lift bolsters allowing you to stand and enjoy the performance.
Talking of performance, there is plenty of it! Twin Volvo Penta D6-440 5.5 litre turbocharged diesels live under the sunpad aft, channeling their combined 880hp through a pair of duo prop outdrives for a blistering top end of 45 knots and a fast cruise in the high 30 knots range.
Performance is nothing without control however, and the Windy has control, and serious offshore capability hardwired into its DNA thanks to its slender, deep vee hull design.
We described it as covering ground with ‘laughable ease, relishing the opportunity to explore the upper reaches of the rev range’.
Windy 37 Shamal specification
Length: 36ft 9in (11.2m)
Beam: 10ft 9in (3.3m)
Draught: 3ft 9in (1.2m)
Displacement: 7.4 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 650 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6-400 400hp diesel
Contact: Bates Wharf
First published in the February 2022 issue of MBY.
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