Our resident used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best boats under £100,000 on the secondhand market…
While prices seem broadly steady, it is beginning to feel like a little more choice at least is beginning to creep into the used boat market. Where 12 months ago most of the good stuff was sold before it even got as far as broker’s websites, there is now more of a selection to choose from, which is good news for buyers and for anyone writing a used boat column.
What it means in particular is that we’ve been able to bring you a really interesting and varied selection for your delectation this month. Your £100,000 will put you behind the wheel of one of the best built and best-handling driving machines on the water, or at the helm of a mid-40ft Princess cruiser with home-from-home accommodation.
Or perhaps you’d opt for the brilliantly practical hard top Grandezza or the quirky but intriguing Nimbus 380 Commander? You pays your money and you gets plenty of choice.
4 of the best boats under £100,000
Finnish company Grandezza makes two versions of this boat (to be precise, they currently make two versions of the 28, but it’s basically an upgrade of this 27 model).
There’s an open version with removable canopies over the cockpit, known as the 27DC and this, the enclosed (albeit open-backed) hardtop version known as the Grandezza 27OC. And it’s this version in particular that lends itself so very well to the British climate.
The lower deck of the 27 (in open or hardtop version) is a simple, cosy and nicely finished affair. Open plan, it sports a pair of double berths, one in the forepeak offset to port and another further aft that runs back beneath the cockpit.
It’s unusual in that most four-berth sub-30 footers require at least one bed to convert from seating but these are both permanent (as well as a small separate settee). There’s also a compact but perfectly functional heads down here.
Those two permanent doubles are made possible by putting all of the living accommodation on the main deck in the cockpit, but sheltered by that hardtop. So the galley is to starboard behind a single seat alongside the helm, and the helm itself features a double seat with a small settee behind it facing aft across a table to a larger settee.
This starboard area is raised, which gives a better view, but also more headroom for the bed beneath it. All of this is protected by that hardtop which arches right back to the transom. And by giving that such a big roof, it’s created space for a pretty decent sliding opening section above the helm.
Grandezza offered various options, from a 320hp V8 petrol through three Volvo Penta diesel engines of 220hp, 260hp or 300hp. All are single installations mated to a sterndrive.
We tested this boat in the beautiful Finnish archipelago with the same specification mid-range D4-260 that this boat has, and it ran surprisingly well, giving us 34 knots flat-out which means that even with a bit of age and growth, 30 knots should still be on the cards.
We also discovered that it was blesssed with a comfortable ride, sure-footed handling and a very sheltered helm position.
LOA: 27ft 2in (8.3m)
Beam: 9ft 3in (2.8m)
Draft: 3ft 3in (1.0m)
Displacement: 3.3 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 265 litres
Engine: Volvo Penta D4-260 260hp diesel engine
Contact: Approved Boats
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Launched in 1987, the 435 is a rare beast, an aft cabin Princess that offers accommodation the full length of the boat. It wasn’t the first, it followed the Princess 414 (1981-1987) that evolved from the 41 (1977-1982), but it was the last.
When production ceased in 1992 it bought to a close a 15-year unbroken run of aft cabin models from what was then known as Marine Projects. The yard has never revisited the idea since.
That aft cabin layout is key because it creates space for a huge square owner’s cabin right at the back of the boat complete, of course, with its own en suite. Steps lead up forward to the main deck with a sizeable saloon, featuring a C-shaped seating area opposite a sideboard plus a lower helm – then further steps drop you down to the forward lower deck.
The galley was always placed to port, but opposite there was the option of either a dinette or a third cabin. The dinette of this boat is the preferred option as it opens this area out and can always be used for sleeping if required. Finally, cabin two is in the bow with its central island bed and en suite access to the day head.
While its predecessors had been John Bennett designs, Bernard Olesinski designed this one, having started penning Princesses just a few years earlier.
That aft cabin layout means a raised aft deck instead of a cockpit, but that does put it closer to the flybridge, meaning moulded stairs rather than the ladder that most flybridge boats of this era got. There are some neat design flourishes too, like the strakes around the aft cabin windows – very 1980s Ferrari Testarossa.
Twin Volvo Penta TAMD 61 306hp engines were standard, an upgrade to TAMD 71s an option. Originally these were 71A at 358hp but later boats (like this one) got the 380hp 71B motors for a top speed approaching 30 knots.
Big boat, shaft drive and an Olesinski hull is now a proven formula, and it gained that reputation on the backs of solid performers like this boat.
LOA: 41ft 9in (12.7m)
Beam: 13ft 11in (4.2m)
Draft: 3ft 5in (1.1m)
Displacement: 10 tonnes Fuel capacity: 1,364 litres
Engines: Volvo Penta TAMD 71B 380hp diesel engines
Windy 28 Ghibli
When I was looking to buy my last boat, the one I wanted – really wanted – was a Windy 28 Ghibli, and six years later I still get slightly unnecessary when I see one. It’s a winning combination of looks, Scandinavian build quality, legendary seakeeping and very strong performance.
First the bad news. Although it’s nearly 30ft long, this is still very much a cuddy cabin boat. Forget mid cabins and standing headroom, what you get down here is a V-shaped dinette with a table that drops, allowing infills to make up a double, and a heads that you need to reverse into to sit down.
There’s also a small galley area. What it is, however, is beautifully trimmed with some great details like the embossed star in the deeply lacquered table.
And now the good news. Since the cabin is so compact, it leaves the rest of the boat (perhaps 70% of the length) as a huge and comfortable outdoor space.
Helm and navigator seats sit deep, protected by a beautiful stainless steel rimmed wrap-around windscreen complete with trademark inner grab rail, while the centre of the cockpit is a comfortable lounging area around another (detachable) table.
Finally, a sunpad stretches back across the engine space with a walkway next to it to create an easy stroll to the bathing platform. A lack of side decks maximises space and the boat’s low profile might not do much for headroom but pays dividends for the boat’s looks – low, sleek and beautiful.
The majority of 28 Ghiblis are single-engine, most notably the KAD 44/300 series giving 260/285hp. When the D series engines came on stream, the D4-260 was available but most single engine customers opted for D6 350 and 370 motors.
Twin engines were also on the options list, initially a pair of D3 160s but later twin engine boats (including this one) had D3-190 diesels, which give well over 40 knots but also a very efficient 42 litres per hour at about 30 knots – both a corollary of its low profile, narrow beam and easily driven hull.
Legendary. A Hans J Johnsen hull like most Windy boats of this era, it’s a boat designed not to need to slow down when the sea gets up.
LOA: 27ft 9in (8.5m)
Beam: 8ft 10in (2.7m)
Draft: 2ft 9in (0.8m)
Displacement: 2.7 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 375 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D3-190 190hp diesel engines
Contact: Berthon International
Nimbus 380 Commander
The Nimbus 380 Commander is a (very) gentle evolution of the 370 Commander, the key visual difference being the far chunkier bathing platform of the newer model.
Beyond that and a few other tweaks, this is the same quirky lovable pilothouse cruiser we know and love – almost a cut-price Fleming in terms of the layout (although that sells it short as the Nimbus is a fine quality boat in its own right).
It’s inside where it earns its ‘quirky’ spurs because this is a layout unlike almost any other (except the aforementioned, far larger, far more expensive Fleming).
Enter the saloon through the aft doors and you’ll actually have to step down a couple of rungs despite this being ostensibly the main deck. There’s a dinette to port with a table that halves in size and lowers to turn this into a lounge area.
Opposite, the entire starboard side is taken up with a huge galley, meaning this can even double as a sort of kitchen diner. Move forward and it’s back up a couple of steps to a separate pilothouse with sliding doors either side and internal access straight up to the flybridge.
Down again to the lower deck forward for two cabins and the heads. It’s a layout that on paper shouldn’t work, yet it does. Brilliantly.
The flybridge is interesting because it’s behind the lower helm rather than over it. Suddenly the reason for that sunken saloon makes sense, it keeps the flybridge low and stops the boat looking ungainly.
With all the doors (aft, two side and one directly between the two helm stations), access is probably the best you’re likely to find on any sub-40ft flybridge cruiser.
A pair of Volvo Penta KAMD 43 230hp six-cylinder diesel engines live beneath the aft deck, power driving forwards into vee boxes that then send it back through conventional shaft drives beneath the engines. The broker reckons on 25 knots flat-out with a 20-knot cruise.
Twin shafts combine with a shallow hull keel to make this a very steady boat at low speeds with excellent manoeuvrability. Pick up the speed to discover a solid and steady semi-displacement feel.
LOA: 37ft 8in (11.3m)
Beam: 11ft 9in (3.6m)
Draft: 3ft 7in (1.1m)
Displacement: 7 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 755 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta KAMD 43 230hp diesels
First published in the October 2023 issue of MBY.
Four more boats under £100,000 from the October 2022 issue
Beneteau Antares 10.80
Beneteau offers a variety of ranges, all subdivided into different sizes. Flyers are the sportsboats, Gran Turismos the sportscruisers, Swift Trawlers the, err, trawlers that are quite swift and so forth.
The Antares range has always been about practical living and pragmatic looks, and this Beneteau Antares 10.80 is no exception with upright conservative styling and sensible detailing. It’s also, according to the broker, “beautifully presented”, and if the photos are to be believed, it certainly looks to be in turn-key condition.
“Warm and traditional”, was how we described the interior of the 10.80 when we reviewed it in 2007, and it’s as true today, with its polished wood and cream leather. In fact this model dates back to 1998, which would explain the more traditional feel.
Beneteau eked out space for two decent cabins on the lower deck, one a twin and the other a double, which creates the perfect family configuration. There’s a heads on the lower deck too, but no galley – that lives on the main deck along the starboard side of the saloon.
That 1990s styling is particularly evident on the outside but none the worse for it; although slightly dated in places by things like the eyebrow over the windscreens that extends down either side, this is a well proportioned, family-friendly boat.
There’s more than a nod to fishing in the plethora of rod holders but the cockpit includes a small bench seat, and scaling the flybridge ladder introduces you to more seating and a second helm position aloft.
A pair of Volvo Penta’s ubiquitous KAMD 44 EDC diesel engines lie beneath the saloon floor, pushing 285hp aside through a pair of new five-bladed propellers for a top speed of circa 30 knots and a low to mid 20-knot cruising gait.
Shaft drive is another nod to traditionalism, and a good one on a used boat as this is about the simplest layout available. It also keeps the weight of the engines further forward in the hull, which Beneteau combined with a fine entry for good upwind performance, while a shallow keel aids low-speed directional stability.
LOA: 35ft 5in (10.8m)
Beam: 11ft 4in (3.4m)
Draught: 3ft 4in (1.0m)
Displacement: 6 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 640 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta KAMD 44EDC 285hp diesels
Contact: Parker Adams Boat Sales
Scandinavians are not afraid to do things differently, and this Nimbus 370, a model first launched in 1995, is a case in point. It might not follow established concepts and layouts, but it does offer something genuinely different and genuinely useful.
The interior of this boat is fascinating. Stepping from the aft cockpit into the saloon feels reasonably normal. The galley is on the starboard side, opposite a dinette which converts to create a double bed.
It’s when you head forward that things get interesting because, instead of stepping down to the lower deck, you step up to a proper little wheelhouse, complete with sliding doors on either side – great for access of course, but also brilliant for airflow on a warm day.
Forward again, and finally you head down to a lower deck that utilises the raised wheelhouse to create extra headroom in part of the second cabin, plus the owner’s cabin and the heads.
You’d think that the raised pilothouse might make the Nimbus 370 look top heavy, but cunningly, Nimbus positioned the flybridge behind the raised section and above the saloon so in fact there are no obvious flybridge sides, just stainless steel rails with canvas dodgers, the tops of which are level with the wheelhouse roof.
And it’s that low level position behind the wheelhouse that allows easy access from the flybridge straight down to the lower helm.
All twin installations, early versions of the 370, were powered by Volvo Penta’s TAMD 41 200hp. These were later replaced by the Yanmar 230hp motors fitted to this boat, and then Volvo’s KAMD 43 230hp engines with D4 260hp engines fitted to the last ones. Figure on up to about 26 knots, depending on engine option.
One of the many packaging tricks utilised was installing the engines right aft beneath the cockpit, leaving space for accommodation beneath the saloon floor. Although this shifts the centre of gravity aft, seakeeping is still good.
LOA: 37ft 8in (11.5m)
Beam: 11ft 9in (3.6m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 7 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 755 litres
Engines: Twin Yanmar 4LH STE 230hp diesel engines
Four Winns 255 Vista
Four Winns is a long established American boat builder based in Cadillac, Michigan, with a rich history of sportscruiser models marketed under the Vista label that once stretched as high as 45ft in length.
Interestingly, every Vista model has now been deleted from the line up, which currently consists entirely of bow-rider sportsboats and a solitary outboard powered wheelhouse model. The reason for this change of direction is down to the Beneteau Group’s takeover in 2014, meaning this Vista 255 is one of the last of an illustrious line.
The layout of the 255 Vista is an entirely conventional U-shaped dinette forward with a galley opposite the heads at the bottom of the companionway and a double berth running transversely beneath the forward section of the cockpit. What’s more interesting is the finish, because this is a surprisingly attractive and well-trimmed boat inside.
Dark woods, pale fabrics, cream leather and a hardwood floor lend it an entirely upmarket and contemporary vibe. It’s well specced too, although strangely, there appears to be no hob.
In fact, there is a hob, but it’s in the cockpit, an electric unit mounted on the wet bar fitted behind the helm seat. It’s a pretty spacious cockpit, with aft seating that turns into a sunbed and a small dinette area.
In part this is due to the favourite American trick on boats of this size of taking the cockpit right to the edges of the boat – access to the foredeck is via an opening section in the windscreen rather than traditional side decks, but also the bathing platform is kept pretty short, again maximising the floorspace in the cockpit.
A single Mercruiser 4.3 litre V6 lives beneath the cockpit floor, producing up to 240hp on demand for a top speed of about 30 knots and a reasonably economical 20-knot cruise.
Inevitably, tall and narrow boats such as these can be prone to being a little sensitive to a beam wind, but trim tabs are fitted to return it to an even keel again.
LOA: 25ft 2in (7.7m)
Beam: 8ft 4in (2.5m)
Draught: 3ft 0in (0.9m)
Displacement: 3 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 265 litres
Engine: Mercruiser 4.3 litre V6 240hp petrol engine
Contact: Argo Yachting
The mid 30ft sportscruiser market, these days mostly the preserve of the French, was a hard fought sector for British builders back in the 1990s. Fairline fielded its Targa 35, Princess Yachts offered the excellent 346/366 Riviera and Sealine produced over 300 of these practical and likeable Sealine S34s.
Sealine always majors on interior space and practicality, and this model is no exception. The layout is the usual owner’s cabin forward with a second cabin aft, running beneath the cockpit. A galley, dinette and heads split them.
But it is noticeable for its storage solutions, such as a split mattress in the forward cabin making it easy to lift one section to access a huge locker beneath the berth.
Neat details include a clamshell opening to the radar arch, allowing the aft section of canopy to be simply rolled up in situ and stowed away, while at the other end of the boat the anchor is concealed by a neat ‘beak’ at the bow.
Unusually, the cockpit floor is one single level (most boats of this type have a raised forward section to increase headroom in the mid cabin) and there are excellent rails on deck, such as those along the edge of the windscreen, making access forward far easier.
Sealine fitted a huge range of engines to these boats, all twin installations, including petrol, diesel, Mercruiser and Volvo Penta. Some of the very last boats got the later D4 series engines but the vast majority were fitted with the earlier KAD series.
KAD 44 260hp motors were the largest, KAD 43 230hp were also popular. But most (about two thirds in fact) went out with the KAD 32 170hp motors that this boat has.
Whilst not as fast, they still achieve a respectable high 20-knot max and a low 20-knot cruise, and being four-cylinder engines they are lighter and smaller, offering more space in the engine room.
The hull was shared with the Sealine F33 flybridge model. A lower profile and centre of gravity means that the S34 feels far more stable.
LOA: 34ft 6in (10.5m)
Beam: 11ft 10in (3.3m)
Draught: 3ft 1in (0.9m)
Displacement: 5.3 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 564 litres
Engines: Volvo Penta KAD32 170hp diesel engines
Contact: Network Yacht Brokers
First published in the October 2022 issue of MBY.
Four more boats under £100,000 from the June 2021 issue
Fairline Targa 37
Introduced as the Targa 36 in 1994, an extended bathing platform saw it quickly morph into the Targa 37, a successful addition to the Fairline range that ran until 2000, by which time almost 200 had been built.
The layout is entirely typical. A cabin each end of the accommodation, the forward one with a central double berth and the mid-cabin aft burrowing beneath the forward section of the cockpit and featuring a pair of single berths that convert to a double plus a tiny settee, dressing table and hanging locker.
Between them, a dinette (converting to take the sleeping to six) sits opposite the galley. But what sets this boat apart is the build quality — the fit out mirrors the more expensive Fairline Squadron boats of this period with beautifully formed cherry or maple woodwork.
The two arching GRP spars framing the side windows of the windscreen define Fairline Targas of this era. Hull topsides were available in white, teal or blue, the former the most practical (it hides marks and won’t fade), the teal the least popular and the dark blue the smartest and most sought after.
The cockpit layout works well, a lower entertaining area aft and then a raised section further forward that affords the helm a better view as well as adding a vital few inches of headroom to the mid-cabin below.
Twin V8 petrol engines were on the options list, which would give smooth lively performance at the expense (literally) of increased fuel consumption.
Which is why the majority of Targa 37s went out with a pair of Volvo Penta diesel engines, either the KAD 42 at 230hp aside for low to mid 30 knots performance or the slightly more powerful KAD 44 motors that pushed out 260hp and gave a couple more knots.
Fairline opted for a medium to deep-vee hull form and a wide beam to prioritise internal accommodation. But this is still a willing and able driver’s machine that handles well.
LOA: 36ft 6in (11.1m)
Beam: 11ft 8in (3.5m)
Draught: 3ft 2in (1.0m)
Displacement: 6.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 640 litres
Engines: Twin 230hp Volvo Penta KAD 42 diesels
Contact: TBS Boats
There are two distinct lines in the Finnish boat builder’s Finn-Marin stable. Finnmaster is its sensible range of smaller sportier craft whilst Grandezza is the flagship brand of larger and more glamorous sportscruisers.
Launched in 2014, the T8 was the first of a new ‘T-Series’ of Finnmaster sportsboats designed to fuse the practical of the former with the glamour of the latter.
Ostensibly a sportsboat rather than a cruiser, there is in fact more going on below decks than you might expect. Instead of the usual horseshoe dinette, there’s a proper fixed double bed forward, and a small settee opposite a usefully generous heads.
The surprise, however, is when you look aft as Finnmaster has squeezed a further double berth lengthways back under the cockpit. Normally you’d need a full on sportscruiser to get a mid-berth at this size point.
There is no space sapping sunpad at the stern, the cockpit dinette extends right to the transom. In conjunction with a small seat to starboard and two swivelling helm seats, this allows eight people to sit around the large folding table, which also converts to a sunpad with the help of a cushion.
There are plenty of storage lockers under the seats, accessed by hinging the bases forward rather than having to remove them, and there’s a small galley to starboard, complete with a diesel hob, sink and fridge.
You’d expect 300hp to provide ample urge and it does. We tested this model with an equally potent 300hp Suzuki, which punted the T8 quickly onto the plane and wound out past 40 knots. Cruising at 30 knots was effortless at 4,700rpm — over 1,000rpm down on maximum.
The T8 feels 100% sportsboat. Despite the slightly raised forward cockpit you still sit low and well protected by the high wraparound screen, giving you the confidence to exploit the performance of the 21-degree deadrise hull.
LOA: 26ft 7in (8.1m)
Beam: 8ft 11in (2.7m)
Draught: 2ft 0in (0.6m)
Displacement: 2.2 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 261 litres
Engine: Yamaha F300 BETX 300hp outboard
Contact: Approved Boats
Intercruiser Cabrio 28
There seems to be a real desire amongst the Dutch (surely the most relaxed and laid back people in the world) to be outside in the fresh air, and it is reflected in their boats. Rather than the buttoned down closed-up go faster craft of the UK, where even sportscruisers are sporting lids these days, the typical Dutch boat is a small, low, and rather elegant displacement craft with the helm right aft like a yacht and a single diesel engine. They call them sloops and Holland’s massive waterway system is full of them.
The cabin top is low profile so as not to spoil the purity of the lines or the view from the cockpit. It keeps the air draft low for river cruising too. Inside, headroom is compromised as a result, but the deck hatch opening runs well forward so you can stand at the galley.
Opposite this is a simple heads compartment and at the front is a large dinette, the table dropping to create a double berth. It’s all very straightforward and sensible but the quality of finish and construction is superb, with solid feeling cabinetry and high grade upholstery.
With an elegantly rounded stern and a large bathing platform, the cockpit features a large comfy settee that loops around an aft-mounted centre console with a big vertical wooden wheel, instrumentation and engine controls.
It puts the helmsman right at the back of the boat, making for particularly social cruising. Side decks are wide and easily accessed, and there’s a full length canopy to protect the cockpit that can also be used as a spray hood.
The Vetus 52hp diesel engine gives a very river friendly 5-knot cruising speed with a top end a knot or two more. In fact Intercruiser fits a range of engines up to 170hp for offshore performance if you need it.
A long keel aids directional stability and protects the propeller, which is particularly useful in the type of shallow inland areas this boat is likely to find itself.
LOA: 27ft 9in (8.5m)
Beam: 9ft 10in (3.0m)
Draught: 2ft 8in (0.8m)
Displacement: 4.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 100 litres
Engine: Vetus 52hp diesel engine
Contact: Val Wyatt Marine
Launched at the Earl’s Court Boat Show (remember that?) in 2003, the Sealine S38 replaced the long running S37 (itself previously the 360 Ambassador) in Sealine’s range. It sounds very similar but was actually a roomier and far more advanced boat — the traditional wiring loom replaced by multiplex technology, for example.
The layout is the typical owner’s cabin forward and mid-cabin aft, separated by the galley and dinette, but there are a couple of standout features rare in sub 40-foot boats.
The most obvious is in the mid-cabin, where the usual twin singles running athwartships are present and correct, but you’ll also discover a third berth tucked away in here, brilliant for anyone with more than two kids (or for children’s friends to be able to come along). Further forward, the heads is split between a separate shower cubicle on one side and a toilet on the other.
There is seating for four at the helm, two on a double bench facing it, and two more adjacent on a port side settee, and back aft on the single level cockpit you’ll find a dinette that can convert to a sunpad. The oversized radar arch offers a little shade as well as canopy storage. Up at the bow, anchor storage built into the stem rather than hanging over the foredeck is a neat solution.
Engine choices were all based around Volvo Penta’s KAD 40 series sterndrive units. All twin installations, you could choose from 43 (230hp), 44 (260hp) or 300 (285hp). The largest option achieved 35 knots, the smaller 44 motors fitted to this boat should be within a few knots of this.
For our test we improvised by using the wash of a 42ft photo boat. Our helmsman said: “Whatever we threw at it, the boat remained controllable, responding to wheel inputs even through the wash.
“There was the odd muted complaint through the hull as we levelled it into a steep one, but by and large it gave an impressive performance”.
LOA: 37ft 1in (11.3m)
Beam: 12ft 3in (3.7m)
Draught: 3ft 1in (0.9m)
Displacement: 6.3 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 678 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta KAD 44 260hp diesels
Contact: Hutchins Marine
First published in the June 2021 issue of Motor Boat & Yachting.
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