UK marine mortgages reach an all-time high. Should we be worried?


The UK got the money jitters this week but the run on the bank was a two-day wonder. The situation promptly returned to normal and the so-called credit crunch is on the back burner.

But what about the marine market? At Southampton, there appeared to be few signs of nervousness among visitors and in the trade it was a subject everyone was keen enough to change. Typically it was ‘Yes, but isn’t the weather great?’ As we keep being told, it’s all about confidence.

But the fact is that British consumers have cumulative debts of £1.34 trillion. Accountants Grant Thornton report that this is some £15 billion more than the UK’s GDP. The scale of debt is worrying and so is the spread.

Inevitably enough it’s spread into yachting. According to Lombard Marine Finance, the average UK marine mortgage is now close to £150,000. On one hand, you think: great; the money goes round and it keeps us all going.

On the other, the idea is quite frightening, and much as I love boats I can’t get my head around people having a second or third tier of debt for a yacht. Do only Scots Presbyterians pay off the mortgage first these days?

No, strike that. A: it sounds hopelessly old-fashioned. B: it’s a case of the turkey voting for Christmas. Let the cash flow.