Shetland Family 4 Boat Review – Pre-Owned Shetland Family 4 Boat Buyer’s Guide

November 15, 2022 0 Comments


The Shetland Family 4 is a compact and comfortable cruiser that offers a good balance between cabin and cabin. The light and airy cabin has comfortable single berths that easily convert to a double bed and a table that is placed between the berths at mealtimes to provide enough dining space for the whole family. Shetland’s aim has always been to produce safe and reliable family performance cruisers at reasonable prices, and this makes the Family 4 a great second hand buy.

For whom and for what was this ship designed?

The Shetland Family 4 is a compact family cruiser for use on rivers, canals, estuaries and coastal navigation. The boat was designed and built to provide complete and spacious accommodation in a light and trailerable boat. She is ideal for carrying camping equipment and gear to those isolated spots, or for anglers to haul their gear on excursions. The boat can also be used as a caravan afloat or on a trailer.

What the commentators are saying about this boat

Shetland family cruises have had a constant appeal for thousands of people who enjoy life afloat.

The fact that the same hull is still being built today is testament to the build quality of the Shetland brand, as this seems to be one that works.

As long as the hull is in good condition, there is no problem with the age of the Shetland. They can look just as good today as the day they were made and compare well in style with more modern crafts.

model variations

The Shetland Family 4 was a development of the very successful Shetland 535/536 and offered a cab layout to include enough cab length to accommodate side benches/2 single berths. Fit and finish were more sophisticated compared to its predecessor.

The original vessel features a conventional well outboard built into the transom. Later designs feature a molded external pod/stern platform. This allows for a larger cabin with bucket seats at the stern.

The Mark 3 Personnel Carrier (1977-82) featured internal changes to function as an ideal workboat for transporting camping gear, fishing gear and other equipment to isolated locations. She was also marketed as a ship for small ferry operations with seating for up to 10 people.

The Mark 6 Space Fish (1989-90) is the traditional Family 4 designed without berths as a robust day boat for fishing.

  • Mark 1 – 1973-78
  • Mark 2 – 1978-82
  • Personnel Carrier Mark 3 – 1977- 82
  • Mark 4 – 1982-87
  • Mark 5 – 1987-90
  • Space Fish Mark 6 – 1989-90
  • Family Favorite Mark 7 – 1990-98


  • Length: 17 ft 7 in (5.36 m)
  • Beam: 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
  • Maximum height (excluding windshield): 6 ft 0 in (1.828 m)
  • Cabin clearance: 4 ft 4 in (1.32 m)
  • Weight (approximate): 0.65 tons (590 kg)
  • Maximum Engine Size: 70 hp o/b

The good thing about the Shetland Family 4

  • Great stability at rest and speed.
  • Easy to maneuver thanks to the proven gull-wing shape.
  • Easy to launch from a road trailer.
  • Spacious accommodation for a family.

What to look out for in a second-hand Shetland Family 4

If you are buying a used Family 4, the owners have reported a few things to look out for and potential failures that can occur on this boat from time to time.

  • Check that the outboard motor starts easily (if it is stopped, it may take a few jerks).
  • Check that forward/backward operation is easy.
  • Check the hull for any patches or damage and look for signs of water ingress.

Keeping your Shetland Family 4 in shape

When buying a used Family 4, regular scheduled maintenance and attention to a few minor points will keep your boat in top condition.

regular maintenance

Perform regular engine and transmission maintenance at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.


We currently do not have specific maintenance information for the Shetland Family 4.

If you have ever owned or worked on this boat and would like to share your thoughts, please contact us and we will add your information to the page.

Leaving out of play

We currently do not have any specific information about the configuration of the Family 4.

If you’ve ever owned or worked in a Family 4 and want to share your thoughts, please contact us and we’ll add your information to the page.

Model Specific Repairs

The Shetland Family 4 is not known for needing specific repairs more frequently than other boats.

Why buy a second-hand Shetland Family 4?

This compact and no-nonsense boat is an ideal family cruiser that requires little maintenance. The basic design remained unchanged throughout the 25 years of the ship’s manufacture, a testament to her quality and reliability. A second hand Shetland Family 4 is a sensible purchase.

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