Shetland Family 4 Boat Review – Boat Buyer’s Guide to Second-hand Shetland Family 4s

Last Updated on March 28, 2020 by Jess


The Shetland Family 4 is a compact and comfortable cruiser that offers a good balance between cockpit and cabin. The bright, spacious cabin features comfortable single beds that can easily be converted into a double bed and a table that fits between the sleeping places during meals, so that there is enough dining space for the whole family. Shetland's goal has always been to produce safe and reliable family performance cruisers at no-nonsense prices, and this makes the Family 4 a great second-hand purchase.

For whom and for what is this boat designed?

The Shetland Family 4 is a compact family cruiser for use in rivers, canals, estuaries and coastal sails. The boat is designed and built to offer extensive and spacious accommodation in a light, portable boat. It is ideal for carrying camping gear and equipment to those isolated places, or for anglers to transport their equipment on excursions. The boat can also be used as a floating camper or on a trailer.

What commentators say about this boat

Family cruisers from Shetland have had a consistent attraction to thousands of people who enjoy life in the water.

The fact that today the same hull is being built is testimony to the build quality of the Shetland brand, because it seems that it works.

If the hull is in good condition, there is no problem with the age of the Shetlands. They can look just as good today as the day they were made and comparable to modern vessels for style.

Model variations

The Shetland Family 4 was a development of the very successful Shetland 535/536 and offered a cabin layout with sufficient cockpit length to accommodate side benches / 2 single beds. The fit and finish were more sophisticated compared to its predecessor.

The original vessel has a conventional outboard motor that is well built into the mirror. Subsequent designs have a cast outboard / platform. This creates a larger cockpit with wrap around seats at the stern.

The Mark 3 person carrier (1977-82) had internal changes to serve as a work ship, ideal for transporting camping gear, fishing gear and other equipment to isolated places. It was also marketed as a boat for small ferry operations with seats 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
  • Mark 3 Personnel Carrier – 1977- 82
  • Mark 4 – 1982-87
  • Mark 5 – 1987-90
  • Mark 6 Space Fish – 1989-90
  • Mark 7 Family Favorite – 1990-98


  • Length: 17ft 7in (5.36m)
  • Beam: 6 ft 10in (2.08 m)
  • Maximum height (without windscreen): 6ft 0in (1.828m)
  • Main cabin space: 4ft 4 inch (1.32m)
  • Weight (approximate): 0.65 ton (590kg)
  • Maximum engine dimensions: 70 hp o / b

What's good about the Shetland Family 4

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

What should you look for in a second-hand Shetland Family 4

If you buy a used family 4, owners have reported some things to watch out for and possible errors that occasionally occur on this boat.

  • Check that the outboard starts easily (if it is made up, it may need a few strokes).
  • Check that the operation is easy in forward / reverse.
  • Check the hull for stains or damage and watch for signs of penetrating water.

Keep your Shetland Family 4 in shape

When you buy a second-hand family 4, regular scheduled maintenance and attention to a few small points ensure that your vessel remains in top condition.

Regular maintenance

Carry out regular maintenance on the engine and the drive according to the manufacturer's recommended intervals.


We currently have no specific maintenance information for the Shetland Family 4.

If you have ever rented this boat or used it, and you want to share your thoughts, please contact us and we will add your information to the page.


We currently have no specific information about laying the family 4.

If you've ever had or worked on a Family 4 and you want to share your thoughts, contact us and we'll add your information to the page.

Model-specific repairs

The Shetland Family 4 is not known for the frequent repair of specific repairs than other boats.

Why buy a secondhand Shetland Family 4?

This compact, no-nonsense boat is an ideal family cruiser that requires little maintenance. The basic design remained unchanged by the 25 years of production of the boat, a proof of its quality and reliability. A second-hand Shetland Family 4 makes a sensible purchase.

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