I read "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" in my teens, my Dad who was an ardent Communist bought it for me as a birthday present when I was probably 15. I enjoyed reading it. It's actually based in Hastings.
"Down and Out in Paris and London" by George Orwell is in a very similar vein, describing the miserable lot of the working man and of the tramping life Orwell immersed himself in when he was researching it in the 1930s.
No boats were stolen in the story (although there is some violence towards women) but if you can live without that I'm sure you would enjoy it- it is Orwell's best work by a country mile in my opinion, far superior to Animal Farm or 1984- copies can be picked up for a couple of quid on ebay etc.