Give your boat a makeover

Swimbaits undulate in the water like an Olympic swimmer, making them irresistible to reluctant redfish.

In today’s uncertain economic climate, many boat manufacturers and dealers are reporting lower-than-normal new boat sales. I believe I have discovered a new trend. I call it the boat makeover. Instead of buying a new boat, many owners are opting to refurbish their existing boats.

This makeover can range from a simple wash and wax to a more expensive upgrade of accessories and electronics. It allows you to reinvent that feeling you had when your boat was new.

I see boats of all types and sizes come through my shop. Many are kept in excellent condition, but there are those that appear to be owned by Pig Pen of Peanuts fame. It is so easy to take your boat to the local pressure wash facility and remove a large portion of that dirt. Once you have done the preliminary cleaning, you can concentrate on the more difficult areas. You will probably have to use some elbow grease and a heavy-duty cleaning solution, but these extra dirty areas can be cleaned. Once the boat is cleaned, you can compound and wax the hull for an even better look.

There is an alternative to all this hard work. You might hire a detail shop to clean, compound and wax your boat for you. There are many of these shops that specialize in automotive detailing, but they will also detail boats upon request.

Once your boat is cleaned and waxed, inspect the upholstery and carpet. Upholstery should be treated with a preservative to help keep it from being weathered. Minor cracks and tears in the upholstery can be repaired. If the seats are too far gone, you may be able to order replacement seats through your local boat dealer, or you may want to consult an upholstery shop to have them recover your existing seats.

If your boat’s floor is covered with carpeting that has gone bad, you will have to do a little research to determine which course of action to take. Carpeting can be replaced with new carpet, or you may wish to replace it with some other form of flooring. Probably the most popular alternative is to have the floor painted with a non-slip finish. Other alternatives include rubber matting and spray-on bed lining similar to that which is so popular for pickup truck beds.

Now that you have taken care of the cosmetics of your boat, it is time to look at the mechanical aspects of the rig. Probably the most obvious place to start would be the dashboard. Are all of your instruments in good working order? Are all of the lenses clear and the gauges easy to read? Do your switches and fuses activate properly?

If you are having problems with your dashboard components, you may consider a remake of the dash. Replacement gauges can do wonders for the appearance of an older dash. New switches along with an upgrade from fuses to circuit breakers will also enhance the appearance and function of your dash.

Over the last several years there have been great improvements made to steering systems for boats. This may be a great time to consider changing outdated steering for a newer system. The no feed-back steering eliminates the constant torque on the steering you may be currently experiencing. If you have a 150-horsepower or above engine with only single-cable steering, you should upgrade to a dual-cable system. The added strength of the twin cables makes your boat much safer to operate. No feed-back can also be ordered in dual cable for the best of both systems.

You may also consider changing over to one of the many hydraulic steering systems. Hydraulic offers the benefits of no feedback as well as the ease of power steering.

General maintenance as well as repairs should be included in your makeover plans for your boat. Check all of your accessories such as bilge pump, aerator and livewell pumps, wash-down systems and any other accessories you may have. An engine tune-up and water pump job will go a long way toward providing you many hours of trouble-free fun on the water. Trailer service should include checking the air pressure in the tires, repacking the trailer bearings and inspecting the rollers, boards, winch and frame of the trailer.

No boat makeover would be complete without upgrading the electronics on your rig. The advances that have been made in marine electronics in just the last few years are astonishing. In the past, many boats have been limited to the amount of electronics that could be installed in the small space that was available on the console or dash. Now much of the electronics can be integrated into a single dashboard unit.

We recently installed an electronics package on a center-console bay boat. This package included a radar, GPS, depthfinder, iPod video, DVD video, fuel-flow meter and XM weather with Doppler radar to show storms and lightning strikes. All of this was incorporated in a single 10-inch video screen that is mounted in the dash.

Just like the computer you have at home, most of this new generation of electronics is simply plug-n-play. Installations are now much easier than in years gone by because you don’t have to have all sorts of added equipment to join one function to the other, and it is all shown on one compact screen.

If you would like to put new life into your boat, add enjoyment to your boating experience and possibly even a greater sense of pride in your boat, maybe it is time to consider a boat makeover for your rig.

Most importantly get out on the water, be safe, and have a great summer.

If you have any questions about your boat, motor or trailer, you can e-mail me at

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