It started with a 1996 Mako. The owner, Tom Murphy, had a couple of little upgrades in mind for his 19-footer. He thought we could tackle them on a Friday afternoon. Then another friend, Chris Wilson, wondered if we could include his 21-foot Carolina Skiff. Now we were looking at eight upgrades on two boats. From experience, I knew it wouldn’t be as easy as they thought. You’re about to witness the real story behind this makeover madness.
Day One: 19-Foot Mako, 1996
The Upgrade: Replace Teak Swim Platform
Tom wanted to refinish the teak platform, but on closer inspection it seemed like a fruitless task. The stainless support arms were littered with stains, and the teak was toast. In the end, he was persuaded to forego the refinish job and replace the original with a SeaTeak poly swim platform from West Marine. It will require much less maintenance in Tom’s salty environment, and it instantly improved the look of his boat.
Expected Cost: $169.99
Extra Supplies: Stainless fasteners, tube of 3M 5200
Expected Time: Two hours
Actual Time: It seemed to never end for reasons disclosed below, but I’m calling it four hours.
Experience Told Me: Not all platforms are created equal. Tom chose a universal replacement platform that wouldn’t be an exact fit but saved money and, with a little modification, would make a good-looking, serviceable replacement. In the rig he chose, the underside of the platform contacted the actuator of the starboard trim tab. We carefully modified the underside with a Dremel tool to gain clearance, only to have the platform again contact the ram as it began to sit more level. Ultimately, the amount of material that we removed with the Dremel uncovered the hollow interior of the molded poly step, but in that location it didn’t detract from looks or durability. We made Tom’s cost-cutting platform work.
The Upgrade: Install Battery Charger
With a long history of batteries letting him down, Tom reasoned that a fixed-mount, onboard Guest battery charger would be a good addition. Its fully potted construction means it should be rugged, weather-resistant and even shock- and vibration-proof. Easy-to-read status indicators also allow quick visual inspection of the battery’s condition.
Expected Cost: $99.99
Extra Supplies: Stainless fasteners, inlet receptacle, tube of 3M 5200
Expected Time: One hour
Actual Time: 45 minutes...if you don’t count the two-hour road trip in search of hardware
Experience Told Me: Mounting locations and needs differ, so selecting proper mounting hardware would be up to us.
A local hardware store didn’t have what we needed, but West Marine did. And, while we were there, we picked up a nice addition to the project. The charger itself comes with a standard six-foot AC power cord, but leaving it lying around inside the console isn’t the cleanest installation. A better solution is the ProMariner universal AC plug holder, which allows you to install a weather-resistant receptacle in a convenient location.