Marine News from the Great Lakes

BOATING AND TOWING: Ten Things to Buy Your Boat (Yourself)

Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
By: John Tiger

Whenever you have a lull in your available time to boat, whether it’s the time of year where the boats are inside or it’s storming in the heat of summer, it makes for more time for hobbies, sports, and honey-dos.

But, what about your boat? Doesn’t it deserve something? A gift or a token of appreciation for all the enjoyment it provides? Here are ten things to consider for your boat for the 2020 season:

  1. New Prop: Everyone loves new propshaft bling. A new stainless wheel would be a big spend, but well worth the coin when you see an improvement in acceleration, fuel economy, and maybe even a mile or two in top speed. Your boat deserves it!
  2. Refinish the Trailer: That old, rusty trailer has seen better days. Give it a trailer-makeover; put the boat on dollies, strip off the parts, and sandblast it to accept new paint. If you have a powder coater with a big oven nearby, have it coated since it’s more durable than paint. Check to see if you need a new axle, springs, and hubs. New lights are cheap (get the LED ones for better durability and visibility), as is a new tongue jack and winch. Replace the old rotted bunks and cover them with new carpet or plastic slicks. Get new brakes if they’re needed. A new coupler and some cool aluminum rims and new tires will make your boat roll up to the launch ramp proudly.
  3. Buy a New Trailer: If yours is just too much work, forget #2 and buy a new (preferably aluminum) bed for your hull.
  4. New Tunes: For slow days on the water, new sounds make the ride smoother. A new system with marine speakers, subwoofer, and iPhone-compatible head unit looks great under the tree or next to the cake (and in the dash!)
  5. Detail Makeover: Is your boat’s finish dull and chalky? Gelcoat chips and crazes making it look run down? Bring your rig to a professional fiberglass shop for a makeover and detail. For a small wad of cash, your boat can shine like new again. Have the carpets and seats professionally cleaned too.
  6. Dash Upgrade: Old gauges become faded after years in the sun. New gauges and switches will brighten your boat’s dash and monitor performance more accurately.
  7. Trolling Motor Swap: You’ve always wanted more power to maneuver in the wind and against the current. A new, more powerful troller will get you there. Don’t forget new batteries; rewire with larger-gauge cables to carry more current.
  8. New Steering: An upgrade from cable to a hydraulic system will make a day on the water much easier, with far less effort to steer your boat in any conditions.
  9. Add an Accessory: If the previous eight suggestions are just too much cash for the budget, consider a smaller purchase. A new GPS speedometer, a 12-volt outlet, a new steering wheel-mounted power trim switch, or a foot throttle for better control in rough conditions – these are all under $500 and are great upgrades for any boater.
  10. Splurge: On the other hand, if your boss was generous with the bonuses this year, splurge on a new or rebuilt outboard! Your tired old kicker has seen better days. How cool would it be to bolt on a new one with more power, a better idle, and higher fuel economy? 

Regardless of whether or not your family appreciates these suggestions, your boat sure will. Get ready for 2020!


This article first appeared in the Year End Issue (Nov/Dec) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Gift Ideas, Retrofitting

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