Modifying An Aluminum Boat

One of the things on my ‘barrel list’ (which is like a ‘bucket list’ only bigger) when I retired, was to spend a little time modifying my 14 foot aluminum boat to make it a little more fishing friendly. Actually I just wanted to change it up a bit to make it cool, like the new aluminum boats.

Springbok Fisherman

My boat, as I said, is a 14 footer, a Springbok Fisherman  that is probably about 20 years old now. It has been and continues to be a great boat for my purposes, which include fishing, hunting and the occasional cruise on the lake on a nice day.

It’s pretty plain, just a three bench seats and not much more. It was built the first year that Springbok came out with the modified V hull. That was all I needed most of the time, but lately I’ve been thinking it was time for an upgrade.

Pleasure Craft Operator Card

I started looking at various small boats and I see a trend towards aluminum runabouts, most of them with carpeted interiors, flat floors, swivel seats, remote control steering etc.

Of course all that extra nice stuff comes with a price tag. I figured I already have the boat, albeit the basic boat, why not modify it myself?

Of course that begs the question of what modifications I wanted, and how to modify an aluminum boat for fishing, especially the kind of fishing I normally do.

Those are words that strike terror into the heart of my wife, who knows what usually happens when I decide to modify stuff “myself”.

However, undaunted, and with the time to do some stuff now that I am unemployed, I figured it was time to get started. Keep in mind this is a work in progress and I am kind of doing things as they come to me, I have a plan, but it is loose to say the least.

A Casting Deck

The first thing I figure a good boat needs is a casting deck up front, and some carpet. So with some indoor-outdoor carpet and a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood I got started on my boat project.

Marine Plywood?

Many of the internet boating sites suggest that plywood for boats should be marine plywood however the guys at the hardware store looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for marine plywood, so I settled for regular plywood. I preserved it with a water shield product, painted on both sides and the ends, hoping that will make it a little more like marine plywood…..lol…a work in progress remember.

One night last weekend I started by measuring and cutting out the bow piece. A piece of plywood that fits over the bow seat and goes right to the bow. Of course I cut it out wrong. Way too small.

So after some thinking and rethinking and the remaining piece of plywood, I cut it out again, and this time, though not quite perfect, it is a pretty good fit. I then covered that piece with my indoor outdoor carpet. I had originally planned to glue it on using an epoxy cement, but…..I knew intuitively that would be a disaster, probably resulting in me being glued to the floor of my boat, so I opted to stretch the carpet over the plywood and fasten it with staples. That worked, and I only stapled myself once….ouch.

Once the plywood was installed in the boat and screwed down, it would help to hold the carpet in place as well.

The bow piece in, I turned my attention to the stern of the boat, where it looked like a similar upgrade was required. First I had Wendy paint the stern board while I used a toothbrush and some solvent, actually gasoline, to clean mildew and other crud from the inside of the boat.

I was surprised at the mildew that had formed in some of the cracks and crevices of the boat. The toothbrush, solvent and elbow grease soon took care of the mildew.

I cut out another piece of plywood, carpeted it in the same manner as the bow piece, and installed it by screwing it to the boat seat and stern.

It works good. Looks good. I didn’t say great…..but I am happy with it.

Carpeted Flat Floor

Now I am figuring out what the floor will be. I think perhaps a carpeted flat floor between the stern and midships seat and maybe just carpet or paint between midships and the bow. Here is the bow with the new plywood and carpet installed.

Heavier Boat Now

As you can imagine my lightweight aluminum boat is now quite a bit heavier than it was when I started, which is a good thing in some ways, it will not blow around as much on the water. Harder to pull up on shore though, and I will likely need a bigger outboard motor, but that is all part of the plan…….as well as running lights, a battery, swivel seats, fishfinder, and possibly remote control steering, depending on how this goes, but that is down the road a bit.

I have to say that I am very happy with the boat so far, and am wondering why I didn’t think of this sooner. Yes, it will be heavier, but for the most part, I put my boat in the water in April and take it out in November, so it isn’t like I am hauling it up out of the water every weekend. Stay tuned…..

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