The tale of Fugly continues onwards and upwards. As we wheeled her out of Nautek Marine she was almost fit for purpose, but even with the spray job, including the black wavebreaker from the boys at Ozsea Plate Boats and a complete rewire and refit from our mates at Nautek Marine, she was still butt ugly. Let’s face it, Fugly needed all the help she could get with her homely aesthetics that only a mother, or a welder, could love.
There’s no hiding these blemishes with stage lights and makeup, and we certainly didn’t want to have to chew our arms off waking up to Fugly for early morning fishing trips in her rather undesirable condition. She was far past a simple bedroom makeover, so it was off to the experts to make her not only liveable and functional, but to transform her to be appealing and alluring.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can definitely buy bling! And nothing dresses up a craft like some fashionable stainless steel jewellery, accessories and a new dress-up. I’m talking, of course, of custom stainless steel work and a new set of canopies, so it was over to our mates at Steve’s Custom Welding and Barca Covers and Canvas in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
Dressing a boat simply must have a programmed approach with a plan that’s clearly understood between the contractors. The stainless engineers need to work with the canopy makers and upholsterers to ensure a suitable framework for differing styles of canopies. In this case, our original rocket launcher was adapted with new fittings for the navigation and deck lighting, taking care that it was suitable for attaching the bows and fittings for a complete bimini and set of clears. Steve also converted the original mounts on the rocket launcher to make the tilting mechanism much easier.
Steve and Rick work together often on projects and hence there was nothing left to chance. Both understand the requirements of varying fisho’s, and the overall need for adaptability for those who will be fishing in extremes of climate – from stinking hot to freezing cold, but also in many varied target species, from fresh to salt water, lakes, rivers, bays, estuaries and offshore. Hence, layouts and accessories need to be flexible.
Ozsea had already manufactured that ripper bait board with its live bait tank, storage and a couple of trolling rod holders. However, we do loads of bait fishing down south for the likes of snapper, whiting, bream, gummies etc and hence needed a set of strike-out style rod racks that could hold up to four rods on either side of the boat and at near horizontal angles to allow the rod blanks to perform when that strike finally occurs.
They have been made easily detachable, with rod holder insert one end and a thumb-screw fitting to the bait board. If we change from bait fishing to trolling during the day, it’s an easy conversion. I must say that it is a pleasure to see the quality of welding and overall workmanship displayed by Steve’s Custom Welding, producing a very professional high gloss custom product that assists the bling.
Steve also worked with Nautek to design and fabricate the dash-top mounting bracket for the Garmin multi-function electronics that has allowed exceptional protection and security, as well as line of sight vision. It has expanded the limited dashboard availability utilising the protection of the wavebreaker.
Steve’s last assignment was to fit our new Boatcatch to the existing Dunbier trailer, giving it single handed launch and retrieve operation. There are a great many similar products on the market,, but none with the absolute strength, simplicity and reliability of Boatcatch. The spring loaded locking mechanism is virtually failsafe and being constructed of 100 per cent marine grade stainless steel (316), this incredibly robust product comes with a lifetime warranty.
With only three moving parts, it requires little maintenance and, being highly polished, Boatcatch is a very attractive accessory to any trailer boat, adding to the bling. There’s no doubt that Boatcatch not only makes boating easier, but drastically improves safety for all at the boat ramp.
Next it was over to Rick at Barca Covers for a complete Bimini and full set of clears, upholstery and travel/storage covers. Rick is a very likeable fellow who showed a high level of skill in the job. His work has absolutely transformed Fugly to help evolve her growing attraction.
There have been some terrific advances in canopy design, construction and materials, and nowadays a good Bimini cover with detachable front and side clears allows you to adapt to all conditions, hot and cold.
Modern materials simply last longer and look sharper than previous offerings. The soft-top Bimini material is Sattler Excel 290gsm 100 per cent solution-dyed acrylic with a TexGuard coating, allowing outstanding water, dirt and fungal repellence, 90-100 per cent shower protection, strong UV protection and a 15-year warranty. The clears also withstand far greater abuse and UV exposure, however they all still need to be treated carefully.
To care for them you should wash them with a mild detergent only and never pressure wash, as it removes the coatings. After cleaning, it’s recommended to maintain your clears with an approved cleaner for a longer lifespan.
It’s also worth noting that you should never fold your clears for storage, nor put them away wet, as they can trap the moisture, causing damaging mould. The chunky size 10 zips slide easily and even the method of manufacturing has seen advances, including overlapping and Velcro flaps to minimise water ingress.
Attaching the clears to the return lip of the wavebreaker has always presented a challenge, but Rick fixed the problem with extensions to the detachable clear section that folds under the return and secured by stainless press studs. This will ensure that the water should never flood onto the dashboard, even when punching through a nasty head sea.
The front clear section is also getting its own zip-up window to make it easy for the driver to see at night. It’s amazing how restrictive the reflections, even on clear vinyl, can be obscuring your view, especially when salt water has crystalised.
Travelling long distances with the front clears up will cause enormous added drag and draw greatly on fuel efficiency, so we decided on a full travel cover from windscreen to rear. The clears are easily removed and the Bimini folds back to the rocket launcher with its own storage bag, making the travel cover easy to fit. It encloses the whole cockpit for secure storage and weather resistance.
I must say I was a little taken back with the choice of canvas colour! I honestly expected it to be black matching the theme of the wavebreaker and white hull. My first impression of the finished item was WOW – it’s BLUE! Like so many new fashions, it took a little while to fathom the colour concept, however when I looked at the matching internals, old Fugly took on an entirely new character and dimension. It was almost enough to put a horn on a jellyfish!!!
Rick has done an excellent job with the black graphite-style upholstery with its vivid blue embroidered inserts and trimmed edges that also match the blue offsets on the switch panels, front and rear. We had decided on simple, but thickly padded seat cushions, as there really isn’t enough room for a pair of large bucket seats, and hey, it’s a fishing boat, not a maiden’s parlor!
We have also ordered a clip-in rear curtain to enclose all of the fuel tank, plumbing and electricals under the transom that will have the Spooled logo embroidered to match the seats. To say we were impressed with the quality and function is an understatement, but more so the Bimini and trim really altered the overall presentation from a daggy old fishing boat to a very impressive and amazingly attractive sportfishing weapon!
Oils ain’t oils and batteries ain’t batteries! Australian owned Club Assist has forged worldwide partnerships in the automotive industry, including in excess of 66 million members across the world. They partner with motoring clubs, providing operations, distribution facilities and mobile battery service programs including marine power.
Their products and services provide the finest automotive batteries and mobile roadside support tools, including state-of-the-art testing and diagnostic equipment, and tools related to battery replacement. Their service partners include our local RACV plus the NRMA, RACWA, and RAC New Zealand.
Club Assist migrated across the world in 2001 to partner with the American Automobile Association (AAA) in the United States, and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). We were very thankful to have partnered with Club Assist, who provided a pair of their own Atomic Batteries to power our little Stabicraft, and with the amount of new electronics fitted by Nautek Marine, we will need them to maintain tip top power supply.
Fugly now has two Atomic lead acid 7601 “dual-purpose” marine batteries. (720 CCA 85Ah 160 RC calcium lead acid) Dual purpose batteries are designed to put out optimum cranking power for starting the engine with the good amount of deep cycle AH (Ampere Hour -the measurement of supply circuit discharge capacity), keeping all the accessories and gadgets on the boat powered up long after the engine is switched off.
Atomic batteries are constructed to handle harsh, high impact marine environments and require extremely low maintenance, as their strong inner construction, partnered with a rugged, fully sealed outer casing, means ultimately safety, as they cannot spill and never need to be topped up. All Atomic battery products meet ISO9001 quality systems and ISO14001 environment system accreditation.
Atomic marine batteries are the battery of choice for reliability, durability and high-performance with premium Club Assist service to match. With close to 30 years as Australia’s leading battery experts, Club Assist expertise covers just about everything mechanical. And so it seems that all batteries, nor their maintenance services, are created equal.
So now to complete the bling, it’s over to our great mates at Form A Sign for a complete individualised wrap and some ripper U-Dek flooring. I think we’re going to need a new name for Fugly!