As a boat owner, you understand that with regular boat repairs and occasional upgrades, your boat is a work in progress. We look at five cheap and easy boat improvements you can do yourself – whether it takes an afternoon or just a few seconds.
1. Lose the Wing Nuts
Wing nuts that fix your boat’s battery cables to the battery terminals are notorious for coming loose as they succumb to vibration – plus the ‘wings’ tend to be knocked about where batteries are mounted in storage spaces. As the cables come loose, they can heat up and cause arcing.
There’s a simple solution: replace your old wing nuts with lock nuts. Either nylon-threaded nuts or regular nuts with lock washers can be used.
2. Switch to LED Lighting
LEDs have revolutionised lighting in the home and the caravan and they’ll do the same in your boat. LEDs draw significantly less than halogen and tungsten by up to 80 per cent for the equivalent output in light. Additionally, LEDs run much cooler than incandescent lights.
In most cases, there is an LED ‘bulb’ that will fit older light fittings. Interestingly, with many LED lights rated to 27,000 hours of life, they’ll outlast the boat itself.
3. Install Underwater Lighting
Underwater LED lighting enhances the look of your boat at night, but it can also assist when reversing into a slip or dock at night. As a bonus, underwater lighting can help attract bait for the fishing enthusiast. Ideal mounting is below the transom, pointing aft.
For most applications, surface-mounted lighting is highly recommended as opposed to through-mounted lighting. All that most units require is a hole for wiring, a couple of screws and some adhesive. Another option is LED lighting mounted on your boat’s trim tabs.
A range of light colours are available. Green, for example, is particularly good for dark or muddy waters as it makes them appear cleaner, whereas white can enhance the muddiness.
4. Install a Battery Charger
Upgrading your battery charger can improve the management of your battery charges, improve charge times and prolong battery life. Better chargers can determine which of multiple banks of batteries require charging and charge accordingly. Some also allow you to mix battery types on different banks (gel, AGM or lead acid) and can optimise charging to the ambient temperature.
Units are available in dry-mount or waterproof enclosures. However, dry-mount models generally offer better features.
5. Upgrade your Stereo System
Your boat is the ultimate place to hang out on a weekend and your stereo system should reflect that. It’s time to replace your tired old CD (or even cassette) player with a modern unit that is compatible with your smartphone via Bluetooth and/or USB.
There are inexpensive packages that include a single DIN-sized, waterproof/water-resistant head unit and a pair of waterproof/water-resistant speakers. Better marine-grade units feature plasticated internals to guard against humidity and salt over time.
It’s generally easy to thread speaker wiring on a boat, especially if you’re replacing an existing system.
All these upgrades can be done by the home handyperson with a bit of care and patience, but for anything tricky, there’s almost certainly a YouTube video that can help.
If you’re keen on more upgrades, your best bet is to check out what’s on offer at one of this year’s boat shows.