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How to update your boat on a budget

Looking to update your boat, but lacking the funds for a complete bow-to-stern overhaul? Here are five boat maintenance tips the budget-minded skipper can use to give their ageing tub a new lease on life – without spending a fortune.

New deck carpeting

Prolonged exposure to sun and seawater can wear down your marine carpeting, rendering it threadbare and unsightly. New carpet in the cockpit and passenger areas is a smart way to improve your boat’s appearance, comfort and safety. Carpets can be ordered cut to size, although it’s often cheaper to buy a large section and cut it yourself using cardboard or a similar material as a template. Regular carpet can get waterlogged and mildewy, so make sure you keep your boat clean by only using marine-grade products with rubber backing.

New curtains and fabrics

If your boat has had the same internal decor since the ’80s and is starting to look like something from Miami Vice, it’s probably time for a style makeover. Replacing old curtains, blinds and fabrics with contemporary designs is one of the best ways to renew and revitalise your boat’s interior. It can also be one of the cheapest because it doesn’t involve tearing up and replacing sections of the boat. Another big plus is that modern boat fabrics incorporate the latest materials for superior durability and UV resistance.

LED lighting

There’s a lot of buzz around LED lighting, and rightly so. They can be 80 to 90 per cent more efficient than incandescent bulbs, give out minimal heat, and their wide range of shapes and sizes makes them extremely versatile in application. Tucked behind overhead treatments and under furniture, they can create striking lighting effects and turn your boat into a party cruiser.

Transom platform

Also known as a swim platform, this instantly expands your boat’s living area. Attached to the stern, this multifunctional accessory can be used as a launching pad for swimmers, as a foot rest while fishing, or even as an extra storage unit for dinghies and other gear. Manually operated versions are available, or if you can meet the additional expense, hydraulic and electrically operated models are also on the market.

Propeller tuning

Want a faster boat, but don’t want to spend thousands on a new engine? Did you know that you may be able to improve your boat’s fuel economy and speed – and reduce vibration – by getting the boat’s propeller professionally tuned and balanced? Prop tuning is a very precise undertaking, so make sure you take it to a marine shop with the right expertise and equipment. Similar to under inflated tyres on a car, a poorly tuned propeller can put significant drag on a boat’s passage through the water.

These are just a few ways to update, renew and beautify your boat without breaking the bank. To further extend the life of your boat and keep it in good running condition, check out our tips on the real costs of boat ownership.

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