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Boat Improvements for 2021: The “Need” vs. “Want” List

Boat Improvements

Boat Improvements for 2021: The “Need” vs. “Want” List

Well, it’s that time of year. Calypso II is winterized and wrapped up for the season and our thoughts start to turn to next season’s trip-planning and boat upgrades. We’ll discuss trip-planning in an upcoming video, but today, let’s talk about boat improvements and upgrades

The holidays are around the corner and if you’re like me, you’ve added quite a few things for the boat to Santa’s list! And, like me, unless you have an unlimited budget, your list is longer than you can afford in one year so you need to prioritize what you ‘need’ vs. what you ‘want’. In other words, there are items you need to have, i.e., replacements and repairs, and items you really want to buy – the fun upgrades; things you’ve seen at boat shows; things on your dream list. If you prioritize well, there’s room for both on Santa’s list! 

Here is our own list of boat improvements for 2021. Your list may be different. Comment below and let us know what’s on yours!

First, is the ‘need’ list.

  • Install SeaDek flooring on the bridge stairway: Our Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge has stairs instead of a ladder to the bridge. These stairs often get wet from splashing and can become very slippery. SeaDek, for those who do not know, is a foam-based flooring that comes in many colors and styles. It can be colored and routed to look like teak decking which can give excellent traction. SeaDek has a pattern already available for the 400db, so it’s just a matter of ordering it and then applying it ourselves. The price to cover the stairs is $500.
  • Replace all 5 starting and house batteries: If you’ve followed along, we’ve had our share of battery issues in 2020. The batteries on the boat are from June of 2017, so while not old, not new either. They are flooded batteries, i.e they have individual wet cells within the battery case that need to be maintained, so the life span is 4-6 years. (An upcoming blog will cover choosing new batteries). I want to use Advanced Glass Mat (AGM) instead of flooded batteries which cost around $300 each. So that’s $1,500, or about $1,200 if we keep the generator starting battery which is a gel type.

Now, for the ‘want’ list.

This is our fun list – all those things we’ve seen in boating magazines or boat shows or on a buddy’s boat. This list is not in any order and we’ll need to rank it based on budget and priority.

  • Install an AIS (Automatic Identification System) Transceiver: On Calypso I, we had a VHF radio that had an AIS receiver. It allowed us to see boat traffic that was broadcasting in the area and identify, size, speed course. More often commercial traffic and larger vessels transmit this information. Calypso II is not so equipped. We could replace the VHF, with one that has an AIS receiver or for a bit more money, install a transceiver that receives and broadcasts our information as well. The installation is relatively simple and we could do that ourselves. The cost of an AIS receiving VHF is $500-$600, while a stand-alone transceiver is about $800 when you include a VHF antenna splitter and assorted cable.
  • Buy a new aluminum RIB dinghy: Currently, on Calypso II, we have an 8’ 2” high-pressure floor dinghy from North Atlantic Inflatables. We purchased it new when we bought Calypso I. It is powered by a Mercury 3.5hp. This is a good rig but it has a few limitations. First, it’s size. It can carry three people with some gear, four with no gear. It can be wet because it does not plane with the 3.5hp motor and travels at about 5-7 mph depending on load. The 3.5hp, which is a great little motor has an internal fuel tank that only lasts about 45 min at full throttle. We have run out of gas before. I posted a video covering the new 8hp Tohatsu outboard with an external fuel tank that I purchased over the summer. I got a great deal on this lightly used motor so I grabbed it.  We would like a 9’ plus aluminum RIB dinghy that would carry 4 people plus gear, plane, and travel at 15 mph and be drier due to larger tubes. North Atlantic inflatables make a nice boat that would fit the bill. See our blog on choosing a dinghy. A new dinghy would cost around $2,200.
  • Make interior updates: Update the two heads with solid surface counters, vessel sinks, and faucets. As followers know, Calypso II is a model-year 2001 Sea Ray 400 Sedanbridge. As such, her interior reflects the style of that period. Something that we did to Calypso I that came out very nice was to add a solid surface counter, a glass vessel sink and new faucet to the head, and a new faucet in the galley. That alone made the boat look more current. The cost of such improvements is about $1,000.
  • Buy a new anchor: Calypso II is equipped with what I call the “every-boat” anchor. It is a plow style anchor that was and is installed by the factory on many boats of this type. Generally speaking, it is a useful anchor but it does not hold well on bottoms with sea-grass. We have identified the Mantus 45 lb galvanized anchor as a good upgrade. Mantus anchors represent a newer style of anchor that includes a roll bar for keeping it upright and positioned to dig in and the angle of the blade is steeper so it should cut through sea-grass. The cost of that anchor is $510.
  • Buy a new anchor line (also known as a rode): In the same category as a new anchor is replacing the anchor rode. Calypso II is equipped with an anchor rode that is made up of 30 feet of chain and 200 feet of rope. The rope is fraying in a number of places and it’s time to replace it. We also want to increase the amount of chain v. rope so when we anchor for lunch in 8-10 feet of water, we are using an all-chain rode. We have already purchased a new anchor rode from Dark Horse Marine. Dark Horse Marine is a Florida-based company that specializes in anchor rodes and anchors and sells custom anchor rodes among other things. They are very knowledgeable and even have a video series with useful tips and tutorials. 
  • Install a back-up camera:  One of the challenges of operating Calypso II is that when backing into a slip, the visibility aft is limited to looking down the companionway hatch on the port side or peering over either side. We would like to add a back-up camera tied into the MFD on the dash. Unfortunately, Furuno, who makes all our marine electronics, does not make one. However, we did find an automotive back-up camera that is weatherproof. The cost was only $20. In an upcoming video, I’ll show how we mount the camera and tie it in to power and the MFD.
  • Buy an inflatable kayak: We’re fans of sea kayaking and have wanted to buy a tandem kayak to carry on board, but due to their length (17 ft.), this was not feasible. However, the technology has improved in inflatable kayaks with the introduction of drop stitching that makes an inflatable boat extremely rigid yet collapses to backpack size. This is the route we would go. We have identified a model that we want from Advanced Elements. These boats sell for around $1,200.
  • Buy a new grill: Today, Calypso II carries a Magma stainless steel kettle grill which we purchased when we purchased Calypso I. The grill works well but it has some shortcomings. First, it is small. It has room to cook food for 4 people at most and then only the main course. Second, it has a propensity to blow out on a gusty day even with the cover on. Magma makes a larger square grill that still mounts on a rod holder, cooks for six, and has a better vent so it will not blow out that sells for around $360.

All these items add up to over $8,000, which exceeds our one-year boat improvements budget. We’ll need to decide what we must replace and what can wait, and then what we can afford to buy to improve our enjoyment of the boat. 

We’d love to hear from you about how you prioritize your boat improvements list!

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