Captain's Log

Part IV: The Finale of the 2007 Beavertail Retrofit!

3/12/2014 (-fit') n. [RETRO- + FIT] a chainge in design, construction, or equipment, as of an aircraft or machine tool already in operation, in order to incorporate later improvements -vt., vi. -fit'ted, -fit'ting to modify or improve with a retrofit.

This has been a grand adventure. Fishing out of  a skiff for seven years, the memories, stories, action and peace this little skiff has rewarded myself and my anglers with is incomprehensible. I'm so glad I have the support and friendship of Beau and crew at Johnson Custom Boats to have been able to undertake this skiff renovation and not only breathe new life into the boat but also add some personal touches too.

When we left off in Part III the poling platform was complete and phase I of rigging had begun.

Here's a basic rundown of the last couple of days of rigging. I installed the new Power Pole Pro Sereies II 6' with C-Monster pump and having already enjoyed the original Power Pole I am elated to have the wireless remote controls as well as ability to set the speed, wave action mode and double tap feature to the up down positioning of the pole. I took the advice of Luke Donat and ran my hydraulic lines through the hull using Marine Radio Cable fittings which have been perfect for keeping water out of my sponsons while securing my hydraulic lines much better than the stock plastic sheath fittings. I am looking forward to being able to aid my anglers even better this season with this improved and quieter power pole.

The entire console has new BRP smart gauges, bob's machine shop jack plate lift indicator, new Livorsi shift controls and Yamaha extream shift cables as well as custom wrapped GEMLUX wheel and Livorsi trim tabs. All the gauges are newly wired and connected at my refurbished power distribution panel

The push pole holders arrived from V Marine and I had Danny at Sound Machining in Wilmington inset two Bahamian 10 cent coins featuring Bonefish  in the top of the aluminum holders. Danny also did a custom inset of a Belize 1C piece which features a Swallow Tailed Kite. These came out brilliantly. I made bungee thongs for the push pole holders to further secure my push pole using heat shrink as my connection method on the bungee. So far it's holding famously and does not impede the ability to screw the holders in or out.

I got the Etec, Jack Plate and power and hydraulic lines all installed without any problems and was happy to see all of our electrical work pay off once I reconnected the power for the first time. That initial systems check can be stressful or stress free and this one proved to be exciting to see all the components working again.

While I was rigging my friends John and Mark at Aquatraction were busy producing my new pads for the entire skiff. Here's a pic of the stencils I made for John and the CAD drawings he sent me to confirm our logo placement and design ideas. You'll see that I had some very specific design ideas as well as some complications with producing these designs. No problem for the crew at Aquatraction. Where I was originally thinking I wanted my pads to be made of two 3mm laminates with a black underlaminate and a gray top laminate that was routed on the CNC to allow the designs to show through John brought me an industry first new concept. He custom engraved the pads which allowed me to keep my original designs completely uncompromised and I don't have to concern myself with more clean up time getting dirt, road grime and sand out of the routed portions on the pads. A brilliant solution with a custom finish that is attractive and durable. I requested that John emboss the Aquatraction logo into my pads so that my anglers and future project skiff builders would see that there are other options out there in the marine deck pad market. John had my pads finished and shipped to me in less than 5 business days! No WAIT, NO Delay, No Excuse. Good people and a great product. Here are some other sample images of the completed kit installed in my skiff.

We incorporated some custom logo work along with practical applications of art like a fish ruler and the dimensions are spot on unlike some of the measuring devices I've seen which are not correctly spec'd, and this industry first... I'm always reminding my anglers who sight fish that where they are looking is not 12 o'clock but rather where the bow is facing, just like in a fighter jet. Now there's no confusion over where I'm directing the shot to. The Casting Platform pad has my custom logo on it and the clock face numbers 9 through 3 to better aid my anglers visually in the difference between Left and Right:) While I hope my anglers will be more inclined to look overboard for fish this does help with framing up where we are talking about a target for the clock impaired. I am pleased to report that I have over 100 hours on the Aquatraction at this point and it is more durable, less flimsy, hot and offers more traction than the competing brand I have used since 2007. I'm glad I made the switch and tried a thermo encased laminate. The aqua dot in smoke gray is what you will see in these pictures with Aquatraction's custom engraving option. They also will use dual laminates and rout a pattern with their CNC if desired. Give John and Mark a call before your next project at 320-260-3474.

The final stage of my boat restoration where the application of the new AwlGrip deck non skid and the retrofit of the new Poling Platform we custom made at High Speed Welding. I asked Beau to have our deck nonskid custom color matched to the hull. I've always wished for more glare reduction on the deck when sight fishing and all of these white cockpits are heinous on the eyes when you are poling and sighting fish all day long. My hull is a custom seafoam green and Beau got the technicians/magicians at Awl Grip to make a custom color now available in their catalog as Double Haul Guide Green H 4749! It was a cool surprise to see that on the label, Beau was taking it all to another level and we were having fun as we neared the finish line on this skiff's retrofit.

 After another few hour session of precision taping the non skid areas where prepped and ready for painting. We applied the Awlgrip paint and Coarse nonskid until we were satisfied with the color saturation, thickness and nonskid consistency. It was time to walk away one more time and let the paint do it's thing. For me it couldn't cure fast enough! The color match once dry was flawless and the paint is really durable. The folks at Awlgrip did an amazing job and I'm really happy knowing my skiff will have several good years of wear and tear from anglers feet, fishes scales and the elements. Several anglers and friends have now seen and fished the skiff and will tell you these pics don't do the finish work justice. You simply have to see it to appreciate the rich color, bold lines and complete visual package created in the fit and finish of this skiff. It's as complete as any skiff out there and ready to serve me and my anglers for many seasons to come.

 Once the paint was hard enough to work with I began installing all of the cleanly polished deck hardware including Gas Fill, Push Pole Holders, Cleats, Deck Hatches, Locking Handles on Lids, and the Poling platform. Everything went down rather smoothly with only the poling platform taking up more finesse time than I thought it might take. I was intent on making backing plates, from coosa/penske board, for the feet of my platform to ensure a solid connection and simply fishing and wiring the platform lights took some time as I wanted to do a terrific job and not have to redo any of the work I was completing.

Once all of the hardware was installed I turned my attention to the Poling Platform lid, this being my office I knew I wanted to make some "updates" as I had throughout the skiff. It didn't take long to grab a hole saw and drill and make my cut, voila the cup holder was placed and installed ready for miles of fun beverage holding for moi. The other item I needed to install Beau tackled for me was the Tibor Push Pole Holder. This handy tool allows me to snap the push pole in place if I'm about to hop onto or off of the platform or move a short distance from place to place or pursue a tarpon once hooked up and have time to put the pole away.

The skiff was finally rigged with all of her hardware, platforms and electrical working and it was time to get out on the water and do a quick wet test before heading south for my annual Everglades, Flamingo Tarpon trip with my friends/anglers. I slid by the shop with my 2 1/2 year old daughter Olivia and we hooked up the skiff to take it to the Wrightsville Beach boat ramp for it's first wet test since the retrofit. The shakedown cruise was a big success and I am really pleased with the new platform, it's new position 6" aft of it's original placement and the overall finish details and grip of the new non skid and Aquatraction. Olivia had a great time and I really enjoyed getting to share this rare first occassion with her and she loved her first "boat ride" of 2014.

I am ready for the Glades and the upcoming season. If you are looking for a great adventure on fly or light tackle this season or visiting the Cape Fear Coast be sure to give me a shout. I'd love the opportunity to take you fishing and show you the refurbished skiff and share with you the wildness and fishing opportunities here in Wilmington, NC.

Till next Tide,
Capt. Seth Vernon~