The conversation you have when pulling the trigger on a “new to you” fishing boat sounds a lot like the one you have when you’re buying a house that someone else has customized to their lifestyle and taste.
“I’ll knock this wall out, I’ll put granite everywhere, I’ll put an addition on right over here that will have a full tackle room upstairs and a tricked-out man-cave downstairs, complete with a walk-in humidor and Eva Mendes on call to deal Texas hold’em every Thursday night…”
Ok, maybe a stretch, but no matter how grand your plans, the reality is that four years later you’re lucky to have a managed to put a different color of paint on the walls. The difference between buying a house and buying a boat is that none of those home renovations that you promised at purchase time (and that your wife is now holding you to) can improve the “fishability” of your house.
My brother and I took delivery of a 1988 26′ Blackwatch Express a few weeks ago (owned by a single owner who was not a fisherman), and at this point of the season, procrastination was not an option. We had to get to work immediately to make the boat fishable, and with a tight budget and a limited time frame, we were largely on our own.
One of the first things we addressed was the non-existence of any serviceable tackle storage. Tackle storage is very important, especially if you plan to fish offshore, and there was only a decrepit two-drawer compartment hidden behind black-tinted Plexiglas that slid up like a garage door and had to be pushed aside to access the tackle piled into oversized “fall-aparticle board” drawers.
The product line I chose is manufactured by SSi Custom Plastics. I picked up a few different tackle storage systems they manufacture to pop in as I have time. It was a simple and affordable do-it-yourself mini-project that will bring organization to our cockpit in the form of a sleek-looking tackle storage system, and it only took a few hours to complete.
My brother Dave and I installed the Ssi Deluxe Tackle Center from start to finish in just a few hours. Knowing, due to some space height, there would be some custom modifications needed that would add some time to the project, we were surprised at how easy it was to modify the tackle center to compensate for having a little less than the needed height. For this model, a cut-out of – 16.62″H x 16.00″W is required – with an inch and a half or so perimeter for the flush mounted frame that is covered by the door.
The old built-in style drawer system and internal framing was demoed and the black tinted plexiglass drop in door was tossed out. This left just a hole, with visibility in all directions to the hull wall down to the bilge. All of the plumbing for bait prep sink below and and washdown pump hoses were behind where the new Ssi Custom Plastics Deluxe 5 drawer tackle station would go.
We measured, cut out, and fabricated a piece of ½-inch Starboard to fit in hole left from the demo. We planed the bottom inside area of the starboard with a 3-inch hand planer so the exposed face would sit flush over the three-tiered bottom lip, preventing any elaborate step cuts. This step is unnecessary if you’re cutting out a new hole or replacing a tackle system with a smaller cut-out.
Using a table saw we ripped the top of the Starboard at a 45-degree angle to make the part that juts out match all the way around. We then marked the height and width of the necessary cut-out area this model required. We didn’t worry about the bottom since we’d be removing most of this starboard since it would just be the framing around each side and top of the new tackle station. The entire section from the top line down through the bottom of the starboard and even the lip coming out of the floor would be cut out to fit the tackle center.
Using a jig saw, my brother Dave carefully cuts along the pencil marks to cut out the necessary area in the starboard.
Although it looks a lot like what we started with, the Starboard will serve as the frame work for what will look like one individual structure complete with bait prep sink (above tackle storage), live-well (left side), and the tackle system being installed. A nice bead of white sealant marine caulking will tidy up the seams when finished. The screw holes were beveled so the flat phillips-head stainless self tapping screws could be recessed and topped with starboard “plugs” to keep hardware hidden.
Next, the shell of the tackle storage system was installed. A bead of adhesive caulking like 5200 was placed around the flange that would ultimately be screwed to the starboard.
After some simple modifications to the bottom so the insert would make it under the molded shelf (visible on the forward facing side of sink), this upgrade was a breeze to install and proved easy to modify. This is sometimes necessary to maximize the size system you can fit in the available space. It is always wise to make sure you have the proper space before you modify something your unsure will fit. The hinge was adjusted so the door closed smoothly, clearing the floor and latching tightly.
All in all, this was a very simple improvement that will put many of the items I may need in a pinch right in arms reach. With 5 large Plano boxes (2 double wide big boxes and 3 standard size boxes) included with purchase of this tackle center, it is capable to house plenty of tackle, from big trolling plugs to tiny terminal tackle. The final touch is the functional inside door compartments with room for items like pliers a knife, sharpening stone, a rigging needle kit, or whatever you always wish had a consistent home for locating necessary items in the heat of battle. This sleek looking addition can make the difference in hooking or landing fish since so much can be kept right next to your fishing deck space, which also adds a safety element from fishing on an organized and uncluttered deck.