Do-It-Yourself Mentality

As the owner of a used boat, I have learned that it is not always sensible to have a mechanic fix my boat. The price for such repairs nearly eclipses the cost of the boat. Most times, the cost of repairing or upgrading the boat is money the owner will lose upon resale of the boat. I have learned to proceed with caution and take on these projects myself. I have become the do-it-yourself garage mechanic.

When I first bought my boat in 2003, I had no idea how to own a boat. I had no idea what was wrong with the boat, or what could go wrong. The boat had sat for an extended period of time. Even though the previous owner started and ran the motor for me, I couldn't have told you if everything sounded as it should have.

Then it happened. The first time I took the boat out the following spring, it would run perfectly for an hour, and then inexplicably stop. I was dumbfounded. After trial and error, I found a friend who suggested that I replace the primer bulb hose assembly. Problem solved. It was then that small light bulbs went off for me.

Since then, I have done many of the installs and required maintenance of my boat. Surely, someone else could have done a more professional job. But a long the way, throughout the mishaps, I have gained a lot of confidence to do projects in my own garage. I have spent many hours in the garage scratching my head. Usually, I come up with the answer and when I don't, I know I have a large group of friends to pull from who may know the answer.

The most important item the do-it-yourself mechanic can have is interest. If you really could care less how to clean carburetors, then pick up the Yellow Pages and find a good mechanic. The last thing a person wants to do is lose interest half way through a project. Lose your patience, because you can walk away and come back in ten minutes and start again if you have interest. Lose you way, because you can always find someone who is willing to help you when you are in a jam. That's why a community like Ultimate Bass is so valuable. The flow of information can help you find your way again when you've lost it.

The greatest fear that a do-it-yourself mechanic can have is the point of no return. This factor can cause a person to limit what he/she can or is willing to do. The greatest leap of faith I have undertaken on my boat occurred when I cut the tongue of my trailer off in favor of a swing-away tongue. It was a necessary task. My wife and I had moved and I wanted to keep my boat in our new home's garage. It was too long by a half of a foot. I must have spent an entire day debating about cutting the tongue off. And that's after I had spent $100 on the aftermarket product. I feared not being able to fix it. What if the trailer was ruined? My wife even asked how much a trailer would cost.

Next thing I knew, the reciprocating saw sliced through the last slivers of metal and the tongue fell to the floor. And hours later, the project I feared to start was finished. A few hours of drilling and the largest ratchet I had completed the job. Since then I have my boat at my fingertips 24 hours a day. It is out of the weather, and I do not have to pay someone for storage (I imagine that heated storage for my boat would cost a $100/month here in Ohio).

I have completed several other do-it-yourself projects since then. I have re-wired all of the bilge and aerator pumps, the running lights, and the fish finders. It is certainly not a professional job, but I learned a lot for the next time. I plan on building a new storage box for the boat this winter, and relocating the trolling motor batteries and the battery charger. I am also looking forward to replacing my wheel bearings and getting new tires on my trailer before spring arrives.

Learning to do-it-yourself gives you a greater sense of ownership of your fishing boat. Hopefully, I have given you insight enough to take on the projects you feel you are capable of accomplishing. From someone who is not all that mechanically-inclined, good luck!

Eric Huber

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