The sailing and boating season in Chicago is only 5 ½ months long. Slap on 2-4 weeks of prep time on both sides of the season, and you still have nearly half the year where SailTime Chicago’s staff isn’t actively working on boats. We’re stuck inside at our desks, working on other things and waiting for Summer just like you!
But all that office work gets really boring. And I, Ryan, Chicago Base Manager, was not put on this earth to sit in front of a computer all day! So all sailing season long I come up with projects to keep me busy over the winter. Some of these projects are necessary upgrades, and others are because I like new cool stuff. Here’s a bit about an upgrade that was necessary and cool.
We added “2nd String,”a Rinker Captiva 246, to our Chicago membership fleet in 2013, having never offered a powerboat that size before. Our other powerboats were full-size express cruisers, with all the bells & whistles. 2nd String presented new challenges to us. So, I immediately came up with a list of upgrades that needed to happen for the boat to work better for members. The two major additions were a Flo-Scan Fuel Flow Monitor and an EZ acdc Shorepower System. These were labor intensive installations, but they turned out to be worth every drip of sweat.
After its first season of membership use, I re-evaluated how 2S held up. Overall, the experience was good, but I knew it could be better. One requirement of a shared-use program is that the equipment has to be wash-and-wear. Cockpit carpeting is the antithesis of that. Before last season we removed all the carpeting from the boat, leaving the bare non-skid uncovered.
The non-skid was definitely easy to scrub, but it had issues. It wasn’t comfortable on bare feet. And it showed even the tiniest bit of dirt; so much that we were spending more time cleaning this boat than any other in the fleet. And it’s the smallest boat in the fleet! So a solution had to be found.
After researching several different options online, I chose SeaDek’s faux-teak material. They had a good price point, the online reviews were positive, and the installation seemed easy enough. They even sent out some samples for us to look over.
The first step in installation was creating a template. SeaDek had sent large clear plastic sheets to work with. Basically, you lay them down and start tracing the non-skid area in Sharpie. It sounds easy enough, but for a large cockpit you are crawling all over, taping the plastic down, and making notes on what direction the teak should run.
After a few weeks of sending the template in, approving their drawings, and waiting, we received the final product in the mail. To apply SeaDek, first I needed to clean the boat as best I could. Per their recommendations, I used Windex and mineral spirits, going over every inch of non-skid like I was using a jeweler’s glass looking for any imperfection. Once my obsessive side was sated, I started lining up the pieces. SeaDek has a very strong adhesive backing, so it is just peel and stick. But with these large pieces, you have to be very careful. A ¼ inch off will show up and look bad. So it’s best to take it slow, always measuring twice and cutting once.
All told, it took less than two days of work and under $800 from start to finish. I’m pleased with the result, and I know our members will be too. 2S will be easier to keep clean, be more comfortable on the feet, and look great for their guests. And they didn’t even pay a dime for the upgrade or have to lift a finger!