How do you get the perfect boat without the new-boat price-tag? You refit an older or used boat for a fraction of the cost! S/F Double Trouble and S/F Finale are prime examples of saving thousands of dollars while getting the comforts and conveniences you’d expect on any luxury boat.
At the Miami Boat Show I met two businessmen who were considering a new $2 million boat -- that is until I presented the idea of refitting their 46’ Bertram, Double Trouble. “We can’t use our boat the way we want to,” they told me. They had paid $175,000 for the 12 year old sportfishing boat -- turned dive boat -- to make day and weekend scuba diving trips. Now they wanted a boat to fish, entertain and take their family and friends to the Bahamas and the Keys.
I spent an afternoon assessing Double Trouble, understanding all that the owners wanted and discussing a variety of changes. The boat was in pretty bad shape with rotting floors and gunnels, inadequate electrical systems, outdated electronics, cracked and faded paint and a host of other things. However, on the plus side she was a Bertram -- very reliable, well-designed and able to run hard and fast for a long time. I knew we could transform her into exactly the express boat they wanted.
After a few phone calls and a couple meetings to review drawings and confirm options, we finalized the budget and Double Trouble headed for her refit. The plan was to maximize the use of the boat, enhance the entertainment and sleeping amenities and give it a distinctive look apart from any other Bertram. Before we started, I told the owners there was 50% chance we might find something unexpected when we tore the boat apart. The extent of the rot in the wood floors couldn’t have been anticipated. The boat had to be gutted. The owners used this opportunity to lay out the space differently and add a barbeque grill, u-shaped seating and a table for entertaining. These final touches were the cherry-on-top.
We spoke regularly, I e-mailed photos of the work and the owners came by every week to check on the progress. We rebuilt the bridge deck by fabricating a fiberglass 3-piece removable floor for easy access to the engines; replaced the old windscreen with a solid-glass windshield to add a polished look; and installed a removable stainless stamoid bimini top and air-conditioning on the bridge so the captain could choose between the sun and cool comfort. Dive-tank and compressor compartments helped organize and store equipment out-of-sight while entertaining. A dedicated bait-and-tackle center provided storage and a place to cut bait or assemble tackle.
And the large bait freezer would allow the owners to stay out longer fishing. We also fabricated lockers in the cockpit so the fishing rods were within easy reach. New lighting and an amazing sound system helped create any mood desired. Down in the galley the countertops were resurfaced for a cleaner, more contemporary look. The sleeping capacity was increased from 4 to 6 people, and gorgeous teak and holly floors throughout added a rich touch. Finally we re-conditioned all the running gear to ensure Double Trouble a smoother ride and painted her to shine like new. The total cost of the refit was $325,000 -- compared to buying new at $2 million.
At the time of delivery the owners said, “WOW, it’s like a completely new boat! Great job! We can’t wait until our friends see it.” This said it all.
I got a phone call from New York one day from the frustrated owner of Finale, a 1989 65’ Hatteras. “The work’s not getting done and what has been done isn’t done right, plus they’re way over budget,” said the owner. Gil was an avid fisherman, had captained his boat many times between New York and Florida and traveled to every major port on the east coast and the Bahamas. He was looking to replace the current contractor with a company who would deliver what he wanted and revitalize the dated Finale.
On the boat I saw the new veneer in the salon was already peeling away from the walls, and there were gaps between the panels. Also, the refinishing of the galley cabinets was in the wrong color. I immediately called Gil from the boat, gave him my suggestions and later sent an estimate for approval. He was very skeptical about trusting another contractor. However, after hearing about the quality of our work from several clients, he chose us as the right people for the job.
Gil was up in New York while we turned the salon and galley into a home away from home. I called often and e-mailed photos of the work regularly, so he could track every step of our progress. We re-veneered and finished all the salon walls and the aft-bulkhead in a high-gloss finish giving Finale the elegant look she deserved. We also installed a new vinyl headliner, lighting and custom-built cabinet for the plasma television. The galley was completely remodeled with the latest in appliances and countertops and a rich cherry finish on all the cabinets. A week before Finale was finished; Gil flew down from New York to check the quality of the work.He was so impressed with the workmanship and how we stayed on budget and on schedule, he asked us to remodel the rest of the boat.
On the fly bridge helm the woodwork was refinished in a cherry high-gloss; sofas recovered in plush leather; top-of-the-line navigation equipment installed, and Stidd helm chairs added along with vinyl flooring for easy maintenance.Complementing wall covering and carpet gave the master stateroom and guest cabins a graceful sophistication.Finally we gave Finale a paint job that reflected like glass and put in must-have underwater lighting for ambiance and to show her off at night.The Hatteras originally cost $620,000, and the total refit was $300,000 – compared to a new-boat price-tag of $3 million today.
After Finale was completed, she went up to New York and docked at the local yacht club.As Gil tells it, he was like a proud father when members started congratulating him on the purchase of a new boat.In his thank you letter to us he wrote, “I was completely blown away … It is a work of art. It is simply beautiful!!!” (www.fostersyachtservices.com
- Testimonials) If you want to pay less and get more of a boat, a refit is definitely the way to go.