What’s the ultimate saltwater boat improvement? That’s a question with no real answer, because it will change depending on who you are, what your priorities are, and how you like to fish. But this one… oooooh, it’s sweet.
Last winter, I had my boat deck covered in ShipsDek. This is a foam padding that’s router-cut and put on over the boat’s deck, and held down with some super-sticky goop. It looks great, but that’s the least important thing to consider. The biggest impact I’ve noted thus far is in my (old, aching) back. At the end of the day, I feel like my back has had 30-or-so-percent less wear and tear. Another rather amazing difference can be felt in my knees, when I kneel on the deck. You people who have kneeled on a nonskid fiberglass deck know exactly why – it hurts in a big way. And there’s an unexpected fishing advantage in that dropping things like lead weights or pliers to the deck no longer make a fish-spooking sound. In short, I absolutely love this stuff.
Down-sides? The biggest is exactly what you’re thinking right now: you’ll have to pay to have it cut and installed. It really isn’t much in the grand scheme of things when you’re talking about a fishing boat, but yes, you will have to lay out a few bucks (exact pricing varies wildly by boat size and type so it’s impossible to say what yours would cost, but you can find out with a phone call or by filling out a contact form on their website). You can also do the deck prep and installation yourself (it’s a peel-and-stick) to cut the cost down a bit. People often ask if it gets hot in the sun since mine’s gray, and the answer is nope. They also ask if it’s hard to clean, and I’d say it’s no harder than cleaning off nonskid.
Will putting down padding like ShipsDek be the “ultimate” saltwater boat improvement for you and your boat? The only person that can answer that question is you, yourself. But I can say one thing for sure: among all the upgrades and improvements I’ve done on my boat, this one stands out – and helps me remain standing up – as much as or more than any other.