Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toddler "Proofing" My Jon Boat - Part 1

Hunting season is over and I am now starting to think about fishing. I am extremely excited about fishing this year. Not because I have a new spot or because I have new gear, its because this year I will have a new fishing buddy. My daughter, Lila! She will be three this summer. We have gone fishing in the past and both had a blast!

One think I have to take care of first.... my Jon boat is a deathtrap.

Two seasons ago I upgraded my simple Jon boat into a bass boat. I put in a casting deck, storage compartments, swivel seats, and a front mount for the trolling motor. I added a live-well, ran wire throughout, and installed a fuse box with switches. It worked moderately well, although all the extra stuff added a ton of weight. I used to just stick it in the bed of my truck, but I ended up having to buy a trailer to put it on.

Doesn't look too bad from a distance
At the end of that season we threw a tarp over the girl to store it for a few months in the winter. The fishing season here in south east Virginia is very long. We normally only store the boat for three months. My dad and I didn't even take out the tackle boxes, we just stored everything under the tarp. It was waterproof and we were just going to store it for a couple months.

That month my wife gave birth to our second daughter. I underestimated how much more work a second child would be. You would think that it would double the work. It actual made things four or five times harder! We did not take the boat out last year. In fact, it sat behind a shed for over a year and a half without anyone even checking on it.

Funny thing about tarps.... they get holes.

Water got into the boat, was trapped by all the gear, and could not escape by evaporation. The casting deck, wiring, and most of the gear was trashed.

Brand new box of lizards? Now a box of mold.
Almost everything will have to be replaced.

I decided that since I had to start over I would make the boat toddler friendly. My first job was to gut it.

I tore out the casting deck and all of the wiring.

How many can boast having an ant colony living in their boat?
Then I vacuumed out all of the debris, bugs, and slugs. I found some nasty stuff. A bag of catfish bait was left under a life jacket. A cup of worms was still in one of the tackle boxes. The boat required three washing before I decided to move on.

My goal is to create a padded area in the front for Lila. Her mother or I can sit next to her or behind her. She is convinced that she will have a steering wheel in the front so that she can steer "just like Dora". So, I will have to figure out something for her. I also want to make things as simple as possible. No wire, rods, nets, or gear to trip over.

I plan to keep you updated on my progress.....so stay tuned!

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