Product Spotlight| Confessions of a SeaDek Addict
I am a collector, not of stamps or vintage baseball cards or rare coins. No, I collect boats Ė small flats boats, aluminum jon boats, offshore fishing boats, you name it. Itís become a little weekend hobby of mine. I find boats, diamonds in the rough, to fix up and sell them. This has become increasingly easy nowadays with boats being unloaded for pennies on the dollar on every other street corner. I have found some real beauties out there. Some of these are like new, requiring very little repair, while others need a bit more polishing to really make them shine. From pesky spider cracks in the cockpit, rust stains on the bow from hardware, rips in the coaming bolsters, or dents in the swim platform, I had a myriad of problems to solve and needed time saving, affordable solutions for each of them. I talked with a buddy of mine who is a boat builder and he suggested that I take a look at SeaDek. I checked them out on-line and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did, the product has completely transformed many of my boats, making them look like new again.
One of the more frustrating restoration jobs Iíve dealt with was trying to fix spider cracks in the gel coat. Yes, they are just cosmetic but they look terrible. Iíve tried grinding and filling, but getting rid of them economically is nearly impossible. SeaDek was the perfect solution to cover spider cracks on a Panga I picked up in Nicaragua late last year. Though it doesnít eliminate the cracks, SeaDekís UV resistant, marine grade EVA foam sheets covered the spider cracks, chips and dents with a clean surface making it look like new again. In the cockpit area I purchased two of their 39"x77"x5mm thick sheets to cover the floor. I trimmed it to fit with a sharp bladed razor knife and used the excess as a seat and step pad. The application was a breeze. I was able to apply it directly to the molded-in nonskid texture on the floor. It hid the unsightly cracks and chips while providing 5mm of comfortable cushion and added traction, even when itís wet!
Having it installed on a couple of my boats for several months now Iíve been really impressed by how well it can take a beating. Iíve snagged it with hooks while running offshore but the damage didnít spread. Before purchasing it I spoke with SeaDekís Chuck Yates about the durability of the product. I remember him mentioning that itís made of marine grade, closed-cell EVA foam, so rips and tears donít run. The product is made to hold up in the harsh, marine environment and unlike other hard form non-skid products on the market, SeaDek is soft, flexible and durable. Depending on the area to cover and the application, itís offered at 3mm up to over 20mm thick, providing tremendous cushioning when kneeling, sitting or standing on a boatís hard surface.
One of the boats I picked to restore was a Mitzi 17. The previous owner lined the under gunnels with carpet, which was probably a good idea then, but by the time I got it the carpet had seen and smelled of better days. Even though there wasnít a lot of carpet, it still smelled foul regardless of how many times I scrubbed it with numerous chemical solvents. SeaDek was the saving grace for replacing the carpet. I contacted Tyler Shealey of Castway Customs, an authorized installer on SeaDek, to come and make a pattern of the areas I wanted to cover. He brought his portable digitizer and within minutes made complete scans that would be used to produce custom pads for the under gunnels. He made two 18"x30"x6mm thick pads, the port side had a snook and the starboard had the design of a red fish routed in. What a difference, they look great and where there once was stained carpet, there is now a clean surface that looks, and smells, like new. Because it is closed-cell, I donít have to worry about it absorbing water or other odor producing substances Ė making it perfect for fishing. However, if it does get dirty it can easily be cleaned with soap, water and a brush.
One of the features I like the best about SeaDek products is that they can all be installed simply by peeling off the backing and applying Ė requiring no mounting hardware or drilling into my boatsí surfaces. The peel-and-stick adhesive keeps it stuck in place, until I remove it. I prep the boatsí surfaces by cleaning them with an ammonia-based window cleaner, then apply. It couldnít get much easier!
SeaDek makes some top-notch coaming bolster pads that I ordered for a 28-foot Bluewater that I sold to a buddy of mine. I wanted to replace the vinyl covered foam coaming bolsters that had rips and tears with a 20mm thick custom coaming bolster set. Check out these photos of the installation. I removed the old bolsters and hardware, and instead of filling the old screw holes with filler, I simply peeled the backing and stuck them in place. That could be all of 5 minutes and look at the results. They not only look nice though, they also perform. I had the chance to try them out on a recent offshore run, the bolster pads are much less slippery when wet than traditional bolsters and provided extra cushion needed for fighting fish. The bolsters are available in standard sizes that can be combined to fit nearly any boat, but I wanted an exact fit so I ordered them custom with just a few simple measurements.
SeaDek also makes standard and custom helm station pads. If youíve ever been pounded for a couple of hours behind the helm you know it can wreck havoc on your back and knees, and if the area gets wet then youíre in real trouble. My buddy who bought this boat from me used a simple throw down mat previously, but after one particularly hairy day trolling offshore some water got under the mat. It went one way and he went the other. Needless to say, that was the last day the mat was welcome aboard. When looking at SeaDekís website I discovered that they make 15mm and 20mm thick helm station pads that can be applied with their same sticky backing. Bingo, that was exactly what I needed for his boat! Extra comfort, shock absorption, excellent non-skid when it gets wet, and best of all I could easily attach it to the boat without drilling into the surface. They offered two sizes of helm pads but I needed one to fit between the seat and console so I had a custom pad made for a perfect fit. The pad works great, looks awesome, and offers a bit of relief for his back.
Recently I picked up a Chaparral that had some dings on the swim platform that needed to be fixed. It had the molded-in nonskid thatís pretty uncomfortable and was beginning to look pretty worn. I contacted SeaDek to see what the best solution was for this application. I discovered that they could manufacture a platform pad to cover the swim deck on this boat. Since this area had some complex curves I purchased a templating kit at heir on-line store for a minimal cost. I mailed the pattern back to them and had this custom swim platform pad 2 weeks later. The pad is really comfortable, and is much nicer to kneel, sit and stand on - plus it has unbeatable non-skid. I covered the boatís surface with 8mm thick foam, protecting the users, while also protecting the platform, and all the while covering up the chips and dings.
I purchased an older 18 Aquasport that had several little nicks and scratches on the surface of the bow. I decided to cover them up rather than attempting to fix them. SeaDek offers pads cut in several different sizes and two thicknesses, I purchased a long sheet of 18"x74"x3mm and cut it down to fit. I went with the thinner 3mm foam rather than 5mm on the bow because I needed it only to cover up the wear and tear while providing traction; I didnít need any extra cushioning there. This was easy enough for me to pattern and cut. I removed the hardware, did the install and re-installed the hardware directly over the SeaDek. Now the bow looks like new again and offers the added benefit of extra traction when anchoring or casting.
I couldnít believe my luck when I came across SeaDek. It has solved countless problems on my restoration projects. Their products are available in a full range of sizes and colors or custom pads can be made for a perfect fit. I chose to do a little bit of both. After quick installations, the boats look like new and without a hefty price tag attached.
(SeaDek products can be found at www.seadek.com)