Tampa boat repair experts keep boats afloat

William Lang prowls the Caribbean in his restored 1964 boat, Bay Woof. This year he competed in a race from St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member William Lang)

William Lang prowls the Caribbean in his restored 1964 boat, Bay Woof. This year he competed in a race from St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member William Lang)

After spending about $450 on a half tank of gas for his 30-foot Fountain offshore fishing boat and $60 on oil, Angie's List member Joe Raith figures the fish he and his wife, Cheryl, caught and ate this spring might be the most expensive dinner in Palm Harbor, Fla. "That grouper cost me about $100 a pound," Joe says, laughing.

But owning a fishing boat ultimately goes beyond the fish," he says. "There's nothing more relaxing to me than being out there watching sea turtles pop up or dolphins in the distance," he says. "Put me 40 miles offshore, give me a fishing pole and I'll just die out there."

Angie's List member Timothy Connolly of St. Pete Beach enjoys his 26-foot Sea Ray cruiser more than ever now that it sits a few feet from his back door. He hired highly rated Advanced Marine Construction of Safety Harbor, Fla., to install a lift and extend his dock, all for about $17,500.

Gone are the days of hauling his boat to a ramp. Now he launches with the push of a button. He gives credit to owner John Ryan, who talked him into spending a little more for a full extension rather than a narrow walkway, and then adding an aluminum walkway on the other side of the boat for easy access. "You aren't trying to balance on this little walkway and you've got a place to stow your things before you come on or off the boat," he says.

Connolly does his own polishing and waxing to ward off corrosion. "Even your stainless work can get pitted if you aren't good about keeping it polished," he says.

He relies on Pick's Marine in St. Petersburg, Fla. for motor maintenance after every 100 hours of use. Owner Bob Pickett makes house calls, charging $60 for the visit and $80 an hour plus parts. A good rule of thumb is 90 minutes of labor per motor, he says. A 100-hour service call usually includes changing the gear oil, checking the spark plugs, pulling the prop and greasing the propshaft. "If you get fishing line in your prop, it cuts the seal and the next thing you know you've got water in it," he says. "That's expensive."

While Raith and Connolly store their boats out of the water, Angie's List member William Lang of Clearwater, Fla., keeps his 33-foot Pearson Vanguard sailboat moored at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, which exposes it to saltwater and algae. Every few years, he coats the hull with anti-fouling paint. He recently paid highly rated Salt Creek Boat Works in St. Petersburg, Fla., about $1,100 to do it.

Rigging, canvas and chrome also require constant upkeep. Lang estimates it adds up to $2,000 to $5,000 a year in maintenance. "And I'm a cheapskate," he says. "I'm sure there are a lot of people who spend a lot more."

Joe Raith is one of them. He just spent $31,000 on two new 225-horsepower motors. "I'm constantly upgrading and changing something on the boat," he says. "It's a never-ending thing.


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William Lang prowls the Caribbean in his restored 1964 boat, Bay Woof. This year he competed in a race from St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member William Lang)
William Lang prowls the Caribbean in his restored 1964 boat, Bay Woof. This year he competed in a race from St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member William Lang)

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