Setting up a tinnie – Pt 1 – Clayton Nicholls Dec 13

Setting up a tinnie is no easy task, especially if it is your first attempt. The first consideration is the boat itself; the length of the boat must be suited to the conditions you will use it in. I went with a Stessco Catcher sf 430 on the basis that it is nice and nimble for creek work but will easily escape out to the islands on a nice day for some light reef and pelagic action.

The Stessco also features 3mm plate sides and bottom with deep sides and a really well designed soft ride hull. The sf series also featured a full false floor and casting deck system with pedestal seating, making it great for a few people out casting lures it is basically one flat surface. The boat itself is rated to 50hp with 4 people, which is plenty for my use.

Fitting it out
After getting the boat, I made a list of what I needed to set the boat up for what I will be doing. The basics started with nav lights, bilge pump and L.E.D running lights underneath the wide gunnels to light the boat up during early morning or when night hits.
The nav lights I chose to use were the low power drawing and long life span L.E.D nav lights from Blueline. They may be more expensive but chew next to no battery life and are super bright. After choosing the placement on the boat and wiring a long enough dual core wire, I drilled the holes and secured the lights. When drilling any metal, it is best to start with a low diameter bit and use it as a pilot hole, then work your way up to the larger big required. This puts a lot less stress on the drill, the bits and the aluminium. I then ran the wires up under the gunnels to the position that I was later going to make a panel to mount the switchboard, sounder wiring and stereo.
The L.E.D strip lighting I chose was another Blueline product and can either be used as the 1m strip or cut at the designated points and elongated with dual core wire. I wired mine up so the L.E.D was situated on one of the boat ribs the entire way down. To do this a sharp knife was used to strip back the silicone coating of the light to reveal the positive and negative terminals. Using a soldering iron I proceeded to ‘tin’ the terminals, leaving a shiny lump of solder on each terminal. After that I stripped the insulation off of the dual core wire and ‘tinned’ each end. By doing this process it is easy to attach the wire to the led; simply line up the terminals and the wire then apply the soldering iron to the joint and it will join very nicely. A pair of vice grip pliers made this job much easier. After soldering the wire to the L.E.D some heat shrink was slipped over and heated with a hot air gun to create a water tight seal over the L.E.D. This process was repeated until the required length was done.

The bilge pump was the next item on my agenda. I wanted a pump that was good quality and value for money. For this purpose I went with the Blueline range of bilge pumps and selected the 1100 gallons per hour pump to ensure any water in my pride and joy was pumped out right away. Securing the bilge pump took a little more effort than a standard bench seat tinnie, but I eventually thought up a very clever way of securing the bottom grill/mounting plate using cable ties. To pump the water out of the boat a skin fitting, bilge hose and hose clamps are required and can all be found easily packaged in a bilge hose kit. I secured the bilge hose to the pump with the first hose clamp then marked out where the skin fitting would be placed on the boat. After the placement was marked and drilled out the bilge hose was cut to length and the whole bilge system was complete.
Soldering is a key technique used in wiring up a boat. More often than not when joining wires, however, most people use crimps, which rust easily and do not pass the power as efficiently. When soldering wires it is important to have the right materials: heat shrink, wire strippers, soldering iron and high quality solder is a must. To join two wires, simply strip two centimetres of insulation off the end of each wire and twist the end of each wire tight then tin each end. To tin the ends of the wires put some solder on the soldering iron then place the soldering iron tip onto the wire, this creates a connection and spreads the heat efficiently. Once the wire is heated up enough, the solder from the iron will begin to move through the wire. This is when you add more solder to the wire until all the bare wire is a silver glossy colour. Once both ends are tinned, slip some heat shrink over one end of the wire and then position the tinned wires together and with a bit more solder place the tip of the iron on the two tinned ends until all the ‘dry’ solder melts again and the wires join together. After the solder joint has ‘dried’ again, slip the heat shrink over and either use the radiant heat off the soldering iron or a heat gun to shrink the heat shrink. This method may take longer than crimping but will give a much better connection. Remember when soldering to always have solder on the tip of the soldering iron; this helps make a connection between the iron and the wire and also stops the tip of the iron from burning.

Added storage

The Stessco came with a great amount of storage space as standard but, as a very keen fisherman, I decided to add to the storage. After looking at many videos online and watching bass boat demonstration and promotional videos I soon decided what storage functionality I wanted. A rod locker down the left hand side would make rod storage far easier and better for the rods. Across the front of the boat behind where the casting deck was positions I would make a storage place for tackle trays to fit perfectly inside. In front of that again would be the fuel and battery storage and this would be positioned to help even out the weight in the bought. All these ideas seemed good in theory, but making the idea come to life is a different story…

I started by marking out all the ideas on the boat floor in chalk to make sure everything fit as I required it to. Once all the storage positions were marked, I took several photos and talked to several aluminium fabrications stores on their opinion as to what size angle I should use. With the new information I quickly came to the decision of 3mm thickness with 25x25mm sides. 

Join me next month in part two of setting up a tinny for the storage build and installation of a Lowrance elite 7 HDI, Watersnake 44 pound electric motor and a marine stereo system, along with connecting all the installed items up to a switch board.

Fish light, Get the Bite,