Dream Boat: 12 Affordable Boat Upgrades That Won't Rock The Boat

Improving your boat doesn't have to break the bank. Build your dream boat with these 12 quick and easy boat upgrades to fit any budget.

There are people who own boats, and then there are people who know the people who own boats.

Fortunately for those who are in the know are also those who get to hold onto their money. Unfortunately, those who own the boats understand that boat upgrades, maintenance, and repairs can get pricey.

But you don't have to be a millionaire to own a boat. Unless of course, it's a yacht. If you own a yacht, you probably have all of your maintenance and upgrades taken care of already. For everyone else who owns anything south of a yacht, then this article is for you.

Keep on reading to learn more about the best boat upgrades that won't have you drowning in debt.

12 Affordable Boat Upgrades to Fit Your Budget

Boats aren't exactly the cheapest of investments. They need consistent maintenance because they're constantly run wet. At the very least, they need to be kept as clean as possible and well lubricated. This is to avoid any corrosion, mold, mildew, and clogged bilge pumps.

Aside from the typical after-use chores, many boaters will leave the annual care up to professionals. This maintenance usually costs up to 10-percent of the boats initial cost. Of course, maintenance and repairs can be costly for those who neglect the regular care of their boats.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer, you'll be able to cut costs just by shopping around and learning a bit more about your own boat. To get you started, here's a list of 12 affordable boat upgrades that won't make waves—in your bank account that is!

1. The Anchoring System

Honestly, when was the last time you really inspected the anchoring system on your boat? If you can't remember, chances are it's considerably rusty. After all, the anchor rode rarely sees the light of day. It just nests in the chain locker, saturated in salt water for most of its life.

A reliable anchoring system is important during an emergency. It's also one of the most common bass boat upgrades for fishing enthusiasts. While the actual anchor may be costly, the actual components won't cost you more than a few hundred bucks and a Saturday afternoon.

2. New Props

Props are often an overlooked detail for boaters. It's also difficult to choose the best one with so many options out there. It all comes down to the right materials and your desired hole shot.

In the battle of the aluminum vs stainless steel prop, it all comes down to how much gear you plan to pack on the boat. The right prop will give you not only the perfect holeshot, but it will also eliminate the strain on your motor.

3. Some LED Lighting

If you haven't seen blue LED lights out on the water already, you will. Prices vary from $7 to $40 give or take, but it's definitely worth it. They last longer than your average bulbs and they definitely add a cool factor to your setup.

These types of lights also emit less heat—meaning they'll attract fewer bugs, which is great for nights spent on the hook. From cockpit to cabin, even rope lights on the deck have become a very popular upgrade. LED lights are an energy saver upgrade as well as a cosmetic one.

4. New Seat Upholstery

Believe it or not, most of the wear and tear on your boat happens to your seating upholstery. All that salt water, food, sunscreen residue, dirt, sand, and whatever else you can think of really takes its toll.

Although the upholstery is typically made to last, it won't last forever. Of course, you can have your boat's upholstery serviced by an expert, but that can get pricey. Hopefully, you're reading this with enough time to invest in some seat covers!

Seat covers will help keep the materials underneath looking like new. In the off chance that your seating is beyond saving, you might want to inspect the bases for wear and tear as well.

5. Better Electronics

Technology makes for some of the best boat upgrades. Smart devices, stereo systems, GPS, fish finders—anything that can be upgraded for your convenience should be. (This includes any and all batteries!)

Find the hot spots, vegetation lines, and hard bottoms all while controlling the music from your phone. Your list of the latest technology upgrades should also include a solar-powered portable charger for peace of mind on the water. The last thing you want to worry about is your Bluetooth speaker losing power. Or emergencies, of course.

6. A Boarding Ramp

Boarding boats can be tricky at times, especially from a high dock or the beach. Boarding ramps are one of those pontoon boat add-ons that you didn't know you needed. (But when you finally have one, you won't know how you ever went without!)

These ramps make it much easier to get on and off your boat as well as load your gear, coolers, and luggage. They're lightweight, have non-skid surfaces and they're concealed under the deck. They're also surprisingly under $500.

7. A Hot Foot

A Hot Foot is definitely one of those boat modification ideas for people who get whiskey throttle. This nifty little upgrade will allow you to traverse rough waters without having to worry about losing control.

Imagine controlling the throttle with your foot while steering with both hands. (Or at least have a free hand to hold your beer). The best part about this upgrade is that a decent Hot Foot won't cost you more than $150.

8. The Motor

We know what you're thinking—There's no affordable way to upgrade the motor on my boat. Truth be told, it's much cheaper than replacing an entire engine. A new motor will change your entire boating experience and it comes with a few necessities:

  • A warranty
  • Better maintenance program
  • Better fuel economy
  • Better protection against corrosion
  • Warning alarms
  • Lighter weight thanks to new materials

Of course, if a new motor isn't in the budget, there's quite a market for used outboards. There's nothing wrong with buying a used motor. More often than not, you'll end up with a newer and better motor than the one you already have—for half the price.

9. The Trolling Motor Cable

The trolling motor cable is without a doubt the most used and abused piece of equipment. Unfortunately, the factory-made cable that came with your boat wasn't exactly designed to last. The last thing you want is for the cable to snap when you need to get the motor started.

A decent upgrade will run you about $30-$50. These boat upgrades are made to last for longer periods of time—and take more of a beating than your original.

10. System Monitors

This may fall into the electronics category but it's worth mentioning twice. The right monitor will enhance your onboard experience, especially when combined with specific sensors. You'll be able to monitor your tank levels, batteries, and keep track of other vital measurements.

Out of all the boat upgrades listed, a new monitor is definitely the most costly. But they're well worth it.

11. Portable Power Sources

In the event of an emergency, power is the last thing you want to run out of. (Next to water, of course). Having a house battery with a selector switch will guarantee peace of mind.

Some boaters prefer to have compact portable generators and lithium-ion batteries. Regardless of which portable back up power source you choose, make sure this upgrade is first on your list.

And, don't forget to regularly test your power sources!

12. Bimini Tops

This is a standard for many boats, and for good reason. The concept of a Bimini top or any canvas boat top is to provide shade from the sun and protection from rain and salt spray.

But it's not just the top material that you need to upgrade. You'll also want to check the frames and boots for any corrosion and wear. Individual stainless steel replacement parts are available depending on the style you have.

Maintenance Equals Value

Boat upgrades are necessary whether you plan to keep your boat or sell it. Just like a car or a home, your boat needs the right amount of TLC so that you, your friends and your family can enjoy it for years to come.

If you found this article helpful and interesting, then you'll enjoy all the other topics we cover. Check back daily as we're always adding new and interesting reads to the blog!