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Bow Tank Installation

As Steve Lassley and I walked up the side of the 60-foot Hatteras Bad Company and stepped out on the forward deck, we nearly crashed due to a heavy coat of solid ice. There’s something wrong with this picture! This is Southern California. It’s supposed to be warm and balmy, but freezing cold temps had settled in to make an interesting start to my bow tank installation.

Steve and I had met on the boat only a few days previously to plan the installation. Their other boat, a 60-foot Viking, had sold suddenly so there was a mad rush to get this boat ready to get down to Cabo for the season. (Check out Lassley’s column about the entire refit at www.bdoutdoors.com/article/lassley-change)

Although the Hatteras already had some incredible history to her credit, one critical piece of gear was missing — the bow tank — and we had a short time frame to get it built, plumbed and done.

Fortunately, there was just enough space to fit in a Pacific Edge PEBT-24-D, our most popular bow tank for the bigger rigs. In its full size, this divided tank is about 90 gallons and is one of our best sellers for guys wanting a stylish design combined with extraordinary bait-holding characteristics. The same is true when we cut them down 10 to 12 inches to fit up forward — they’re just perfect if your boat can handle the physical size.

Once we decided on the tank, I made a quick pattern to build a cover for what was to be one of the challenges — the lack of space below, forcing the inlet and drain hoses to go forward into the base of the pulpit before dropping into the spacious chain locker. We settled on the color selection, got the basics figured out for the plumbing and then it was back to the shop to get the process started.

Normally we try to allow at least 10 to 12 working days to build a tank, especially one requiring a custom color. But there was no such luxury this time given the departure schedule Steve was planning on. Good thing we work well under pressure! I knew it would all get done. Honestly, it was a stretch to get the tank cut down and finished, the pre-plumbing done in the shop, the stainless rod rack designed, built, polished and installed along with a redesigned set of locking lids to keep water in when running at 30 knots in choppy weather. But I’ve got a great team to work with and they all came through.

When I headed to San Diego for the installation, it was with total confidence. The tank was all set, the rod rack installed and the lids in place. I had a van full of installation parts and by the end of the day the job would be complete and the boat ready to head south. And with one little exception, it all went exactly as planned.

It’s those glitches that can really cramp your style. The cold temps and ice on the deck were one thing, but the real problem started with a stainless deckplate that had been mounted for an old rocket launcher.

The plate had to come off. We drilled down through the center of the six flat-head screws with a pilot bit and followed it up with a 3/8-inch bit, the same diameter as the bolt and then popped it off. It sure wasn’t my idea of fun but with limited time and options, the chips started flying.

As it turned out I had the right bits and the drilling went well. Then we got a nice surprise. Someone must have waxed the part before it went down. The 5200 bond is normally a nightmare to break loose but this plate came right up with no problem.

With the plate off, I was able to get the tank into position, lined up and centered, and then begin the process of scribing the tank to the deck. Although it takes a while to make the tank sit flat and match the lines of the boat as well as accommodate the crown in the deck, it’s worth it to make a clean installation.

With the scribe complete, I measured for the mounting cleats. We use custom-made fiberglass angle, which is very strong, bonds well to the deck for security, does not corrode and holds the screws securely. I put down the first two, set in a big bead of 5200, then slid the tank into place and measured for the other two. Then I drilled the actual mounting holes through the tank and cleats and double-checked the fit before attaching the hoses.

As I was going forward through the tank and into the base of the pulpit with the plumbing there was more drilling to be done. Two matching 15/8-inch holes provided the access to the chain locker but revealed some wood that needed to be sealed. West Systems makes a perfect product for this, a five-minute, two-part epoxy. I love the stuff and use it a lot and they are not kidding about the five minutes!

With the holes drilled and prepped, it was time for the inlet and drain hoses to be slid into place. For many installations we use a heavy wall, white sanitation hose which is very strong but hard to work with. It requires some heat to soften the ends before you slide it on the fittings.

I cautiously use a heat gun to get the hose barely soft enough to slide it on the fittings. I added some sealant as well. I’ve been appalled to see other installers use the open flame from a lighter. The concentrated heat will damage the internal integrity of the hose — not good. A heat gun works much better.

With the hoses in place and double clamped, it was time to position the tank and complete the installation. The hoses go forward and into the base of the pulpit, making this a two-person job. Luckily, Joe from Viking Marine was aboard doing some plumbing and he was able to give me a hand from down below as I guided the tank from above.

I always love the feeling when the tank drops into place and is ready to be secured. With everything pre-fit and drilled, the final steps are easy. I put sealant on each screw then ran them in — all lined up and matching. A little alcohol on a rag will clean off the goop.

I use one-inch blue tape to keep it all clean. I tape off both the deck and the tank, leaving about 1/8-inch of glass showing on each side, just enough for the bead of silicone to fill in. I’ll cut the spout on the cartridge creating a 3/16-inch hole and caulk the seam, forcing the material both under the tank and covering the gap. I’ve found a wet finger is the perfect tool to smooth and contour the bead and when it looks perfect I’ll carefully pull and dispose of the tape. Then I’ll make any final corrections necessary, add the Pacific Edge decal and stand back for a second to see that all is ready to be called complete.

The sun was setting as we finished the project and the temperature began to drop. But all was done and as I was cleaning up the crew was loading up, getting ready for their planned departure and a trip down the Baja coast to chase the warm southern sun.

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Well-known California captain, writer, speaker and tackle shop owner, Capt. Mark Wisch has been helping anglers catch fish along the West Coast for decades. As an author, Mark has written three books, including “Between Two and Twenty Fathoms,” “In The Gray” and “Lessons from a Lifetime on the Water.” He's currently working on his fourth book, “Way Out West, a Private Boaters Guide to Fishing Offshore Waters.” Mark owns and operates Pacific Edge Tackle (www.pacificedgetackle.com) and manufactures a complete line of live bait tanks. He also specializes in outfitting sport-fishing boats with electronics and fishing equipment. Mark graduated from Cal Poly, Pomona, with a degree in marketing and currently resides in Huntington Beach, California, with his wife Chris and their dog Emma.