The boat turned out better then I expected. Investing all those hours and money will completely pay off when the first birds of the season fall on opening morning. After reading these two posts, I hope you can save some time and money to convert your 16 foot Lowe fishing boat into a waterfowl hunting machine.
This post, part two, focuses mainly on wiring the bow/stern lights, switch plate and features tips on installing the blind. The first edition includes installing carpet, camo painting techniques and cutting into the bench seat to install the switch plate. If you missed part one click here.
Step 1: Measure and cut two sections of 16 or 14 ga wire to run from the bow back to the switch plate. Use about 20′ of wire to leave plenty of slack to work with. Wire up the base of the bow light with crimping sleeves and seal with electrical tape or a heat-shrink plastic. Feed all of the wire through the hole in the front deck. Insert the base of the light into the hole. DO NOT screw down the base.
Step 2: Install the conduit. Three 5 foot sections of 5 inch plastic conduit protects and hides the wires. A quick paint job helps them blend into the boat. Adhesive strips on the back helps to hold them in place. Make sure to bend the conduit as you slide it behind the ribs of the boat. This will keep the paint from getting scratched up. Make sure the seam faces up. Only adhere the conduit to the boat after running the wires through.
Step 3: Run all the wires simultaneously through the conduit. Use a 24″ piece of decoy line and tie the ends of the wires together. Pull the string along the seam at the top of the conduit to gently pull the wire through. This first piece of conduit runs from the bow to the middle bench. Feed the wires between the top of the bench and the side of the boat. Install the conduit between the middle and back bench and run the wires. The wires should end up inside the back bench next to the hole for the switch plate.
Step 4: Test the connections. Quickly tap the ends of the wires against the poles on the battery. Your bow light should turn on. Running the wires can cause the connection to the get loose so make sure it’s solid.
Step 5: Drill the hole for the stern light with a 1 1/2″ hole saw. Insert the light and base into the hole. Turn the base around a few times to make sure the light is sticking as straight up as possible.
Use some spray paint and a cattail stencil to camo-up the base to match the pattern on the boat. Connect the wires to the base and feed them through the hole.
Step 6: Run conduit and wires from the back of the boat to the switch plate. Trim a piece of conduit with a miter saw to hold the wires from the stern light. This is the vertical piece in the pic below. Run those wires down to the horizontal piece. The horizontal piece runs from behind the back bench almost all the way to the transom and holds the wires for the stern light and the two wires from the switch plate to the battery.
Step 7: Wire the switch plate. The back of the switch plate has a negative and positive pole. Crimp the wire to the positive pole and run that straight out to the battery.
Crimp the wire to the negative poll and run that to the first bolt on a Neg Buss (bolt far left in pic below). This buss cost about $8 and should be available at your local boating supply store. All of negative wires in the boat run to this contraption. Run one wire from the end (in this case the bolt on the far right) to the battery.
Use a wirenut to attach the black wires from the bow and stern light to the black wire coming out of a switch in the back of the plate. This way one switch operates all of the running lights. Connect the wires to the battery and flip the switch. Everything should be working at this point.
Take some silicon and seal the plate to the bench. In the pic above, basically put the silicon along the pencil lines. Press the pate into the hole for a flush fit. Use a 5/64″ drill bit, pre-drill the corners and install the plate with #6, 1 inch, self-tapping sheet metal screws.
Step 8: Install fixture bases. Use the 5/64″ drill bit to pre-drill the holes for the bow and stern light bases.
Attach the bases to the boat using #6, 1 inch, self-tapping sheet metal screws.
Use a Q-tip to touch-up the screws. Spray the Q-tip with paint until it’s saturated (probably 2-4 seconds of spray) then press the paint onto the screws. Waterfowl can see everything. So attention to detail makes a big difference.
If you’re going to install an anchor clete, make sure to do it before you install the base for the stern light. These cletes are inexpensive only costing $3 ea from Cabela’s. They’re easily installed by predrilling then attaching with two small bolts and a couple nuts and washers. Adhere the conduit to the boat.
Step 9: Flip the switch. Stand back and admire your work. Enjoy a cold Molson Canadian. Or 5.
Step 10: Install the blind. Do yourself a favor and start with 300 8″-10″ zip-ties. They’re easy to use and are easily concealed in the Fastgrass mats.
I have a Cabela’s Northern Flight boat blind. It’s easy to install using 4 clamps and features a nylon netting wrapped around the frame. Layout all of your fastgrass mats and match up the pieces that look similar, like matching up tile or planks of wood flooring.
One side of the blind should be taller than the other. The taller side covers your back as you’re hunting. Start attaching the mats to the frame and netting from the top using the zip-ties. Work your way down. Zip-tie the bottom of the net and mats to the frame along the side of the boat. This will keep the “wall” rigid in tough winds and keep the grass from getting destroyed while trailering the rig down the highway.
The finished product.
I finished tweaking the blind. Got about 5 hours of sleep. Then loaded-up the boat for the Opening Morning hunt of the Early Season Goose on Lake St. Clair. Me, Zeus and two buddies headed out to Metro Beach. We were late setting up. The guns were still cased as a large flock of Canada’s cruised over the decoys. We screwed up our only shot at some birds for the day. But we looked damn good in that blind.
Have an awesome and safe season. Post links in the comment section to pics of your duck boat project. I’d love to compare notes.