Since 1990, John Abess has completely renovated, slightly modified and twice repowered his 21-foot Mako center console, Alter Ego, which he bought new in 1977.
"She looks spectacular," says Abess, who is from Charleston, S.C. "People can’t seem to stop themselves from providing compliments on her."
With her name on the hull sides in bright yellow and matching striped upholstery, Alter Ego will never blend in with other center consoles. The first major refit was done in early 2009. G-Crafts Marine, in Awendaw, S.C., 15 miles north of Charleston, carried out most of the work. Company owner Bobby Gehlken specializes in Mako, Boston Whaler, SeaCraft and Bertram restorations, among others.
Gehlken Awlgripped the boat and the engine, replaced the rubrail and deck hardware, and refinished all of the teak. No structural work was done, and Abess decided to try to squeeze out a few more seasons with the boat's 1990 200-hp Mercury Black Max 2-stroke.
Click play to watch as Abess describes the refit. Mobile users can also click here.
Alter Ego was launched in the spring of 2009, though Abess enjoyed his made-over Mako for only a few months. The Mercury slipped out of gear while under way and stalled, a result of corrosion around the lower shift shaft. "We had to be towed in," he says. "I thought, This really is an indication that we have to splurge and repower."
The problem also gave Abess a chance to address something that had bothered him since he bought the boat — its low, cut-out transom. Abess had Gehlken construct a new full-height transom and install an outboard bracket for Alter Ego's new engine, a 250-hp Evinrude E-TEC 2-stroke.
Abess says the E-TEC has a lot going for it: lighter weight than a 4-stroke (530 pounds, compared to 562 pounds for a Yamaha F250), low maintenance and emissions, and good fuel economy. At a cruise speed of 33 mph, the E-TEC burns 11 gph, which equates to 3 mpg. Throttle back to about 30 mph, and the boat gets 3.6 mpg.
Abess considered a new boat, but he was unimpressed with the ride quality of the those he tested, saying one of the boats "really pounded."
"These newer boats are really being built for economy," he says. "I can afford a little more gas. I really wanted the safety and the softer ride that comes with a heavier boat and a deep-vee."