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Preferred Marine Repowers: Connected by the Water

Pompano Beach, Florida, dealer helps its customers upgrade engines, upgrade fun with new Mercury outboards.

 Preferred Marine Repowers: Connected by the Water

Repowering a boat with new outboards and controls can mean much more than improving its reliability and performance. A new set of engines can breathe life back into a boat, giving it new heart and soul.

To illustrate just how big a difference a repower job can make, Mercury® followed up with three boaters – with different types of boats and activity sets – who recently repowered at Preferred Marine in Pompano Beach, Florida, to find out what their experiences have been like with their new Mercury propulsion outboards.

This is the first in a series of Mercury repower stories profiling a wide range of boaters and the Mercury dealers who go above and beyond to keep them satisfied.

The Assiduous Mary Slingsby

For years, Mary Slingsby had her eye on a 20-foot 1986 Mako center-console in the neighborhood, even though the engine was seized up and its 74-year-old owner had already turned down her offers to buy it. Undeterred, Slingsby took one last shot, wrote the owner a note and left it on his door. The next day her phone rang, and the Mako became hers.

The purchase marked the start of a months-long renovation project that would soon have Slingsby sanding, grinding, painting and more.

“It was not a one-step process,” she said. “It was a complete restoration. We were lucky in that the floor was still solid, but other than that everything had to be replaced or reworked. The fuel tank, rails and, of course, all the electronics had to go. Then there was a lot of putty and fiberglass involved.”

Since the old motor hadn’t run in years, Slingsby didn’t know exactly how the boat’s performance would be affected when she had Preferred Marine mount a new 150hp Mercury® FourStroke® outboard to the transom. But she does know the end result: The boat cruises between 30 and 35 mph and hits 43 when she buries the throttle, which might happen pretty often considering Slingsby admitted, “I like to go fast.”

“Mary, she had a goal to make her boat something really special,” said Kirk Beattie, president at Preferred Marine. He’s been with the dealership since its founding in 2006 and has helped it evolve into one of the largest Mercury Repower Centers in southeast Florida. “She reached that goal, and she did it herself. So when we repowered the Mako, we wanted to make it special on our end, too. One of the reasons why this business is so great is that no two jobs are the same, and her boat was one of a kind.”

One of a kind, indeed. It might be the only 1986 Mako sporting a bright pink Awlgrip cap rail with a 150hp FourStroke outboard pin-striped to match, and it’s certainly the only one you’ll see trolling plugs through the backwaters of Pompano in search of snook with a dog named Dixie perched on the bow.

Legendary Captain and Mercury Pro Team Member Art Sapp

The four Mercury® L6 350hp Verado® outboards that once resided on the back of professional angler Capt. Art Sapp’s 39-foot SeaVee 390Z delivered an impressive total of more than 25,000 engine hours’ worth of reliable service. When it was finally time for an upgrade, he went into the repower process with a different set of goals in mind.

Sapp gave up some horsepower, and subsequently top-end speed, by rigging quad V8 300hp Verado outboards in order to improve his efficiency and ease of maintenance. His cruising speed after the change is the same at 40 knots, but he gained about 0.1 mpg. The torque-laden V8 engines also reduced time to plane and made it easier to get on plane with a heavy load. Changing the oil and filters is easier with the new motors, too.

“I had faith when I was told by my Mercury rep that I would want this,” Sapp said, “and that I wouldn’t be disappointed with the results.”

His rep was right. Sapp is enjoying flawless reliability from his new engines, but his favorite perk has as much to do with him as it does with the boat.

“The new motor mounts don’t let all the vibrations get to the boat,” he said. “As I get older, I feel those long days on the water more and more. And I can tell the difference in the physical wear on my body through the course of the day. The ride is so much smoother now that it makes a real difference.”

As a serious pro who competes in numerous tournaments throughout the course of the year — recently coming off a second-place overall finish in the Bluewater Movements Summer Series — Sapp said the tradeoff between top-end speed and fuel consumption has actually made him more efficient in competition.

“We get some of that speed back thanks to the efficiency gains,” he explained. “I don’t necessarily have to fill the tanks up to the top each and every time. I can start with less fuel and still have plenty of range, which means I’m running lighter right out of the gate, which means I’m running faster.”

Veteran Angler Ryan Davis

Heart and soul are what it’s all about when it comes to a boat like Reel Synergy and an owner like Marine Corps veteran and competitive angler Ryan Davis.

Davis’ boating roots go deep. He grew up in south Florida and was fishing and free diving long before his life choices took him to deployments in places such as Okinawa, Guantanamo Bay and the Mediterranean.

“Back then we loved it when someone sent us fishing magazines,” Davis said.

So it should be no wonder that today he runs a serious fishing machine: a 39-foot Invincible Boats Open Fisherman. Originally, the boat didn’t have a tower and upper station. Davis changed that, and in doing so, he knew some additional power would come in handy. That’s why he chose to swap out triple Yamaha F350s for quadruple V8 350hp Verado® outboards.

“It’s great to see people who are so involved with their boats,” said Preferred Marine’s Beattie. “Ryan has a serious passion for the water, and it was great helping him make a completely changed boat. Going from triple 350 Yamahas to quad Verado outboards, we think we made it better than when that boat left the factory.”

Amping up the power added 5 mph to the boat’s speed despite the additional weight and aerodynamic drag of the tower and upper station. And Davis says his fuel economy hasn’t really changed much. In fact, his range is rather phenomenal, and he puts it to good use during events like the Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Showdown, which was the third leg in the 2020 Bluewater Movements Summer Series.

“We knew there were fish up north, and we didn’t hesitate to make the long runs,” said Davis. “In fact, our biggest fish was a good 90 miles from the inlet. We hit multiple spots and probably ran 110 to 115 miles going out and back.”

Is it mere coincidence that Davis won this tournament? We think not.

The Reality of Repowers

For all these boaters, the repowering experience goes well beyond simply getting new engines. They each had a vision for how their boat could be given new capabilities, or even a new life.

Fulfilling visions like theirs takes more than mere mechanics. Beattie believes he and his crew at Preferred Marine are in tune with their customers because they share the same love for boats, fishing and the water.

“We get it,” he said. “We’re tournament anglers, too. We bring that to the job, and it’s important to me because I feel like we’re all responsible for keeping the marine way of life alive in our own way.”

He also points out that, as a boat nut working in the marine business, he never wants to fall short of the customer’s aspirations. That’s why he understands just how much care and pride someone has in their boat, and he realizes that no matter how big or small the boat might be, it’s really a part of the person who owns it.

“We get one-on-one with the customer,” Beattie said, “and try to understand their lifestyle, their needs. We try to learn who the person is. And a lot of the time we end up with more friends than customers. Sometimes it feels like we care too much, but you really can’t care too much. Because it means that we never want to let our customers – our friends – down.”

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