Wahoo 18′ Center Console Boat Restoration

My Wahoo CC 18 Restoration

I’m fond of the hulls on these Wahoos. I was pleased to find this one and wasn’t daunted by doing a boat restoration on it. and wished they were still made.  Wahoo made boats to compete with Boston Whaler from 1985 through 1996. As the story goes, the founder started building these boats after having a fall out with the folks at Boston Whaler.

They resemble the Boston Whalers in basic hull configuration. That’s the key reason I really like them.  This one had a few issues as well as some potential pitfalls. I wish I had documented the restoration process. As it is, I’ll relate the key areas that I encountered and worked on.

Hull and Interior

The Wahoo Hull

The Hull and Interior on this Wahoo were in fairly good condition. The bottom of the hull looked hideous though. For reasons unknown to me, the previous owner painted it. They used an ablative baby shit green bottom paint. Worse, it was partially worn away in places. It sort of looked like a war relic based on the paint. I really can’t understand why anyone would paint a hull on a trailered boat. The whole purpose of this paint is to keep marine growth from fouling the bottom when it’s docked!

I was able to readily fix that. After polishing and waxing the non-painted areas of the hull, I masked of the bottom. I cleaned the entire bottom of the boat with acetone and rolled on two coats of black ablative paint. This bought the entire look up a few notches.

Wahoo Restoration new Bottom Paint

There’s something I’ve put on every boat I have owned. These stainless plugs are an amazing convenience. You never have to completely remove them. I’ve gone out more than once and forgotten to install a drain plug!  You can screw them out so that the boat drains properly without taking them all the way out. They can also be completely removed by pulling back on them and unscrewing. Being a forgetful sort, I appreciate always having a drain plug already on the boat!

The Interior

Whaler 18' CC Cockpit

The interior was in relatively good shape. However there were a few minor issues I had to clean up. Some of the locker hinges were gone or had missing pins. The gel coat was also faded in some places. The plexiglass wind screen was loose and missing mountings. Additionally, the front cooler seat and upholstery were a mess.

As Part of this Wahoo boat restoration I occasionally had to dig deep into my pockets to get it to  where I wanted it. I ended up buying a new marine grade cooler for the front seating area and went to a custom upholster to have the seat cover and back made. I was able to secure the windscreen using some small rubber electrical grommets and stainless screws.

Wahoo Restoration new Cooler and Upholstery

The Gas Tank

After starting this Wahoo boat Restoration, I found out through my research that many of these came with a fiberglass gas tank. This was a potentially a huge problem. These tanks eventually deteriorated and leaked gas inside of the hull. That caused me a great deal of concern, I wasn’t particularity fond of driving a fuel air bomb through the lake. 

Luckily the Wahoo had two floor hatches that gave you access to the tank. After much probing and a bit of pounding I concluded that I had one of the lucky boats. This particular model was built with a metallic gas tank. I did, however, find that the hoses to and from were on the verge of splitting open.

I bought what seemed like yards of the appropriate hoses. One type to feed fuel to the engine. Just as important, the hose for the ventline. The hose from the fill cap was actually in good condition. Thankfully because that would have been a bear to replace!

Repowering the Wahoo Boat Restoration

The wahoo came with an old Johnson 90 and was severely underpowered for that style of hull. Consequently, I decided to up the power factor a bit. As luck would have it, I found a second hand 150hp Mercury on ebay!

A costly Repowering Mistake

After communicating extensively with the seller , I finally decided that this would be a good purchase. It took some effort but I ended up getting the engine shipped to me for a reasonable cost. I ended up taking it to a local shop. It was there that they pointed out to my old and forgetful brain that I needed controls for the Mercury as well. 

Consequently, on top of the cost of the engine and the shops cost of mounting it, I had to pony up for a used set of controls as well as  paying to have it rigged correctly. Overall it wasn’t horribly bad on the wallet. But it did put me over budget for this project. Luckily, I was able to sell the old motor for a reasonable price so I was able to offset the overall cost to some extent. 

But, as you can see from the above video, it was well worth it. The boat would now clock a bit over 40mph. This was a significant improvement over the old motor, which barely clocked 30mph. One thing for sure, I have learned enough now to mount and rig engines on my own going forward.

A Final Word on Boat Restoration

This was the first boat restoration I undertook. Theres another one from a 1995 Sea Boss that I recently finished that I will be posting soon. I’m currently in the process of restoring a classic 1966 Boston Whaler 13. Stay tuned for more boat restorations!

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