Fifteen years ago, Kent Hughes, of Stuart, was in search of a boat to suit his and his family’s needs. The roomy cockpit, ample storage and options of the 30′ Dorado caught his eye.

When purchased, the boat was powered by a diesel Volvo outdrive. Frequenting the Bahamas a lot at that time, the fuel economy of the diesel was perfect. “We bought the boat on a Tuesday and left for the Bahamas on Thursday,” chuckled Kent.

How the boat sat when first purchased.

Fast forward to now, times had changed, the engine had 4,500 hours on it and the hull needed a little TLC. Hughes decided to totally refit the boat to accommodate the fishing and on the water activities they enjoyed now.

The major project was replacing the outdrive with a new 300 outboard. The weight of the inboard that was once mounted in the middle of the boat needed to be replaced, so Hughes did a little “shuffling of the deck,” so to speak. “We figured we would put as much fuel forward as we could to compensate for some of that lost weight.” Doing this would retain the low center of gravity and good ride of the boat. A Porta Bracket was added to allow the boat into shallow water, which was impossible with the outdrive. With snook fishing being one of their favorites, the outboard also offered much more maneuverability when fishing around tight areas in the river.

The spot where the outdrive once was, prepped and ready for the Porta Bracket and outboard.

A second station was added, as well as a large casting platform on the bow, giving a higher perspective when sight-fishing for cobia along the beach.

The added height advantage made it much easier for sight-fishing.

Camping was also something that the Hughes family enjoyed, so they made sure to incorporate it into the boat. A canvas dodger canopy was added to the bow, making for a perfect spot to catch some Z’s. With roll-up sides and screen windows, the seabreeze was still able to sweep through without the bugs to follow. Kent made sure it was easily removable for the days he needed full access to the bow of the boat.

The dodger makes camping on the water a breeze.

After the year-long project was complete, the boat had transformed, better suiting the Hughes’ fishing and on the water lifestyle needs. The boat was originally purchased for $60,000 and with another $60,000 in modifications, the cost of their dreamboat came out to $120,000.

The completed project back on the water. And yes, the “rust wrap” turns heads everywhere it goes.

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