Coam Over

Coaming pads look good, are easy to install, and will spare anglers a beating in rough water.

Anglers who have gone fishing in rough water on a boat without coaming pads learn of their utility the hard way. The evidence in the following days is exhibited in Technicolor thanks to the many-hued bruises that appear on their thighs. Part of the reason I bought a Whitewater 28 is its ability to fish safely when it gets snotty — hence, the name of the boat. I knew coaming pads would be one of the first additions to my refit of this great hull.

I researched the best way to add them and found a variety of solutions. I’m a hands-on guy and like a challenge, so I first looked at constructing my own pads, which is easy enough to do. The project starts with some sort of backing — marine plywood or Starboard — and involves gluing on some dense closed-cell foam and then covering it in a vinyl of choice. The part I didn’t like is that I would have had to drill some fairly large holes in my boat’s inwales (the overhang under the inside of the gunwales) to affix them. Another problem is that certain sections of my boat’s gunwales don’t have inwales. The second type of coaming pad system includes pads that slide onto a track, but the track requires smaller holes to be drilled, but many more than on the aforementioned install. Since the pads are only attached at the top, they tend to flop around, especially while towing.

The best solution I found was SeaDek coaming bolsters, which are less intrusive because they are peel and stick — no drilling needed. I had SeaDek flooring on my old boat, and it was easily the best addition I made, so trying the manufacturer’s bolsters was a no-brainer for me. SeaDek offers two options. Stock Coaming Pad kits consist of two 4½-inch-by-37- inch pads and cost $106. I chose to go the custom route, which carries a minimum charge of $160.

The ordering process was simple and streamlined. Perhaps the most difficult part of the process was deciding which of the many different color configurations to choose, from solid to two tone. There are 16 colors/color combos to choose from — and that’s just for the stock bolsters. Plus, there are embossed and brushed finishes. I chose brushed. SeaDek will include names, drawings or teak lines cut into the material, so I had “Whitewater” added to the bow bolster and a ruler added to the stern pad, to help measure fish easily. The bolsters can be cut to custom sizes to fit the boat perfectly, with a maximum length of 75 inches, a maximum width of 18 inches and up to 20 inches of thickness.

Once I figured out exactly what I wanted, I sent the dimensions of each bolster to SeaDek, whose designers drew it up on CAD and sent it back to me for verification. Because of this process, I knew exactly what I was getting — no surprises when the kit showed up in the mail. I received mine all in one large box, each pad individually wrapped and labeled. The total cost for the eightpiece package I got was $1,144.

The application process is fairly simple. The key is to have a very clean surface for the pads to adhere to. Normally, we’re instructed to avoid dishwasher detergents when washing the boat, because they strip the wax off the gelcoat, but in this situation, that’s a plus, because wax can keep the adhesive from bonding properly. Afterward, I wiped it dry with a clean towel.

At this point it’s as easy as peel and stick. The adhesive SeaDek uses is super strong, so as long as the surface is clean and grease-free, it’s not coming off without resorting to violence. First, line up each bolster where it’s supposed to go and make sure you’re happy with that, because once it goes on, moving it will be difficult at best.

I used the top curve on the boat to help align the bolster combined with the bottom edge, so it was perfectly straight. Don’t attach the full width of the pad until you are happy with the alignment. Start with just the top edge on one end in case an adjustment is needed. That way, if you happen to mess up a little you can quickly un-peel the small part that’s stuck more easily and then maneuver the pad to where you want it.

SeaDek’s customer support was excellent. Its hotline has experts on hand who can answer any questions about the installation process. The SeaDek coaming pads look great on my boat and are not only functional but will also add to its resale value. For more information, visit


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