Staying on the water: Zuelzke enjoys renovating ski boats

Published 10:38 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Growing up on Lake Mitchell gave Scott Zuelzke an enjoyment of boats.

Summers for Zuelzke involved a lot of time on the water. He said he would water ski with his brother and a friend for up to eight hours a day in his youth. Zuelzke still enjoys water skiing, but said many on Lake Mitchell prefer wakeboarding now instead. In college, he joined Auburn University’s water ski club.

Spending so much time around boats gave Zuelzke an interest in fixing them.

“I have worked on them almost all of my life,” Zuelzke said. “Since I was a little kid, I have always been interested in ski boats. I worked on our boat growing up … I have always had a mechanical mind and an interest in boats.”

His current project is the restoration of a 1973 Correct Craft Mustang for a friend. His favorite part of such a project is “the satisfaction of taking something that is old and rundown and making it new again.”

Zuelzke said he specializes in ski boats, and he used to have a business doing boat repair. He said the design is retro now ,but there are still 200-300 on Lake Mitchell.

“People have an interest if they have one to restore it and make it new again,” Zuelzke said. “A lot of times it’s for sentimental reasons.”

Sometimes the boat has been in the family for several years, and the current owner wants to be able to keep using it.

In the last 20 years, pontoon boats and wakeboard boats have really increased in popularity.

“A pontoon boat is more suited for someone who may not have a place on the lake if they are looking to buy a boat because it offers a smoother ride and has an abundant amount of room on the boat, so when you get on the boat to spend the day on the boat, you are not confined to such a small area,” Zuelzke said.

The most important thig to consider when purchasing a boat is what one wants to be able to do on the water. Prospective boat owners also need to consider if they have a place to store it, Zuelzke said.

Boat owners also have to pass a test and have a vessel license.

Those buying a boat should also have the dealer show them how to do the checklist of maintenance needed before each use.

Preventative maintenance is the key to keeping a boat running smoothly.

Zuelzke said the most important things were annual service for the engine, “proper winterization and proper storage” so that the boat can dry out preventing mildew of the seats and possible rusting of mechanical parts.

Using the proper fuel is important to the life of the engine.

“Most boats cannot tolerate the ethanol-blended fuel,” Zuelzke said. “The marinas on the lake sell pure gas, and there’s a few gas stations in town that sell pure gas.”

Getting a recommendation for a reputable boat repair person is important, if not having work done at a dealership, Zuelzke said.