There was Only One Partner I’d Trust for the Refurb Project of my Life: AkzoNobel

When Jim Swagler pulls his Bertram 31 yacht, The Swagger, into a marina anywhere up the eastern seaboard of the US, heads turn.

Bertram is a brand name that already carries a cult status for style and craftsmanship and Jim’s classic 1977 flybridge cruiser model is a shining example of the brand at their best.

Jim spent four years painstakingly restoring it to show off all of its sleek beauty, inside and out.

“I even customized the toilet seat!” exclaims Jim. “I used Awlcraft® 2000 Aristo Blue then put waves into the design with the Awlcraft® SE Atlantic Blue metallic basecoat, and clear coated it with Awlcraft 2000. When the sun hits it there is an anodized, neon look that is very cool. Especially with everything else being white on the interior.”

For Jim, this has been the ultimate pride and passion project.

The 52 year old has spent his whole life on and around boats, fishing, repairing, maintaining and enjoying that feeling of being on the water.

“I was brought up on Bertrams,” he says.

“That name has such a status among everyone who knows about boats. My dad had a couple when I was young and I remember fishing with him at the age of 12 or 13. Then, when he ran a charter yacht business here in Ocean City, I started to clean the boat up for him in the evenings.”

Fast forward three decades, Jim is now running his own maintenance business in his hometown, Ocean City, Maryland.

Jim Swagler

‘Jim’s Marine’ has been proudly serving the sport and recreational boating community for more than 32 years and is an industry leader in quality and efficiency. Having previously offered all services from mechanical work to electrical rewires, Jim decided to zero in on his passion of refurbishments, repairs and customization around 16 years ago.

“The refurbishment is the part I love the most. I like to take a boat that looks like nothing and make it something. I genuinely do love what I do,” says Jim.

In the spring of 2016, he received a job out of the blue that eventually led to making his dreams come true.

“One day a guy called me to work on his boat. I didn’t know him from Adam, but I did the job and got him back in the water. On the last day, I was up there we were chatting about fishing and he told me ‘I have a 31. It’s for sale’. I go ‘oh yeah? What exactly do you have?’”

It was a 1977 Bertram 31, a flybridge cruiser.

“It was up in Annapolis, more than 100 miles up river. It took me a long while to go look at it because it wasn’t in my price range, but I finally went up to take a look. Once I’d seen it and lifted up the hatches, I knew I was going to make an offer.”

Getting his dream boat was one thing. Getting it how he wanted would take many years of planning, sweat and paint.

He knew he could count on AkzoNobel’s portfolio of yacht brands to bring his dream to life.

“My dad and I always used Awlgrip® and Interlux® on our boats. AkzoNobel is the one that never lets you down.” says Jim.

Facing a total refurbishment job, he started planning.

“I wanted it to be pristine.” Jim admits. “The bottom had been done and it looked good, but I still blasted it to get it exactly how I wanted.”

Calling on his years of experience in the industry, Jim worked through the refit from top to bottom, carefully selecting the right products for each job.

The entire boat (hull, superstructure and inside of the cabin) was primed with Awlgrip 545 epoxy primer then painted with Awlcraft 2000 Off-White.

The bottom was media blasted back to gelcoat. The underwater running gear, thru-hulls and drains were all flushed and faired in with the use of Awlgrip Awlfair® fairing compound.

“Then I applied four coats of Interlux® InterProtect® 2000E epoxy barrier system on the bottom and sanded it all down. Just around the waterline, transom and from the bow stem back to the front of the cabin windshield was done in Interlux® Micron® CSC blue antifouling bottom paint.

“The rest of the running surface back to the bottom edge of the transom was done with Interlux VC® Offshore blue antifouling bottom paint. Four coats were applied and left to dry, then we wet sanded it out to 600 grit and burnished it to a slick shine.

“It’s real slick and smooth, I try to get the best efficiency I can between fuel and speed. On the non-running parts, I used Micron Extra SPC antifouling paint.”

Micron Extra SPC is a true self-polishing bottom paint that prevents fouling while the boat is not moving.

Not forgetting the added stand out feature;

“I wanted the Bertram V logo with the eagle on it, so I got a sign shop to make me a vinyl sign and I put it up behind the front windshield. I sprayed over it, let it sit, then pulled the sign off so now the emblem with the eagle is flushed in. People do a double take when they see it.”

And the attention to detail doesn’t stop on the outside. Step inside, and there are many areas that catch the eye.

“Everything is customized on the interior,” says Jim.

“Originally, the Bertram was all done in dark brown Formica and that really drew everything down. So I made custom cabinets, molded them in and applied Awlgrip Quick Build as the primer.”

The countertops and floor up on the deck are done in Aristo Blue but everything else is white, set off with chrome.

When it comes to the wood finishes, the look is “faux teak.”

The helm chair, the tow rail, any “wood” on the boat has been made from a composite and has been painted by Jim to look like real wood.

“All the wood look on the boat is done with the use of three Awlgrip brown colors, on top of a yellow Awlgrip base layer, and then clearcoated many times with Awlcraft 2000 clear.”

Now, after four years of work, Jim is happy to call the project complete and is taking time to enjoy ‘The Swagger’, an appropriate name for this boat and a play on Jim’s last name, Swagler.

He says: “My wife Kelly and I try to use it at least once a week. She works full time, so we try to take some time off on the boat where we can. We run it up to Cape May, New Jersey, somewhere like the Canyon Club which has nice facilities and it’s good for two or three nights there.

“When I stay in a marina, I always get the same thing. I could be at the backside of the boat fishing, catching rockfish, and next thing you know somebody walks up…

“‘Man, we’ve seen this from a distance’,” they’ll say. ‘We’ve had to come over here and look at this thing’. It’s like taking an old car to a car show!

“It’s usually older guys, who have grown up or fished on Bertrams but my wife is always encouraging me to talk to everyone who comes up – it might be 20 minutes or so they’ll want to talk to me but I like it, it’s fun.

“This is the boat I’ve always wanted. I’ve had other boats, but a 31… this is it.

For more information about the range of Interlux® products, click here and for Awlgrip, click here.

About AkzoNobel

Since 1792, we’ve been supplying the innovative paints and coatings that help to color people’s lives and protect what matters most. Our world class portfolio of brands – including Dulux, International, Sikkens and Interpon – is trusted by customers around the globe. We’re active in more than 150 countries and use our expertise to sustain and enhance the fabric of everyday life. Because we believe every surface is an opportunity. It’s what you’d expect from a pioneering and long-established paints company that’s dedicated to providing sustainable solutions and preserving the best of what we have today – while creating an even better tomorrow. Let’s paint the future together.


For 50 years, Awlgrip, a brand of AkzoNobel, has built a reputation for the highest quality finish and performance in yacht coatings, becoming the standard which all other coatings are measured against. Today, Awlgrip’s industry-leading products provide an endless range of colors and effects with incomparable depth of image, proven durability, and a first class technical team supporting applicators and boat owners worldwide. For professionals everywhere who demand outstanding quality, pioneering innovation, and technical expertise, Awlgrip offers the most comprehensive solution, delivering Passion Beyond Imagination.

International and Interlux

International® and Interlux®, a brand of AkzoNobel, stands as a global leader in high performance yacht coatings and has become synonymous as the premium coatings brand for above and below the waterline by boaters and professionals alike. For over a 140 years, the International and Interlux brand has created the most innovative coating solutions to protect, beautify and improve the performance of all types of pleasure craft worldwide. Scientific expertise is at the heart of our business; we dedicate more people, technology and investment to our research and development than any other yacht paint manufacturer in the world. Whether in the lab researching and developing new products or at sea putting our products to the test, we are in our element. Wherever there are boats, you can find International and Interlux products, providing Relentless performance for every boat, everywhere, every time.

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