Anyone boating on the Finger Lakes region of New York this weekend may have gotten a glimpse of Mike Cullen and his family taking their freshly updated Formula Boats 312 FAS3Tech sportboat for a cruise on the lakes they spend a majority of their time on during the boating season. And if those people happened to look closely, they probably saw huge smiles on their faces, too.
New York’s Mike and Melanie Cullen are thrilled with how their 1999 Formula Boats 312 FAS3Tech turned out thanks to Chad Shutter and the team at Boat Repairs Plus & BRP Marine Custom in North Carolina. Photos courtesy Chad Shutter and Mike Cullen
Boasting a stylish new paintjob courtesy of Chad Shutter and company Boat Repairs Plus & BRP Marine Custom in Denver, N.C., the Formula, which has refreshed fuel-injected 502-cubic-inch engines that were installed in 2019, came out perfect, according to Cullen, who grew up in the area and enjoys boating with his wife, Melanie, 24-year-old daughter, Sydney—who recently purchased her first boat, a 26-foot Sonic—and 14-year-old son, Parker.
“We love it—we couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out,” Cullen said. “It looks like a brand new boat; it’s pretty amazing. Everyone who has seen the boat so far has been impressed.”
Cullen, who owns Rock Shore Marine in King Ferry, N.Y., said he purchased the 31-foot Formula a couple of years ago with the plan on customizing it in stages.
“The Formula had stock 454s and was in pretty good shape for an almost-20-year-old boat when we got it,” Shutter said. “We had serviced the boat in the past so we knew some of its history. When Mike first got it, all we did was clean it up and he took it up to New York and ran it around that first year. Last year, he brought it back down here and we put some stock 502s in it, updated the dash and added some K-Planes to it. He knew he didn’t like the original graphics so we went ahead and painted the dash in the color scheme that he and Melanie told me they liked even though we hadn’t determined the look of the new graphics.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images of the freshly painted Formula 312 FAS3Tech sportboat.
Cullen, who owned a Baja Marine 24 Outlaw before purchasing the Formula, said Shutter was instrumental in finding the Formula for him.
“I told him I wanted a FASTech—either a 292 or a 353—and he found a 312 that was in great shape for a 1999 model,” Cullen said. “We boated with it for a season then upgraded to 502s last year. At the same time, Chad updated the dash. He installed new Livorsi Marine gauges and trim indicators and added a Simrad GO 9 GPS display. He also swapped out the factory switches for push-button ones and he painted the dash in the colors we were planning to use for the new graphics.
“When the time came this year to go ahead and overhaul the exterior of the boat, we told Chad he could have some fun with it,” he continued. “He did some fiberglass repair work to the boat where it was needed and he removed the navigation light on the bow and replaced it with the recessed snake-eye LED lights below the rubrail. He also got rid of the old cleats and installed pop-up ones.”
At the same time, Shutter removed the original ladder that was recessed in the swim step.
“The door for the ladder rattled and the ladder itself didn’t stay in place well so we removed it, filled it with fiberglass and smoothed it all out,” Shutter said. “In its place, we installed a hidden Garelick telescoping dive ladder underneath the platform, which we covered in new SeaDek that has the boat’s custom-designed Formula 312 logo in it. We also added accent lights underneath the swim platform.”
For Cullen, the project was especially enjoyable because he was able to work closely with the son of his longtime family friends, Bob and Bonnie Shutter.
“I started working with Bob, Chad’s dad, in 1989 and worked with him until he moved to North Carolina,” Cullen said. “When Bob left, I started Rock Shore Marine. We handle service, repair, winterization, shrink wrap and indoor/outdoor storage for runabouts and other boats in and around the Finger Lakes.
“We pretty much let Chad run with the design—he did such a good job making everything flow,” he added. “It was his idea to do the Formula lettering in green on the sides, and while I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out, I’m really happy we did the green now that it’s done and I’ve seen it in person. The time Chad and his guys put into the taping and the prep work to apply the graphics was incredible. We all love the 312 logo that he did on the deck. The whole boat looks much classier now.”
The slideshow above includes several images of the boat before and during the project.
Shutter said Cullen’s project was definitely one he’ll never forget.
“This was a cool project for us,” Shutter said. “Working on a boat for a close family friend is always a different experience as there seems to be so much more tied to it. For example, Mike was here in the booth with us as we cleared it. The project was even more special though as it marked the first time over the years that I got to have my dad shoot clear with me.
“I consider myself lucky to be able to have worked with and learned from someone like my dad, who has so many talents and skills, and to expand upon these skills into what we are doing today,” he continued. “It really was a cool experience to paint with him after, as a kid, watching him as a ‘backyard painter’ on some of our own family builds. I also have to thank Eric Anderson and the rest of my BRP team for the help during this project. None of this would be possible without their assistance.”
As for the rest of the season, Cullen said he was planning to attend the Lake Cumberland Poker Run in early September, and is probably still going to go to the lake even though the run hosted by State Dock Marina in Jamestown, Ky., was cancelled last week. Until then, his family is likely to be out on the boat on one of the Finger Lakes most weekends depending on what is going on.
The experienced boater admitted that the new paintjob is going to take some time to get used to.
“I’ve been boating for 40 years, but any time you put that amount of time and effort into a paintjob, you’re certainly going to be nervous the first time you pull up to the docks,” he said with a laugh.