Mounting a Boat Grill

So at this point, I’ve decided the only sane place for us, with our boat, would be a swim platform mount, which would let us both grill standing at the slip, as well as when out on the water, and went with a Magma Catalina 2 infra-red grill  although I’m still undecided in general on the infra-red grill hype at the moment.  Let’s get it mounted!

What’s Needed

Not a whole lot, but you’ll need a mounting kit, which is effectively a base and screw-in pedestal.  The Magma part number is A10-185.  

Both the grill and the mount kit have a set of nuts and castle bolts to attach the top grill mount to, although the grill mount included star lockwashers, which I used as I didn’t happen to have any Loc-Tite (blue) handy when I was bolting the top of the grill mount to the grill.

Mounting the grill mount base to the swim platform is another story, however, as Magma gives you absolutely nothing here.. this does make some sense, as different boats may have very different swim platform construction, thickness, etc. 

I know some people have simply used some lag or self-threading screws, which I suppose might work in some cases, but this generally seems like a bad idea to me, unless screwing into a truly solid object - while it seems many (all?) swim platforms are skins with cores or voids, just like many boat hulls. Meanwhile, you’re adding a long-ish lever (moment arm) (~28” to the bottom of the grill, plus the height of the grill) and adding a grill weight somewhere between 20-40lbs depending on the grill and food being cooked, which can all add up to a fairly sizeable moment, or force being applied to the mounting mechanism and/or swim platform skin, depending on the mounting, even when simply using the grill docked.

Short version -  I don’t like the idea of using self-tapping screws for this, as the length of the grill mount pole and weight of the grill make me nervous for this type of application.

In an ideal world, you might make a backing plate of sealed plywood or aluminum, use through-bolts, with both large fender washers and locking washers, locking nuts and/or Loc-Tite. This is much more easily done with the boat out of the our case, with the boat backed into the slip, this wasn’t terribly feasible (it is NOT a great idea to jump into the water between your boat and the dock, sorry - both movement of the boat as well as possible stray dock water current - a real thing..).


Tools Needed

  • cordless drill (preferred)

  • drill bit set, although you really only need 1 small bit for pilot + 1 the same size to just slightly larger than the screw diameter being used.

  • ratchet and 7/16” socket and combo wrench

  • Fine-tipped Sharpie marker - note - if you buy via this link, check the pricing for different quantites - buy the prime version/qty - should not be more than ~$7 for a set of four!

Make sure to sanity check with your own swim platform best you can as to thickness, or buy screws in a few lengths.

You can use whatever drill you have on hand - growing up with my father being a carpetenter, then building houses myself and dong remodeling work to put myself through school - I have a fondness for Makita tools as one of the few brands that hasn’t sold out and still makes quality tools, but if you have a drill, don’t buy a new one - it’s not difficult drilling into/through fiberglass. 

The fast-cure 5200 is to seal the holes you make and line the entire hole though the platform, while the clear sealant (could also do silicone) is to top off the screw heads once installed to seal the tops to the plate.


Do a ‘dry run’ first.  To check positioning,  I put the pole into the the grill base plate, and positioned it on the platform in the general area I was thinking, in this case the starboard side of the swim platform, close enough to the edges so I could both cook from the pier, as well as being able to cook from the boat when out.

A few things to note before installing

  1. The grill mount has a hole in it, which locks into the mount’s pole. This means if for example, you want the grill to open to the rear to grill in-slip from the pier, but want to rotate the grill 90* so when out on the boat, you can grill standing on the swim platform, the mount ‘lock’ won’t be engaged in one of those two positions. The easy solution is just mark then drill another hole in the mount 90* off from the existing hole, then both positions will lock in place.

  2. Consider your boat’s layout and grilling position. For us, we’ll have the camper canvas in place almost always, so while it might seem like a neat idea to try to also grill from inside the aft portion of the boat, this just isn’t something we’re likley to do with canvas in place, so I chose to move the grill mount further rearward, while also making sure to allow enough room to rotate the grill 90* so I can grill easily from standing on the swim platform as well. I’m still expecting to remove the camper after curtain when doing this, but make sure the grill has enough room positionionally for how you plan to grill, as well as considering where you will be standing when doing the grilling.

  3. It’s helpful to have a second pair of hands when finalizing the mount base final location for drilling the holes. If this isn’t possible, you could measure the grill’s dimensions and cut out a piece of cardboard to match, find the center point of your cardboard ‘grill’ and stick it on top of the mount pole to help sanity check the mount positioning.

  4. Do yourself a favor and check ALL areas underneath the platform where you plan on mounting the base plate before you drill. Some platforms have molded or bothed in additional supports, and it’s unlikely you’ll be drilling all the way through these, so you may need to shift your plate position a bit accordingly, or decide if willing to skip a few through bolts/screws on the base mount.

    • With the boat in the water at the slip, the best I was able to do sanely was to feel around by hand, but as it was I did miss the innermost section where there was a platform support, so yeah - I wasn’t able to use all 6 screws in this case, either. :(  I did get 5 of 6 screws, and this should be sufficient - another option would be to mark the plate screw hole positions when out in the water, and possibly even drill them there, but do NOT put the grill on the pedestal for positioning if you try this - far too easy to drop the grill in the water and she’s gone!  Best is doing it out of the water if possible.

  5. Be careful moving the base plate around - there is a ‘foot lock’ plastic piece with the ‘button’ sticking through the plate.  It doesn’t fall out just picking up the plate, but it can come out.

GrillMountBasePlate med

Once I had the plate in the right general place, I had my wife hold it in place, and put the grill in place temporarily as a sanity check. Considering this isn’t bolted down, you might want to just use a ruler or cardboard - I held it in place over the mount while we fine-tuned the mount placement, then put it aide and just measured for the ‘rotated position’ sanity check. At this point, the plate positioning was final, so while holding the plate down to the platform firmly, use a Sharpie or something similar to mark all of your holes through the grill mount base plate.

Drilling the holes - my boat’s swim platform is fiberglass/gelcoated. There may be better ways to do this that I’m unaware of, but I used a small bit to do a pilot hole first into the topside layer, then went to the right bit size for the final holes going all the way through. Letting the bit do the work and not applying downward pressure does a much better job of not chipping the fiberglass as you drill.

This is of course, where I both realized that I had both mis-calculated a bit and missed locating one of the swim platform supports, so skipped that location and filled it back in with 5200..

Once the holes were drilled, I squeezed a bit of fast-cure 5200 through each hole for good measure, as my swim platform is skinned, then started with one of the ‘easier’ ones to get done, meaning in this case, one of the ones to the aft or outside. As I was using nylon-lined locking nuts, the first goal was simply getting the screw through the top, a fender washer on the bottom, and the locknut threaded on cleanly until it started resisting, then move on to the next one until they’re all started.

Again, doing this out of the water is much easier, but sometimes you just have to get it done. In this case, this meant laying down on the swim platform, blindly getting a racthet with short 3” extension on the bottom, and having a phillips screwdriver topside to stop the screws from rotating, and trying to not lose the ratchet in the water. Some contortions were involved, but got it done. Expect no matter how much ‘just right’ amounts of 5200 you squeezed into the holes, your wife will let you know there was too much, so you both wind up with it on your hands in the process… ;) I had intended to use a box wrench on the bottom of the platform to simply hold the nut in place, and my Makita cordless to spin the screw from the topside, or at least as much was possible to the finish up with a few ratchet turns, but managed to leave my wrench roll at home, while the boat’s onboard toolkit is still developing over time - so I didn’t have the right wrench available. Regardless, we got it done, and the grill mounted up fine and securely.

I plan on adding some clear silicon sealant to the top of the screws when I get a chance to and remember - might not be needed, but water has this funny way of following whatever it’s in contact with, and while I’m not expecting huge amounts of water to follow the screwheads downwards (where the holes do have 5200 in them), it’ll take a few minutes at best to just close the screwheads off entirely.

Some General Amusement in Getting Grill Parts

When I had finally gotten confirmation on the slip being ours at last, and reached out to our boat broker and mechanic to do the final readiness work on the boat and to sort delivery, I had wondered how the boat business was going in light of the COVID situation. Apparently, my broker and mechanic were crazy busy, as it seems like anyone who had ever thought about buying a boat, during the course of COVID, started to go ahead and buy a boat to get the heck out of the house. In hindsight, this makes some sense, although I have to wonder if it means there’s going to be a glut of used boats on the market in a few years…

What they also seemed to be buying was - every marine grill and grill related part in existence…. to the point that Magma had national backorders for nearly everything. I had decided I wanted the Catalina 2 Infrared model, but it was impossible to find. I had wound up buying the non-infrared model as someone had it in stock but slow shipping, then backed out deciding I’d just wait for the infrared version, which had been slated for the end of July (it was now mid-June). The grill utensils were on national back-order until like August. No one had any stock anywhere I could find, and I looked, and looked, and looked.

I wound up lucking out on the grill, as I got a ship notice much sooner than original anticipated. The grill brushes and even cookware weren’t the end of the world, as we could always just borrow some stuff from home for the time being. What could not be found, anywhere? A grill mount!

This was to put it mildly, seemingly insane. Magma, who has a near monopoly on marine grills, somehow wasn’t able to keep a pair of simple plates, an aluminum pole, and a few nuts, bolts and washer in production?!? I looked - everywhere. I finally had found a single seller on eBay, claiming to have one in stock. Yeah, with shipping it was a bit on the high side, but at this point, it looked like I’d wind up with everything I needed to grill except a way to actually mount, and USE the grill, so I went with it.

The next day I received an email from the seller about how COVID was impacting their shipping. Ok, not that big of a deal, but this was ‘BoatID,’ who is apparently part of CarID, a fairly large online performance auto parts company…so I also figured it would make it out in a reasonble-ish amount of time.

A week passed, then more with no word. The grill was about to show up with no way to mount it. The cookware was in, and the grill utensils were even about to ship. I started scouring even the crappy marine places that are always way overpriced (hi, West Marine!). I finally found one place, Fisheries Supply in WA state (oppostie coast) that claimed to have them in stock, so called them to confirm if they actually did, or were just pretending. They were a real store, I got someone that seemed to actually know what they were talking about, they confirmed they had 3 in stock, and said it would ship within a day. I paid a few extra $ for expedited shipping as this was going coast to coast, and waited.

Literally, within an hour of placing the order from FIsheries Supply, I got an email from BoatID saying basically - oops, we don’t have it in stock at all, and our ‘supplier’ says it’s’temporarily unavaialble.’ It apparently took them a week, when an IN STOCK item was ordered from them on eBay (other eBay vendors seemed to be capable of noting they were in fact, NOT in stock), for them to realize they lied (not in stock) AND to figure out they don’t have any clue when they’d get any. Yeah, I don’t inherently have huge issues with companies that have items drop-shipped, although I do have a huge problem with those claiming ‘in stock’ that have no idea whatsoever when their supplier or drop-shipper might actually have the item to ship out. I’m pretty sure we can say - I think I’m done with both BoatID and CarID, at the very least for anything I’d like any time soon.

Fisheries did me right, though - I got a shipping notice the next day, and the mount to complete the whole ‘cooking on a boat’ set of puzzle pieces, got delivered and installed.

The crowning amusement here might well be - once it was mounted, I grabbed a propane bottle, put the regulator on, inserted into grill, turned the gas on, and went to light it, and - nothing. Grabbed a second (also new) bottle of propane, repeated, and - nothing. Hmm. I could hear the ignitor clicking, but also adjusted the rod distance. Still nothing. Tried using a grill/candle lighter, and - nothing. Walked over to someone else with the same grill with the bottle and regulator and asked if they could check it. Instead he came over, we put it back on, and it lit. WTF? Finally sorted, although still odd - even Magma says to put the grill on full gas for lighting, but when you do that - it just doesn’t light.

Even once lit, going to even half gas actually cut the gas and put out the grill flame. Playing around with the grill a bit to figure out if I now needed to return the regulator, while also noting one of the grill grates had a bend in it…there must have been some crud in the regulator, as going up and down the gas range eventually got it to stop cutting the flame when going towards max gas. Weird, but hey, we finally have a working grill, so I’m good with it.