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Thread: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

  1. #1

    Default Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    I have a 1962 barbour laker. I made the mistake of covering it this past winter with cheap blue tarp and after uncovering it, noticed a lot of varnish blistering. Still not sure the cover was at fault, but I am looking at some topgun, sunbrella or other suitable cover to make my own cover from. I'm not interested in going custom primarily due to cost. I've noticed the sunbrella and topgun material only span 62" width. Why is it so small? Are they not made for more than canopies? My boat requires 9' span of material to come down over the windshield on the sides, so not sure what my options are otherwise.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Taylor Made products makes a nice boat cover and they are pretty reasonable as well.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Sunbrella, sewn together with seams running athwartships, is the way to go. 62" wide is just how wide the rolls of cloth are--but they come in essentially unlimited lengths. Any time you work with big cloth stuff, whether it's sails, tents, or covers, you're going to have seams. No biggie.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    The cheap blue tarp was, in fact, at fault. It doesn't block out the rays that 'age' the varnish.

    Tom

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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    You can use a poly tarp , but put it on a ridge pole, so that it stays off the boat with ventilation running through.
    If you store the boat with an expensive sunbrella cover, you may still want a poly tarp to keep the sunbrella clean. I do.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    It depends on your local climate and where the boat is kept: on a mooring or in a slip, on a trailer, etc. It sounds like you need greater sun protection. In some areas, it's also smart to ventilate the cover in a way that allows airflow while not letting in the rain.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Can you define "cover"? Are you just tossing the tarp over the boat, supporting it on frames so it only touches the outside of the hull, or building a small shed that doesn't touch the boat at all? What is your location, and is the storage spot in full sun all day, mostly in shade, etc? All this stuff matters!

    I don't put tarps directly on anything nice, but instead use a portable plastic garage as a boat barn to cover a boat with varnished exterior.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    It depends on your local climate and where the boat is kept: on a mooring or in a slip, on a trailer, etc. It sounds like you need greater sun protection. In some areas, it's also smart to ventilate the cover in a way that allows airflow while not letting in the rain.
    Good question!!! Where and in what circumstances?

    The most suitable cover for a wooden boat is a shed (in my humble opinion anyway), keeping the elements off and allowing some ventilation.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Sorry, I live in maine. We just built a house, but no shed or 3rd bay garage for the boat (would have been nice). My father used to keep in in an old barn during the winters and depsite the dirt floors, the boat was fine from year-to-year. I basically need a cover to protect from the elements while tied up at the dock or parked at the house. The boat currently has two bowed pieces of wood that span the width in the back of the boat. The cover would lay over those and the rest of the boat and snapped along the edges with snap buttons. That's how it's set up with the blue tarp right now. As fas as I know, I'll need to use snap buttons again. So ideally, I'd like to have one cover that can be used during the season and for storage. thanks.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Blue tarps (and other color poly tarps) are worse covers than none at all. Poly traps do not breath, trap moisture, causing any ferrous metal to corrode (engine parts) and creating an ideal environment for wood rot. They will work if you can "tent it" like wizbang 13 sez, but allow plenty of airspace - 6" minimum - over any part of boat. The 14" Richard Woods design catamaran I built for my Daughter sleeps under a 10' x 20' canopy one can buy fairy cheap at box stores.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    You would be better of with Sunbrella than Top Gun for a snap-down cover. Top Gun is good stuff, but pretty heavily coated and doesn't breathe anywhere near as well as Sunbrella. In your application breathability is going to be at least as important as waterproofness. Sunbrella will soften dramatically with age, so you want something sturdy and finely woven to back up the snaps reinforcing those spots. I usually use strips of Dacron sailcloth sewn along those edges on the inside to keep the snaps from eventually pulling out.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    What Todd said. I've made, and remade, my share of covers, but for a smaller boat you'd be well advised to have a competent canvas-maker do the job for you. Sunbrella can be bought retail, of course, but that's only the beginning. Do you have a proper sewing machine? You will need one that 1) is strong enough to sew through maybe four layers of the fabrics you'll be using (including heavy Dacron sailcloth for reinforcing and chaff protection, as Todd described.) and 2) has a long enough arm to fit the material on the inside edge of the seams when sewing. In my experience, one can muddle through with a Reed's Sailmaker sewing machine, or one of the smaller Asian knock-offs now sold by Sailrite, but even those are going to set you back a few hundred bucks. The purchase price of a true industrial machine can't be justified unless you are a professional. Moreover, you will have to acquire the skill to maintain and repair your sewing machine. (They are tedious mechanisms which do not respond well to pushing the limits of their design parameters!) You will also have to invest in the proper pliers or press to install your fasteners. Some are proprietary and the tools don't come cheap. For others you may be able to find modified "Vise-grip" pliers that will press the snap fasteners on, although I've found those limited by their jaw depth when trying to place a snap anywhere other than right on an edge.

    In short, it will probably cost you as much for the material and specialized tools as it would to have a nice, and perfectly fitted, cover made up by your local canvas shop.

    There will be those who will chime in that they've made just about everything on their wife's Singer. Unless it was one of the old turn of the century cast iron treadle machines, don't you believe it.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Until (or unless) you decide to go with expensive boat covers, for sun protection silver tarps work much better than blue tarps. You still need to make sure you have proper ventilation, though. A functional frame can be easily made from plastic pipe and fittings available at any big box store.

    Kaa

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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    ...depsite the dirt floors
    FYI, The dirt floor is a good thing, it helps retain the moisture level in the air so the wood is less likely to dry excessively over the winter.
    -Dave

  15. #15

    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaa View Post
    Until (or unless) you decide to go with expensive boat covers, for sun protection silver tarps work much better than blue tarps. You still need to make sure you have proper ventilation, though. A functional frame can be easily made from plastic pipe and fittings available at any big box store.

    Kaa
    Funny you mention the silver tarp. I was being general when i said blue tarp but the color is actually silver on the outside and black on the inside. Im sure the black isnt helping. Its probably too late to get a custom cover in any timey fashion (my fault) and i feel this needs to be addressed asap. My dad actually had made his own cover that lasted 10yrs but i dont know what the material was. It was a rather rubbery somewhat heavy material that he cut with a pair os scissors. He was not one to spend a lot of money on things yet the cover lasted for a long time. Maybe just get one of the taylor covers and hope it fits?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    I contacted taylor and they dont have a semi custom cover that will fit the boat. Called a local boat cover fabricator and they want $1300 for a custom made from sunbrella. Does this sound reasonable for a 17'?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    No. I had a beautiful sunbrella cover made for an 18' boat. The cover was well detailed and fit the boat perfectly. Reinforcements and chafe guards wherever needed, multiple tie-downs, vents, the whole works. A local canvas guy made it -- I left the boat at his place so he could measure and fit it properly. Total cost, $800.
    -Dave

  18. #18

    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    I put the boat in our garage and noticed many of the blisters have gone away although the big ones are ugly wrinkles that will have to be removed and re-varnished.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Canvas makers

    Can anybody recommend good canvas makers for wooden boats? I am in southern New Hampshire.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    I've had good luck with Sailor's Tailor. My buddy knows them and says they make bean bag chairs and that covers are a side line so sometimes they can be a little slow. They aren't cheap, they use good quality materials like sunbrella. One place where you never want to go cheap is the thread, it gets eaten by the sun first.

    I bought some "sunbrella" from eBay and used it to cover a mast. While the fabric has held up OK the color hasn't. There is a reason why sunbrella costs more.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    A lot of good canvas shops will now offer Gore Tenara (Teflon) thread as either their standard thread for sewing covers, or as an option that you can purchase. An industrial spool of it retails for around $125 or better, so the option isn't cheap, even though your cover will only use a small amount from one of those spools. It is basically UV-proof. If you live in a sunny place or plan to leave the covered boat outside it is probably worth the extra cost if you are buying a custom cover from premium fabric. Sunbrella, when properly cared for, will outlast the typical polyester thread by a factor of two to three times, and having all the seams on a cover resewn is likely to cost more than using the Tenara thread in the first place.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    A lot of good canvas shops will now offer Gore Tenara (Teflon) thread as either their standard thread for sewing covers, or as an option that you can purchase. An industrial spool of it retails for around $125 or better, so the option isn't cheap, even though your cover will only use a small amount from one of those spools. It is basically UV-proof. If you live in a sunny place or plan to leave the covered boat outside it is probably worth the extra cost if you are buying a custom cover from premium fabric. Sunbrella, when properly cared for, will outlast the typical polyester thread by a factor of two to three times, and having all the seams on a cover resewn is likely to cost more than using the Tenara thread in the first place.
    Todd,

    if I can impose on your expertise a bit (sorry for the thread drift):

    What thread and needle size would you suggest for a 1.1 oz silnylon boat tent for sleeping aboard (not a boat cover) that will only be exposed to sun (45 N latitude-ish) maybe 1-2 months per year at most (often less)?

    Thanks for any thoughts,

    Tom
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    V46 is plenty strong enough (the best is Dabond polyester). For spinnakers my needle size was usually a #16 (100 metric). They can also be sewn with V69 thread and a #18 (110) needle, though I don't think it makes a stronger seam as the tear strength of the fabric is the restricting factor, not the thread. On balloons, we were required to do a 5/8" wide, french-feld seam with two lines of straight stitches near the edges. On spinnakers the seams were always just a simple 1/2" wide overlap basted with double-sided seam tape and originally sewn with two narrow lines of a small zig-zag. I later switched to an old Pfaff home machine that would do a three-step zig-zag (each zig or zag made from three straight stitches) and the taped seams would get one line of wide 3-step, right down the middle. They were just as strong, since the cloth tear strength is still the weakest link and the seam tape is by far the biggest contributing factor to the strength of any of these seam types. I even had a nylon drifter I made for our trimaran which used 3M Super Seam Tape on most of the seams, with no stitching. Once a taped seam has had a few days of "dwell time" for the seam to cure, trying to pull it apart will destroy the cloth in that area, so stitching just becomes a back-up system.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Being pretty handy at making and fabricating things, I'm going to attempt to make a boat cover for my 13'00" Peapod. Previously, when I asked about boat covers, someone on the Forum suggested Shelter-Rite Fabric from Sailrite. Instead of sewing it together, you use vinyl cement. I bought the Shelter-Rite fabric, vinyl adhesive, fabric tape and 5 yds. of Dura-Skrim Patterning Material. After I make the cover, if I think it would be better if it was sewn, I can take it to a friend who has a Sailrite sewing machine and have her stitch it.

    Shelter-Rite® is a tough, waterproof, vinyl-coated polyester fabric with a matte finish on the outer side. This fabric is designed for high performance and flexibility; use for tough applications where high tear strength, high tensile strength, high adhesion and exceptional weather resistance are main applications. With a high abrasion and tear resistance, Shelter-Rite is perfect for chafe protection — protecting and reinforcing worn or stressed areas. Use Shelter-Rite for heavy-duty protective marine tarps, RV skirts and RV tarps.
    Use with the matte side (smooth surface with dull, flat finish) facing out.
    Pro Tip: For quick construction, use HH-66 Vinyl Cement to permanently bond Shelter-Rite fabric together. HH-66 Vinyl Cement dries in minutes and remains flexible. Sew for a neater looking finished product.
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Be aware that breathability is just as important for boat covers as water protection (especially for wooden boats). Vinyl-coated fabrics have virtually no breathability at all, so they are going to rely on some means of ventilation (openings, solar vents, tiny screened vent windows with hoods sewn over them to keep rain out, etc.). Without decent ventilation you are likely to open it up some day and find your paint and varnish peeling and anything inside mildewed. A cover can certainly be made from coated cloth, but it generally takes some thought and engineering to end up with a good one.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    V46 is plenty strong enough (the best is Dabond polyester). For spinnakers my needle size was usually a #16 (100 metric). They can also be sewn with V69 thread and a #18 (110) needle, though I don't think it makes a stronger seam as the tear strength of the fabric is the restricting factor, not the thread. On balloons, we were required to do a 5/8" wide, french-feld seam with two lines of straight stitches near the edges. On spinnakers the seams were always just a simple 1/2" wide overlap basted with double-sided seam tape and originally sewn with two narrow lines of a small zig-zag. I later switched to an old Pfaff home machine that would do a three-step zig-zag (each zig or zag made from three straight stitches) and the taped seams would get one line of wide 3-step, right down the middle. They were just as strong, since the cloth tear strength is still the weakest link and the seam tape is by far the biggest contributing factor to the strength of any of these seam types. I even had a nylon drifter I made for our trimaran which used 3M Super Seam Tape on most of the seams, with no stitching. Once a taped seam has had a few days of "dwell time" for the seam to cure, trying to pull it apart will destroy the cloth in that area, so stitching just becomes a back-up system.
    Hi Todd,
    At the risk of a bit more thread drift, but it is related... I’m experimenting with stitching heavy canvas at the moment (semi flat fell seams and am using Dabond V69 bonded polyester thread (apparently uv stable), but I am using a 90 needle with some success and the thread slides through the needle easily. Would it be advisable to move to a larger needle for better seams? I’m also wondering if I should be using a slightly thicker thread if my machines, an Anker RZ and a Necchi BU Nova will cope with the thicker thread. I would really welcome your thoughts re this!
    Cheers,
    Adrian

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Normally a 110 needle is suggested for V69,but if it sews well with your 90 there is probably no reason to switch. Possible problems would be uneven stitches and stitch tension or the eye of the needle tending to cut the thread. If that's not happening, I'd keep doing what you're doing. V-92 thread is heavier and stronger if your machine can handle it. Thicker thread also resists UV longer, simply because there is more diameter to rot away before a problem happens. It does, however give you substantially less thread on a bobbin, which can get annoying on some smaller machines.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Thanks Todd, time for a bit more experimenting methinks.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Totally agree! I've been tinkering with my cover for the past couple of Maine winters after having a disastrous experience with shrink wrap. Silver tarp stretched over 1" PVC conduit ribs supported by several 2x4" posts and topped with a 2" PVC pipe spine. Allow the conduit enough length to pass over the sides so as to allow plenty of ventilation. Place rubber stool tips over the ends to reduce friction against the tarp. But I'm still tinkering. The 2" PVC pipe spine had to be pieced together and during a couple of heavy winds they came apart, creating a fun moment of removing huge cakes of ice from the resulting depressions. Next year, I'll use 1x3" wood. Point is: ventilation!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the Stimson bow-roof shed yet: https://www.by-the-sea.com/stimsonmarine/bowroof.html Plans are just $20 and for a few hundred bucks in cheap lumber and white greenhouse plastic you could do one about 12' x 24' open at one end and closed except for a vent at the other end. Do it right and it will even stand up to Maine snow.
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Most suitable cover for wooden boat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemsteraak View Post
    I've had good luck with Sailor's Tailor..
    Plus one on this. I bought a mooring cover from them last year for my little fiberglass sail boat. They have patterns and fitted covers on the shelf for a lot of common and not so common boats. Bob spent a lot of time on the phone with me to add snaps to match the existing locations on my hull. The cover looks and fits great. It was a lot more expensive than a poly tarp but way less than I was quoted for a locally made custom cover here in Mass.

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