Anyone who has had a vehicle for any stretch of time knows that the outdoors can be very unfriendly to paint. Water, salt and sun all come together to put a time limit on your shiny clear coat, making paint dull and without luster as time goes by. Surprisingly, salt and water are not terribly destructive to your paint job, at least while it is still intact.

Sun is the most destructive culprit by far when it comes to ruining the paint on your vehicle. Today’s paints are really just very tough layers of plastic that are impervious to materials as corrosive as sulfuric acid; let alone a little salt. So, it’s not the salt, or the water, but the sun that can make your car look 10 years older. Sunlight has enough energy to literally break down the chemical bonds that exist within your paint. Over time, it will effectively ‘eat’ through the numerous layers, eventually getting to the metal.

Once the metal is exposed, that is when salt and water take over, oxidizing it until it rusts. In other words, if you protect your vehicle’s paint from the sun, it should be able to handle pretty much anything else mother nature throws at it. A great way to protect your vehicle? Cover it up! Relatively cheap covers are nothing compared to a new paint job, and will last several years. Further, most aftermarket paint jobs kind of suck. They never get all the little nooks and crannies, and I’ve always been able to find some bits of long-forgotten color when I open the doors and look in the jambs, for example. I’m not bitter.

A car/boat/PWC/RV cover will save your paint from fading, and keep it doing its job, which is to protect the metal from oxidization, or rusting. So protect the paint which protects the vehicle and you will have much less to worry about in the long run.

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Most states require that children wear personal flotation devices (PFD’s) on boats that are smaller than 21′ long. Should all passengers wear PFD’s, regardless of age? Statistics indicate that most drownings happen to adult men over the age of 36, while drownings for children are comparably much lower, presumably because they are required by law to wear live vests and thus have a much higher wear-rate. Washington State recently required that all boaters complete a boating safety course before going on the water. They even have to carry a card that attests to their completion of such a course. Are efforts like these necessary to reduce boating fatalities, or are governments taking this too far when it comes to regulating boating?

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Rumors in the cover biz indicate that certain manufacturers are developing products with an emphasis on environmentally-friendly materials. These efforts revolve around eliminating the use of environmentally-harmful materials like PVC (polyvinyl chloride, like the pipes) and reducing waste in the manufacturing process. Getting rid of PVC is the big one here, as it can be pretty nasty, especially in the manufacturing stage. More news when its available.

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Hurricane season means different things to many people.  It’s prime time for weathermen.  It means overtime for emergency services.  Al Roker gets slammed to the ground by 100 mph winds.  And, of course, it also means destruction for thousands of people.  Unfortunately for boaters, boats and their covers are not immune.  I have talked to many people who have lost their covers when a hurricane struck, and surprisingly, most were just using a storage cover, i.e. one without straps.  Some even weighted it down with stones or concrete blocks.  This is not the best way to hold on to your cover in a hurricane. 

Those of you living in hurricane-prone areas should have a trailerable boat cover with at least four straps for this time of year.  These covers are designed to stand up to highway winds, and while there’s no guarantee that the cover will hold up in hurricane-force winds, at least you have a fighting chance.  Keep your storage cover for easy access to the boat, but keep a trailerable cover in reserve for use when high winds are expected. 

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The EPA has announced regulations that will require all boaters (including those on the water exclusively for recreation) to purchase a permit to operate. This permit is primarily designed to stop large ships from discharging ballast water into lakes and rivers, but has caught all boat types in the net. This means you may be paying several hundred dollars by Labor Day to continue boating legally. Wonder how this affects the boat cover market…

New York Senator Chuck Schumer thinks the new rules are dumb and is fighting them with his own bill, that will exempt small boats from the new rules. Let’s hope he wins.

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We’re right in the thick of boating season, and I’m getting a lot of calls about boat covers. I will address some of the more common questions below.

1. Make sure you know what you’re using it for. Believe it or not, there are covers for different purposes. If you want to trailer it, you’ll need one that is rated for high speeds, with very secure ties. If you want to cover a boat while it’s in the water, be careful, as most covers have roping that is designed to go underneath the hull while the boat is on the trailer.

2. Choose substance over style. Most good covers are boring to look at. Colorful and bright prints have several disadvantages, the main ones being their susceptibility to fading (everything fades, but you can tell a lot more with bright colors) and dye bleeding, where the color from the cover will actually ‘rub off’ on your upholstery. Yikes. Choosing a light grey, or, to a lesser extent, a light blue, is a good way to avoid these issues.

3. Understand that most covers are designed to wrap around the top of the hull, only. Most will not cover your diving platform or motor.

4. Most covers are not completely waterproof. They will ‘resist’ water passing through them, but with enough volume, they will let moisture in. If you’re going to leave your boat outside all winter, you should put a tarp over the cover, as well.

5. Materials matter. Old covers were made out of regular cotton canvas, also know as “duck.” New covers attempt to mimic the feel of cotton, but are made out of synthetics like polyester and coated with a layer of acrylic or plastic to increase weather-resistance. These newer materials last much longer and resist mold and mildew.

6. Don’t let water pool on top of the cover. It will only be a matter of time before it seeps through. Use a support pole to keep the middle of the cover higher than the edges for proper drainage.

7. Know the terms. Covers are differentiated by their materials, but also by the thickness of the weave used to make them. This term, called denier, (den-yer) reflects the thickness of the threads that go into the loom, and affects how durable and thick the fabric is. The higher the denier, the more durable the fabric, but be careful: manufacturers can call something 600 denier (600D) even if they use 300 denier (300D) for half of the weave. I would call the store to find out for sure if it’s pure 600D.

8. Open bow or closed? Make sure you find out if the cover will accomodate both kinds of boat.

9. Have a pontoon boat? Most covers for these boats are especially difficult to put on while in the water. Most side ropes are designed to go under the pontoons, so if you need this on in the water, make sure you have places to attach the cover to on the side of the boat.

10. Finally, if you don’t have a cover, you should strongly consider one, even if the boat is housed in a covered space. Covers reduce moisture exposure when properly vented and can help keep out unwelcome visitors like insects and rodents.

Hope this was helpful.


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So, the internet is a weird place.  Check it out:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=326949&id=8103318119

What if your mother could see you, Target?

Here we see a photo of some young Target worker putting a Hookah together so he can presumably smoke some sheesha, which is tobacco mixed with fruit.    It’s on Target’s facebook page.  I get it.  Target is cool and hip. 

But, isn’t this similar on some level to putting a picture of yourself on Facebook playing wizards?  As a level 15?  Wizards does not involve hit points, but beer, if you’re unfamiliar.  Look it up. 

Okay, so the hookah isn’t that bad, and most people on Facebook are young and will get it.  But isn’t that what you said about the Sarah Silverman quote you threw in your bio?  I don’t think they’re laughing, Steven. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Target is a great store, and I think it’s smart that they’re leveraging their employees to push their brand with young people.  But I think it’s weird that the new ways of the internet have compelled a huge company to have a picture of a guy smoking out of a water pipe on a website that is affiliated with them.


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