Top 10 Boat Cover Tips

June 9, 2008

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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