Tech Wiki

Winter Cover POV

Ron Hill, Apache

Probably the best investment you can make to add longevity to your boat's appearance, and to prevent cracking/leaking is to purchase a full-length custom-made cover. I had mine made out of 2 pieces that zip together abeam the mast and extend just below the rub rail so it can be put on when the boat is on land or in the water. The fellow that made mine used a material called Odyssey, which is some kind of VERY resilient polyester made in Missouri. I've used it for 8 winters so far and it is going on its 9th with no visible wear.

There are a number of features that I had made into this cover:

  • There are Naugahyde reinforcement pads sewn in where the cover crosses each stanchion top/possible rub spot. There are internal tie downs at each stanchion.
  • There is a heavy web belt sewn into the full-length top center aft portion with tie downs that go around the boom. The forward piece can either be held up by a 2x4-frame mast to bow or there are two reinforced eyes (on a full-length web strip) that can be held up by the jib and spinnaker halyards.
  • Every joint where a zipper joins there is a sewn in tie to ensure that any strain is placed on the tie and not the zipper.
  • I had a zipper placed in the stern for on land boarding up a stepladder in the winter.

I cover each stanchion top with a piece of carpet, bow/stern pulpits and lifelines with tubular insulation. All of this is done to protect against chafing to the cover. Besides the tie downs on the inside at each stanchion, there are tie downs from the aft section around the boom so it can not shift. When I use the 2x4-frame mast to bow, there are tie downs also to go around that frame to keep that section from shifting. I weight the outside down with half gallon plastic milk bottles filled with a solution of old antifreeze and water. These are hung from the very outside of the cover on loops sewn to a web strip that reinforces the bottom of the cover. I elected not to go below the waterline because I wanted to be able to put it on if I left the boat in the water, but more important I didn't want a longer cover and lines that could chafe the side of the gelcoat hull in high winds.

We've all read about the freeze/thaw/freeze cycle and how important it is to protect the boat from that. A couple of other reasons to cover your boat are to protect from stains from wet fallen leaves and the maroon berry from birds. If you are in an area that has an unpaved road, the cover will keep an incredible amount of dust and sand off your boat. A cover avoids UV damage to hatch covers. I don't have a window in mine so it is dark inside during the winter, but under a dark blue cover when it is freezing outside I can work below in a T-shirt when the sun is shining.

The maker of my cover and I discussed sunbrella and we both decided it was almost as bad as canvas -- way too heavy and expensive. If you are unable to find the Odyssey material, my next best solution would be to go to a company that makes semi-truck tarps and see what they have. A full length cover is a great purchase when you consider it covers your for 1/3 of the year.

David Rinard, Confetti #278 (1987)

I'd like to second the statement that a custom made winter cover is one of the best investments we have made for our boat. What used to take the better part of a day to do with tarps and frames now can be done by one person in about two hours. Our cover was made with zippers that allow it to fit around the mast and shrouds. The boom fits in a support that was made by the supplier and then serves as a ridge pole. For support in front of the mast, a ridge pole was made from a 2x10 plank and a support at the mast end. We purchased it from a local supplier. The principle of that company has recently started his own company which operates under the name of White Lake Canvass in Whitehall, Michigan.