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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-06-2008
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Making boat cover / cockpit tent.

After looking into buying one ($800-1400), I've decided, or my wallet did, to attempt to make my own. I know it probably won't look perfect, but for the cost, I'm thinking I can screw it up a couple times and still be under the above price.

I was planning on getting a large peice of cheap fabric to use as a template and make my measurements and cuts on that. Then buy something in canvas or a more heavy duty material to make the final product. I was wondering what materials would be best suited for this, and if anyone who's done it, has any tricks they'd like to pass along.
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Old 05-06-2008
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I helped a friend make a temporary one for winter storage. He made his from cheap tarps and a grommet tool, but I suppose the same logic could be applied to a more sophisticated cover. He took a single big tarp and draped it over the boom. A second tarp, covered the foretriangle area forward of the mast. The two tarps were laced together where they met (kind of like shoe laces). With the thing temporarily tied in place, he then cut the sides to be a better fit, then re-made the finished edge by rolling the material up and adding grommets at 2 foot intervals. If there were places where grommets were needed that didn't exist on the stock tarp, he just added a grommet. Another triangle of tarp material closed the aft part. His cover wasn't very elegant, but it lasted all winter. For a nice cover, I think Sunbrella would be the way to go. Somtimes there are people selling it on eBay for cheap if you're not fussy about the color.
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Old 05-06-2008
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I don't know if snow is a big issue for you in VA but I do know the heavy wet stuff you may get is hardest on tarp frames. I'd consider a good quality tarp (not thin and blue) and grommet kit. For may last 25 footer I bought a pretty thick non-canvas 50'x30' tarp for around a hundred bucks that I used for over 5 years for boats and still use it around the house. The reason I switched to the big buck $$$$ Fairclough on my c320 was after a very warm, wet, heavy snow that didn't hurt that same tarp but collapsed my frame.
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temporary boom tent

zz4gta, i decided to do same last winter. the first time attempt, is best done with cheap material as you say. the first thing i did is establish a 'base-line'. i used the center-line of the boom as the center-line of the boat (fore&aft). then i tied a line from the center of the mast at the the top of the boom to the bottom of the forestay (that gives you a 'comfortable angle' that the cover will 'fade' into the deck over the fore-triangle). now you have a straight-line you can measure to from side to side. it's your preferance whether you want the cover to reach the gunwhales or stop at the lower life-lines. i chose the lower life-line cause it lets the boat 'breath' while still protecting it from the elements. now go back to the aft-end of the boom and take your first measurement to the gunwhale or lower life-line (you only have to measure one side of the boat-when you lay-out your tarp for the cuts, the other half will be a mirror image. obvious, i know but you never know what degree of skills the person has you're talking to). i found that if you measure every 24" all the way to the end of the line you tied to the forestay, you will have a profile of half your deck when you 'connect-the-dots'. now go to the mast and measure how wide it is -aft, center and forward from your base-line (this should be done with the main cover in place cause that's how big the hole in the cover needs to be to fit over the boom,around the mast and mainsail cover ). now go home with your measurements and drawings and lay your tarp out and fold it in half. decide what end of the tarp you want to be the aft end of the boom and start your measurements from there-just like you did on the boat. work foreward making a mark with a felt marker as you go. when you are done making your marks (every 24"), take a long (10-12ft.) board or as staight as you can find lenght of 1/2" or 3/4" PVC pipe and bend it around as many of those points you've just drawn without 'wandering' off the line too much (in the most basic sense you are lofting the hull from a plan-view). i added an extra 3"to the the cut so i could hem the edges and add a double thickness of tarp for the grommets. i installed grommets every 4ft. ( the more the better). when you get to the foretriangle, make a slit from the front of the mast to the part of the tarp that ends at the forestay. i folded the sides of the 'slit' over so again i had had double material and installed snaps. at the top and bottom of the 'slit' i installed grommets on each side of the 'slit' so i could tie each end off with 1/4' CORDAGE as insurance if the the snaps should ever fail. there's one thing left to do that you have to go back to the boat to do. that is to mark the location of the shrouds. lay the cover out over the boom like you would install it and un-furl it so it hangs at the angle it will be when it's finally in place. mark the shrouds with just a dot from a felt-marker where the cover contacts the shroud in each case. go home and once again lay-out the tarp and find your 'shroud-marks' and make a slit out to the gunwhale or edge of the cover. you can install snaps or grommets to close this slit- i waited until i had the cover on the boat before i added the snaps and grommets to insure i got as close as possible to a good fit. once again, it helps to add grommets at the end of every slit and tie them together like shoe laces to prevent any fasteners from 'blowing-out'. i am very pleased to find that she held-up thru this winter's blows and snows. and yes, i also talked to Fairclough and after considering how many hrs. re-finishing teak, scrubbing the nothwest green slime off the ol' girl each spring, buying cheap tarps, snaps and grommets, crawling around on the garage floor like a reptile and did i mention re-finishing teak? i'm going to cough-up the $1600. and get the fairclough cover-hey! after-all, our "buddy' GW bush is paying for 1/3 of it -if you can believe anything he says- hope this makes sense- it almost takes as much time to explain it as it does to make it -salty57
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temporary boom tent

zz4gta, i decided to do same last winter. the first time attempt, is best done with cheap material as you say. the first thing i did is establish a 'base-line'. i used the center-line of the boom as the center-line of the boat (fore&aft). then i tied a line from the center of the mast at the the top of the boom to the bottom of the forestay (that gives you a 'comfortable angle' that the cover will 'fade' into the deck over the fore-triangle). now you have a straight-line you can measure to from side to side. it's your preferance whether you want the cover to reach the gunwhales or stop at the lower life-lines. i chose the lower life-line cause it lets the boat 'breath' while still protecting it from the elements. now go back to the aft-end of the boom and take your first measurement to the gunwhale or lower life-line (you only have to measure one side of the boat-when you lay-out your tarp for the cuts, the other half will be a mirror image. obvious, i know but you never know what degree of skills the person has you're talking to). i found that if you measure every 24" all the way to the end of the line you tied to the forestay, you will have a profile of half your deck when you 'connect-the-dots'. now go to the mast and measure how wide it is -aft, center and forward from your base-line (this should be done with the main cover in place cause that's how big the hole in the cover needs to be to fit over the boom,around the mast and mainsail cover ). now go home with your measurements and drawings and lay your tarp out and fold it in half. decide what end of the tarp you want to be the aft end of the boom and start your measurements from there-just like you did on the boat. work foreward making a mark with a felt marker as you go. when you are done making your marks (every 24"), take a long (10-12ft.) board or as staight as you can find lenght of 1/2" or 3/4" PVC pipe and bend it around as many of those points you've just drawn without 'wandering' off the line too much (in the most basic sense you are lofting the hull from a plan-view). i added an extra 3"to the the cut so i could hem the edges and add a double thickness of tarp for the grommets. i installed grommets every 4ft. ( the more the better). when you get to the foretriangle, make a slit from the front of the mast to the part of the tarp that ends at the forestay. i folded the sides of the 'slit' over so again i had had double material and installed snaps. at the top and bottom of the 'slit' i installed grommets on each side of the 'slit' so i could tie each end off with 1/4' CORDAGE as insurance if the the snaps should ever fail. there's one thing left to do that you have to go back to the boat to do. that is to mark the location of the shrouds. lay the cover out over the boom like you would install it and un-furl it so it hangs at the angle it will be when it's finally in place. mark the shrouds with just a dot from a felt-marker where the cover contacts the shroud in each case. go home and once again lay-out the tarp and find your 'shroud-marks' and make a slit out to the gunwhale or edge of the cover. you can install snaps or grommets to close this slit- i waited until i had the cover on the boat before i added the snaps and grommets to insure i got as close as possible to a good fit. once again, it helps to add grommets at the end of every slit and tie them together like shoe laces to prevent any fasteners from 'blowing-out'. i am very pleased to find that she held-up thru this winter's blows and snows. and yes, i also talked to Fairclough and after considering how many hrs. re-finishing teak, scrubbing the nothwest green slime off the ol' girl each spring, buying cheap tarps, snaps and grommets, crawling around on the garage floor like a reptile and did i mention re-finishing teak? i'm going to cough-up the $1600. and get the fairclough cover-hey! after-all, our "buddy' GW bush is paying for 1/3 of it -if you can believe anything he says- hope this makes sense- it almost takes as much time to explain it as it does to make it -salty57
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Old 05-07-2008
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Thank you so much for that detailed explanation. So I take it that most people use a heavy tarp for durability and price instead of other material? I had thought about using canvas but wasn't sure about the mildew or water repelant properties. I liked the canvas better b/c I thought it looked nicer and was thinking about spraying it w/ a treatment to help make it water resistant.
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