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72 C&C Corvette
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I've used tarps for years with no mat up on the hard, I use 2*6 pressure treaded wood and wrap the sides around the tarp making a sadwich, this rests on the deck on either side of the cabin then lash it down from port toerail to the starbort one the tarp does not get shreaded and it holds the contour of the topside. Works quite well
 

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The worst thing about shrink wrap is poor ventilation. Even open toe rails and vents don't seem to change the fact that it gets pretty warm and moist under the things. Canvas is the best way to go.

Our Fairclough custom cover pays for itself this year and is still in great shape. I just don't get shrink wrap at all.
 

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Never shrink wrapped

Tarped for the first 3 years of ownership. As others have said, the key is a good solid frame network and good tarps. Leasons learned:
  • High ridge line/pole to allow snow shed
  • Sufficient number of cross members to support the tarp so it does not sag and hold snow
  • Heavy duty tarps
  • Getting shrouds incorporated is key
  • Many smaller tarps are better than fewer larger tarps.

After three years of the tarp, and trying to get it installed in mid November, my wife demanded a better mousetrap and one that we could install in a few hours instead of a w/e. We bought a Fairclough cover for our boat and although $$, the time it saves and the quality and fit are amazing. We can unload our frame from the car, install it and the cover in about two hours. The most time consuming thing is getting the frame supports and slats up on the boat while it is in the stands on on the blocks. The frame takes about 1.5 h to assemble (with unloading from the car). 15 -20 minutes to install the actual cover pieces and 20 minutes to tighten and snug up. We get minimal water on the deck and the boat is well ventilated. The cover fits the boat like a glove. No flapping edges or sagging areas.

Each year I had to spend about $150 in tarp supplies as tarps ripped some, wood pieces split, etc. It also took at a good part of a day to assemble the frame as the support slats were all screwed in to the ridge pole. Then it was another few hours to put on the plastic tarps. If it was windy, it took a lot longer. I always was checking on the boat after a heavy snow as something always undone. Now install it and once in a while check on the boat if I am in the area.

The custom canvas cover - Some of the best money I have ever spent for the boat.
 

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You really are funny!!
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A tarp is maintenance and checking all winter, with minimum visit frequency of a couple of weeks (a couple of weeks max, a weekly visit to futz with it is optimal). Shrink wrap is set it and forget it.
 

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Shrinkwrap doesn't have to be tossed each spring. I used the same shrinkwrap for 3 winters before switching to a hand-me-down canvas cover. I still have the shrinkwrap cover stored, just in case.
 

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Shrinkwrap doesn't have to be tossed each spring. I used the same shrinkwrap for 3 winters before switching to a hand-me-down canvas cover. I still have the shrinkwrap cover stored, just in case.
Do you mean on the Hylas 47 in your sig? That's an unimaginable amount of contorted shrink wrap to store.

If it is shrunk tightly, how do you get it 'unshrunk' to remove and then 'reshrunk' the following year?
 

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The shrinkwarp guy comes to my house and does the boat for 300 dollars over my well designed frame

A faircloth or other real nice cover is gonna have to last 20 years

AS i have used canvas in the past on other boats it was always IMHP more of a PITA dealing with BIG snows as it was harder to slide it off the canvas and always involved me and a pushbroom keeping the snow load in control

My friends cover already had to be re-stitched by that big company as a PO left in on over one summer voiding the warranty
 

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Freedom isn't free
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My 22 footer, I used a tarp. I built a make-shift frame, and it lasted the winter fine.

Bought my 25 footer, and the gentleman used an elaborate PVC pipe frame he built (I have all the pvc)... Honestly it worked fine, but the boat was full of pieces of tarp, and was harder to clean than my 22 footer.

I am fortunate, that I may have indoor storage this year for my boat... my opinion is the shrinkwrap is more a set it and forget it... Tarps work fine, but you cannot drape over stanchions, and you have to bring the tarp's angle up to slide the snow easily off. I think if you do the tarp, you should step the mast as well (if you can), and throw the boom on, bring the boom way up, and drape the tarp over that. It's you're best bet. Then if you can run ribs across the boom to deck it'll better support the tarp.

Just my worthless $0.02.

I hope I don't need to deal with that again this year, always was sad to see her under cover.
 

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I've used the same heavy duty canvas tarp over the boat for at least the past 15 years and it's done very well. The boat spends the entire winter in the Annapolis area in the water and the tarp is not even mounted on a hard frame. I do remove all sails and string a line from mast to backstay to form a frame and also add some lines from mast to boom gallows for additional support. The canvas is then put over this "frame" and the edges tied to the handrails along the cabin top. In those 15 or more years that setup remains sound during all sorts of weather and wind. It does not cover the entire boat, but will keep the snow off the cabin top and most of the cockpit and allows me to walk around the deck of the boat.
 

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Do you mean on the Hylas 47 in your sig? That's an unimaginable amount of contorted shrink wrap to store.

If it is shrunk tightly, how do you get it 'unshrunk' to remove and then 'reshrunk' the following year?
Yes, I mean the Hylas 47. It is quite a bit of shrinkwrap (less than your 54 would use), but rolled and folded it all fits in my wagon.

Since I can't cover the painted topsides with shrinkwrap, I run it to the toerail, which makes it easier to remove and reinstall. I use pvc electrical conduit to create a reuseable arched frame. When I removed the shrinkwrap, I carefully sliced it to the stays and cut it into two pieces at the mast. It was basically lots of taping where it was cut. Each time I reused it I had to add a small bit of new shrinkwrap at the mast cut because I couldn't quite pull the two sections together. I didn't unshrink it (I don't think that's possible) and only needed to reshrink it where I didn't tape it tightly enough.

Really crazy is the fact that I did the original shrinkwrap myself with a home heat gun. With it going only to the toerail I could do all the work from the deck and shrink it from inside. Total cost the first time was about $200, after that about $30 for tape, and I still have a lot of shrinkwrap left.

 

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old guy :)
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We live just east of you. We have never done shrink wrap. Have done tarps the last 17 years.

And yes - we build a good sturdy frame and are able to go on board any time we like. Our boat is 34 feet long and we keep it at our boat yard. About 15 minute drive from our home.

I have pics if you need them.

Rik
 

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This year I'm trying a slightly new system that I thought I'd share. So in years past I've relied primarily on weights but have also put one or two lines wrapped under the keel of the boat. However these lines never remain in tension.

So this year I'm trying a weight and a pulley to keep those lines under tension. I used 4 of them. The lines in the bow and stern are nice because they pull in all the excess tarp and leave less of a wind target.

All the anchor points are golf balls with slipped bowlines constricting around them. I'm a bit concerned about chafe on the lines running under the boat, I've seen it in the past, so I added a back-up line for the weight on the pulley line in-case it fails.

My frame is just two sawhorses (one tall one over the cockpit and another on the deck) with strapping boards running between them. I did a better job anchoring the sawhorses because last year they toppled in a wind storm (although the tarp remained intact).

 

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I'm a little (all right, a lot) late to this thread. But I do have a lot of experience with both tarps and shrink wrap, so I'll share some lessons learned:

Shrink wrap is a great idea, but I've never seen a yard that didn't cause some damage while putting up the frame and shrink wrap. And very few come out 100% perfect. There are always a few casualties during every wind or snow storm. So the whole "Set it and forget it" strategy really doesn't apply if you care about your boat. Unless maybe you did the shrink wrapping yourself.

There are two things you need to do right if you want your tarp to last the season:

1) Have a sharp pitch. As someone mentioned, snow doesn't slide off a tarp as well as shrink wrap. The only workable solution is a tall "A" frame that goes right up to the gunwale or rail.

2) Keep it tight. I've tried using bottles as weights, and it works. But lately I've changed to using shock cord pulled tight. If it flaps anywhere, or the wind can get under it anywhere, you've lost.

Probably the two biggest mistakes I see are allowing it to get loose somewhere, and allow water or snow to "pool" instead of slide off.

Using a spider web of small stuff (dollar store clothes line works great) can help avoid pooling, but ultimately the design of your "A" is more important. I've seen pooling where the tarp turns just a little over a rail. Once it starts to pool, you have to keep pulling it tight after each rain or snow because the pool will grow, ripping the tarp and supports. Then re-engineer that location next year.

I can walk through a boat yard this time of year and pretty accurately predict whose tarps will last, and whose won't. Those who put in a serious effort to keep them tight are almost always OK. Those who ignored even one slack area will lave lost the tarp by spring.
 

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I help my Boat Buddy tarp his 34 foot sport cruiser each year. He uses some verticals bottom-blocked and padded to the deck and tie-braced to the rails. Then a wide, yellow shipping ratchet strap, fore to aft goes across and gets screwed to the tops of the studs, over the "spoiler" and down to a smaller, regular ratchet strap, going to each stern corner cleat..like a split-stay.
We add a few pc of lath, screwed to the sides of the vert. members to add strength and pad all the critical areas like the radome, ant. mounts and the entire length of the shipping strap and lath.
Then a huge, heavy-duty 30'X40' (?) silver poly tarp gets pulled over the whole thing; wrapping corners like a Christmas present. The edges are secured with those funky yellow snap-ring dealies and lines are secured to each side, passed under the keel. Some are tied off to the cleats, stern rails or prop shafts.

He figgers a tarp gets replaced every three to four years (blue poly only lasted two!) and most of the wood (well labeled and saved) will last nearer ten. Local costs for a shrinky-dink job have priced out to near $1500 , vs. a hundred or so amortized over three+ years!!!! All fits on top of and in the cargo area of the Explorer... along with tols and spares! Batteries consumables and the inflatable ride along on the trip home.

It took the two of us almost three lazy hours to wrap it up. A late b-fast, a couple cups o'coffee and a later stop for sammitches on the way home make a fall chore into fellowship and fun.

I suspect the "new" boat will have a similar tarp job soon. A couple of 2x? props fore and aft bungee'd to the mast; some soft strap collars around same and a couple of ratchet straps from pulpit-to-mast-to-stern will support it. The folded "flap" astern will make a nifty boarding spot and ventilator. A 28X16 footer should make it stem ta stern with the snap toggles tied to the toe rail, tho I figger two separate sections might be better than a taped slit up the lee side! :D

AFA wrap?? Some use it again. If ya have the $$ and the inclination; go ahead w/wrap. The prop shop has been under renovation for a few years. He has wrapped the new section with recycled shrink-um. Sure do make it windproof ! ;)

HTH,
Paul
 
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