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How to Cover a Boat with a Tarp

Ian Fortey by Ian Fortey Updated on August 30, 2020. In nauticalknowhow

Covering your boat with a tarp is a good idea anytime you’re storing it. Boat tarps can protect from a number of outside elements. It helps deter vandals or thieves. A boat tarp also protects from the harmful rays of the sun. Dirt, leaves, and debris will be kept out of your boat thanks to a tarp. It will also prevent birds and other animals from making a mess of your boat. Considering how much of an investment a boat is, it’s a good idea to use a tarp to cover it and keep it safe and protected.

Choosing the Right Boat Cover

You have a number of options when you want to cover your boat. You can have a custom tarp designed for you. It can be quite expensive to have this done, often many thousands of dollars. You can also make your own boat cover. There are some handy guides online that explain the process. With only a handful of materials and a minimal investment, you can have a good quality boat cover. In a pinch, even a large tarp will get the job done for you. How you cover your boat is not as important as making sure you do cover your boat.

Whatever you choose has to be large enough to cover the boat with material to spare. You also need a way to properly secure it. There’s no sense trying to cover your boat with a tarp that’s not up to the job.

Choosing the Right Size

For many boaters, a heavy duty tarp is all that is required for covering a boat. Reliable, high-quality tarps come in a variety of sizes. This makes it convenient for boaters no matter what size boat you have. You can buy good quality blue tarps for reasonable prices, even on Amazon.com. They range in size from as small as 8 X 10 and some can be as large as 30 x 40. These would be effective in covering smaller boats. In terms of larger boats, it is not difficult to combine tarps to cover a larger area. Compare this to a custom boat cover which may cost you thousands of dollars. This investment is less than $100. You could definitely consider it worth your time and money. They can work as winter covers in many places.

Be Prepared

One thing you need to remember when using a tarp to cover your boat is that these are not built for strength. A custom canvas boat cover can handle some wear and tear. You need a gentler touch with a tarp. That means you need to be aware of the sharp edges on your boat. Watch out for the windshield frame corners. If you have an antenna mounts keep an eye on them as well.

Anything with sharp edges could cause a tear in your tarp. You’ll need to cover these things in towels or something else that is soft. Carpet remnants are a good choice. If it gets particularly windy, that can pull a tarp against the sharp edges of your antenna mounts and tear.

Be Aware of Height

Depending on what kind of boat you have, you need to be aware of problem areas like low spots. If you have a flat tarp that’s not perfectly taut, there will be dips. If it rains, water will pool in these low spots. If it’s too heavy or in a bad spot, it can create leaks. When covering a boat for winter you need to think of snow buildup. A good countermeasure is to have a pole or something else in the center of your boat. With the tarp over this water will flow down and away. Cover the pole top with carpet remnants for safety.

Add Vent Spots

Humidity can be a problem for a tightly sealed cover. Especially if you’re storing your boat near water. You’ll need to make sure you have some vent spots to allow humidity to escape. This will prevent the formation of mold and mildew under the cover. Keep your vent spots near the base of your tarp to prevent water leaking in. If you’re worried about tearing, secure these vent spots with duct tape at the edges.

Securing Your Tarp

Many tarps for boats have grommets installed in them already. These are some of the best kinds to use. They allow you to secure your tarp with tie downs or bungee cords after they’re in place. The grommets are typically secured in a reinforced way that will prevent tearing.

Depending on where your boat is stored, you can loop your tie downs under the boat to hold the tarp in place. Another option is to anchor them to something heavy on the sides of the boat. Typically, buckets of sand will do this job well. Just make sure they can stand up to the weather.

The Bottom Line

You don’t need to spend a ton of money to cover your boat. You can get a good quality, heavy duty tarp at a good price. You just need to make sure you secure it the proper way. Avoid those low spots, watch out for problem areas like windshield frame corners. Make sure that you have the cover tightly secured. You can even hang old water bottles filled with sand or gravel from the islets if you need to. Whatever keeps the tarp weighted down and in place without causing damage.

For the few moments it will take to tarp the boat, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble. Keeping your boat clean and safe is well worth the effort.

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