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Old 28-07-2010, 17:33   #1
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To Shrink Wrap or Not to Shrink Wrap . . .

In October I'll be putting my 32' cat into winter storage on lake Michigan. The boat is brand new this season and I'm wondering about the pros and cons of shrink wrapping. Until recently I've been assuming that I would shrink wrap the boat, but having spoken with a few storage facilities, it's apparent that a significant number of owners do not cover their boats.

I guess that a big pro would be keeping snow and rain off the boat and avoiding the freeze thaw cycle that could presumably do a lot of damage. Any other major pros?

Are there any significant cons against shrink wrapping, apart from the cost. I assume ventilation is an issue, but it seems that nowadays, shrink wrappers provide ventilation and access panels.

I have 2 BP365 (160 watt) solar panels on the boat, 3 batteries with a total of 315 AH, and a Natures Head composting toilet which has a 1 amp fan that sucks air from the head and passes it (through the toilet) and then overboard. I'm thinking of running this through the winter to keep air circulating. Are these solar panels likely to keep up with a 1 amp draw 24 hrs/day (a) without shrink wrap covering the panels and (b) with shrink wrap covering the panels.

many thanks

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Old 28-07-2010, 17:50   #2
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One con is they are not considered a "green" solution. A permanent cover would be better.

Growing Problem of Shrink Wrap : Boating Times Long Island

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Old 28-07-2010, 17:56   #3
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Michigan. Doesn't it snow there? I should think that 6-8 inches of snow might cut down significantly on the output of photovoltaics.
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 28-07-2010, 18:34   #4
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I see very few boats that are shrink wrapped well.

People are amazed to find their boats the spring.
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Old 28-07-2010, 19:00   #5
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You can cover the boat anyway you want just let it breath fresh air-vents or open ends-my favorate method was a tent cover with for and aft ends open with screen covered vents and cracked hatches on boat. If you shrink wrap it venting is a problem when sun comes out it can become an oven and mold factory in boat.
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Old 28-07-2010, 19:26   #6
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Most yards in Michigan have a special dumpster for collecting shrink wrap for recycling.

Shrinkwrap done right works very well at keeping the snow load off and keeps ice from forming on the decks from the freeze/thaw cycle all winter. Be there when the contractor does the wrapping so you can ride heard on him and get it done well. Then buy a roll of the white tape so you can patch small leaks or tears over the winter.

I did my own with mast up and managed to seal up the mast & shrouds pretty well. Paid for it the year before and he was sloppy. But reality is his was good enough.

If you tilt your panels a bit the snow will slide off easily.

If your hull is painted, be extra careful about breathing room all the way around.

Cover your rudder with white shrinkwrap as prescribed by foss foam. Dark rudder will expand and contract on cold nights/sunny days.
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Old 28-07-2010, 19:49   #7
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I think the best solution is to move the catamaran to the BVI for the winter where you won't need shrink wrap.
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Old 28-07-2010, 21:23   #8
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Forget about running the 1 amp load when there is snow or if covered with shrink wrap. Your solar output will be near zero -- feeble at best. If you run electronics you need to rig a low-voltage disconnect that will cut off at about 12.1 volts. If you don't keep the charge up your batteries will incur freeze-damage. Since battery voltage is lower in lower temps, your effective usable amp-hours will be greatly reduced. In other words -- "fuggetaboutit".

As for shrink-wrap vs. no cover -- if you have a hard top over the cockpit and cockpit enclosure you should use it and leave the rest of the boat uncovered. Remove sails and store indoors. Without a hard top the weight of snow/ice will be a problem on a canvas enclosure. In that case a boom tent might be an option with shrink wrap only over the cockpit, leaving vents for circulation.

Do not use poly tarps -- they will whip in winter winds and the constant slight movement (even if you make them tight) wear rough spots in the gelcoat.
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Old 29-07-2010, 05:22   #9
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We have been wraped each of the last 3 years for 6-9 months of each year. We were very impressed that there was ZERO mildew and odor on uncovering. The wrap saved or brightwork and waxed finishes. The key is to have plenty of vents. I think we had 6 passive vents in the wrap. We plan to do again at the end of this season.
When we did a cost study, it appeared that a perminant cover would be more costly over its life than the 800$ per year for the wrap...PLUS where do you store that monster cover when sailing port to port for winter layup.

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