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Old 23-11-2012, 13:30   #1
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Shrink Wrap in New England

Why do people shrink wrap their boats in New England?

We are storing the boat in the water in Portsmouth, RI this year. We'll be living aboard until Christmas - then moving into a house sit arrangement.

The boat is an Outbound 44 with minimal wood (companionway only).

Other than it being a pain to enter/leave the boat in the wet, what is the benefit of shrink wrapping? What will go wrong if I don't shrink wrap?

We've been quoted $1400 - and would prefer to save the $ unless there's a good reason to shrink wrap...

Appreciate your advice...

Bill Balme
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Old 23-11-2012, 13:58   #2
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

The believers say it is so water doesn't get into cracks/fittings, freeze and expand and crack stuff. I guess it depends on whether you feel your boat has a lot of areas that water could get into for this. And just because you shrink wrap it doesn't mean water couldn't be on the deck etc. as you get some condensation that does the same thing.

If going to be living aboard there is also the heat from the greenhouse effect.

I haven't been shrink wrapping my boat and just put a tarp over it. Just came back today from doing this and I would say about 1/3 the boats are shrink wrapped, 1/3 used tarps of customer covers, and the other 1/3 just figure their boat is water tight.

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Old 23-11-2012, 14:03   #3
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A full cover sheds snow and in Rhode Island frozen rain. Boat stays warmer with a cover. Otherwise iit is just keeping weather and wet stuff off.
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Old 23-11-2012, 14:03   #4
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

Shrink wrap is easier than tarping and generally far more secure. Every boat has joints, crevices, cracks, sealant, etc all of which are points of entry for water to freeze. A properly wrapped boat will breath eliminating condensation so no water should be able to enter those openings. About the only legitimate criticism I've heard about wrapping is the expense but that is a personal choice and decision based on how you value your time.
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Old 23-11-2012, 14:16   #5
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

I say skip the shrink wrap. Even the best jobs trap moisture inside and rain on the boat in certain conditions. Many jobs are not so good and trap lots of water inside. I have seen people open up the plastic in the spring and have torrents of water come pouring out. Where the shrink wrap contacts the hull often gets gradually chafed too. A properly fitted canvas cover can avoid most of this, except for windage, but it is really big bucks. Plastic adds windage to the boat. Costs money. Makes it harder to work on and get off and on the boat. I've never done it, but I do usually cover the cockpit up so it doesn't collect snow and ice, and it provides a measure of security. Any tarp or cover you use has to be really, really tight so it doesn't flap and catch the wind, which you will get a lot of in a New England winter.
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Old 23-11-2012, 15:01   #6
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

I'll give you a couple of reasons---! Years ago when I had my Hunter 30 I never wrapped it but there was a penalty. Almost every year, leaves along with other junk plugged the scuppers in the cockpit. Next can rain or snow that melted, does not really matter because whatever it was, froze. Water when frozen we all know expands. The stuff put pressure on the scupper hoses forcing them to pull away from the scuppers. Next the ice melted and everything that fell into the cockpit ended up in the bilge.

I remember neglecting this problem a few years and in spring when I started getting the boat ready for launch, I found the floor inside the boat submerged with anywhere from 1-5 inches of water. What a mess! And of course, the bilge pumps never worked, wires always seemed to get pulled away during the freeze/melt process. Nothing more enjoyable than walking on a submerged floor trying to get a bilge pump working to drain the mess.

OK, beyond what I described here, there is always the potential water problem getting into places on the outside deck area where freezing will take its toll.

The marina where I keep our present boat charges about $600 to wrap. I keep this boat wrapped every winter.

EDIT(before I get shut off): There is one other minor reason for having the yard do my boat rather than to do it myself. Yard storage around my area is getting really tough. They fill quickly.

About ten years ago I approached the yard manager where I stored at that time seeking a haul date. The guy calmly asked "What do you have that you want us to help you with this year?" I promptly answered "Geez, I have everything under control so there is really nothing I need help with."


And really, I just don't feel like doing the wrap myself.
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Old 23-11-2012, 15:12   #7
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

I have been living on board a 40' boat in Lake Ontario for 15 years and shrink wrap every winter. there is no excuse for condensation or chafing in a properly wrapped boat. I buy the shrink wrap (200.00 this year), rent a propane gun for $30.00 and do it myself. It is not a difficult job to do once you get the hang of it.
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Old 25-11-2012, 05:44   #8
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I have a Fairclough cover for my 38 footer. Cost was $3500 for a custom cover and takes about 3 hour. If my boatyard manager approached me with that kind of blackmail I would leave that very day and make sure the owners of the boatyard knew why.
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Old 25-11-2012, 06:15   #9
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

At the west end of Lake Ontario (Can. side) shrink wrapping runs about $12-13/ft on the hard for a powerboat. About $16.00/ft for a sailboat on the hard with the mast up. Most contractors charge another $1-2/ft for doing boats in water.
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Old 25-11-2012, 07:21   #10
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

If you do choose to shrinkwrap, please find a reputable shrinkwrap recycling program to dispose of your wrap in the spring.

Shrinkwrap is made of LDPE (low density polyethelene), a highly recyclable "soft" plastic, that can be made into a host of new products (including rot-resistant manufactured wood for dock decking).

I can help direct folks in New England to recycling programs, but many states have them across the country. Check with your State Recycling Organization.

Also, and in no way is this an endorsement (and I have no affiliation with them) Dr. Shrink seems to have mail back program if you can't find a local drop-off.
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Old 25-11-2012, 07:26   #11
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

We have lived aboard in Nerwfoundland for four years where we did not shrink wrap and found moisture and mould every week, but here in Toronto not so, no moisture or mould and we have a very warm boat for the winter mid to low 70's of temp. I also find this the best time aboard nice and quiet
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Old 27-11-2012, 11:38   #12
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Re: Shrink Wrap in New England

I've tried all the different methods on Espina, starting with a tarp, next was shrink wrap and finally a custom built cover that fits over my cockpit.

The tarps are great for about 2 months, then the wind gets to them and they start to come apart. At the end of the season your tarp is no longer water proof. I spent $375 on a standard 35x20 foot tarp, silver inside, black outside. By the end of the winter I could sit inside and see millions of pinprick holes in it. It did keep most of the water off but I figure it was toast by the end of the second year.

After the tarp died, I went shrink Wrap. At $11.50 a foot, I think the bill came to about $365 for one winters worth. They did a beautiful job, a door in the side,and 5 vents. Never a drop of water to be found. Plus with the sun shining on it, working on deck was tee shirt work. Below it raised the temp to about 50f on a freezing day.

The second year the price went up, and I paid about $415. This time when the season was over, I very carefully cut the wrap loose, folded it up and reused it. Net cost $207 plus about $20 worth of tape.

Third year we got a bunch of us together and did it ourselves, by buying the plastic, tape and ribbon from U-line. The torch we bought was a cheapy from Princess Auto. Net cost that year? $120.

Finally when I started working on Sabre Dance, (Espina was now gone) I realized that to build the frame needed and the plastic to cover her would be much more expensive I did some math and came to the conclusion that a custom cover amortized of the life of said cover was a better deal. A full cover would have cost me about $2800 but I ended up with a half cover which encloses my cockpit from the wave breaker just ahead of the main hatch to the back of the boat. That ended up costing me $1200, and amortized over 8 years, is $150 a year. It too keeps the boat dry and being darker in color also helps with heating in the winter. One minor niggle is that it flaps a bit as the wind blows. The shrink wrap never does that as it is band tight.

So there you have it.
SV Sabre Dance, Roberts Offshore 38
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Old 27-11-2012, 21:26   #13
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Bought a full canvas cover in 1998 for $2000, still in good shape today.

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