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Old 18-09-2021, 10:27   #1
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Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Greetings CF!
We do not submit many inquires, but here is a timely one given the approaching season were we are in the US northeast. During the summer 2021, we took delivery of a new-to-us 1983 Bristol 38.8 (LOA 38 ft 25 in, Beam 12 ft 8 in) and with all of its equipment and gear, came included are two ea 24 ft x 24 ft pieces of canvas in serviceable condition. We believe the canvas was used by an owner prior to the Seller from whom we purchased as the boat was stored indoors during his ownership. We are not familiar with using canvas over a boat. Indoor storage is not an option where we are so it is leaving the boat uncovered and exposed to winter weather, use shrink wrap, learn how to cover with the canvas or consider having a new canvas cover made. Interesting, the canvas was not packed with any information on how to deploy it, but it was packed with tan colored twisted ProManila in all of the grommets. Can this be a clue as to how to use it on the boat? Would anyone in the audience have 'how to' suggestions? For example, is the mast stepped or unstepped? Is the boom kept in place to form a tent like structure? Can we use the topping lift with the canvas? You all get the picture. Any help is greatly appreciated. Many thanks and cheers! Keep on sailing.
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Old 18-09-2021, 14:16   #2
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Since the boat was stored indoors I presume the mast was removed. The two pieces of canvas were essentially dust covers to keep bird droppings and dust from covering the boat while stored.
A standard fitted canvas cover has a frame to support it off the vessel and it is pitched to shed water and snow. The boat benefits from excellent ventilation with a custom canvas cover also. It also makes a great place to complete winter projects while protected from the elements.
A heat shrink cover does the job but does not breath, hence ventilation is relatively poor. It is also an ongoing annual cost.
Normally it is the marina which dictates weather a mast can be left stepped. Covers of any chosen material can be used if the rig is left up or taken down.
This is my winter cover and it is in its eleventh season. A worthwhile investment in my opinion..
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Old 19-09-2021, 06:29   #3
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Thanks. Jim! Yours is the only reply we see at the moment and we were concluding much the same with logic given the size and shape of the canvas squares and that of the boat without building stands to place on the foredeck, etc. that the pieces are "dust covers." We forgot to mention one thing in the intro, that each square of canvas was labeled Bow and Stern section. We like how your sailboat is protected and will begin searching for a vendor to build something similar. If too late for this season, it will be for next season. Many thanks for your good and friendly reply.
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Old 19-09-2021, 08:01   #4
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

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Originally Posted by Orion Jim View Post
A standard fitted canvas cover has a frame to support it off the vessel and it is pitched to shed water and snow. The boat benefits from excellent ventilation with a custom canvas cover also. It also makes a great place to complete winter projects while protected from the elements.
Note that Jim's pic of Orion has a probably-wooden frame on deck to create the pitch necessary so the snow/elements will slough off, which is key.

Have a look at the boats in your yard that will be in the process of Winterization over the next couple of months and you'll get some ideas/tips.

It may be too late to have a canvas shop fabricate a winter cover for this year, so you may need to figure out some kind of jury-rig for the canvas you already have.

Good luck!
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Old 19-09-2021, 08:47   #5
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Actually it is a conduit frame with wood battens. It comes with the custom cover which was made by Fairclough. Easily assembled and disassembled for storage in the spring.
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Old 19-09-2021, 09:04   #6
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Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Years ago I priced a Fairclough cover vs shrink wrap. At that time payback was 5-7 years. Plus the canvas is nicer to the environment and the boat.
Mine lasted over 15 years with maintenance.

As far as stick up vs down down is nicer to the boat and rig but will cost a bit more.
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Old 19-09-2021, 18:41   #7
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

We just ordered a Fairclough cover for our new-to-us boat. The rough estimate was about $125/foot, and it's supposed to last about a dozen years. We used heavy canvas tarps for about twenty years over our J/36. The savings compared to shrink-wrap were considerable, even including replacing the tarps when the canvas simply wore out. Building sufficiently strong frames to support the snow loads was a chore, however, and wrapping the boat so the topsides didn't get chafed took some doing.
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Old 20-09-2021, 06:26   #8
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Many thanks for the good replies. All are very helpful.
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Old 21-09-2021, 19:51   #9
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

My mast hoes down onto a pair of tall sawhorses
Over that I have 2 in plastic electrical conduit making an arch
Then the cover goes over that
Sheds rain and snow pretty well
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Old 21-09-2021, 20:12   #10
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Is there a maker’s name on the canvas? If so ask them for advice.

We got ours at a boat show. Special pricing and the guy came to the boat to measure and fit. There was no frame needed. The cover material was slippery on top so snow mostly fell off. The strings on the grommets were probably for tie down. Some people hang water jugs as weights.
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Old 21-09-2021, 21:16   #11
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

Has anyone put a plastic tarpaulin over the canvas with good results to extend the life of the canvas, or would the moisture build up cause problems? Thoughts?
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Old 22-09-2021, 04:35   #12
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

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Has anyone put a plastic tarpaulin over the canvas with good results to extend the life of the canvas, or would the moisture build up cause problems? Thoughts?
Canvas breaths, plastic does not. Not a good long term solution.
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Old 22-09-2021, 04:37   #13
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

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Has anyone put a plastic tarpaulin over the canvas with good results to extend the life of the canvas, or would the moisture build up cause problems? Thoughts?
It shouldn’t matter. The canvas can breathe from below. The plastic will promote shedding of the snow. I always leave the ends open or at least the down wind end to promote ventilation. Our boat show winter tarp was coated canvas-like material so, waterproof.

I found that in early winter, late fall that the remaining water inside the boat would condense on the inside of the hull at high places. At night, a clear sky cools the upper while the ground below is still relatively warmer. This water pumping continues until the inside is dry or the temperature is consistently freezing. We propped the hatches slightly open 1-1/2” with a 2x4. Also it is important to remove all cushions etc to a dry storage place. I shop vac the piping and drain all tanks. RV antifreeze in the pipes and in the bilge. Pump antifreeze through the bilge lines. At this time of year you can find RV antifreeze at the lumber places and groceries. We$t has it too but usually higher cost.
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Old 22-09-2021, 04:59   #14
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

I cover my boat located on Long Island using 2 heavy duty (silver, not the blue or green) tarps and a support frame made of plastic electrical conduit. Stored mast up with boom and whisker pole used as centerline supports. I am on my 10th year with the tarps and conduit supports that cost about $200. Can't beat that cost per year.
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Old 22-09-2021, 05:04   #15
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Re: Canvas over the sailboat in winter

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It shouldn’t matter. The canvas can breathe from below. The plastic will promote shedding of the snow. I always leave the ends open or at least the down wind end to promote ventilation. Our boat show winter tarp was coated canvas-like material so, waterproof.
Plastic is hard to manage if one does not tie with lines on the outside of the plastic, like the truckers. This approach reduces the billowing waves, energy, and premature shredding of the plastic.

I have found that ice and snow will freeze to the lines and help the snow collect on the plastic.

Ice and snow freeze directly to an all canvas cover which causes significant build up of snow even with steep sides.

One last caution, make sure the grommets in the plastic have line passed through them or they can drill into your gel coat as the plastic flaps in the winter breezes.

Moral of the story, check on your boat throughout the winter.

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