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Old 21-01-2021, 07:56   #1
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Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

Hey Guys,

I've been checking on my boat all winter and looking around at the boat yard and noticed not all boats shrink wrap. Mine included.

Looking for some opinions.

I have never wrapped my boat in anything. I haven't found any issues with it being exposed.

At $400 to $500 per season in plastic, plus the environmental impact of these huge single use plastic sheets (or $5000 in custom canvas) what are the benefits of covering your boat?
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:03   #2
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

In climates where you get a lot of freeze / thaw cycles or lots of snow, having covers of some form to keep snow and ice off the decks is good. Snow piling up on the decks, starting to melt, re-freezing, etc. can cause cracks and/or force water through hatch seals, under stanchions, etc.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:03   #3
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

It depends on where you are, and what kind of weather your boat experiences. Being in more northerly climes, I've always covered my boat, although I've never shrink-wrapped -- I too can't stomach the waste and cost. But if you're in a more moderate climate, covering might not be needed.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:08   #4
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
In climates where you get a lot of freeze / thaw cycles or lots of snow, having covers of some form to keep snow and ice off the decks is good. Snow piling up on the decks, starting to melt, re-freezing, etc. can cause cracks and/or force water through hatch seals, under stanchions, etc.
I'm near Toronto.

We have freeze thaw cycles with periodic heavy snow falls.

I keep an eye on all these issues and haven't found any. My boat hasn't been covered in well over 10 years of this cycle..
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:11   #5
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
It depends on where you are, and what kind of weather your boat experiences. Being in more northerly climes, I've always covered my boat, although I've never shrink-wrapped -- I too can't stomach the waste and cost. But if you're in a more moderate climate, covering might not be needed.
I'm in an climate that 95% of boat owners shrink wrap. Outside Toronto

I don't cover the boat at all and I haven't had any issues. One year I wasted hours and hours with tarps that just shredded in 2 weeks.

I don't know, I don't see any negative results of keeping her exposed to winter.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:12   #6
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

Bottom line is that the plastic keeps moisture in the form of rain and snow off the decks and out of the cockpit.

The moisture enters small cracks. Also, any leaks into the interior will allow this moisture to enter. Then the freeze thaw cycles will freeze the moisture potentially damaging cockpit drains, thru hulls, fittings, or anywhere the moisture can expand and stress the surround.

Additionally, if the cockpit drains plug or freeze then spring rains fill the cockpit and put pressure on the pads possibly deforming the hull and stressing the tabbing.

Lastly, it eliminates the fall and spring UV loads on the decks, brightwork, and hardware.

Warning: if using blue tarps for inexpensive covers make sure all of the cringles are secure. Flapping in the winter winds against the hull can cause major damage to the gel coat.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:12   #7
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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plus the environmental impact of these huge single use plastic sheets ?
A good marina will recycle the shrinkwrap. The marinas that I go to rent a additional dumpster and mark it 'shrinkwrap only' in the spring.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:21   #8
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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Bottom line is that the plastic keeps moisture in the form of rain and snow off the decks and out of the cockpit.

The moisture enters small cracks. Also, any leaks into the interior will allow this moisture to enter. Then the freeze thaw cycles will freeze the moisture potentially damaging cockpit drains, thru hulls, fittings, or anywhere the moisture can expand and stress the surround.

Additionally, if the cockpit drains plug or freeze then spring rains fill the cockpit and put pressure on the pads possibly deforming the hull and stressing the tabbing.

Lastly, it eliminates the fall and spring UV loads on the decks, brightwork, and hardware.

Warning: if using blue tarps for inexpensive covers make sure all of the cringles are secure. Flapping in the winter winds against the hull can cause major damage to the gel coat.
This makes alot of sense to me. Mostly the extra load on the boat. It hasnt been my experience but I also see that structurally some boats wouldn't be able to handle increased weight of snow on the deck.

Do you put anti freeze in your water tanks? If so, why?
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:22   #9
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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A good marina will recycle the shrinkwrap. The marinas that I go to rent a additional dumpster and mark it 'shrinkwrap only' in the spring.
Good point. Now that I think about it, I have seen proper disposal bins
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:22   #10
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
In climates where you get a lot of freeze / thaw cycles or lots of snow, having covers of some form to keep snow and ice off the decks is good. Snow piling up on the decks, starting to melt, re-freezing, etc. can cause cracks and/or force water through hatch seals, under stanchions, etc.


I think the above is a good explanation for the rationale for covering your boat. Itís the thaw/freeze cycles that is the biggest problem. Here in Maine itís pretty bad but in a place with occasional snow but milder temps, I donít think itís as necessary because, though the snow may last for several days, hard freezes are very rare and the temp of your deck wont get below freezing so the melted snow wonít refreeze in places where it can cause harm.

I hate the idea of using such a big amount of plastic and then throwing it away. I stored my boat in the water so got a quote of $1600 to have it shrink wrapped. Luckily I have a very old, oft repaired, custom made stamoid boat cover that works very well except that every winter a few seams come partially unstitched or a few zippers give way snd need to be replaced. This costs me a couple hundred dollars a year but since I got that shrink wrap quote, seems like a bargain.

I donít know where the OP keeps his boat but in a place like the Chesapeake where freezing weather doesnít last long, if you use a plastic shovel to remove as much snow as possible ASAP and keep some heat on inside the hull during cold snaps I donít think you really need a cover.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:25   #11
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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Originally Posted by fireman182 View Post
I'm in an climate that 95% of boat owners shrink wrap. Outside Toronto

I don't cover the boat at all and I haven't had any issues. One year I wasted hours and hours with tarps that just shredded in 2 weeks.

I don't know, I don't see any negative results of keeping her exposed to winter.
Every boat is different, but you can't easily see the early damage caused by freeze-thaw. Once it become apparent, the damage may be severe.

Toronto isn't particularly harsh. My main experiences are Thunder Bay and now Newfoundland. You get more wet slop than heavy snows in Toronto. But it can be cold and nasty and moist. Freezing rain... yuck. I'd cover -- but not with a plastic tarp. Get a good quality canvas one. It will last a long time.

Other than the dangers of freeze-thaw, places with lots of snow face dangers of heavy loads piling up on deck or in the cockpit. And then there's the risk of scuppers getting frozen in, and perhaps cracking.

One other advantage to covering is that it keeps the boat cleaner. Keeps the dust and grit off the deck. For a few years I was hauling out near a rail line. The boats that didn't cover over winter were usually coated with grime come Spring.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:37   #12
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

I drain all the tanks and leave them.

I used to put antifreeze in the fresh water hoses and foot pumps but gave that up as being useless. I just disconnect and drain them. No ill effects from this change.

I run antifreeze through the vacuuflush head and pump and leave some in the bowel

I sponge and dry the bilge...wooden yawl.

BTW, I pay for indoor non heated storage. This year I put a tarp on because of the pigeons...little bastards.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:41   #13
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

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Every boat is different, but you can't easily see the early damage caused by freeze-thaw. Once it become apparent, the damage may be severe.

Toronto isn't particularly harsh. My main experiences are Thunder Bay and now Newfoundland. You get more wet slop than heavy snows in Toronto. But it can be cold and nasty and moist. Freezing rain... yuck. I'd cover -- but not with a plastic tarp. Get a good quality canvas one. It will last a long time.

Other than the dangers of freeze-thaw, places with lots of snow face dangers of heavy loads piling up on deck or in the cockpit. And then there's the risk of scuppers getting frozen in, and perhaps cracking.

One other advantage to covering is that it keeps the boat cleaner. Keeps the dust and grit off the deck. For a few years I was hauling out near a rail line. The boats that didn't cover over winter were usually coated with grime come Spring.
I looked at a canvas tarp with poles. The quote I got was $5000. The next issue is storage and the hours spend putting it off and on each year.

Maybe the winter freeze/thaw damage is more related to boat design?

My boat has been exposed for 10 years at least. My cockpit is "self bailing". 2 Large drains at the lowest point. All water on deck drain through 2 scuppers on port and starboard. No water intrusion anywhere.

My boat is worth about $50k. The most expensive boat in the yard is a 40 something foot yacht valued at $250k The owner of that gem doesn't cover it at all. Ever.

BUT the Tanzer 22 has shrink wrap on it.

Im baffled.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:44   #14
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

You already got the reasons to cover your boat. Now you have to decide whether to shrinkwrap, a tarp, or a custom reusable canvas cover. The benefit of shrink wrap is that it's very good at shedding snow and rain and requires little effort on your part if the yard does the work. You have to make sure that there sufficient ventilation provided and that the shrink wrap does not tightly adhere to the topsides (there should be a few small foam blocks between the plastic and the boat to separate them.) The downside is the relatively high recurring cost, but a custom canvas cover can be pretty expensive. One year the yard workers applying the shrink wrap got a bit too exuberant with the heat gun and dripped melted plastic on the nonskid deck. It took a bit of persuasion, but they did manage to clean it up in the spring.



For a few years I used a blue tarp over DIY reusable frame. This is the least expensive solution, but it took a fair amount of work and on a few occasions the tarp allowed water to collect in a pool between the frame ribs, which then turned to ice and was a pain to remove. I now have the yard do the shrink wrap--I think it's well worth the cost.
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Old 21-01-2021, 08:44   #15
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Re: Winter Shrink Wrap ? Why?

I've always put antifreeze through the plumbing. It's not so much to protect the tank, but to protect all the small, tight bits in the pumps and lines.

I drain all the water, then dump just enough back in to circulate through all water systems. Then I pump it all out before sealing things up for the winter. This leaves a risidual in the system that protects things.

I have had pumps freeze and crack when I've not done this. But again, I mostly haul in places where winter is real. My boat is left outside, in the cold (but under a cover).

Quote:
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I looked at a canvas tarp with poles. The quote I got was $5000. The next issue is storage and the hours spend putting it off and on each year.
Yikes ... how big is your boat? I paid 1/2 that for my 40-foot boat. Of course, that was about 12 years ago. Maybe prices have gone up?

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Maybe the winter freeze/thaw damage is more related to boat design?
Design and construction quality as well, but all boats will face the risk. It's virtually impossible to avoid entirely. As I say, you won't notice the early stages of damage. Once it becomes obvious, the damage will be done.
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