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Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:23 pm
by WayWeGo
On our previous boat, we had a Fisher canvas cover that worked great. Due to weight and cost constraints, we are not going to use a canvas cover on the Trojan.

After some thought, I have decided to go with a tarp for winter storage. We are in the Mid Chesapeake area and I do not want to shrink wrap for a number of reasons. I will be constructing a frame of metal conduit using a mixture of Kover Klamps and Framemaker clamps. The tarp will be a white vinyl tarp that will be held down with shock cord and rope.

Our boat is a F36 convertible with a flybridge, and we do not have anything like a radar arch that will stick up above the flybridge. The previous owner used a cheap tarp with a few 2x4's to give it shape, but I would like to do something a little more secure.

My main question is how best to shape the frame. It could be an A-frame with a straight ridge pole, the ridge pole could have a single bend above the flybridge, or it could have two bends (one in front of the flybridge and one behind). I would like to have enough room under the tarp to do some work over the winter, but I don't need a huge amount of room. Obviously, the shape of the ridgepole affects how big the vinyl tarp needs to be, so I won't have the luxury of deciding after I start building the frame. Any suggestions from those of you who have used tarps?

If the ridge pole has a bend in it, I am thinking that I will only need a foot or two of tarp ahead of the bow pulpit to allow me to close it off. At the stern, I plan to have enough tarp to extend a foot or two below the swim platform. Does that make sense?

Since a vinyl tarp is not cheap, I only want to buy enough for my needs, so I really need to figure this out!

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:13 pm
by K4282
Im curious the "number of reasons" you do not want to shrink wrap? I believe its the best way to keep the boat as dry as possible and it wont blow off or rip, if cut correctly it can be used a number of years, sorry if im going off topic but maybe I can learn something from you, ive been back and forth over tarp/shrinking the boat

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:22 pm
by WayWeGo
K4282, some of the reasons I prefer a tarp are specific to my marina, which is a small, family owned one. The owner is a great guy, but I feel that it would not be fair to him to shrink wrap my own boat when he provides the same service, especially since he runs a full service shop and I already do my own work. With the tarp, at least I am doing something he does not provide.

I also think that with a decent quality tarp, it will be less expensive in the long run, especially since I would need to rent or own a heat shrink gun. The tarp is easier to control air circulation with and also easier to move aside to do work and then reseal it.

For me, the biggest advantage of shrink wrap is that it is quite slippery and less likely to have snow stick to it. It is also lighter to manage when moving/storing it.

Also, I may be leaving the boat in the water next winter and have an end slip with no dock on the port side of the boat. Shrink wrapping in the water would be quite difficult from my dinghy. I think I can install the tarp from on the boat, but it still won't be easy.

Of course, I may have different thoughts after the first winter!

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:50 pm
by LandVF36
I tarp our F36. I have two reasons, 1) my boat is painted and if you let plastic shrink wrap stick to the sides anywhere, you run the risk of causing paint blisters. 2) I'm cheap. You cannot shrink yourself in our yard due to guy that burnt up a dozen boats in a yard near-by a few years back. A shrink job for our F36 would be about $1100.

I have on giant "saw horse" with 18' legs that sits at the bow on the ground, a tinyone with 4' legs that sits on the bridge, and a medium one with 12' legs that sits at the cockpit deck near the transom. I have a ridge pole that runs from front to back. I buy a $120 tarp from the local farm store that is 30 x 50. I lace the front at the bow and then zig / zag across the bottom. Looking for pictures but I don't seem to have any, sorry.

I've seen all sorts of frames built from PVC, conduit, etc. They all fail. 2 x 4s are not fancy, but its structural and you can make a tall steep peak which helps the snow slide off.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:52 pm
by K4282
Thanks for the response from both, I certainly can relate to the small/friendly marina. Mines get stored in my driveway but the marina 1/8 mile down the road has to remove my hardtop with a crane. I've refereed people there and occasionally get a transient slip there, he offers shrinking and does not allow outsiders to shrink for liability reasons. I think he would have charged around $600 for my F32, I got other people to do it at my house for $340 with a zipper door and said i could get a better deal if I had more boats local lined up. Before biting on the $340 I got 3 other quotes, one at a marina of $840 and two other mobile guys at $400 and $425 so shop around for a good price because they certainly vary. I suspect to use my shrink wrap for a few years.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:33 pm
by captainmaniac
My situation is a bit different as I store indoors, but still need a cover to keep the dust (and rust from the roof and steel beams) off of the boat. I just use a light weight blue poly tarp (wouldn't stand up for you), but for my F32 I found that a 40x60 tarp worked out well.

I build a simple A frame that stands on the side decks, just ahead of the mast light (and 6" taller) too keep pressure off of it, and a single vertical support in the cockpit that I lay my bimini back on. I use 3/16" twine for my 'ridge pole', as well as 'side support' from forward railings, up and over the A frame, back to the Bimini, and down the swim platform.

On my a father's boat (years ago) we used the basic A frame idea as well. It was a hardtop (not flybridge), so the center post went from bow up to hardtop, and stopped at the back end of the hardtop. Used small supports (like horse legs) over the hard top, and 1x2s or 1x3s every 3 feet or so to add 'trusses' and legs from the front of the hardtop forward.

For the flybridge boats I have seen shrink wrapped in my marina, as well as a friend who lives aboard a 43 Viking Double Cabin during the winter, they usually have a series of screwed together 1/3s from bow to over the flybridge (and part way back in the cockpit), some vertical supports every 5-10' on the center line holding the ridge pole at the desired height, then line of whatever kind to around the ridge pole and down to railings to support over stability. My friend who lives aboard gets wrapped while in the water. It's been a few years since he told me how they did it, but I believe they used a dinghy go get support lines etc for the bottom of the shrink into place, but then applied most of the heat for shrinking from the deck so they could actually reach it.

I know the first hear

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 3:14 pm
by WayWeGo
LandVF36, if I am understanding you correctly, you have three different A-frames, but if you look from the side, the ridgepole looks like a single 2x4 with no bends.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:14 pm
by LandVF36
That is correct. I use the cheap saw horse brackets Home Depot which allow you to splice the 2x4s along the ridge line. I wrap the two ends and the joints in the middle, as well as antenna brackets and my bow ladder with carpet scraps and then wrap with a 60 x 30 tarp. If you use screws with a square drive, its easy to disassemble in the spring.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:43 am
by Paul - SW Ontario
Old 40' x 60' tarp...cut patterns out of it, quick sew job.
Mine is indoor storage too, works great to keep the dust off.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:56 pm
by WayWeGo
I appreciate all the help given and wanted to follow up with what I ended up doing.

The frame was built out of about 550' of 3/4" EMT conduit, using about 20 Kover Klamps, 10 Framemaker "T" clamps and 10 Framemaker 4-way clamps. The 4-way clamps were used to attach the ribs to the ridge pole and the "T" clamps to attach the vertical supports to the ridge pole. The Kover Klamps were used to attach the ribs to the bow rail and to anchor the ends of the stringers. The middle joints in the stringers were attached with 2 tie wraps and duct tape at each joint. Finally, we used pipe insulation along the ridge pole and some internal ropes to steady the frame.
Frame Front.jpg
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Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:21 pm
by WayWeGo
I ended up buying a 40' x 60' white nylon tarp from Billboard Tarps. The 40' width was perfect and I had considered going with only 50' long, but the difference in cost was not that great. The tarp weighed at least 125 lbs and was a real bear to get up onto the boat and spread over the frame. Once it was up there, the rest of the installation went smoothly and I cut off the excess material so it will be a bit lighter next time. The tarp was attached using cheap rope from Home Depot and Griff Clips fabric clips identical to Kover Klips but purchased off Ebay. The holes on the clips were too small for the rope I used, but I had 100' of marine shock cord which worked perfectly.
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Cover Side.jpg
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Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:25 pm
by WayWeGo
The whole job took two of us two half days and a third very full day, working from 10am to 11pm, with it snowing for the last five hours. Luckily the tarp was on top of the boat by the time the snow started, but I would not call it pleasant working conditions!

The real test of our design and construction was the snowstorm that blew through a couple of days later. The marina got at least two feet of snow and the nearest buoy on the bay recorded sustained winds of 40 knots and a gust of 70 knots. I was sweating bullets until we could get back to the boat a week later and see that it held up just fine to this storm.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:03 pm
by prowlersfish
Nice job

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:49 pm
by captainmaniac
Looks good! One trick I use to cut down on the time to cover is that I fold the cover in a specific way - kind of accordion style ( ... l_fan1.jpg) - to make it easier to put back on the boat. Once I have my basic frame up we place the cover in a certain spot, unfold it to one side then then one flap forward and we are ready to go.

I then just pull everything to the bow until it's tight (cover unfolds accordion style), we shift the cover forward/aft or side to side if not exactly where it needs to be, then pull out each side (again, accordion style, so it just unfolds as we pull it), then pull the last bit aft and over my bimini frame and down to the swim platform (again, accordion style).

To fold it, you basically fold in the reverse order that you want to unfold (for me - aft first, then sides, then the forward section). I have some reference marks on the cover to remind me each year where to begin the aft folding, and other marks for positioning of the cover (ie where it crosses the rail at the bow, what spot should be over the mast light, where it crosses the flybridge front rail, the wheel, and the bimini frame). One we have the cover pulled out to the bow, we use the marks to make sure it is in position before we make it any more unweildly.

The only real challenge in folding it is having an open area that is more than 40x60 to lay the cover out for folding, and light enough winds that you can fold it without it trying to take off on you.

Re: Winter Tarp Questions

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:40 pm
by WayWeGo
Captainmaniac, thanks for the ideas on how to fold the tarp! I had already decided to run a sharpie marker down the tarp next to the ridge pole and along the center rib, basically marking a cross-hair to align the tarp next year.

I knew that I needed to make a plan to fold it but had not thought any further on it yet. I did not have an opportunity to lay the tarp out before installing it and there was no place at the marina to do so. It was folded up in a very difficult manor to unfold on top of the frame, not to mention that it was difficult to lift up onto the boat and frame with only two people. You can imagine how much fun it is to lift a 20' long limp snake that weighs 125 lbs 12 feet in the air with one person on the ground and one reaching over the bow rail!

One thing I was not happy to see was that the tarp is not entirely waterproof. There are some seams where panels of fabric are joined, and you can see specks of daylight through these areas. The holes are pretty small (1/16" to 1/8" in a double or triple row), but it will certainly leak a bit of water in a heavy rain. In hindsight, I am now kind of happy to have them. One of my worries has been humidity under the tarp. When we visited the boat after the snow storm, it was bone dry under the tarp even though there was ice and snow on the boat when I covered it. Now I am much less worried about mold and mildew! To help with this, I did not cover the bottom of the swim platform and left the cover loose at the bow so air can flow through from front to rear.

When I bought the tarp, I had the option of choosing white on both sides or white on one side and black on the other. I chose the all white tarp so that it would be light inside, hoping to be able to work and hang out on the boat during the winter. That has worked out well for us.
Under Cover.jpg
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