By Greg Kopf, Brand Ambassador at BOATiD.com - Investing in a boat cover is one of the most important decisions a boat owner can make, particularly since weather damage and wear and tear can lead to expensive repairs. It’s easy to forget to cover your boat, particularly during summer when you’re constantly in and out of it. It’s even easier to forget to replace your cover when it's worn or ill-fitting after a season of heavy use. As the seasons change and cold weather approaches, now is the time to remind yourself of the importance of always covering your boat between uses and checking on the effectiveness of your cover.
What can happen to your boat if you use a worn or ill-fitting cover?
Mother nature can wreak havoc on a boat that’s not covered properly. Even though your boat is built for the water, it must be protected from prolonged exposure and from water that can seep into the wrong areas. You want to do everything possible to avoid standing water collecting inside the hull as it can potentially freeze and cause damage. Fiberglass gelcoat can take a beating from not being covered, especially if water gets in. If water collects for an extended period, it can even cause cracking and splitting in the fiberglass.
Your boat's interior comforts are also subject to the weather, which can fade and deteriorate plastics, fade vinyl seats and cause them to crack and split. Even stainless-steel hardware can start to become pitted and unsightly. If your boat is left uncovered frequently, an intrusion of moisture can also cause failure to electrical components. While covers may seem trivial, the better your boat is covered, the more dirt and grime it keeps out and the cleaner it stays, which makes next seasons preparation less demanding.
How to decide which cover fits your budget and future plans
- If at any time a boat is not in use, it's always recommended to use a cover. Bimini tops are best for daily use to keep passengers shaded while out on the water and they also aid in keeping the sun off the hull when docked. While Bimini tops are not a boat cover in a traditional sense or designed for long-term storage, they do cover the boat and any coverage will help protect it.
- Mooring covers are a great choice for off-season storage for boat owners that keep their boats in the water. Mooring covers consist of a durable canvas material that is stretched tightly around the top of the boat and over the sides. These are great for boats stored outside and a mooring cover can protect the interior of the boat from not only rain, snow and dirt, but also can protect the gel coat and the rest of the interior from UV fading.
- A boat being stored on land, either on a rack or trailer, will require a traditional boat cover. These can be used for both long- and short-term storage conditions. Just like most covers, there are several options to choose from in regard to fit. You can select from a universal fit based on the length and width of the boat, a semi-custom fit or a fully custom fit cover tailored for your specific year, make and model boat.
Depending on the type of cover you're looking for, whether it be universal, semi-custom, or custom there are a few things to keep in mind. You will always need to know the length and beam width (widest area of the boat) for universal covers. These types of covers are sold based on dimensions so have the right measurements on hand when shopping.
When shopping for a semi-custom fit cover, these at times can be sold based on the make and model boat, but you will still need the length and width as well as the hull type of your boat (V-hull fishing boat, pro bass boat, center console, johnboat, etc.) to get the right fit.
Custom fit covers are tailored to fit your exact boat, so as long as you provide the manufacturer the correct make and model information you should have a perfect fit. Regardless of what cover you choose, having a tight seal that still allows air to circulate is important for any boat cover so knowing these dimensions is crucial.
As the fall and winter months approach, it is important to check on your boat cover in case it needs to be replaced. The last thing you need is to find a damaged or aged boat that will cost a good chunk of change come spring. If you take the correct precautions, decide on what cover to go with and fit it correctly, you should have no problems once you are ready to get out on the water again!
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