FAQ: Custom Winter Covers
Should I get a full-length custom-made cover?
Probably the best investment you can make to add longevity to your boat's
appearance, and to prevent cracking/leaking is to purchase a full-length
custom-made cover. I had mine made out of 2 pieces that zip together abeam
the mast and extend just below the rub rail so it can be put on when the
boat is on land or in the water. The fellow that made mine used a material
called Odyssey, which is some kind of VERY resilient polyester made in
Missouri. I've used it for 8 winters so far and it is going on its 9th
with no visible wear.
There are a number of features that I had made into this cover: There are
Naugahyde reinforcement pads sewn in where the cover crosses each
stanchion top/possible rub spot. There are internal tie downs at each
stanchion. There is a heavy web belt sewn into the full-length top center
aft portion with tie downs that go around the boom. The forward piece can
either be held up by a 2x4-frame mast to bow or there are two reinforced
eyes (on a full-length web strip) that can be held up by the jib and
spinnaker halyards. Every joint where a zipper joins there is a sewn in
tie to ensure that any strain is placed on the tie and not the zipper. I
had a zipper placed in the stern for on land boarding up a stepladder in
the winter. I cover each stanchion top with a piece of carpet, bow/stern
pulpits and lifelines with tubular insulation. All of this is done to
protect against chafing to the cover. Besides the tie downs on the inside
at each stanchion, there are tie downs from the aft section around the
boom so it can not shift. When I use the 2x4-frame mast to bow, there are
tie downs also to go around that frame to keep that section from shifting.
I weight the outside down with half gallon plastic milk bottles filled
with a solution of old antifreeze and water. These are hung from the very
outside of the cover on loops sewn to a web strip that reinforces the
bottom of the cover. I elected not to go below the waterline because I
wanted to be able to put it on if I left the boat in the water, but more
important I didn't want a longer cover and lines that could chafe the side
of the gelcoat hull in high winds.
We've all read about the freeze/thaw/freeze cycle and how important it is
to protect the boat from that. A couple of other reasons to cover your
boat are to protect from stains from wet fallen leaves and the maroon
berry from birds. If you are in an area that has an unpaved road, the
cover will keep an incredible amount of dust and sand off your boat. A
cover avoids UV damage to hatch covers. I don't have a window in mine so
it is dark inside during the winter, but under a dark blue cover when it
is freezing outside I can work below in a T-shirt when the sun is shining.
The maker of my cover and I discussed sunbrella and we both decided it was
almost as bad as canvas -- way too heavy and expensive. If you are unable
to find the Odyssey material, my next best solution would be to go to a
company that makes semi-truck tarps and see what they have. A full length
cover is a great purchase when you consider it covers your for 1/3 of the
I'd like to second the statement that a custom made winter cover is one
of the best investments we have made for our boat. What used to take the
better part of a day to do with tarps and frames now can be done by one
person in about two hours.
Our cover was made with zippers that allow it to fit around the mast and
shrouds. The boom fits in a support that was made by the supplier and then
serves as a ridge pole. For support in front of the mast, a ridge pole was
made from a 2x10 plank and a support at the mast end.
We purchased it from a local supplier. The principle of that company has
recently started his own company which operates under the name of White
Lake Canvass in Whitehall, Michigan.
David Rinard, 1987 #278 Confetti, email@example.com
Important: The opinions expressed here are those
of the individual contributors to this page, and not those of the Catalina
34 National Association or Catalina Yachts, Inc. Additionally, this
material has not been reviewed by Catalina Yachts, Inc. for technical
accuracy. This page's maintainer cannot guarantee the accuracy of this
information or the desirability of suggested modifications or upgrades.
Please obtain assistance from a competent marine mechanic or boatyard
prior to making any significant modifications to your vessel.