Whenever boat maintenance is considered, boat covers are an absolute necessity. With this guide on the importance of boat covers (plus a few extra tips on choosing one), you can decide on whether the boat covers are worth buying for your boat or not.
Boat covers are well worth the investment when you consider the extra costs that could result from external conditions around the boat (dust, sun, rain, spiders, mice, birds, insects, etc.). And boat covers keep your boat safe all the time regardless of where your boat is kept, indoors or outdoors.
Though, if you overshoot your range (budget), the “good” may become a “bad” investment. If you research your options and go for a boat cover that you can afford and fits well for your boat, it will be a good move, and it will protect your boat against dust, rain, spiders, mice, birds, insects, etc.
However, wanting a top tear boat cover that is custom-fitted to your boat with top tear fabric will apparently be expensive. Similarly, going for generic or cheap boat covers will be less expensive. Like this, there are many ways that you can reduce or increase the cost of your purchasing product.
However, ensure to use a boat cover made of high-quality fabric that is waterproof, UV resistant, and mold and mildew resistant. These qualities will go a long way in protecting your boat and also determine whether your boat cover will last for a single season or a decade.
A quick pro and con comparison of covering the boat will evoke all the elements, and from that, you can decide whether you should buy it or not.
The pros of using a boat cover
Covering the boat will prevent dust & debris
Covering the boat will prevent dust & debris from settling on your boat, and that is one of the main reasons to properly cover your boat if you are leaving it for more extended periods (week or more). Later it will be a mess to clean the dust or debris that are resided on the boat.
The wind causes the residing of dust or debris on your boat, so cover the boat properly if it is a windy day. And make sure that it is covered entirely and properly so that the cover won’t become loose, flapping all the time.
Though, if you are leaving for a day or two, you need not cover the boat if there are no tiny little insects, and the weather is good, no sign of wind or rain or snow (at that time) in your region. However, it is good practice to cover the boat (taking that 5 or 10 minutes is worth it).
Covering a boat will protect the boat from rain
Covering the boat protects the boat during rains, but you should make it waterproof tight by using waterproof covers to protect it from rains. However, the rainwater will not sink the boat, but in heavy rains, there is a possibility. Later it will be a mess if you didn’t cover the vessel.
If the water gets collected inside the boat due to bilge pump inefficiency or the scupper (drains) plugged due to any debris, it will spoil the interiors and seats if you leave it like that for extended periods. You can prevent all of this by covering the boat during rains, especially by waterproofing it.
And it is a good practice for every boater to remove the boat from the water when it rains and properly waterproof (cover) the boat, which will protect the boat from rains.
Covering a boat will secure the boat from sun rays
Covering the boat will guard the boat against the sun’s harmful UV rays, and this is another main reason why you should cover your boat. Sun (UV rays) will break down the pigment in the gel coat and cause your boat’s color to fade to a dull shade of its former self, making it unattractive.
They can also cause the outer surface to turn chalky and deteriorate your gel coat over time. Unless your boat is stored indoors (inside the garage) or appropriately covered, it is very difficult to stop UV light from affecting your gel coat, which deteriorates and fades the boat’s color.
So, cover the boat properly by using assured boat covers if you are storing it outdoors so that the sun rays will not damage your boat. Covering the boat will also prevent any delicate parts from cracking due to the sun’s rays (like seat covers, personal belongings, etc.).
Covering a boat will guard the boat against snow
Winter is on its way. If you live in snowfall regions, you’ll get snow, ice, and freezing rain during the long non-boating season. If your boat is stored indoors, you probably need not cover it, but you’ll need to cover it if it is stored elsewhere other than indoors (like outdoors).
If the boat isn’t covered in winter, snow that falls on your boat melts when the sun shines and becomes ice that is hard to remove and builds up and on. The water that melts will go inside the vessel and could cause (any) severe damages if that water couldn’t get out through drains or blige.
At this time, simply covering the boat might not be a good solution. It might also require a boat cover support system (linked to Amazon) so that it can withstand the heavy snowfalls better. So, covering the boat will protect your boat against snow (well) during winters (however, it could be a nightmare for wooden boats).
Covering a boat will guard it against tiny insects
Covering your boat will prevent all the little insects and creatures from settling inside/on your boat. However, if you live in areas where there are no insects, you probably need not cover the boat, but you need to make sure the weather is good, with no sign of winds or rain, or snow.
Covering the boat will also keep the animals, birds, etc., from residing in/on your boat. But, you need not worry about that if you are leaving the boat for a day or two without cover. So, if the weather is good and no insects around, it is OK to leave your boat uncovered for few days (only).
These are the five main pros of covering the boat. However, if you are leaving it for a day or two, you need not cover the boat if there are no tiny little insects, and the weather is good, no sign of wind or rain or snow (at that time) in your region. More than that, you need to cover your boat, and it is worth the investment.
The cons of covering the boat
Covering a boat isn’t good for long-term storage
Covering the boat isn’t good for long-term storage because it needs to be checked regularly (once every week or so). Anything could happen for a covered boat if you leave it for a long time (like the cover could become loose, or any debris can settle over the cover, etc.).
If you are keeping your boat at your eyesight (near your home or elsewhere near), it is fine because you can check it regularly (daily). Otherwise, it could be a problem. Checking it regularly once every week or so will be good to go.
Ventilation could be a problem if the boat is covered for extended periods. Polyethylene material (which is used in most boat covers) doesn’t allow airflow. Condensation could be a problem, resulting in causing mold or mildew due to the trapped moisture inside.
To prevent mold and mildew inside the boat, you need to select a boat cover with vents capable of releasing any air that may build up inside the vessel over time. If vents are not an option, you need to look for other cover materials (breathable cover materials).
Keep everything dry before covering it for extended periods. If water is present in the hull, it could evaporate over time. If the cover has vents, it is OK because the water vapors will escape through the vents. Otherwise, it will cause mold and mildew.
After taking the boat out of the water, just leave it for some time and remove all the water inside the hull and the bilge area (if any). Then wait for an hour or two and then start covering your boat. Now mold and mildew occurrences are less.
Consider these things while buying a boat cover
We will now see all the things you might need to consider while buying a boat cover for your boat.
Fit (Custom fit or Generic fit)
In the process of buying a boat cover, you might discover (hear) two fittings everywhere, i.e., custom fit and normal (generic or general) fit.
Custom-fit boat covers
- As the name suggests, “custom fit,” you can clearly understand that a custom fit boat cover will fit correctly to your boat, with no loose or free ends flapping around. Since it is custom-fitted to your boat model and the year, it will be a couple of hundred dollars or more expensive than a generic fit.
- The custom-fitted boat covers are great for frequent travelers. It’s safer when you stop, too, cause you don’t have to worry about people grabbing things they shouldn’t. It also keeps a lot of unwanted dirt and debris out of the boat, along with damage from flying rocks.
- As discussed in the cons, ventilation could be a problem with custom-fitted boat covers if the fabric is not breathable, causing mold or mild dew. Otherwise, you need to install vents for air to pass in and out.
Generic fitted boat covers
- The generic or universal fitted boat covers are not custom-fitted to your boat. There might be many boat cover for your 20-foot (say) model boat that will fit, but they will not be as tight as custom-fitted boat cover. So, the cost will a bit less expensive compared to custom-fit boat covers.
- Ventilation couldn’t be a problem since it won’t be as tight as a custom-fit model. However, you need to ensure that there are no big gaps left for any creatures to pass in. For a 20-foot boat, it could take roughly take $300 to $400, and it could increase if you are looking at top tear brands.
Materials (fabric) used
There are two types of materials used in boat covers (broadly), i.e., Vinyl (plastic) and canvas.
Vinyl (plastic) fabric
Since vinyl is the world’s most versatile plastic, I am referring to it as plastic. Different chemicals are mixed with vinyl, and they form different materials. That includes Vinyl, Laminated marine vinyl, coated marine vinyl, polyvinyl, polyester, acrylic, etc. And among them, polyester is popularly used in most boat covers.
Vinyl boat covers pros – They are affordable than other canvases since the materials used are cheaper. And they are widely available throughout the local stores to big stores. All of them are resistant to UV rays, mold, mildew, and water. These are a perfect choice under entry-level boat covers.
Vinyl boat covers cons – Wide availability makes other manufactures use lesser grade materials. They will never fit well (tight) to your boat. Wind and strong storms can carry them off your boat, leaving it open to the elements. There will be several areas where tie-down ropes have chafed and thinned.
Check this Herculite website to know more about each fabric and its pros in a detailed way.
Canvas is a natural textile that is made from a cotton base. Its tight weave makes it waterproof. Often, you see this material in sails because it’s a strong fabric that doesn’t easily tear or rip. But remember, this is a heavier fabric, and you may not like its weight and feel for a boat cover.
This material is available in both generic and custom-fit sizes, and it is a bit expensive compared to other materials due to its strong nature. However, the canvas is an excellent cover for your boat, but this is heavy and may not be suited well for small recreational vessels.
Finally, looking for waterproof covers is also essential; that way, you can protect your boat from rain. If the cover is subjected to regular maintenance (waterproofing it regularly), a good boat cover will easily last 5-8 years. So, its maintenance is also crucial.
Recommended boat covers
- Check this Sunbrella stormproof boat cover (linked to Amazon), and if you buy one now (on sale), you will get a support pole for free.
- For an all-around universal boat cover, it is highly recommended to use MSC Heavy Duty Canvas Boat Cover (check price on Amazon here), which fits a variety of boats, including V-hulls, tri-hulls, and runabouts.
- A support system is also crucial if you are keeping it outdoors in the rain or snow. For full support, also take a look at the Taylor Boat Cover Support System (check price on Amazon).
Sunbrella fabrics (linked to Amazon) are made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic. Therefore, they share many core characteristics like being breathable and UV, water, mildew, and stain-resistant. All Sunbrella fabrics are dyed to the core of their fibers, meaning the color will never fade due to prolonged sun exposure.
The carver fabric covers (linked to Amazon) also share many core characteristics like being breathable and UV, water, mildew, and stain-resistant. Consider both of them while looking for a boat cover, and choose the one based on your needs.
The takeaways from the post
Boat covers are worth buying if you consider the extra costs that could result from external circumstances around the boat (dust, sun, rain, spiders, mice, birds, insects, etc.). And boat covers keep your boat safe all the time regardless of where your boat is kept, indoors or outdoors.
Buying a cheap boat cover or using a universal cover may seem like a good idea, but it’s a costly mistake. It doesn’t make sense to risk saving a couple of hundred bucks at the expense of ruining a boat worth tens of thousands or more.
If the cover doesn’t fit right, water and debris will get inside your boat and potentially ruin it. However, you can buy a cheap cover if you are willing to replace it every year or two.
On the other hand, be sure to use a cover made of high-quality fabric that is waterproof, UV resistant, and mold and mildew resistant. These qualities will go a long way in protecting your watercraft and also determine whether your cover will last for a single season or a decade.