Boat Canvas is desirable to help the boater fight the elements. In the Summer time it’s good to have a way to get out of the sun while still being able to enjoy your boating adventures. This article looks at several ways you can add shade to your boat from; Biminis, Awnings, Dodgers, T Tops, and portable Umbrellas .
The best shade cuts off the sun’s rays while still allowing good visibility and air flow.
The classic Bimini Top is the most popular shade seen on a boat. You will find the Bimini on anything from a kayak, center console to large powerboats and sailboats.
The Bimini Top is an open front canvas top for a boat which gives shade and yet does not obstruct airflow as it is mostly supported by a system of stainless steel bows. The design of the Bimini and bows allows it to collapse and be raised when shade or shelter from rain is desired.
This Bimini Top provides the driver with valuable shade. This Bimini is a simple 2 bow frame with an aft support leg. Sometimes instead of solid support legs you will see webbing straps.
The gap between the windshield and Bimini allows good airflow and visibility to the helm.
Bimini for Inflatable
Even on boats as small as an inflatable you will find a Bimini top. If you are spending a lot of time getting to and fro to your boat a Bimini for the inflatable is not a bad idea. This from Boats to go.
For cold weather or rain the Boat Bimini can be connected to the dodger with a connector piece.
The whole cockpit is covered providing ample shade and protection from rain for the crew, however it does not allow air into the cockpit from the front.
This Bimini has been overlapped with the dodger so that the whole cockpit is in shade and protected from rain, yet the gap allows air flow to the helm.
The dodger extension can be folded out of the way as well as the dodger.
A second group of Bimini is the hard top Bimini. Also called Bimini Enclosures, Raised Enclosures. With Hard Top Enclosures the solid tops do a better job of cooling the cockpit. Canvas while id does keep out UV rays does not insulate while a solid top can.
This hard top on a sailboat has been well done. Due to the weight and windage of the top, I would not recommend this for offshore passages but for coastal and inshore water its fine. The owner was pleased that it did not dramatically effected the sailing ability of his 40 ft deck saloon.
The solid top provides a cool shaded area. The side curtains can be lowered for even more protection. The top is held in place with stainless posts which have in turn been used as davits.
The flybridge of this sport fisherman is another place where we see the hardtop Bimini. This hardtop has EZ2CY side curtains to provide a fully protected working and living area.
These enclosures allow for year round entertaining and boating. Some have air conditioning and heating units to make this possible. These curtains can be rolled up and stored when the weather is nice. They can be unrolled and zipped into place any time. They can perform with boat speeds up to 30 knots and a driving rain. Other than EZ2CY other materials for side panels include Isinglass and Strataglass. Both of these are Vinyl materials.
These panels can be damaged easily so great care must be taken when rolling them up and they will crease and scratch easily.
Both the tan and the navy canvas on the two powerboats in the picture are convertibles. They are supported by stainless tubes.
They are not really designed to fold down but could be if needed. Cheaper and lighter than the solid top, they can be built with stainless bows and canvas. Again side curtains provide year round protection.
Boat Awnings are large swaths of canvas and cover large areas of the deck, not just the cockpit.
This Boat Awing is well made. It is led over the boom and tied to the stanchions. The triangular shape of the ends help keep the panels taught.
This awning offers a lot of shade although the headroom is not quite what you want for a cruiser.
The Shade tree boat awning is a bit more complicated to set up than the average Awning. However if you spend a lot of time living onboard or at anchor the time might well be worth it.
The fiberglass/carbon support wands form an arch, which is stable yet flexible. The arch hold the canvas in shape, which covers the deck with shade, allows plenty of freestanding headroom and plenty of airflow.
Looks like a Boy Scout worked on this one.
This Awing seen here on a Swan is well thought out. It has no poles and uses halyards and running backstays for tying off points to keep the awning edges and panels taught.
The awing also has a foredeck component so the whole boat is in shade and the side pieces keep out the sun before and after its overhead.
Boom furled Awning
External furling This furling unit from Bamar is designed to attach the boom. A half awning is housed on each furling unit and when needed the awning is pulled out.
There are support poles to hold the awning in shape. This device allows for the awning to be set very quickly.
Sun Fly Strut
The Sun Fly Strut is a pole inserted into a receptacle in the deck. This enables a free flying canvas to cover the cockpit.
The forward end of the canvas is fixed to the aft end of the cabin top. This is a cheap method for providing shade and the canvas can be easily stowed when not needed.
T Tops for Center consoles
T Tops are very popular with center console boats. They are more often made from alloy tubes and covered with canvas or a hard top. The T Top can provide valuable storage space and mountings for VHF radios and the like.
T Tops for Center consoles
This typical T Top is made with welded alloy tubes with a canvas top.
Designed to be permanently erected the T Top provides shade for the driver. If you want more shade you can add the t Top extender seen below.
For trailerable boats there is the Folding T Top. This t Top folds forward so you can trailer your center console and have the benefit of a T Top.
T Top extender
This extension for your T-Top can add much more valuable space in the shade. Whether you are fishing or relaxing, getting away from the sun, not only protects you from evil rays but also keeps you cooler, extending your time afloat.
MAATS the boating industries convention, for marine and boating products announced this year winners, & the best new products. The T-Top extender from Eclipse marine won honorable mention in the the Deck Equipment category.
Sure shade is an automatic canvas extension. There are several ways to extend canvas either manually or automatic.
These extenders can add shade to a cockpit and retract when not in use.
Other shade options
Here are several off the shelf items which can add some much needed shade.
The AnchorShadeÂ® umbrella can be used on almost any vessel, from small fishing boats to larger high performance models. The central pole supports the umbrella while the side tie downs keep it in place.
The hatch umbrella is held up with a halyard and with four corners is tied off to the lifelines.
This folding shade is perfect for small boats. The fisherman can fish in the shade and then quickly fold it up as he speeds off to another location.