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Shade Options – FOR YOUR BOAT

Shade Options – FOR YOUR BOAT

By Dianne Katra

With the sun seemingly ever hotter and more damaging, many boat owners are asking what they can do to protect both their boat and their guests. These are just some of the popular options available to you from a marine trimming perspective.

BIMINI TOPS AND AWNINGS – First up is keeping the sun off your head. A good bimini top or awning can go a long way towards making your boating adventures more sun safe and fun for all your family and friends.

There are many off the shelf biminis on the market, but often it is necessary to have one custom made to ensure it can provide the coverage you need. From there, the decision is whether to use aluminium or stainless steel. This depends on the speed of your boat and how you use it. If you have the type of boat that goes less than 20 knots, you should be fine with an aluminium frame, but make sure the aluminium has a 3mm wall for strength. If it’s likely you will go above 20 knots then a stainless frame is the way to go as it has superior strength. You have the options of Sunbrella, Mariner, Stamoid, Weathermax, and more to cover your bimini.

The size of your bimini is up to you – the more coverage the better, but not if it gets in the way of casting a fishing rod! Also, keep in mind that the higher your bimini, the less coverage you get so try to find a balance that you are comfortable with. As far as coverage goes, in general, a metre between bows is ideal – so a three-bow bimini will get you two metres of coverage bow to stern, a four-bow, three metres, etc. Most boats won’t encounter issues with the bimini width, but if your boat is over three metres wide, you may need to consider an awning.

If you do have a larger boat or just want more coverage, you may need to look at an awning type frame. This will nearly always be stainless steel and of course be on the more expensive side, but they can be made to any size. They can also be designed with aesthetics in mind to produce something that not only protects you, but looks great too.

Awnings can also be used as extensions from the rear floors of flybridges and from hard tops, to extend shade into the back deck area. Again, these will almost always be stainless and custom made.

MESH SCREENS – Mesh screens are becoming more and more popular with boaties and can be extremely versatile. You have the choice of breezeway style meshes (60 to 75% blockout) and “closed” meshes (90 to 95% blockout).

Breezeway style meshes are ideal where you want some sun and heat protection, but you do not want to reduce airflow too much. This mesh is also good mosquito protection, but is not midge proof. It is also easy to see through, although using it in driving positions at night is not recommended. So think about using this around the back deck of your boat, and around your windows to reduce heat and light into the interior of your boat and in covers to allow airflow.

Closed mesh provides that higher level of sun protection. It blocks out up to 95% of the heat and light into an area, but is still able to be seen through so you don’t feel closed in. It offers very good mosquito, midge and wind protection and does offer some protection from rain. The Vistaweave collection also offers a large colour range, which provides plenty of choice and compliments many of the Sunbrella colours.

BLOCKOUT COVERS – The highest level of protection for your boat’s interior, and of course for you too, are solid covers. Many boaties are choosing solid covers around their cabin windows, hatches and rear decks to protect timberwork, teak and upholstery from sun damage. The downside is, of course, that you can’t see through it, but it certainly works in many applications.

EURO COVERS – These are covers that generally attach to an existing hard top, bimini or flybridge floor, and extend out to stainless steel poles to provide temporary sun cover. The poles can be curved to assist with tensioning and to provide greater shade coverage. While these structures cannot be kept up permanently (or while driving) they do offer a flexible option to provide more sun protection for you and your guests on those hot, sunny days.




Published in print October-December 2021