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Winter Boat Cover: Fail!

There must be a bit of DIY in every small boat owner that would explain the inventive spirit compelling them to try to develop both simple and complex solutions to Nature's perennial attacks on protective marine covers.

I have come to this conclusion from personal observation and experience, having tried myriad ways to cover marine equipment and support those protective covers through Michigan winters, trailering near and far and responding to sudden squalls while moored at the dock. I've also looked at the work of others who've been about the same tasks, experiencing similar successes and failures. There is real exhilaration associated with returning to the cottage in spring to find all boat covers still shedding the elements, their poles intact and in position!  There is true frustration associated with the converse: the Spring arrival to find covers collapsed with mounds of snow covering large blocks of ice filling the voids formed by collapsed canvas draped over windshield, seats, bow and stern wells - even with the added insult of bits of broken support poles protruding through rips in the fabric! 
It’s Time to consider further design development for next year's winter storage with ample time to do so while waiting for that ice to melt enough to permit removal of the cover - likely a week to a month off.
So, what I've learned over fifty plus years of small boat stewardship so far is:
   o  Any pole with a telescoping feature will telescope under heavy snow loads
   o  Poles consisting of short lengths of plastic tube connected with short, internal joining parts (and mounted to a large disk at the base, a nicely rounded cap at the top) cannot withstand the hoop stresses generated by heavy snow load. One will find fractured tubes under the cover and pointy joiner bits protruding through the torn cover. By the way, the tear will have allowed water admission to the interior, thus resulting in the cover to be locked in ice from both sides!
   o  If one builds a rafter-style construction, complete with integrated ridge pole, on a pontoon boat to shape and support a dedicated winter tarp cover, but uses PVC pipe of insufficient diameter (or schedule, or both), one will find a tangled sculpture in the snow and ice remaining after the early spring thaw. The sculpture may or may not contain split connectors, randomly vented cover with protruding PVC spears, or large blocks of snow-ice locking all together.
In between years revealing the results described above (sometimes multiples in the same year as I own several boats) I have used the services of shrink-wrapping companies. There have been no failures associated with those protective shrink-wrapped applications...the two-by-four supports, heavy twine supports and ridges and strong, form fitted plastic sheeting have fended off the elements. This is likely the best course of action to secure Spring Joy; nevertheless I continue to experiment with alternative methods that I hope, eventually, will be reusable year to year, effectiveFree Articles, and much lower cost than the shrink-wrapped process.

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Charles Keppel is a long-term small boat owner. He owns a small flotilla for use of family and visitors at his inland Michigan lakehouse. A mechanical engineer, now retired, he's still pursuing solutions to life's challenges.

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