Boats are a vehicle just like a car or a motorcycle, and when exposed to the elements they get beat up just as much as anything else. Temperature, humidity, sun, wind, and rain all have the ability to create physical damage to the outside and top of a boat, even when the vehicle is actually designed to be in the water in the first place. Dirt and grit are often the first problem that occurs, brought in by the wind. That, in turn, captures moisture that penetrates layers and cracks. The sun and temperature work the third part, causing things to expand and contract, creating more room for more grit. Fortunately, all of the above is entirely avoidable by simply using a high-quality boat T cover.
Cover Type and Usage
A basic fit boat cover is used mainly for transport when the boat is on a trailer or occasional coverage when not using the vessel for a few days at a time (i.e. once a weekend or so). These covers are designed for light protection, keeping grit off a boat as it’s being moved on a trailer via the highway or roads, and keeping critters out when the boat is parked or moored. It also helps prevent bird excrement from landing all over a boat, as birds seem to have quite a habit of dropping on boats of all sizes regularly.
A storage cover is designed for more long-term protection. It may be used both indoors or outdoors, and these cover types tend to be made of far more durable materials. They are often canvas-based versus just cloth material and are able to withstand the rain, sun, and elements for months at a time. Visit any marina and long-term covers will be visible in their distinct royal blue canvas color. However, they also come in greys and whites as well.
Semi-covers are partial material covers for sections of a boat versus the entire vessel. These covers protect specific areas, like the pilot’s cabin area or specific electronic equipment from element protection.
Fit and Longevity Expectation
Ideally, good boat covers with T-top features should have a correct fit to the boat it is applied to. A sagging cover will be a problem, it often catches the wind, and ends up being blown off or torn from constant whipping and movement against the boat’s surface. With a snug fit, movement is reduced to a minimum and the cover performs as designed to protect the boat’s surface and internals.
The longevity of a cover is often dictated by the cover materials. Standard cloth or tarp-style covers don’t last very long under hard use and are designed for temporary coverage at best. They tend to shred and fall apart from extended use in the sun and with moisture. Pigment-dyed polyester, on the other hand, tends to hold up stronger, functions as a water-resistant barrier, and doesn’t fall apart from sun exposure. Treated canvas tends to be the strongest and is designed for long-term coverage application for months at a time.
Remember, in the end, a boat cover is a lot cheaper than paying to resurface a boat all over again. It keeps a vessel in good appearance, and covers can be replaced easily too. Invest in your boat, and it will take care of you a lot better.