R 22

Rhodes 22


Boat Covers

Greetings from rainy Chicago,

Do any of you full-fledged Rhodes 22 owners have a boat cover for your boat?

If so, are they commercially available or did you have to have one made?

Thank you,
Bruce Chisholm
05 Feb 1999

You didn't specify whether you were interested in a mooring cover, trailering cover, or winter storage cover. For a winter storage cover, try NH Northern at 800-533-5545. They have a 20' x 30', 1000 denier urethane-coated Cordura nylon tarp for $170.99 plus S&H. (Part # 18105-C131)

I've used mine for three Michigan winters and it still looks great. I've never seen such an abrasion, chafe, UV, & weather resistant fabric! I use my mast as a ridgepole and I have 7 equally spaced "Conestoga wagon" style poles going from side to side. The Conestoga wagon style poles prevent the weight of snow from bowing the cover down in between the ridgepole and the lifelines, thus helping to keep things draining properly. These poles were made from " diameter PVC water pipe with slip on lawn furniture rubber leg caps on each end. Each of the 7 poles runs in an arch from the lifelines over the mast to the lifeline on the opposite side. Vinyl electrical tape secures the poles to the lifelines or stanchions just fine. Each of these 7 poles was custom cut to length with a hacksaw and they are labeled as to which position they fit into.

You still need to pad any sharp corners like lifeline stanchions, bow and stern pulpits, anchor light and other fittings on the mast, etc. I use the polystyrene foam tubes sold in hardware stores for insulating pipes held on with a couple of wraps of vinyl electrical tape for padding things. It takes me about an hour to prep the boat to put the winter cover on. You will find the 20' x 30' cover is long enough to lash closed at the bow and you end up with sufficient excess at the stern to wrap over your outboard motor & stern boarding ladder and are still able to lash the opening at the stern completely closed. The cover reaches down nearly to the trailer along each side.

If you are handy with your lashing ropes and knots (I'm a Boy Scout leader), you can end up with a very professional looking winter storage cover. I don't know what a custom winter storage cover costs; but it couldn't look or function any better than mine. I might have about $200 total tied up in my winter storage cover system.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium

As you've probably figured out by now, with all the rigging on a sailboat & all the differences between boats, if you want a good fitting mooring cover; then, you'll have to go custom made. Look in the yellow pages under "Boat Covers, Tops, & Upholstery". Speaking as someone who has made a good bit of my own boat canvas, if someone is willing to quote you a price for a custom mooring cover without seeing the boat rigged in the condition in which the cover is to be used; then, hang up the phone or walk away. You do not want the products made by that person or firm.

Sewing boat canvas is one of the most artsy crafty things you can make for a boat. You cannot make accurate enough measurements, do a sufficiently clear drawing, or cut & sew the fabric precisely enough to do away with the need for the final fitting on the actual boat. You can expect to have to take the boat on its trailer to the canvas shop, rig it, & leave it while your mooring cover is being made & fitted. Most canvas shops will have a secure fenced in parking lot for you to park your boat & trailer in. A week to 10 days would be a reasonable amount of time assuming the canvas shop isn't swamped with work. Better hurry, they get busy every spring!

Because of the fact that boat canvas products are intrinsically labor intensive to produce, it makes absolutely no sense to cheap out on the materials. It requires just as many man-hours to build a mooring cover from cheap vinyl as from quality Sunbrella acrylic and the Sunbrella cover will last 3X as long as the vinyl.

My house is right on Sanford Lake in the central lower peninsula of Michigan. Most of the time in summer, my Rhodes 22 is in the water in a slip in my backyard. I have a big white oak tree which overhangs my dock. The tree is too pretty to cut down; but the fallout from it can get to be a real mess when it comes to cleaning the boat. In an attempt to cut down on the fallout, I have found I can cover approximately 80% of the deck & cockpit with the mast in place with 2 standard tarps.

For the cockpit cover, use a 10' x 12' tarp with the 10' dimension draped over the boom. Tie the edges down to your lifelines, stanchions, & stern pulpit with parachute cord. For the foredeck cover, I use my whisker pole supported on the outboard end by the spinnaker pole toping lift as a ridgepole for the tarp. However, there is no reason why a length of line couldn't be tied between the mast & the rolled up genoa to serve the same purpose. Use a 6' x 8' tarp with the 6' dimension draped over the ridgepole (ridge rope?). Experiment with the angle & height of the ridgepole until the 2 grommets in the front corners of the tarp will just come together under the roller-furling spool at the bow & the 2 grommets in the rear corners of the tarp will just reach the top lifeline on each side. In the correct configuration, the ridgepole will be somewhat higher at the mast & angle down towards the bow.

Once you find the correct locations for each end of the ridgepole, you can mark them & from then on, setup is pretty fast & painless. Tie all the grommets to lifelines or the bow pulpit with parachute cord & your mooring cover is complete. Only a few feet of the boat amidships & the extreme stern portion of the cockpit will be left exposed. It's not nearly as elegant as a custom made mooring cover; but, it's also much cheaper & it does work reasonably well.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium

My thanks to all who responded to my question about boat covers. More specifically, I'm looking for a cover to use when dry mooring the boat. The mast and associated standing rigging would be up. The boat will normally be stored indoors in winter so I'll be using the same cover. Thanks again for all your input.

Bruce Chisolm

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