How Not To Tarp Your Boat For Winter

Published On March 17, 2014 | By Mark Baese | Boat Projects

As we prepare to get our boat ready for the 2014 boating season, I’d like to revisit the end of the 2012 / start of 2013 – and the horrible experience of tarping our own boat.

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This above shot the only picture we have of the great boat tarp experience that ended our 2012 boating season. It’s dark and Julie looks defeated – and there’s a reason for both of those things.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: tarp your own boat, save money. I don’t remember the exact cost of getting your boat shrink wrapped that year, but I clearly remember the word “hundred” being used in the price. I also saw a 60 x 40 tarp on sale for less than a hundred. I figured my boat was under 30 feet, so a 60 x 40 should cover it. Turns out, that was overkill. Which is where our problems started.

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The above picture is from the unwrap of spring 2013. It gives you a good idea of how much overkill there was.

The tarp was so large, we spent hours and hours in October trying to get the boat covered. A few things I didn’t think about first:

  1. A 60 x 40 tarp is WAY too big to manage.
  2. A 60 x 40 tarp is WAY too heavy manage.
  3. Wind. Who knew that wind would turn a 60 x 40 tarp into a 60 x 40 kite.

These three things tested our marriage as Julie and I attempted to cover the boat. It was a frustrating 3 or 4 hour affair that went into the dark hours where we realized that it was nearly impossible to get the tarp over the boat. Basically, the tarp was too heavy and even when we could get part of it over, it just wouldn’t budge due to how much weight it was putting onto the the top of the bimini & bow.

Whenever we would make a bit of progress, the wind would pretty much undo it.

Eventually, the wind died down enough that we actually used it to catch air underneath and shift the tarp over top foot by foot. ?This took hours. I can’t overstate that. It was painful and not an experience I want to attempt again.

Fast forward to spring 2013. When we realized what a horrible tarp job we actually did.

First of all, the snow that landed on the tarp eventually melted. As we started to get to the business of removing the tarp, I could see that the water started to pool:

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You can see how the water pooled and hung over the edge.

At first I was like – that’s funny. I didn’t think about that happening.

And then it became unfunny:

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At this point, some panic set in. Without seeing how much water had already leaked through – I couldn’t help but wonder what shape the inside of the boat was in. Was I going to find puddles? Mold? Oh god.

As the un-tarping continued, we reflected on what a massive pain it was and that we were never doing it again. That, combined with the fact that there was a zero percent chance we could fit the tarp in my car, made us decide this tarp was finished.

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There was no chance we were folding this into a transportable size. As our dog George looks on with great concern…

It almost didn’t fit into the trash:

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Julie is a trooper. She was so happy to see that tarp gone, that she bounced atop the garbage and made it fit.

Luckily for us, the bow was bone-dry, no leaks, and the interior was perfect. Bullet dodged.

Of course, we could choose to look at this from the perspective of lessons learned: get a smaller tarp, prepare better, avoid puddle collection zones.?In the end, the hassle and problems weren’t worth the savings. This experience has taught us that we’d rather just pay the money to have it done right.

This picture is from the professional shrink wrap job we had done in fall 2011. No chance of water pooling over the side here:


Probably the biggest benefit, Julie and I have some peace of mind.


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