DIY Boat Covers

Written by rona aquino
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DIY Boat Covers
Protect and cover your boat when not in use. (kayak image by saidin b jusoh from

Avoid damaging your boat when not in use by constructing a protective boat cover. Exposure to the elements such as the sun's UV rays and water can cause damage to your boat. You can easily construct covers can for canoes and kayaks with the use of protective materials like polythene tarp fabric. Covers also eliminate the time you may spend cleaning up your boat each time before use. Though ready-made covers are widely available, making your own only costs a fraction of the price you would spend for a store-bought cover.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • White chalk
  • Heavy-duty polythene tarp
  • Scissors
  • Nylon thread
  • Needle, #9
  • Cutter
  • Mitten hooks
  • Shock cord

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  1. 1

    Measure the length and width of your boat's cockpit with the tape measure.

  2. 2

    Place the tarp over the cockpit and trace the shape with the chalk to make a draft pattern.

  3. 3

    Lay out the tarp on a level surface and make the final cockpit pattern using the measurements you took. Use the tape measure and add three inches around the entire pattern with the chalk.

  4. 4

    Trace a second inner line two inches around the cockpit pattern. This second line serves as the guideline for folding the fabric into a sleeve for insertion of the shock cord.

  5. 5

    Cut the tarp following the outermost seam or line around the pattern.

  6. 6

    Sew a buttonhole on the back of your boat cover where the shock cord will exit the sleeve. Use the needle and nylon thread to sew two 1-inch parallel bar tacks 1/4 inch apart, then stitch two more bar tacks to form a rectangle. This closes off the buttonhole.

  7. 7

    Grab the cutter and carefully cut a small slit into the fabric that runs inside the buttonhole rectangle.

  8. 8

    Fold the seam following the outer line and double stitch as you follow the inner seam guideline. This completes a sleeve for the shock cord to go around the boat cover.

  9. 9

    Insert the shock cord through the sleeve and tie the end through the mitten hook.

  10. 10

    Place the cover over the cockpit and pull the shock cord to fit the cover snugly over your boat. The tarp will cover and protect your boat by keeping the cockpit area dry and clean.

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