New cockpit covers

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    michael bennett

    Hello all, I hope this section appropriate for covers.

    I have decided to make my own new covers, having had quotes requiring a second mortgage!
    i have purchsed a suitable machine very reasonably after being advised from an expert in that area,and will be purchasing the materials from a company in the USA who have been amazingly supportive and helpful.

    My question is, just how often do you use, if you can that is, the windows in the covers both side and rear?
    Personally I have found when raining it very difficult to see through and or mist up inside, with the result that the covers over them outside have rarely been removed, so I am considering not fitting any in my new ones.
    I would appreciate others experiences and or ideas, points of view etc. on any aspect of cover making if they were doing so.

    Many thanks

    Ronar M

    Hi Mike

    I would not do without the windows. Ronar’s windows do not have any covers so they let in much appreciated light all the time. There are windows on each side and a large after one. I always sail with the side ones rolled up (ie ‘open’) though I have been know to roll down the weather one in very rough water. Unless the weather is very poor I usually sail with the after one open as well, which brings some much needed ventilation (preventing condensation / misting up) and also helps with one’s wind awareness. Cheers, Trevor

    michael bennett

    Hi Trevor,

    Many thanks, thats makes a lot of sense, but as I spend all my time in the Med they are usually taken down, and only the aft cover is on if raining heavily, with little visibility due to the non wiped window. Perhaps I should also think of future owners and include windows with external covers as I have now.


    We sail where is cold (water temp is about 10-14C so the wind is always cold), so we almost always have the canvas down except a few days in August. The windows are extremely important to us – we don’t have much problems with condensation – I just wipe them down in the AM, and keep them clean using Plexus a few times a season. The Plexus really helps with the clarity. Maybe this is all an attitude thing – I love being able to roll up the side canvas, but when its cold, I would rather be warm.

    Also – I’m not sure I get the “extrnal covers” thing over the windows. We just have canvas with windows, no covers. Are you saying there can be shades pulled down? This might be nice to keep the glare off the instruments sometimes.

    We’ve had good canvas since purchase, but I have made a few repairs. The canvas itself is some top quality material used to make flexible buildings – the PO was into that business and had some scraps left for making this canvas. It might last a lifetime. He had the windows replaced several times, a local shop just cuts out the old and welds in new, so the seam is getting thicker with time.

    I used Tenera thread to stitch the canvas modifications – it outlasts everything in regards to UV degredation. We added some flaps to keep the rainwater from coming through the zips.

    I also used Riri UV resistant zipper chain with plastic pulls. My supplier was Sailrite, but they stopped carrying it this year. Riri zips are far superior to the typical zips because they open/close much easier.

    You might check out the fabric at Rochford Supply – their prices are cheap but their shipping is dear to make up for it. The have a variety of quality materials (but no Sunbrella), and supply the industry rather than the hobbiest.


    michael bennett

    Hello Marilyn,
    Sailing with the cover on and having windows sounds vital in your climate! even in winter here in the Med it is still 18/20deg with rain the only problem, summer can be up to 35/40 whilst shade is important a bimini type shade more important.
    It was because I rarely use the covers I asked the question about the windows, but is is obvious to me that different conditions will dictate the value of windows.
    The ‘external’ covers over the windows on mine are the same size as the window held on with press studs on the outside, which of course require removal prior to sailing if covers are left on, whether they effect the temperature or not I could not say, I am usually please to get them off all together to let some cooling air flow through the cockpit. (I can send a pic of the external covers if you wish)
    I have already ordered with Sailrite, I found them good on price, and the carriage charges (post office)still make good compared to most UK, and the support is invaluable, best company I have dealt with on that score.
    The thread recommended by them for the Sunbrella is V92 used with a #20 needle so have ordered that as recommended by their technical cover making expert.
    Same applies to zippers, they seem to have a wide range of quality. I always use a silicone spray on them before I leave so that they open so smoothly when I return, cannot say I have ever had a challenge with them, same applies to the cord fitting into the aluminium grooves, a little spay goes a long way.
    Best wishes


    Graeme Barrie

    On the same topic, does anyone have a place to have new covers made at a reasonable rate?  I imagine the costs of these very greatly around the world and that Edinburgh isn’t the cheapest.  If anyone has a good source, what would the cost be and I’ll see if shipping it still ends up cheaper?


    We decided to make our own, and they turned out well. Here are some notes for those who choose to make replacement cockpit covers yourself.

    – Think hard about what you want in your cockpit covers, don’t just repeat what is there. Do you want more zippers? In different places? Where does rainwater get inside? For example, we routed the canvas outside the support post to try to control rain water leakage better, the existing canvas went inboard of the support post. Not sure of the original CN design.

    – If you are going to do this yourself, a strong walking foot sewing machine is extremely useful. Straight stitch is enough, but for future sail repair, a walking foot zigzag machine is worth the extra cost. If you are going to hire someone, make sure they have regular access to the boat. See next point.

    – I used the existing canvas as a rough pattern, but chose carefully the order in which I sewed things and regularly checked the fit on the boat at specific checkpoints. This step-by-step checking was vital to get a tight fit – patterning precisely is hard when any wrinkle will result in flogging canvas or puddling rainwater.

    – We added a narrow outside flap over each zipper to try to direct water over the zipper. Think hard about the water flow patterns to ensure the flap directs water over the zipper, rather than acting as a dam to hold draining water at the zipper. We also added gussets in various places (e.g. winch area) to direct water away from coaming.

    – is a great place to shop for the fabric and notions. This is what I purchased:

    –canvas fabric: Weblon Regatta® Ivory 62″ Vinyl Fabric, 5 yds – this is tough stuff with a nice hand for canvas. Does not need edge finishing. Good dimensional stability. An alternative would be the Shelter-Rite® fabric, but it is much stiffer – perhaps it’s best used for chafe protection.

    –chafe protection: Shelter-rite, 1 yd. I sewed this onto the canvas in various places where chafe could be a problem, for example at the main sheet entry into cockpit.

    — Regalite® 30 Gauge Vinyl Window Material 29″ x 68″ Clear – I got 2 pcs of this, which was enough for 4 side windows (2 each side) and 3 aft windows. I wonder if I will wish I got the 20 gauge, time will tell. The 30 gauge is stiffer than the canvas fabric.

    –Keder Awning Rope White 5/16″ – for the boltrope to run through the upper track.

    — Flex-A-Rail White 44″ Long – for the upper track attached to cockpit hard top. This was how our old canvas was attached, and some need replacing. This requires special screws with unique heads for mounting, get those too.

    — YKK® Finished Zipper #10 White Double Pull (Vislon) with the YKK® Continuous Zipper #10 White (Vislon). Try to find a double pull without a locking tab. You want to be able to pull with equal ease from either inside or outside. See next comment about why you might also want an opening zipper.

    — Loxx® Pull It Up Fastener Cloth-to-Surface Oval Plate Stud Set (Nickel) – we used opening zippers just forward of the metal support post so we can remove sides separate from aft. We used the Loxx fastener to keep tension above support posts and take pressure off the opening zipper. The stud is screwed to the hard top, the fastener attached to the canvas via a tab.

    — Webbing Tubular Polyester 1″ White 2700# – sewn at canvas bottom as a strengthener for the D-rings, see next note. Also used to create tabs for Loxx fasteners describe above.

    — D-Ring Sewable Nylon 1″ Black – used about 40 of these to make canvas lower tie-down points using bungee.

    –Seamstick 3/8″ Basting Tape for Canvas – to hold things together before sewing. Vinyl canvas is not forgiving when seams must be torn out (it leaves a bunch of needle holes in your “waterproof” fabric), so it’s vital your goal is to stitch once in the right place.

    — Seams can be sealed with HH-66 Vinyl Cement – but I really do NOT recommend this. The cement coating goes black with mildew very quickly and makes our seams ugly. The fabric and fit looks great after a couple years in the tropical sun.

    I can provide pictures if someone interested in making their own canvas. This was time consuming but rewarding boat task because it is exactly what I want with a reasonable material cost of about US$400.

    Marilyn, moderator and co-owner of Rainshadow, Nic 38.


    Phil Shotton

    On the subject of cockpuit covers (enclosures?) the covers of Ronar M have jammed in the tracks at the roof on either side. The vertical tracks on the windscreen and the rear track on the roof are fine.


    Any tips for how to remove them? I presume salt corrosion of the aluminium track and swelling of the boltrope has caused the problem.



    We’ve never had this problem, but some thoughts come to mind.

    If your tracks are like ours, they are held on with screws. Sounds like you have access to your back track, can you check whether the back track is held on with little screws, and whether any are loose? Maybe screws on the side tracks have backed out a bit, making in effect a hook to hold the boltrope in place?

    Our tracks on the roof are plastic, not aluminum. And I cannot really imagine our bolt rope swelling, since its all made of some sort of plastic. There is also no corrosion on ours. So it could be our setup is completely different than yours.

    You might try something like a silicone spray as a lubricant, but be careful about using any lubricant that might affect your canvas. Maybe test in a small area first?


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