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Boat Cover How-To Guides

Need help selecting a boat cover? You've come to the right place! Use our helpful guides below to learn how to find the right cover for your boat -- and how to take care of it as well. Now that's being a "savvy" boater!

Semi-Custom vs. Custom vs. Universal - What's the Difference?

Semi-Custom Custom Universal
For a specific boat style (i.e., jet boats, ski boats with towers, etc)

One cover will fit multiple makes, models & years of similar boats
For a specific make, model & year of boat For any boat
6" - 8" of overhang below rub rail Tighter fit with little to no overhang Will have overhang; amount varied
Most models are trailerable All models are trailerable Not trailerable
NO snaps for support poles

(Except for some specialty models, e.g. for select pontoon boats, center console inflatables)
Includes snaps for support poles NO snaps for support poles
15% restocking fee Not returnable 15% restocking fee

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Getting the Right Fit - How to Measure Your Boat

To ensure you have the right measurements, be sure to measure your boat vs. relying on owners manuals or other literature.
You will need two measurements—the centerline length and beam width.

  1. Centerline Length—the distance from the tip of the bow to the center of the transom

  2. Beam Width—the distance across the widest point of the hull
    boat cover measuring
    • Measure in a straight line, not up over the windscreen or other fixtures nor angled to follow the curves of the boat.

    • Factor in the dimensions of any additional features that will affect the cover such as a trolling motor, center console, jack plate or aftermarket pulpit or anchor davit.

    • If you have a swim step, measure next from the tip of the bow to the back center of your swim platform. This is in addition to the first centerline length because some covers will fit a step and others will not so you will want to have both measurements to ensure the right selection.

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Fabrics - What's the Difference?

Your local weather conditions and how you want to use your cover (e.g. for indoor storage, for trailering, etc) are key to selecting the fabric for your boat cover. Making the right choice up front can mean the difference between a boat cover full of mildew and one that is just the way you left it every time you go back.

Note that lighter colors will always be more fade and sun resistant, regardless of the fabric. Want to see and touch your fabric options?
Contact us to get a free fabric swatch today!

Compare Boat Cover Fabrics

Sharkskin Boat Cover Fabric
Polyguard Boat Cover Fabric

 SunDura Boat Cover Fabric
Sunbrella Boat Cover Fabric
Manufacturer Westland Carver  CarverCarver, Westland
Material 100% acrylic-coated polyester 100% marine-grade polyester  100% solution dyed polyester100% marine-grade acrylic
  • Great water resistance & durability

  • Good quality/price mix

  • Low breathability, not meant for hot, humid climates

  • Good for cool, dry climates

  • Great for towing due to strength & durability

  • Good water resistance & UV protection with high breathability

  • Versatile for many applications

  • Good in almost any climate

  •  Great water, UV and mildew resistance

  • Good breathability

  • Great fade resistance

  • Great for any climate type

  • Great water resistance and breathability

  • Extreme strength & durability

  • Most fade resistant of all fabric options

  • Best fabric for salt water mooring

Weight 6.5 oz 8 oz  7 oz9.25 oz
Boat Cover Fabric Specifications (1 = poor; 5 = best)

Sharkskin Boat Cover Fabric
Polyguard Boat Cover Fabric
 SunDura Boat Cover FabricSunbrella Boat Cover Fabric
Water Resistance 5 4  54
Mildew Resistance 4 4  55
UV Resistance 3 4  55
Breathability 2 5  45
Strength 3 5  45
Tensile Strength 4 5  55
Colorfastness 2 5  55
Warranty 5 year 5 year  7 yearCarver: 7 year
Westland: 10 year
Boat Cover Fabric Climate Performance

Sharkskin Boat Cover Fabric
Polyguard Boat Cover Fabric
SunDura Boat Cover Fabric
Sunbrella Boat Cover Fabric
Hot, Humid 2 4  55
Hot, Dry 3 4  55
Cool, Moist 4 5  55
Cool, Dry 5 5  55

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Support Systems - What & Why?

Well, let's just say that if you don't want your boat cover to sag from the weight of water and debris, to collect unnecessary mold and
mildew or be vulnerable to tears and rips from unevenly distributed weight, you should have a support system for your boat cover.

A support system is a simple and inexpensive way to dramatically lengthen the life of your cover—and your boat.

Without Support System With Support System
  • Water & debris collect – mold & mildew grow
  • Pressure weakens fabric – tears & rips occur
  • Cover supported in tent style – water & debris run off
  • Fabric relieved of excess pressure – life of cover is extended

Standard Support Pole Vented Support Pole Support Strap System
Adjustable aluminum pole
Carver: 40"-70"
Westland: 30"-57"
Adjustable aluminum pole
Carver: 40"-70"
Westland: 30"-57"
Three-way strap supported by a single pole; strap ends hook to a railing or cleat
Secures cover either via snap from pole to cover or via rubber caps on each end of the pole, supporting the cover on top and gripping the boat deck on bottom Two disks are inserted into a hole cut into the cover to create an air vent, supporting the cover and allowing airflow, making it ideal for hot, humid environments Supports cover in a balanced way by distributing the load along multiple points
Snaps come standard on pontoon and custom covers Can be used with pontoon, semi-custom or custom covers Can be used with pontoon, semi-custom or custom covers
Semi-custom covers use rubber caps on poles or adhesive snap patch For Carver covers, a Carver pole must be used; cutting a hole for another mfg’s pole voids the boat cover warranty Provides the highest level of support
Multiple poles required for covers >14' long; three to four poles recommended for pontoon covers Multiple poles required for covers >14' long; three to four poles recommended for pontoon covers One system needed for boats up to 28' in length; two systems needed for boats over 28' in length or for pontoon boats

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Tie Downs - What & Why?

All covers feature either an elastic cord or drawstring. However, in order to secure your cover during windy conditions or when
trailering, you will need tie downs. Lucky for you, Savvyboater gives you a free set of tie downs with every boat cover purchase!

Buckle Style Suction Cup Style
Buckle style tie downs guide through a loop on the cover
and are then brought back down around the trailer and buckled back into itself.
Suction cup style tie downs feature suction cups that adhere to the side of the hull.

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Care & Cleaning - How?

By purchasing a boat cover, you show a commitment to the care of your boat—why would you do any less for your boat cover?
Follow these three simple steps to keep your boat cover in tip top shape.

  1. Protect
    All of our boat covers are treated with a water repellent fabric guard that allows water to bead and run off the cover. Over time and
    through normal use, this treatment will wear off. We recommend applying a coat of fabric guard every two years to help restore
    water repellency (or annually if you are in an area with harsh conditions such as salt water or extreme UV exposure). To apply, simply
    spray on the Fabric Guard so that the cover becomes slightly damp but not soaked; only needs to be applied to the outer (top) side.

  2. Clean
    • NEVER put your boat cover in a washing machine or dryer
    • Brush off loose dirt and debris from cover
    • Hose down cover so that all parts of it are wet
    • Mix ¼ cup of mild soap (never detergents or cleaning agents like bleach) in a gallon of water
    • Use a mop or soft bristle brush to clean cover
    • Use Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner to help remove difficult stains
    • Rinse and hang dry
    • Reapply Fabric Guard
    In the event of mildew growth:
    • Mix 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of borax powder, and 2 cups of warm water in bucket or sprayer
    • Apply mixture to mildew spots and let set for no more than 10 minutes
    • For troublesome spots, use a soft bristle and scrub
    • Rinse well and allow boat cover to dry thoroughly (never use a dryer)
  3. Store

    When not in use, store your boat cover in a bag in a clean, dry place and ensure cover is completely dry before storing

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