Sun Blocking Your Classic Boat From Solar Reflection

Victors Curtains

As you may recall bout 4 years ago, I had the Katz’s Spa treatment on WECATCHEM. A full varnish job down to the wood. 15 coats of pure golden lust all painstakingly applied to her beautiful body.  I thought, Wont have to do this again, just a refresh, and refresh etc. I have a boathouse and she is very happy in the shade.


OH was I wrong. There is a good reason a boathouse should have sides. Solar Reflections! Glittering! It burns through the varnish like laser beams. It bakes, cracks and eats away the varnish on the sides and transom. The extra frustrating part of this, is.. You dont really see it until its too late. Once those little spider cracks appear, it’s terminal. And needs to be stripped off.

Stripped. Again

Here is another thing.. and a reason Sunbrella is far better than cotton. The UV rays go right through the Cotten. YES, My boat is under a cover under a roof. Burned. Some of you may have experienced this same thing.

close up of curtains

So, whats the solution? Yes a new cover made from a better sunblocking material. It may not “breath” as well. But dear god. And Curtains on the boathouse which kinda loop hole you around all the rules about boathouses and sides, which by the way is the stupidest law ever. I would rater see a crappy boathouse with sides than 90% of the ones with open sides. But, thats a Don Quixote fight.

WECATCHEM spent her entire life in this boathouse on Lake Winnipesaukee

Now the issue is, what sort of curtains. Fellow WoodyBoater Victor Fabricus shared his curtains, and the way he did them on a garage door system. Which is cool as hell. My concern is Salt water and corrosion. I could do some awning material, or a simple curtain rod and heaver curtains, there is also some sun blocking screen that allows air to flow through but blocks the UV rays… Not to sure about that.

Its burning!

So today, I need some advice. Have you tried this? Do you need this? As a public service to the citizens of WoodyBoaterville  my plan is document this all.. AKA, Milking the crap out of it.

25 replies
  1. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P) says:

    I’ve got nothing Matt. Mine are only outside for a few months a year in the beautiful sometimes sunny U P. I’ll bet though before noon today. These guys will have this problem figured out and solved. Might even be some strippers involved.

  2. SundayFunday
    SundayFunday says:

    The “GoFast” boat guys swear by Marine Concepts Boat Covers.
    I’ve seen them in use on Lake of the Ozarks and they are slick.
    The cover hangs from a center track. Takes a minute to cover or uncover a 40′ boat.
    They aren’t cheap, but what part of boating is?

  3. tparsons56
    tparsons56 says:

    We keep our 41 Custom on a lift with a vinyl canopy from about June 1st until the middle of Sept. [upper lower Michigan so we have to take the lifts out of the water for the winter]. I also put the sunbrella cover on the boat when we are not using it but the cover only comes halfway down the sides and transom. I didn’t think sun damage reflecting off the water was going to be an issue but like you it has reared its ugly head on the uncovered areas.

    If I had to do it again I would just have the sides and transom of the cover go all the way down to the waterline. Much less expensive and simpler than side curtains on the lift.

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Personally I think your side curtains are a GREAT idea whatever way you do it.

    Another option, or to go along with curtains, is to add two to four coats of varnish every year. You could do this yourself (you certainly have the facilities for it) after having Katz do the complete job. I think you would find it very satisfying and it is clear that you have the ability.

    Good luck!

    PS: I found a post card that you missed.

  5. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    Wondering about what happens to curtains when that summer thunderstorm with high winds comes or tropical storms,… would become a sail and flail around… I wish we would have put up a boathouse way back when they were allowed. (on the Patuxent River in MD….) And sunbrella is a great fabric for covers but can get heavy and wonder if it would scratch the varnish with repeated on and off.. So IM awaiting all the great ideas from folks . Probably why my “nice” boats stay inside the barnbarn on trailers . Love brightwork, but the sun does a job on it!

  6. Victor Melchiorre
    Victor Melchiorre says:

    The Imron on my Xk19 still looks great after 23 years. It sits on a lift with a canopy and just a cockpit cover. I don’t need any stinky varnish

  7. Clay at Crosslake
    Clay at Crosslake says:

    Matt, not to divert from your quest for new info to protect Wecatchem from the sun, can you comment on Katz’ sequence on the new finish now that it is down to wood? What varnish system do they use and, particularly, what kind (if any) stain will be applied?

  8. Doug the Sailmaker in Maine
    Doug the Sailmaker in Maine says:

    If you are going to use Sunbrella go with the darkest color you can. Light colors allow UV to penetrate, white is terrible, and dark color absorb UV better. An alternative product with outstanding UV properties is Weather Max. I switched to white Weather Max for roller furling genoa suncovers many years ago, for those prefering white, and the results from product in the field are what I’m basing my comment on.

  9. Sleepless in Seattle
    Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Hypalon. Suspended by shackles on taught stainless cable, with rope pulls to open/close. 🙂

  10. Tim Robinson
    Tim Robinson says:

    Shade cloth works well, you see this all the time at plant nursery’s. If there is any water in your bilge covering the boat will turn it into a terrarium.

  11. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Shorestation makes powered retractable curtains for their lifts. Maybe a possible retrofit . Or install the complete lift.

  12. Mark
    Mark says:

    Go 20 coats and use Schooner 96. Supposed to be better UV protection.

    Consider maintenance coats sooner if you see visible breakdown

  13. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great subject today. I keep our 17 ft. Deluxe on the covered lift from later April through October. The lift faces east/west so the transom and starboard hull get the reflective sun (the photo was taken in the morning). I redid the varnish about two years ago as it was just starting to craze. I have a full to waterline Sunbrella cover but don’t use it much as the boat is used several times a week and I get lazy! We keep the pontoon boat under the full Conestoga cover you can see in the background but when it gets humid in July and August we will get some mold on the vinyl seats. I do not want to have that on the Deluxe. The Continental is not an issue as it is only on the whips 10 to 12 days each summer. It’s on the trailer in the barn when not used for classic boating events.
    I hope the comments today lead me in the right direction for protecting my Deluxe.

  14. JimF
    JimF says:

    I second the shade cloth suggestion. It allows air movement. My boats are stored with covers and lifted high enough to get behind the cloth. Walkways on the sides of the dock block the reflected rays off the water.

  15. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    BTW, the sunbrella “garage doors” we installed have been in for over 15 years on 4 boathouse openings one of which is at least 16′ across. They were on east facing side open to a large cove and survived all those winters intact. If you’re going with a fitting boat cover, you’re going to be taking that on and off all day between usage. The point is to minimize sun exposure during the day and allow convenient access. I’m sure there are solutions to fit each owners situations. This one is somewhat inexpensive and eliminates the overhead door track that would interfere with a cable and cradle operated boat lift. That was the solution for this application.

  16. Greg Seibold
    Greg Seibold says:

    Shore Station has come out with Solar Powered, power side curtains. I love them. Keeps our Woody clean, less bugs, sun protection, etc..
    Two years work great.

  17. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    BTW, those are Canadian winters. The ones pictured are on a North Carolina boathouse now for last 6+ years.

  18. C Stang
    C Stang says:

    I am for the full-sided sunbrella cover in a dark color like Old Salt mentioned. The one thing I don’t like about the enclosed dock (unless it is a true boat house) is that it blocks your view through the dock and you don’t get to see the nice silhouette of your boat. Our Lyman is covered with flag blue sunbrella and I can attest it is stays really dark on the inside.

  19. Bobby Boat
    Bobby Boat says:

    In NJ my Riviera is under a metal carport and the sides are shades that block 85% of the sun. The top and bottom are on 1″ pvc (3′ lengths for strength) and pulleys to raise & lower. Also I have a very light car cover sewn to fit and to keep
    any one thinking of getting in and also possibly a bird.
    If you want to have the info for the fabric let me know.

  20. Jim Dunn
    Jim Dunn says:

    90% shade cloth is the way to go.
    Full sides, front and and just down the top of the windshield at high tide on the back. You can even leave the lower several feet loose on the bottom for more coverage and easy in and out of the slip.
    Cheap, legal and effective.

  21. tom
    tom says:

    Anyway to fix some sort of sides to the lift?(fabric,plywood etc.)Just high enough to shadow the sides of the boat?

Comments are closed.