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Boat Refit Tips: Canvas and Hardtops

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Canvas & Hardtops: Often overlooked in the rush to renovate an interior, replacing or adding canvas and a hardtop is the nautical equivalent of adding a room to your home. Enclosing the cockpit or adding a hardtop to the flying bridge with a removable enclosure creates a whole new living area for all-weather use, and can even help you enjoy more time on the water by stretching your boating season.


Adding a hardtop isn’t just for adding shade or weather protection: it can be part of a wider upgrade that might include an electronics box above the helm, LED lighting, stereo speakers, and a mounting place for electronics antennas. Properly designed hardtops also handle everything from solar panels for recharging batteries to providing out-of-the-way stowage for water toys such as kayaks and paddleboards.

Capt. Bill’s Tip: I have lots of long-lasting, color-retentive Sunbrella fabric on Betty’s exterior. With seams fraying, I took the bimini and weather cloths to my canvas shop. Things were simply re-sewn with new UV-resistant thread (available at Replacing thread rather than fabric saves hundreds of dollars.