Bespoke Boat Covers – What you need to know!

Bespoke Boat Covers – What you need to know!

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Considering a cover for your pride and joy? We asked the specialists at Tecsew to share their creation process so you can decide which type is right for you…

New boat covers are a great investment. They improve the look and lines of your boat, increase your living space, make the most of your vessel in winter, offer protection to your crew and family and much, much more. With the right cover maker, bespoke covers really give you the opportunity to create covers that are designed around the way you use your boat. For example, height, window layout and zip positions can all be configured to your specific requirements. So what does the process involve, and how do you make sure you get the right one for you?

Tecsew - Sprayhood and Bimini Sun Odyssey 41DS
Bespoke covers can be customised specifically to your requirements

5 things to look for when choosing your cover

  • Quick release frame fittings
  • Zip pockets to allow the frame to be removed with ease
  • Heavy duty stainless steel cast fittings
  • Welded grab handles
  • Quality fabric that is moisture/stain/mould and mildew resistant, abrasion resistance and lightweight, and also offers UV protection. Sunbrella Plus would be a good choice

Do your research

It really pays to do your research before approaching a cover maker. The more different covers you see, the more likely you are to know what you want (and don’t want) for your own boat. You can find lots of ideas by doing an image search online and Tecsew’s own website has over 5,000 images and allows you to search using your boat name and the product you are looking for (for example, Bavaria 46, sprayhood). Research your cover maker, too. Check out boating forums for any recommendations and look at who produced covers you like in your marina.

Having a consultation

Having decided on the type of cover you like and found a cover maker, you’ll need to brief them on what you want. If you are ordering a standard cover then you may not need your cover maker to come out to measure your boat, but for bespoke covers this is necessary.

During the survey and any consultation, a good cover maker will find out how you use your boat, and how you intend to use the new covers. They’ll also look at the height of those sailing the boat to ensure that planned covers are suitable and discuss different cover options depending on where you might be sailing. Consider fabric colours carefully. While looking great initially, lighter colours will always show up any dirt and marks more than a darker fabric.

CAD design process

Tecsew was the first cover maker in the UK to use a Computer Aided Design (CAD) process and will do a CAD survey of your boat for any bespoke covers. The advantage of using CAD over traditional design processes is that you can see a computer-generated image of exactly how your cover will look before it’s produced. CAD drawings can be made to show the exact position of all zips and frames.

Tecsew - CAD design file being generated
The design is produced using modern CAD methods

This allows you to tweak the design, change the lines, add windows and so on. John Bland, Tecsew’s Managing Director, confirms that customers often make changes at this stage in the process having seen how the finished product will look – changes that it would have been too late to make if using a traditional design process. Using CAD allows complete customisation of your covers and only once the final design is signed off by the customer can production actually commence.

Preparing the materials

At the next stage in the design process, a cutting file is produced based on the CAD design and Tecsew’s in-house CNC conveyor cutting machine produces the pieces for the cover. The CAD design is also used to develop a file that produces a program for bending the stainless steel framework.

Tecsew - CAD cutting file guides the cutting machine
Tecsew were the first cover makers to introduce Computer Aided Design

A machine then bends the stainless steel framework to the correct profiles. In order to make them stronger, Tecsew’s frames are constructed using stainless steel rivets and heavy duty stainless frame fittings. Windows are cut by hand, on a soft surface to prevent them getting scratched, then the panels are machined.

Tecsew - CAD design is used to develop a file for bending framework
CAD design is used to develop a file for bending framework


Tecsew - Framework construction

Framework construction is a meticulous process – full of checks and measurements!

Assembling the cover

Once all the elements are ready, they are put together. For new boats, fittings are put into covers in the factory. On boats with existing covers or fittings, covers are fitted on the boat. Covers are then carefully packed and protected before leaving the factory. time for fitting

Tecsew - Machining window panels
Making changes later on in the design process is no problem with bespoke covers

Cover makers can come to your boat to fit covers, but a popular option that Tecsew offer is self-fit. A series of photos show exactly how to fit your covers. This works well with those with boats further afield or abroad.

Tecsew - Carefully packing and protecting covers for delivery
Making changes later on in the design process is no problem with bespoke covers

Time for fitting

Cover makers can come to your boat to fit covers, but a popular option that Tecsew offer is self-fit. A series of photos show exactly how to fit your covers. This works well with those with boats further afield or abroad.

Tecsew - Cover makers can come to your boat to fit
The Tecsew team will come to your boat and fit the covers personally

Types of Cover

Bimini & Bimini Conversion

A bimini’s primary function is to act as a sunshade to shade the helm or complete cockpit, an important consideration given the rise in incidences of skin cancer. These are essential when using your boat abroad from both a comfort and health perspective. Tecsew uses Sunbrella Plus fabrics, which provide up to 98% UV protection. A neck shade panel is vital as is a helm window with a blind; this allows you to see the trim of the sail.

Tecsew offers a unique way of making a bimini more versatile, a bimini conversion. By adding zipped-in side panels to your bimini, you can convert it to enclose your cockpit. A bimini conversion, like a cockpit enclosure, adds to the living space on your boat, while also keeping your cockpit clean and protected. However, the advantage over a cockpit enclosure, for those in warmer climes, is that once all side panels have been removed, you are left with a bimini that you can sail with.

Cockpit Enclosure

Cockpit enclosures allow you to enclose your cockpit, increasing the living space on your boat when in the marina, and offering added protection from the elements. They are not recommended for use when sailing due to issues with forward visibility, but are a great way to get the most out of your boat and extremely popular in the UK, with its unpredictable weather. A cockpit enclosure gives you extra space for socialising and enables you to make more use of your boat in the winter.

Cockpit enclosures can also act as in-harbour biminis when the sides and back panels are rolled up, creating useful shade on a sunny day on the marina.

Sprayhood

Sprayhoods protect those at the helm from spray so tend to stay up all the time. Cover makers are conscious of the fact that any design needs to look good and fit the styling of the boat. New twin helm boats allow cover makers to design higher sprayhoods, as helmsmen can lean out around the sprayhood rather than look over it as is the case for single helm yachts. Bespoke sprayhoods might feature extra windows, handstitched leathered welded grab bars and roll up windows.

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