COVERS & CANOPIES

Additional dry storage space or additional living area on your narrowboat? A canopy can provide vital space on a narrow boat and come in a range of shapes and sizes.

Canopies & Covers… An Introduction

Hoods and covers come in many different forms depending upon your narrowboat type and are a great addition to your narrow boat. Having a new hood on your boat can increase its value, and often the usable space. It also allows you to use the boat in a wider variety of weather conditions, offering flexibility and protection for you against wind, rain and sun, this can increase usability and therefore extend your pleasure and enjoyment of the boat. Having a hood on the stern offers many advantages, such as creating an extra room and offering valuable additional space on a boat, providing a porch or somewhere for your wet coats and boots, they also allow you to open the hatch in bad weather without rain and wind getting into the boat and give protection from sun and rain when cruising.

Hoods and covers are almost always bespoke, they should be designed to suit your boat and your own personal requirements. A professional company will be able to guide you with this. The choice of colours and designs are extensive. The majority of boaters will call in the professionals to measure, make and install the canopy due to the specialist skills and equipment required. The most experienced manufacturers would come and measure and map your boat in 3D to ensure the best fit of your cover. You would receive 3D drawings of your cover, showing zip and window positioning and height allowance of the frames, which should all be agreed with yourself before production commences. Your cover should then be fitted by an experienced fitter. All in all, the process of purchasing a new hood/cover for your boat, should be a smooth and stress free experience provided by trusted professionals.

Materials

The most common fabrics are Marine grade canvas and PVC. Marine grade canvas is a performance fabric, which is water and UV resistant and breathable. It is an acrylic based fabric with a Teflon coating on one side and a Polyurethane on the other, which will retain its flexibility and colour over the years, but it does require a little more care and maintenance than a PVC canopy. The life expectancy of the marine grade canvas is 10 to 15 years.
PVC is a heavier weight material, which is fully waterproof and robust, but prone to shrinking with the cold and age, and eventually becoming stiff and cracking. With proper maintenance, it can have a life expectancy of approximately 8 years plus.

Canopy Maintenance

Hoods and canopies are expensive to replace. Too often green algae or moss is allowed to build up on the canopy, but regular maintenance will ensure the life of your canopy is maximised. Condensation can form on the inside of both the PVC and marine grade canvas, which can lead to mould forming. This can be kept under control with regular ventilation whilst cooking and drying washing, etc., and can be treated effectively with the correct products.

A canvas canopy can be cleaned using a trusted brand cleaner with a soft brush or sponge. You should avoid using detergents or jet washing your cover, as these can affect the water resistant coating on the canvas or damage the stitching. After washing, the cover should be reproofed using a trusted brand to restore the water resistance coating.

Further information regarding cleaning and caring for your hoods and canopies can be found here

PVC canopies are the lowest maintenance option, requiring no special treatment and can simply be washed with soapy water or using a hose pipe. The life of a PVC cover can be extended with using a PVC protector which acts as a barrier to UV and other pollutants, otherwise the risk is the colours will fade significantly over the years.

Extra care also needs to be taken as not to scratch the vinyl windows. Your canopy manufacturer will advise on products they recommend for cleaning.

Thank you to Canvasman for providing valuable information for this section.

Canopies & Covers… Cratch Covers

A cover used in conjunction with a cratch A frame on the bow section of a narrowboat or canal boat. The A frame is usually manufactured by using Sapelle or Oak and has fixed and/or opening windows. The cover itself usually has zipped doorways either side for access and pvc windows. A cratch cover prevents the ingress of water and debris and increases the practical use of your bow as well. The zipped doorways can usually be rolled up to let additional light and air in. It is important to always roll up any windows or door on your canopy rather than throwing them on to the roof of your canopy to protect the material and vinyl windows against scratching and damage.

As well as additional dry storage, a large narrow boat bow can provide a pleasant seating area to enjoy the scenery and spectacular sun sets and can also act as a porch.

Although an A Frame is the most traditional method of creating the frame for a cratch cover, you will also find manufacturers who make the cover using stainless steel poles to make a ‘cratch hood’. The clear advantage of a cratch hood is less maintenance, as a wooden A frame would require regular treatment and upkeep. The Cratch hood has the added feature of extending over or before the gas locker on the boat and also a raised option for more headroom. It also has removable side panels and roll up front panel to create a ‘bimini’ style roof for those sunny summer days when you are cruising. It is easily collapsible, so you can lower your cratch hood quickly to go under lower bridges as necessary.

Semi-trad hood on a narrowboat
Raised cratch hood on a narrowboat
Pram cover on a widebeam canal boat

Canopies & Covers… Pram Hood

A pram hood is a cover fitted to framework over the rear/stern deck area of any style of narrowboat or canal boat. Also referred to as a Pram Canopy or Pram Cover. A hood can be fitted to all styles of narrow boats and wide beams and can be used with a tiller or hydraulic steering.

A pram hood is usually made up of several sections of windows which offers maximum versatility depending on your requirements, and more often the weather! Again, there are many options with a new hood and all hoods are manufactured to match your boats’ unique style. Hoods have comprehensive designs, with removable sides/back panels and or roll up front, sides and back panels. The perfect all season solution.

A pram hood can have a multitude of uses either whilst cruising or when the boat is moored. A hood can be a covered dining area for alfresco dining, it protects the captain from bad weather (or the sun) whilst cruising; It can be a utility area as mentioned earlier, for muddy boots, dogs and wet coats or a place to dry clothes if the side panels are rolled up or removed to allow ventilation.

The folding framework allows it to be raised and lowered with ease. Always be mindful of any bridges you need to navigate on your cruise and whether you have sufficient head room with the hood in place and the bridges allow for the additional height.

Semi trad tonneau cover on a narrowboat
Traditional stern hood cover on a narrowboat
Cruiser tonneau cover on a narrowboat

Canopies & Covers… Tonneau Covers

A detachable cover made of weatherproof fabric designed to completely enclose narrowboat deck areas and prevent the ingress of water and debris. Can be fitted over bow decks or the stern decks of narrow boats with semi-traditional and cruiser style sterns. Tonneau covers are often used when a canal boat is left for periods of time to protect the external decks. They are also commonly known as ‘put to bed’ covers.

Canopies & Covers

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