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Adventures in Canvas

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    Adventures in Canvas

    I thought I'd share my "adventures in canvas" experience from this spring (2017) in hopes of helping others who might be contemplating canvas repair and/or replacement. It's been quite an education.

    In early April, I started to look at options for replacing the canvas on my newly acquired 2004 Bayliner 305. The existing canvas had seen better days. Some of the windows, especially the front, had turned a brownish tint, were cracked in spots, looked ugly and needed replacement. The side curtains weren't as bad. They'd shrunk quite a bit, which worried me, but I thought they could probably last another 5-10 years with new windows and zipper extenders. The rear canvas was a little better, but not much. The Bimini top was marginal and almost worn through in places with a lot of pinpoint holes. This too I thought could last a little longer. The metal frames were fine all around.

    First option, see what it would cost to replace everything new. I received a quote from a local canvas shop for $4,000. The shop came highly recommended and had done two 305's the previous year. The quote included 30 and 40 gauge Strataglass and the U-Windows like the originals. Everything would be made with Sunbrella fabric with my choice of original Bayliner type fabric and colors. Being local I knew they'd fit the canvas to the boat, stand behind the work and I'd know where to find them if I had any problems. I'd met the owner, been to the shop and was impressed. I thought the quote was a little pricey and I could do better. $4-K is a lot of money, especially with other fixes that were adding up, survey, mechanical inspection, bottom paint, tune-up, docking fees, etc.

    I checked with Leta's Top Shop and was quoted $2,600 without the U-Windows. $600 more with them. Leta has the patterns and she'd done seat covers for my 2355, which turned out very nice. I asked about what material they'd use for the windows and canvas, but did not hear back. I'd read she does quality work, but isn't the best in the customer service department. Delivery time about 3-weeks. When I didn't hear back after trying to contact Leta's a second time, I moved on. I know everyone is busy this time of year. Still, if I was having difficulty contacting them about getting a quote I was worried what might happen if I had problems with the canvas after it was delivered.

    I also contacted North American Waterway Canvas in Canada and received a quote of $3,399 (US) for new canvas. They had the patterns. They do not use Strataglass or any of polished sheet brands because it's "rigid and too expensive for most boaters" I was told. Instead, they said they use clear vinyl, which is "flexible, pliant and the standard for boat canvas." North American did not specify fabric. Delivery about 3-weeks. With both Leta's and North American, I'd have to install snaps myself, which is true with anything done non-local to insure proper snap placement and fit.

    Second option. Just replace the windows and do it myself. After considering what was involved, reading up on the process, considering the sewing machine I'd need to buy and the thought of doing something I hadn't done before and screwing it up, I decided against this option. I couldn't see putting that much work and effort into replacing clear vinyl on canvas that might last another 5 years or so and then need to be replaced anyway. I checked back with North American Waterway about just replacing the windows. They said to send them the existing canvas, they'd look at it and give me a quote.

    I packed-up the canvas, all 32 pounds, and shipped it to North American in Peterborough, Ontario Canada by UPS.

    The packaged got snagged in customs and they wouldn't release it without someone paying the import tax. I'd insured the canvas for $500 in case it got lost and that's what Canadian customs decided it was worth. I contacted North American and they suggested I contact UPS, change the value to zero, and advise customs that the canvas is being shipped for repair and refurbishing and is going to be shipped back, but customs didn't buy the explanation. They couldn't understand how the value could change nor how a package weighing 32 pounds could be worth nothing.

    This took a week-and-a-half and a lot of time and frustration dealing with UPS and Canadian customs by phone and e-mail. The final straw was when North American refused delivery, leaving the package in limbo. UPS would not return it unless I paid $102 in advance for shipping. I tracked the package as it traveled around Canada for a week, at one point coming within 30 miles of Peterborough, before returning to the US and back to the local UPS store. Beginning to end was three weeks and $200 in shipping. An expensive lesson with nothing accomplished. I was happy to get the canvas back.

    I don't blame North American. They said nothing like this had happened before. Maybe a communication problem. Maybe someone at customs having a bad day or series of bad days. Maybe just my bad luck.

    So I went back to the local canvas shop, picked-out a color, had the Admiral approve it and authorized the work. Probably something I should have done in the beginning.

    I don't know what others have experienced, but I thought I share. I'll post pictures when it's done. Below is the canvas before.

    There's a moral to this story. A combination of the benefits of doing business locally, getting it done right using high quality material and getting what you pay for. I'll know for sure in a couple weeks.


    Attached files

    Sam, I feel your pain. I need to get new canvas myself and explaining that the cost is $16,000 to the Admiral is not high on my priorities.
    P/C Pete
    Edmonds Yacht Club (Commodore 1993)
    1988 3818 "GLAUBEN”
    Hino EH700 175 Onan MDKD Genset
    MMSI 367770440


      My first canvas replacement on an 18' StarCraft was about $500. Next was $1300 on a 22' Silverline. Next was $1700 (cash only please).

      Then sold the boat. Similar sized canvas replacements are now hitting $3000.

      There's a lot of work involved and once installed, the canvas and windows are beat up by the sun.

      So, while convertibles are nice, I just LOVE my hardtop boat!
      2007 Discovery 246
      300mpi BIII
      Welcome island Lake Superior


        Thanx for sharing your canvas experience. I really like it's regarding our beloved 305/3055's.

        A few years back we replaced the clear vinyl on the two aft sections and had lexan installed in the left & right front windshield with strataglass in the centre. I'm very fussy about cleaning and treating it and always wrap them in flannel sheets when removed. While the lexan and strata have been excellent, the cheapo clear in the back turned to junk in under two years.

        This year I'm replacing all four aft sections with 30 gauge Isinglass, adding smilies in the side canvas and repairing a few seams and zippers. Final work is underway and I expect to be out the door for under $1,200 Cdn. Shop is telling me the Isinglass is guaranteed for 5 years at which point the canvas will probably have reached it's serviceable lifespan.
        Sea Venture
        2000 3055, 5.7/B2, 18x23" props
        Cruising the PNW and beyond.
        DIYC, Riverhouse Marina
        MMSI 316029971

        Drinks well with others.


          Strata glass is not rigid,

          In fact it's the best flexible vinyl product out there.

          I found a guy in our local Craigslist marine service section.

          Vinyl supplied by me, he charges $60 an hour, cost me $240 to do my flybridge windows.
          Joon, Kathy, Jaden & Tristan
          Uniflite 42 AC, DD 671N
          93 3058 sold
          92 2855 (day boat)
          91 Fourwinns 205 (lake boat)
          Longbranch WA
          Life is Good


            I went the Do It Yourself option.

            Bought a industrial portable sewing machine, and all the proper tools and Started learning to sew.

            Attached files

            KEVIN SANDERS
            4788 DOS PECES - SEWARD ALASKA

            Whats the weather like on the boat

            Where am I right now?


              UPDATE to Adventures in Canvas

              As promised, I've attached photos of the canvas work done on the 2004 Bayliner 305 by a local canvas shop (Custom Canvas) in Marblehead, Ohio. It took a while to schedule, but the canvas fits well and looks great. The job came to under $4k. Not cheap. I did not have Strataglass put into the read side panels.

              The canvas shop had done two 305's the previous year and really knew what they were doing. The results show!

              I found a lot of (bad) advice on what to use to clean Strataglass and would up using IMAR cleaner and protectant. Never use anything but! I almost started cleaning them with Windex, which another boat owner said would be OK. I also saw another boater washing their windows with a soft brush, dish detergent and water. Oh my.


                Very nice!
                Makrolon on 3 front panels would've been cool...
                Joon, Kathy, Jaden & Tristan
                Uniflite 42 AC, DD 671N
                93 3058 sold
                92 2855 (day boat)
                91 Fourwinns 205 (lake boat)
                Longbranch WA
                Life is Good