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If you are anything like me, putting your boat away for the winter is not only depressing, it's a huge pain in the neck. Not only do we have to deal with the prospect of saying goodbye to those lovely long, lazy days on the which will yield to yet another interminable Winter, but we have to face the miserable chores associated with winterizing our best friend.
If I could afford it, I'd fly my boat down to Florida for the Winter to live with my parents, but I can't. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would abandon me and just stay down there once it got a taste of the nightlife and realized it didn't have to freeze its cleats off for eight months every year. Early on, I spared no expense and had it shrink wrapped and filed into my local marina's boat mausoleum, which worked very well. Pretty soon however, my wife started hinting that I should consider downsizing (to a canoe) if we had to spend that much money every year to keep my boat happy. Initially, I considered divorce, but have since forgiven her for her callous lack of respect for the very special bond between a boater and his/her boat as I had a look at the costs and realized she was right; If I stored the boat on my own lot and covered it myself, I could save about $600 per year, all in.
In the fall of 2012, by chance on a business trip, I sat down next to a woman on the plane and we started chatting, I learned that she was the president of a company that made boat shelters. As I regaled her with my tales of woe around the whole subject of boat storage, she smiled knowingly, saying that her father had had just the same sort of experiences years earlier and had decided to come up with a definitive solution. Her dad spent a number of years trying and testing materials and methods to make a shelter that was easy to assemble, sturdy enough to do the job, not take up a whole bunch of space in the off season, and one that could be reused year over year. The result is a patented technology that is really quite ingenious.
My new friend showed me the Navigloo web site. Since I was quite impressed with what I saw, I decided to take a gamble and see if Navigloo would work as advertised. I bought the product through iboats.com and it was shipped in just a couple of days. I opened the box which had everything neatly packed and even included a DVD to help those of us who can't read instructions. As it turns out, I didn't need it though because the instructions were clear and easy to follow. I had the whole thing up, including the enormous tarp on and tied in about three hours. I know that this fall, it will take me a lot less time since I really got the hang of setting it up quickly.
The system uses lightweight extruded PVC struts that cleverly telescope to fit any shape and size of boat and these struts form all of the superstructure. The struts are adjustable to fit whatever part of the system you are building and plastic pins fix the length very solidly. The center beam (also made of the same struts) has 4 or more posts in fitted bases, and the posts are made fast by straps that quickly fasten and form a very rigid structure. Struts branch off the main beam all along the boat, laying on the gunnels to form a cage for the tarp to lie on.
I managed to pull the tarp over the whole thing myself, but this year I'm calling a friend as it was a bit of work that would be much easier with another person. Knitting the whole thing together underneath the boat with the ropes they provide would also be faster with a partner.
The boat is parked well behind the house and garage; out of sight. I check on it weekly to see how the Navigloo is holding up. The tarp was as tight and taut as it was the day I'd tied it.
I was also impressed in the spring when I took the system down. Half an hour after I started, the whole thing was in the handy bag provided to store it in, and the tarp still had the fold lines from its original packing!
When I called my Navigloo friend to let them know just how pleased I was with their product, they asked me if I'd share my experiences in this article. I am more than glad to do so because I've finally found something that actually does what it says it will do - and brilliantly.
This article provided by Navigloo and written by their customer Mark Dowdell, Ontario, Canada.