Looking to take your boat out on the water? Enjoy, but look out for the sun. When you’re on the water, you’re exposed to more than UV-radiation than normal because UV rays can reflect off the water and the surface of fiberglass boats.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if not properly protected, the sun’s UV rats can damage a person’s skin in fifteen minutes.
While sunscreen and protective clothing can help, getting out of the sun can help you avoid the risk of exposure.
One great way to stay out of the sun while enjoying the water is installing a bimini top to your boat.
What is a bimini top you ask? You’ve come to the right place. We’re going to answer all your questions here.
What is a Bimini Top?
A Bimini Top or boat top is an umbrella-like fabric top stretched over a lightweight metal frame that can be mounted to your boat. Frames can usually be collapsed or pulled back when not in use or raised again if you need shade or shelter from the rain.
What Kinds are Available?
Bimini Tops generally have either a bow frame for V-shaped boats
2 Bow Bimini (5 ft. of coverage)
3 Bow Bimini (6 ft. of coverage)
4 Bow Bimini (8 ft. of coverage)
or a square or T-Top frame for pontoon boats.
What Materials Are Used?
A Bimini frame is usually constructed from either aluminum with reinforced nylon fittings, while more expensive models may be made with stainless steel. This allows the frame to be lightweight while also preventing corrosion from salt and water.
The actual cover can be made from a variety of materials including cotton, and vinyl, but for a frame that will last more than one season, you’re usually better off with a frame made from durable polyester or acrylic.
Polyester can be solution-dyed providing rich color and excellent UV-protection. They’re also strong and resist stretching so they retain their shape. They’re more water repellent and abrasion resistant than acrylics but will fade faster, so look for covers that have UV-treatment to extend their life.
A top-of-the-line soft woven fabric, acrylic looks and feels terrific. It holds up against UV rays and has exceptional fade resistance and strength. However, it does lack polyester’s abrasion resistance.
How Can I Decide What Size is Right for My Boat?
Before buying a bimini, measure your boat carefully measure to determine the best-sized frame.
Measure the portion of your boat that you’d like to keep shaded. Keep in mind that the bimini tops usually cover:
- 5′ for 2 Bow Biminis
- 6′ for 3 Bow Biminis
- 8′ for 4 Bow Biminis
Once you know your length, select the midpoint of the area and use it to determine your main mount points. Keep in mind that width doesn’t correspond to your boat’s beam, it corresponds to the distance between anchor points on the boat’s gunwale.
Ideally, you should allow for 6’ of standing height. This is not the height of the bimini top itself, but the distance measured from the floor of the boat.
Can I Install it Myself?
To install your bimini top you need a simple power drill, measuring tape and a pencil. Because of the size, you may want to get a friend to help you connect the frame to the mountings.
For more information, you can watch our quick video:
And always follow the included directions.
How Fast Can I Go With a Bimini Top?
With a 2, 3 or 4 bow bimini top the rated top speed is 40 knots (44 mph) fully opened, with a T-Top bimini the rated top speed in 17 knots (20 mph) fully opened.
Can I Get a Replacement?
The bimini top can easily be replaced and stretched over an existing frame. Keep in mind that one manufacturer’s top may not fit on another manufacturer’s cover.
What Accessories Can I Use with My Bimini Top?
If you like to fish, you can connect a rod holder (or rocket launcher) to your frame. Able to hold up to 6 fishing rods (depending on the model and width) these frames can withstand light trolling and is a great solution for fishing rod storage. They also enhance the maneuverability of your rods when your bimini top is in use, so you can fish in the shade.
Looking for more ways to get the most out of your boat? Download our free guide!
Boat Maintenance Checklist and Winter Storage Tips