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Making a Tent for a Sailboat


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I just bumped into this video of how a guy made a tent cover for his sailboat. Very clever, I think, especially the idea of running a tight strap around the hull to provide anchoring for the tent sides. 

I also spotted another of his videos. I wonder whether this tent might be set up while IN the boat. 



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  • PadrePoint changed the title to Making a Tent for a Sailboat

I decided to sew my tent from fire-retardant material.  Unlike land-camping, there's no fire exit on a boat.  I installed nylon hooks under my gunwale to hold the edges down.  My hull is dark blue and the hooks are black so they aren't too ugly IMO.


Pro tip: Install any zippers with the handles on the INSIDE. 



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Hi Padre,


I have an unconventional rig on my CS15, so my solutions won't apply across the board.

When I stop to camp, the lug flops down into lazy jacks.   The tent hangs from the bottom of the boom and is stretched fore & aft between the main and the mizzen.  Ties on the tent roof go up and around the boom & sail to hold the tent up and bundle the sail.  Fiberglass rods (driveway markers) spread the roof and flex down to hold the tent sides in tension.   The mosquito netting is a box-shaped net that I picked up from Wal-Mart and just tied in at the corners.




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  • 3 weeks later...

Some Experimenting, and my Solution

I’d already tried out a free standing tent that I have, seeing how it might fit into the back of the boat.  (I didn’t take a photo of this try.)  Ehhh… I don’t think so, especially since the tent has a side entrance door and how would one manage that when the tent goes from one inwale to the other?  A tarp-type tent might be better and I continued my search for ideas.  I had recently fashioned a sleeping platform that included the aft seats. 




I had a couple empty days last week so I fiddled around with a couple tarps to see if I could come up with a workable idea for a tent that could support an overnight on the water.  It seems this is the predominant approach used in small sailboat camp cruising (camping ashore is always a good approach, too.)  I bought a big cheap Harbor Freight tarp (green) that I could cut up for a pattern. 

I began my experimenting by putting the mizzen mast in the forward step (in the bow thwart) and lashing the longer main sprit to the mizzen mast (while pulling the mizzen sprit up and out of the way; not sure what I could do with the sails.) Then I began some approaches of draping the green tarp over it, even making a brace to support it.  I liked the standing headroom and roominess that resulted… but I envisioned a lot of challenges in making this work. 






I have a couple 20’ tie down straps that could be tightened around the outside of the hull to provide a place to tie the tent into.  Hmmm… I don’t know.  Do I really want to try making a tent pattern here?  

How ‘bout a more open-ended approach with a smaller sized tarp?  (I use this grey tarp to cover my pop up camper in winter and it’s close to what might be needed.)  Again, I liked the height and roominess and assumed I could fashion a way to tie it down to straps going around the outside of the hull. 

Maybe a little better than the big green tarp?  Maybe use a mosquito net over a sleeping bag net inside… but would the open ends help with rain possibilities?  Fashion and attach end flaps?   Use a one person bivy tent under this to protect from rain?  (I didn’t take a photo of trying a bivy tent; plus it needs anchoring on either end to stand it upright.)  Ehhh…


Extend the top of the tarp with another horizontal brace for more coverage?  Ehhh…




Pull everything back and over the transom for at least an overhang fore and aft of the sleeping platform?






Just not doing it for me, even with some cutting and sewing.  Time to again check out some small tent possibilities on-line and with Amazon. 

A new small tent listing appeared on Amazon that wasn’t there earlier… and it’s only $22.49. It has a “bathtub” floor that could manage rain water in the bed platform and the access door is on the end (I hadn’t yet found a small tent with these two features.). I ordered it. 


When it came, the tent was assembled and placed into the back on top of the sleeping platform.  Yes, the sides are squeezed some to make it fit, causing the floor to be bunched up a bit… I kinda shoved the floor material under the side decks… but, yes, I think it could work.  The sails could be flaked over the sprits (and lashed) and raised out of the way by the two extra halyards.  Plus, I liked how this keeps everything open in the front cockpit.  There is enough room in the tent to lie comfortably, well, making use of the diagonal (I’m 6’5”.)  The corners of this free-standing tent can be lashed to points in the boat to manage wind. I decided that THIS will be my solution for now.  I don’t think I will plan more than an overnight or two next summer, a new experience to try out. ?






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 I have also tried a few solutions for the open cockpit style of boat. "Petunia"  My CS 17 has a trunk cabin so I didn't really need one on her, but her Sister, Daphne , a Drascombe Dabber yawl, IS an open cockpit design so I tried using a Scottish "hoop" tent ( Vango F10 Xenon UL Tent ) which works VERY well since I also have two masts on Daphne as tying off  points. Plus this is a double walled tent as rigged so there is little/NO condensation on it's walls...And one could either keep it's existing bottom intact if they had platform/ sleeping boards in place, OR cut out the bottom of the tent and have a VERY tall interior space. I have more room in the hoop style tents, than my domes. Some versions have doors at both ends.




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The grey tarp pulled over the transom (with some kind of closing flap in front) allllmost worked… but, the $22.50 tent solution will take care of my minimal overnight plans for next year.  Camping with more space and amenities can always be done on ashore.  ?

Looking forward to the Mess-about, just around the corner.  I placed my boat into winter storage an hour ago.  Sigh. ? 

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I just saw Wren somewhere…

Ah, an article… a two-boat cruise. (I’ll find it.) 

I like (a lot!) how this looks. It’s the kind of thing I had in mind because of how much protected open space is created, especially by the arch supports.  I’m trying not to modify my boat with brackets and hooks and stuff (if that is part of the design) but maybe someday (especially if my boys find the dinghy cruising thing fun.)

Thanks for your photos. They keep my thoughts mulling this over, looking for strategies.  That’s part of what has been fun for me since retiring last year… building a couple boats and pondering how to come up with various solutions. I’d enjoy seeing some photos illustrating how this comes together. 

An edit… a few minutes later… oh, there it is. ?. The article… you had just posted it. 

Here it is, folks… great read. 


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Ah… (finally zooming in on the photos)… a bemini top and cabin in the bow section certainly provide a great framing for the expansive tarp covering.  Good combination of things in this boat and your result looks quite comfortable. 
(I’ll bet all that would set me back more than $22.50.)


A video on quickly making a tent

(added 4-15-22)


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