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Making a Tent for a Sailboat


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3 hours ago, Don Silsbe said:

So, you’re coming, but boatless?

Yep, I was going to drag my motorcycle East for some Blue Ridge area riding this week, but I needed to let go of that plan. So, I’ll just be coming out to Mess-about in my little car.  I placed my boat into winter storage this afternoon.  Last year, I had to drive home through SNOW when I hit Wisconsin. Here is what awaited my arrival… 



I’m hoping I’m invited to experience some of the other boats and to ask lots of questions, now that I’ve been able to get some sailing experience on the Norma T.


(Was that a bold hint or what?) ?

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I'm thinking about getting rid of the bimini because we rarely use it except at night and it gets in the way when I want to sit up on the rail to get a better view of the water ahead of me. If I do that, I'll probably cut up the aluminum tubing and add connectors to work like tent poles so I can stow the frame during the day. 

I use eye straps along the gunwale for tying down the tent. At first I was reluctant to put in permanent fittings but they are just so convenient - good for fenders too. 

"The Dinghy Cruising Companion" by Roger Barnes has a whole chapter on making a tent for your boat.



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  • 2 weeks later...

This is what I learned from sleeping two nights with my BRS15 camp-cruise setup.

1.  Doing this in the rain would be miserable.  All my cooking was done outside, unprotected.  And the tent would get drenched by taking it up or down.  At very least, I need more towels, to sop up the water.  And maybe an awning.

2. I did a lot of crawling around on my knees.  Not ideal, when you’re over 70.

3.  With the tent back that far, it would be difficult to fire up the Suzuki, and make adjustments to your anchorage.

4.  Access to my “stuff” was limited.  The starboard seat hatch was easily accessible.  Accessing the port hatch required exiting the tent, and crawling around the forward end of the tent to the port side.  If I had bought a tent with two doors, this would not have been a problem.  
5.  All my cooking gear was under the starboard side of the forward panel.  That was OK, but not ideal.  The tent and sleeping stuff was to port.  The yoga mat ended up being as hard as a rock.  
6.  I did not capsize, but I took on a lot of water, motoring upwind and back to the shop.  My gear remained “dry enough”, but made me think more about waterproof storage.  I had purchased two small dry bags at Cabelas on the way to the messabout.  They kept my clothes nice and dry.  If I plan to go out for more than two nights, I need more of these.

7. Most importantly, this trip taught me the value of organization.  The first night, I anchored & made camp across Chapel Creek.  I could not find my phone anywhere, and my bride was expecting me to check in with her.  I motored back to the dock (see note #2 above), to look for it in the truck.  Nope!  Finally, Sean, the guy in the trimaran called it.  IT WAS RIGHT WHERE I ALWAYS PUT IT!  It was in a little pocket at the aft end of the c/b trunk.  But that was beneath the elevated floorboards, and not too accessible.  Duh!  So, the first night of “camping” was at the dock.


Sorry for the long epistle, but I learned a lot on this trip, and wanted to share my lessons learned with y’all.





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On 10/23/2021 at 12:44 PM, sanmi said:

I don't think you need a cabin or bimini to build a tent like this.  Fiberglass hoops, aluminum tubing or even electrical conduit would be a suitable frame to the tent.

Quest Outfitters carries all sorts of camping poles and fabrics.


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VERY helpful bit of sharing, Don. I will still give the camping-in-my-CS15 a shot next season.  And, yes, it seems like a tarp-canopy over a part of the foward cockpit area of the boat, maybe even some of the tent, could be an enhancement…. Or even a large umbrella. 

The link you provided looks like a great source for materials. I shall keep it in mind. 


BUT…. I will ALSO try sail-camping in the boat I put an offer on yesterday and that was accepted by the owner today: the Core Sound 17 Mark iii that was just put into the forum recently as being for sale… Avocet!!


It looks very well built and will be the third boat in my “fleet.”  Kinda makes a new cruise camping option for me and my boys. ?



I’ll receive Avocet later this month and it will go directly into winter storage.  I was really surprised by my welling interest in a Mark iii. Perhaps the tent thing in my CS15 prompted some of that interest… perhaps being aboard a couple Mark iii’s at Mess-About. Whatever. 

I am looking forward to playing with all three boats next summer:

CS15 Norma T

15’ Stiletto (ski boat) Joe

and CS17 Avocet

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Sort of Related Trivia

We’re doing the transition to the next season.  The Norma T is already in winter storage, the CS17mk3 Avocet that I am buying will also go into winter storage near the end of the month when it “migrates” from North Carolina to Wisconsin. And my almost finished 15 foot GlenL Stiletto Joe will spent the whole winter in the local marina’s heated shop for various installations.  

Ski season is just around the corner and my ski area has begun making snow. 




I pulled out the the snowblower… and…


First pull… just like small outboards, eh? 

Summer toys are parked and the snowblower is ready.  ?  The Packers game starts in a while… the beer is cold and a pizza is ready for the oven.  Aaaah…


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A Final Step

I do not plan on building another boat in the garage (two in 16 months) and I can finish Joe next spring without taking over the garage again.  (OK, I still have to deal with some leftover wood.)

So, the car mat goes back onto the floor and my wife’s car goes back to its preferred parking place. She was VERY patient with my retirement hobby.  Now, I have a VERY fun sounding summer coming up. ?


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If I can squeeze it into skiing… an unlimited season pass my local ski area (Wisconsin’s biggest), add-on pass to 50 ski places across the country, and a pass to try out 18 Wisconsin ski hills. 

And, actually, Nick, THAT is an enticing idea. 

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