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Making a Tent for a Sailboat


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  • 4 weeks later...

I’m still not happy with my setup.  I sold my one-man tent, because I could not envision making my morning coffee in the rain.  I’m going with a whole boat setup.  I’ll use the sprits as shown in the photos.

 I’m still trying to figure out the best way to attach the thing around the gunwales.  I even made a mockup, to try different methods.


 Meester has a dark hull, which hides his attachments.  I, on the other hand, have a pretty bright yellow hull, which will show everything.  This is gonna be interesting, to say the least.

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16 hours ago, Don Silsbe said:

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to attach the thing around the gunwales

That’s still a stumper for me, although for my red boat I have a couple 20’ cam straps that I can tighten from bow eye to transom eye on both sides which could serve as tie-down points. I’ll play with that next summer. 

I pondered using removable pins poking through holes in the gunwale… but it’s the permanent-thing I’m avoiding. 

And, as a “six” month sail-camping solution, perhaps you, Chick, and I ought to have a genuine conversation about stabling and exercising Avocet during my skiing ⛷  months in North Carolina. 

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Have you looked into just buying brown snaps to match the gunwales?


I've thought before that open gunwales with spacers, like you see on canoes with wood gunwales, makes a lot of sense for small boats.

11 minutes ago, PadrePoint said:

And, as a “six” month sail-camping solution, perhaps you, Chick, and I ought to have a genuine conversation about stabling and exercising Avocet during my skiing ⛷  months. 

If I had a friend down south, I think a north-south boat sharing arrangement would be great.  May-October up north, November-April down south.  It seems a shame to have a boat sit around unused for half the year.

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@Steve W  Roger Barnes is my hero!  He is the inspiration for my move away from the one-man tent.  But his hull is dark, so his attachment points are invisible.

@Andy B   I don’t have slotted gunwales, but I don’t think that would work, anyway.  In my mind, the tent needs to overlap the gunwales, to divert rain away from the interior.  
Duckworks has some very small eye straps that I could attach to my gunwales.  But I don’t like the idea of snagging them with my hand, when handling the boat.  I haven’t totally ruled it out.  I have another idea I’m mocking up.  I will share that with y’all, once I get caught up with my domestic responsibilities.

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2 hours ago, Don Silsbe said:

domestic responsibilities

Yup… we didn’t replace kitchen counter tops when renovating our house 8 years ago. But now that I’m retired and “done” building boats, guess what house task is rising up. 

Actually, I found myself toying around with the idea of making a RC scaled version of my CS15, the Norma T… maybe a 1/6th version at 30”.  There’s gotta be SOMETHING to get in the way of replacing perfectly serviceable countertops, sink, and faucet.  


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This is where I am today with my mockup.  This is the overall view of it.  The PVC pipe comes i to play later.  Note that my inwales are 1” high, and the outer gunwales 1.25” high.


This is looking outward, from the inside of the “boat”.   I drilled two epoxy-filled holes: one up against the inwale, and the other aimed to hit just below the outer gunwale.  I knew that the higher one would punch through the bottom of the gunwale, but I wanted to try both.


 I wanted the holes to be as inconspicuous ad possible.  This is the view from outside the “boat” with both holes drilled.  You can barely see the lower one.  But the upper one is ugly, because it violates my beautiful “walnut” gunwale.

The overall idea is to have a line of small holes through which I thread some loops of line. here are the parts to try.  The wire is my tool for threading the line through the hole.  I have two lengths and knots to try out.  The black clip is one way to attach to my tent, using 1/2” webbing.  Another clip is due to arrive in a week.


This is what the loop looks like, installed.  I’ll only install them at the beginning of a camp cruise outing.  Otherwise, all you’ll see are a line of small holes as in the photo above. 

This is the clip attached to the loop.  They are not the easiest to clip on, but they have a very nice adjustment method.  The clips would be sewn to my fabric tent.  Actually, the 1/2” webbing is seen to the tent, and these threaded onto the webbing.


Now, I wait for the other clips to arrive.  Meanwhile, I can sew up a mini-tent with 1/2” webbing to evaluate this further.

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Hi Don,


Seeing you put the hooks on the tent rather than on the boat triggered a thought:  How about holes drilled about 1/2" deep in the underside of the gunwale, and wire bungee hooks or similar on the tent.  On the plus side, there would be no visible hardware.  On the minus side, the hooks would have to be kept in tension to keep them from falling out.  Bungees or ribs in the roof would work.




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@meester— I’d like to see a sketch of that.  I’ve got these clips on order, arriving the end of the month.  BD5209D6-C995-40D1-AEF7-852A1805B018.thumb.jpeg.88a68f810dd45ee7171ef1b82ff06a76.jpegThey could be used with bungee cord, and clip into the loops I have.  They will be easier to clip in place, but are not adjustable.

The biggest problem I’m trying to solve is how to keep the bottom of the tent on the outboard side of the gunwale in a blow.  I’m hoping that if I can take most of the tension with some sort of clip, then a drawstring underneath will work.  Time will tell. 

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@Captain Tim— Those would definitely work.  So would some small eye straps like this:


But I can already feel the hurt in my hand from sliding my hand down the gunwales, and hitting some sort of stainless steel.  

I’m looking for something that works, but feels good, and isn’t ugly (most of the time, at least).  So, I’m trying out all the ideas I can come up with.  And hopefully by sharing them here, you all might think of something better.

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I understand not wanting to catch your skin on anything sharp.

Maybe something like this under the gunnel and you could sew a boltrope into your tent. 

With a break in the channel in the middle of the boat you could slide the tent on from the middle. 

You could have a few breaks in the channel so you have the option of only setting part of the tent.

Taco Marine V25-9720WHC20 Canvas / Upholstery Track, White, 5/8"W x 9/ (boatandrvaccessories.com)

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