Gone Outdoors

How to Lace a T-Top Boat

by Will Charpentier

Part of the installation of the Fishmaster Folding T-Top is lacing the cover into the canopy frame. Even if you're intimidated by ropework and marlinspike seamanship sounds like a duel with a billfish, you don't need a sail loft to lace this top to the canopy frame. You can use small-diameter rope, nylon paracord or sail twine for the lacing, and several tools, such as a small-size fid or a sailmaker's roping needle, will help you through the lacing process.

Lay the overhead canopy and the frame on a flat surface. Place the canopy in the frame with the Sunbrella tag toward the stern and the top of the canopy facing up, just as it will be mounted on the boat. Start lacing at the front of the canopy and work toward the rear.

Push the lacing down through the first grommet on port (left) side of the front edge of the canopy. Reach under the canopy and grasp the lacing.

Pull the lacing from beneath the canopy and wrap it over the top of the frame tube, then back to the same grommet in the canopy, pushing the lacing up through the grommet. Carry the lacing to the next grommet to starboard and repeat the process. After making the last lacing on the front of the canopy, work down the starboard side of the canopy toward the rear of the canopy.

Continue lacing across the rear until you come to the port side of the canopy, then continue forward until you push the lacing up through the grommet on the forwardmost grommet on the left side of the canopy, where you will pull the lacing upward and tie a figure-8 knot in the lacing, close to the grommet, to secure the lacing.

Back-pull the lacing like a shoe string, without untying the figure-8 knot, to center the cover in the canopy frame.

Items you will need
  • Small rope
  • Nylon paracord
  • Sail twine
  • Small fid
  • Size 18 sailmaker's needle

Tips

  • A small fid may help push the lacing through the grommets. As an alternative, you can use a size 18 sailmaker's needle to "sew" the lacing through.
  • Make the lacing project more manageable by tying the cover into the frame with twist ties before you begin lacing. Remove the twist ties from each grommet before you run the laces through it. This will allow you to pick the canopy and cover up and move it as needed while lacing.

Warning

  • After every few boating trips, back-pull the lacing to tighten the cover.

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.