Gone Outdoors

How to Stretch a Canvas Boat Cover

by Will Charpentier

There's no feeling in this world like cruising down the highway, on your way to a great day of boating. Unfortunately, seeing your boat cover flying away in your rear view mirror--because it wasn't stretched across your boat correctly and secured properly--does not add to the day's enjoyment. Spending a few minutes tugging on the boat cover to prevent this only works if you make sure to do it right, and then it only works if you take the time to adjust the tie-downs that hold the cover in place.

Secure all of the tie-down straps on the port (left) side of your boat cover to the boat trailer frame. Some straps may have a hook on the end, others may have a loop that you can wrap around the frame. All will be adjustable to pull the cover close to the boat.

Pull the canvas boat cover over the boat cover supports, if you use cover supports. Bow-type supports are wooden or plastic slats that sit across the cockpit of your boat. Slightly longer than your boat is wide, the slats bow upward when fitted into mounting brackets on either side of your boat. The slats hold your boat cover up to keep water and trash from accumulating on the cover or in your boat.

Pull the cover down on the starboard (right) side of your boat, secure the adjustable straps on the starboard side of the cover to the right side of your boat trailer frame. Use the buckles on the straps to pull the straps and stretch the cover tight.

Items you will need
  • Boat cover
  • Tie-down straps


  • Depending on how the buckles and hardware are attached to the straps on your boat cover, you may be able to attach a ratchet, like those used on a cargo strap, to the boat cover straps for an even tighter fit.


  • Use tie-down straps even if your cover is fastened to the boat with snaps, Dzus fasteners or post-and-socket fasteners. These fasteners hold your boat's cover to the surface of the boat and are designed to hold the cover in place during lay-up, not during travel at 70 miles per hour.

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.