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    Bimini Tops for Boats: What Are They and How Can They Improve Your Boating Experience?

    By on Last modified: July 6, 2022

    Australia has always been a nation of boat lovers who enjoy spending time on the water. We’re an island made up of mainly coastal dwellers, so it makes perfect sense, but the post-pandemic surge in watercraft ownership is like nothing that’s been witnessed before. For first-timers, in particular, the thrill of owning a nicely modded tinny or a comfortable cuddy cabin is the beginning of a whole new sporting lifestyle. With so many new and exciting times to look forward to though, the one thing that regularly gets overlooked, by new and experienced boaters alike, is the importance of overhead protection.

    Without it, everyone on board is at risk of a heat-related injury from spending too much time in direct sunlight. Instrument consoles, as well as deck seats and other fittings, are equally susceptible to damage from prolonged UV exposure. If you own a boat, sunscreen for the passengers and marine wax for the vessel are nice starters, but you need more. You need to put an actual barrier between yourself and the sun, and a bimini top can fit that bill perfectly.

    Bimini Tops Make the Best Covers

    Biminis Top

    Let’s be honest: when you’re spending time out on your boat with guests, the last place you want them or yourself to be after a few hours is on a deck with no protection from the elements. By making an early decision to install a fully adjustable boat bimini top on your craft though, you can get the most out of your boating experience, while ensuring that everyone aboard has adequate shelter when they need it. Regardless of whether it’s protection from the blistering sun or light rain, a boat bimini will have you covered.

    You can find biminis tops for sale in a full range of colours and styles for any type of vessel, large or small; and the great thing about them is that one size doesn’t have to fit all. A compact 1.3m x 1.6m bimini may be the ideal-sized shielding for an open boat or a runabout, while a matching pair of 2m x 2m bimini tops are the perfect solution for opposite ends of a luxury pontoon.

    Boat owners are free to mix and combine different sizes of boat bimini tops according to their needs; and unlike ordinary boat canopy tops, biminis don’t have the side curtains that can distract from the pleasure of boating. Nothing could be more convenient than instantly popping your bimini up when you need the protection, and folding it back down and out of the way when you’re ready to enjoy nature to the fullest again.

    What are Bimini Bows?

    Bimini Bow

    Whenever you discuss bimini boat tops, it’s important to distinguish whether the top has 2, 3, or even 4 bows. Bows are the frame cross members that support the bimini’s canvas from one side of the boat to the other. They’re the “ribs” of the canvas, so to speak; and the more bows a bimini top has, the longer it is.

    Typically, these are the lengths and bow counts that you find with bimini covers:

    • A 1.5m cover with a 2 bow bimini;
    • A 1.83m cover with a 3 bow bimini; and,
    • A 2.1m cover with a 4 bow bimini.

    There are also extra small, T-top (tower top) biminis that don’t have bows. With their relatively small footprint and coverage area, these biminis are intended mostly for use on side or centre console boats that don’t need large shaded areas. For all others, however, you’ll want to carefully measure how much space you have available, both port to starboard as well as a bow to stern, before deciding on which bimini to buy.

    Bimini Top Construction

    Make no mistake: the most important thing to consider when you’re looking at bimini tops for boats is the kind of environment you’ll be subjecting it to. Extreme temperatures, corrosive salt and moisture, and even overly curious birds will be working against it, so you’re going to want a durably stitched top that’s made from breathable, marine-ready polyester fabric that’s also lightweight, UPF-50+ rated, and designed to:

    • Resist UV breakdown and fading;
    • Resist water, mould, and mildew; and,
    • Resist tearing, stretching, and shrinking.

    Your bimini’s frames and fittings are no more immune to the elements than the canvas itself is. These are the fixtures keeping the top attached to the boat, so you want strong, wind and rust-resistant materials doing the holding, including:

    • Anodized, 316-grade aluminium frames;
    • 316-grade stainless steel bow clamps; and,
    • Marine-grade, nylon fittings.

    And Just How Tough is a Bimini?

    Biminis are built to be extremely tough; but as tempting as it may be to just mount your bimini boat top and forget about it, it’s no different from the rest of the boat. The elements and general use are going to take their toll eventually, so it needs the same level of attention as the rest of the vessel to protect it from prolonged exposure to the sun and water.

    Check Fasteners Regularly

    Regularly check that all the fasteners and fittings holding your bimini canvas securely to the frame are intact. Likewise, if any of the hardware attaching the frame to the boat are loose or needs rebedding, you’ll want to address that before the next time you leave the dock.

    Don’t Abuse Your Bimini

    To avoid damaging either the canvas or its straps, stow your bimini top away whenever you’ve moving at high speeds or trailering the boat. The damage that either your top or boat could incur more than justify the few minutes it’ll take to close the canvas. Removing it from the frame and packing it away entirely when the boat’s not being used will help protect it even more.

    Keep Your Bimini Clean

    Keep Clean Biminis

    Cleaning your boat bimini top cover regularly with a soft brush, water, and a gentle canopy cleaner will keep it looking like new; and resealing it with a fresh coat of polyurethane waterproofing and UV sealant at the start of every boating season will give it the weatherproofing barrier it needs to serve you all year long.

    The Final Word

    At the end of the day, watercraft owners want to be able to take their boats out and enjoy themselves with family and friends. Understandably though, they don’t want their guests or their gear at risk from relentless sunlight exposure. A boat bimini top is a small investment that can add endless pleasure and comfort to your boating adventures, and it’ll last for decades with only regular care and maintenance. If you already own a boat or contemplating buying one, you won’t find a better way to beat the heat than with a bimini, so why not make the decision today to look into buying one.