Gear

A Bit of Shade

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My J/105 is more of a racer than a cruiser, but every once in a while I put in a few nights aboard with the family. I’m 6ft 3in, and the boat has about a foot less headroom than I need, so I’ve always paid close attention to the weather—being stuck below on a rainy day for more than an hour or so would put a big damper on the trip. Last year I was offered a ShadeTree awning to try, and what a difference it made. It was like adding a whole outside cabin to my J/105—a cabin with standing headroom, open to the cooling breeze, but protected from the sun and the rain.

The first time we erected the ShadeTree, it was a bit of a puzzle. The awning, made from coated Dacron, is heavy and obviously made to last. Carbon fiber-fiberglass rods are used to give the awning its tunnel shape, which makes it self-supporting. The instructions were not especially clear, but my wife and I managed to set it up—while under way—in a little under 30 minutes. We had just set out on a windless day to motor 40 miles home, and the two families on board were very happy to have some shade to sit under.

The next time we put up the awning was during a weekend cruise. This time I decided to put it together by myself. Fifteen minutes later I had doubled the living area of the boat. That night I was able to sleep outside, and the awning kept me dry from the heavy dew that settled everywhere else.

While the ShadeTree is harder to erect than my usual cover—a Home Depot tarpaulin with four lengths of bungee—it is sturdier and much more attractive. While I have not yet put it to the test, the awning feels as if the wind could withstand a good 20 knots without a problem. As we plan our future cruises, it’s good to know we can erect the ShadeTree and get some significant protection from the sun and rain.

Prices for the ShadeTree awning start at $440 for stern awnings and $320 for bow awnings. For more information, click here.

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