Tools and Supplies
*Chalk line (to snap a line between the two deck hinges)
*Power drill and bits
*Cleanup rags (to wipe off excess sealant)
A Bimini top is a great way of creating shade, while also offering the versatility to fold it back to catch some rays, trailer home or store your boat. While Bimini tops can be mounted in a variety of ways, the simplest tops are anchored at the gunwales and utilize adjustable web straps forward and aft to keep the canvas taut and the structure secure. The most affordable models from brands such as Carver (carvercovers.com) and Taylor Made (taylormadeproducts.com) have aluminum bows with reinforced nylon fittings, while more expensive versions feature stainless-steel bows and fittings, offering greater durability in salt water. In either case, make sure the top has at least three bows for proper support.
1. Select the Size
The width of the top is determined by the measurement between the points where the two deck hinges will attach, but the length and height can be varied to suit your needs. For example, if you want to stand underneath, make sure the height, when combined with the distance below the mounting point, offers sufficient headroom. Off-the-shelf tops generally range from four to eight feet in length, with six-foot-long tops ranking as the most popular on runabouts. Choose a canvas color that coordinates well with the boat’s colors.
2. Position the Top
Ask a buddy to hold the fully extended top in place as you decide where the deck hinges should be installed, knowing that these will mark the longitudinal midpoint of the top. It’s important that the deck hinges are exactly opposite and parallel to each other, lest the top would bind when folded. Side-mount deck hinges are available for mounting on vertical surfaces such as cabin bulwarks, if gunwale mounting won’t work. Make sure the folded top will stow with minimal interference in the cockpit.