When we moved aboard in June 2013 I knew one of the things we would need at some point was a shade/rain awning. This would 1.) shade a majority of the boat thus lowering the internal temp substantially and 2.) help keep the rain out thus allowing us to leave hatches and portlights open for ventilation while we are onboard.
I started with a general idea of a simple shade that would be tented over the boom and secured at/over the lifelines. The postion of our shrouds instantly complicated the design, of course. I ordered 20 yards of Surlast off EBay and got 20 yards in two batches. Lesson learned, ask more questions. However, it worked ok since I was combining 3 panels to make my boom tent.
Result? It's a work in progress and I knew this. I knew we would need to live with it in conditions to see what modifications were needed. General design is ok. I would like it to be wider. I should have used webbing loops as attachment point vs grommets. FYI - Graham on s/v Karma used to own a canvas shop and says he always use loops whenever possible vs grommets. Grommets are a pain to put in, take a special tool (sized appropriately - thus meaning multiple tools for different sized grommets) and hammer to apply. Instantly grommets become the weak point in your design because they actually cut into the fabric. They rust and stainless steel grommets are very hard to find. Once they start to tear out, grommets become a pain to replace without patching the fabric. Webbing loops on the other hand are easy to add, repair or replace. Smart lesson learned from a fellow cruiser. We may also be adding height to our design in the future. Currently we can crawl along under the awning. We may try to use our two boat hooks as forward and aft stabilizers or add some Folding tent poles or PVC pipe. We'll see. I will probably add a smaller center piece to come back further aft so it covers the front screen in the dodger. Currently it only partially covers it.
The shade itself makes a HUGE difference. It instantly lowers the internal temp of the boat several degrees. It is astonishing. One of the reasons I picked the white color was for this factor. White or light vs dark colors makes a big different inside the boat in the tropics. So much so that our friends on s/v Allergro eventually painted their dark hulled boat after a couple of years cruising the Caribbean. Wow, right!
S/v Honey Ryder came with a forward deck shade. I have never fully figured out how to use it. The design seems off. Originally I purchased enough Surlast material to make a second cover for up there. However I only got it 1/2 the way completed before we left the USA so we have been using the original cover while here in Trinidad. With the current flurry of activity in Sabrina's Sail Loft, I may try to get back to the new cover and complete it. Or I may just make some quick modifications on the original. Having lived with it in use for a period of time now, some ideas have come to mind. And I think this point is worth extra focus, some designs just take time to evolve into their finished stage.