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Waterproofing Our Canvas Bimini + Dodger

One of the nice features about our boat is that it came with a beautiful canvas bimini top and dodger. Both of which were on our original “must-have” list when boat shopping.  With the obvious need being shade — a major necessity when sailing in the sunny tropics. But the slightly less obvious need simply being cover from rain or bad weather.

Luckily, both our bimini and dodger seemed to be in pretty great condition when we purchased the boat back in April.  So, of course we didn’t anticipate needing a boat project list line item for “waterproofing the canvas.”  Turns out, we were wrong.

We quickly learned after a fun “save the poodles” 😉 kind of pop-up squall while sailing over the 4th of July with my sister Susan and brother-in-law Eric that our bimini immediately starts leaking once it’s saturated. (I really wish we had a photo of our wet and seriously pissed poodles, along with our own drenched selves.)  Lesson learned… Our bimini top in its current state is pretty much useless after it gets wet.

Hence, item #43 on our list.

We researched all respectable waterproofing solutions, and quickly came to learn that 303 is the go-to product for waterproofing canvas or sunbrella fabric.

After watching the best 303 instructional waterproofing video I could find, I purchased one bottle each of the 303 Fabric Cleaner Concentrateand the 303 Fabric Guard Water Repellantso we could properly clean the bimini and dodger canvas and then waterproof it with the fabric guard.

Once our amazon order arrived, we were ready to rock and roll!

The cleaning part (using the cleaner concentrate) was super simple. I mixed one part concentrate with a bucket of water and used a soft cleaning mit (placed over our scrub brush) to gently clean and agitate the canvas surface. (Next time we do this, I will invest in a soft bristle brush instead of trying to make the mit/brush combo work.)  I made sure to fully rinse the product off the canvas, and even rewashed the bimini and dodger with clean water a few times just to be sure.

After letting the canvas thoroughly dry for about an hour, I moved on to part 2: “waterproofing.” Both Jereme and I were a little concerned about overspray from the 303 Fabric Guard getting on the clear vinvyl windows of our dodger, so we dediced it would be best to cover them with paper before applying the fabric guard.

^^This^^ was definitely the most time-consuming aspect of the entire project since I had to carefully fold and tape newspaper onto each window (in the blazing hot sun).

After the protective paper layer was up, it was merely a spray job from there. Easy peasy.

I followed the video’s instructions, and sprayed the product both horizontally and vertically across the canvas in sort of a crosshatch pattern, so it would adhere better to the pores of the fabric.

We used one full bottle of fabric guard to cover our entire bimini AND dodger (and one small portion of the concentrate — we’ve got lots of that stuff leftover).

I am happy to report that both canvases are now visibly repelling water and we can successfully cross this bad boy off the project list!

^^The face^^ of overheated project completion… 😉