Stand alone canopy

twestrope

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I’m new to boating. We just bought a Summer home in MI. It’s on a small lake. I just bought a used 22’ pontoon, under 3,000 Lbs. I‘m getting quotes for a dock and boat lift. Area dealers are slow to give me estimates. One dealer gave me a quote of $18,000 installed for a Max Dock lift. Several dealers have mentioned an option is a stand alone canopy, with no lift . It’s termed as a ”free standing lift, water carport”. Cost is $4,000. Unfortunately I’m still in AZ so haven’t been able to see these. Has anyone had experience with something like this? I’m cautious that this seems like a money saver but may not be a good option for the long run and I’ll end up going with a lift and canopy.
 
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Jack M

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In Northern Mi , my dealer can't even any lifts.
If it helps with your decision , your toons will get a slime build up on them when left in the silp all season. I try to wipe mine down once a week at the sand bar
 

Vikingstaff

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I’m new to boating. We just bought a Summer home in MI. It’s on a small lake. I just bought a used 22’ pontoon, under 3,000 Lbs. I‘m getting quotes for a dock and boat lift. Area dealers are slow to give me estimates. One dealer gave me a quote of $18,000 installed for a Max Dock lift. Several dealers have mentioned an option is a stand alone canopy, with no lift . It’s termed as a ”free standing lift, water carport”. Cost is $4,000. Unfortunately I’m still in AZ so haven’t been able to see these. Has anyone had experience with something like this? I’m cautious that this seems like a money saver but may not be a good option for the long run and I’ll end up going with a lift and canopy.
Welcome to the forum and to Bennington. Congratulations! As a fellow Michigander, what lake are you on? We live in mid-Michigan, but have a lake house and live part time at it, on Houghton Lake.

As to your inquiry:

The lift is more important than the canopy IMHO. You have a mooring cover. You can keep the boat covered from sunshine and rain…the elements, with that on a very sufficient level. Not the same as a canopy, but does work really well. And you still need to use the mooring cover with a canopy due to spiders, bugs and bird droppings. Hence, the canopy doesn’t save much time in that regard.

Keeping the boat out of the water on a lift is a much bigger deal in my mind: keeps toons from getting cruddy (which keeps it looking good, and preforming normal), easier to clean pontoons, and less cleaning is needed, and most importantly prevents wind and waves from banging it around or into the dock because it’s lifted out of the water(particularly nice in extreme weather and storms).

I would get a lift without a canopy long before I would get a stand alone canopy without a lift. Not to mention, having to navigate between canopy support arms/poles is not something I enjoyed.

Semi-related note: I originally had a lift and canopy first 2 years. Very nice set up, but I ran into late season shallowness issues (Houghton Lake, Michigan).

Switched to Sea Legs without canopy in 2019. Love that set up much better.

And although having a canopy again would be a nice extra layer of protection above boat and mooring cover, honestly, it is extremely nice NOT having to dock as careful between canopy support arms.

I actually looked at stand alone canopies such as you are considering after switching to Sea Legs in 2019 (Sea Legs actually makes one as an option).

However, I loved docking SO MUCH better after spending a season without having to careful navigate between canopy support arms that after selling our lift, I decided not to get a stand alone.

Much happier now in all honestly.
 
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twestrope

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Welcome to the forum and to Bennington. Congratulations! As a fellow Michigander, what lake are you on? We live in mid-Michigan, but have a lake house and live part time at it, on Houghton Lake.

As to your inquiry:

The lift is more important than the canopy IMHO. You have a mooring cover. You can keep the boat covered from sunshine and rain…the elements, with that on a very sufficient level. Not the same as a canopy, but does work really well. And you still need to use the mooring cover with a canopy due to spiders, bugs and bird droppings. Hence, the canopy doesn’t save much time in that regard.

Thanks Jeff. We bought down in Canadian Lakes. I’m curious about your comment that even with a hoist with a canopy you still need the mooring cover to protect the interior. We spoke with a company that does a lot of dock work in the area and he said that boaters who have to cover the boat each time with a mooring cover tend to use their boats a lot less than those who have a hoist with a canopy and don’t have to mess with a mooring cover each time. I’m surprised to see that I still need to use the mooring cover even with a canopy.
 

Vikingstaff

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Thanks Jeff. We bought down in Canadian Lakes. I’m curious about your comment that even with a hoist with a canopy you still need the mooring cover to protect the interior. We spoke with a company that does a lot of dock work in the area and he said that boaters who have to cover the boat each time with a mooring cover tend to use their boats a lot less than those who have a hoist with a canopy and don’t have to mess with a mooring cover each time. I’m surprised to see that I still need to use the mooring cover even with a canopy.
Hi there!

Well…we live at our lake house in the summer full time, and most weeks use the boat 4 or 5 days per week in season. For us in our location, we still had to cover it daily with mooring cover.

In full disclosure, we could do a VERY sub-par job putting the mooring cover on when we had the canopy. We could take short cuts on no poles, and only securing the cover in a few spots just so that it would stay in place to “catch” whatever droppings fell on it from above. VS without canopy we now have to put the mooring cover on securely and properly to ALSO protect from elements.

Spiders are attracted to bugs near water. So they really congregate on the lifts/canopies (not impressive to my wife or daughter). Spider droppings were a surprising issue for us in year one. Really bad problem. Secondarily, birds occasionally liked hanging out inside the canopy cover on the support rails for shade. And then they would poop. This was constant on and off problem for us, even with us living there and using the boat full time those first two years with the lift/canopy.

Maybe Canadian lakes sees much less of those problems, or maybe the sales company/installers are blowing some sunshine your way to close a sale. For instance, our dock sales company said the same to us originally, and that is why we added the canopy to our new lift in the first place in 2017.

I did learn to raise our boat as high as I could against the underside of the canopy. That really cut down on birds significantly and helped mitigate spider droppings a little bit better. However, without putting the mooring cover on in evenings, those spider droppings would still happen quickly enough to leave little black “spots” everywhere unless that mooring cover went on at night.

FYI: originally I was thinking (and our salesman said) exactly what yours is saying now. Hence, when we bought the boat AND lift/canopy in 2017, I honestly didn’t think I was going to have to cover it very often…if at all. I was wrong.

Honestly, all of that said, canopies STILL are nice. If not for the headache and anxiousness of docking between their support arms, I’d probably have a stand alone one with our Sea Legs set up right now. With a canopy the boat AND mooring cover are protected from elements, and mooring cover is just there as a barrier between mainly spider droppings and boat. Hence, still of value. Again, my biggest dislike of the canopy is not have much room on each side for leeway when docking…tight quarters.

Bigger point is that the lift (IMO…and that probably is only worth $.02 cents) is much more important in protecting the boat by keeping it out of the water when not being used BECAUSE the mooring cover can still keep things covered from above. That’s probably my greater take away from those first few years.

Thus, if you can only fit one or the other in your budget currently, I would personally recommend the lift first. And…you can always then add the canopy later if you still feel it necessary.

Likewise, you can go canopy now, and then add the lifts later if you want. However, if you go this route you’ll have to be much more diligent on keeping pontoons clean if that matters to you for looks and performance. They get dirty and build up scum fast…and speed and performance then drops surprising quickly too. AND FYI: I am lazy and don’t want to clean my pontoons often, so that certianly impacts my view of it all. :p
 

Jack M

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Covering and uncovering is the last thing that would stop my wife and I from using ours. We have a system and we are done in 5 minutes tops. Worst part is crawling back under with hot flooring and bare knees to set the poles . I'm going to try those garden pads this season .
 

BigKahuna

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Covering and uncovering is the last thing that would stop my wife and I from using ours. We have a system and we are done in 5 minutes tops. Worst part is crawling back under with hot flooring and bare knees to set the poles . I'm going to try those garden pads this season .
Jack I have had a pair of volleyball kneepads for years now. Anything I do that requires getting down like when I painted some baseboards, and replacing boards on a deck in Virginia I'll use them. I used to use them when I got under to set the poles on my last boat with carpet. But my current boat has some spongy seagrass and I haven't used them......
 

Jack M

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This will be my 1st season with seagrass . Hopefully I won't need them .
 

Remediation

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Worst part is crawling back under with hot flooring and bare knees to set the poles . I'm going to try those garden pads this season .
I never crawl under the cover to set the poles. I install the poles as I cover the boat. I start at the back and snap the back snaps and 3 or 4 snaps on the sides. I place the top of the pole in the cover and make the pole vertical. Pull the cover forward and the pole stays in place from the weight of the cover in front of it. Do the side snaps till you get to the next pole. Insert it and pull the cover forward. We are unrolling the cover so there is weight in front of the pole from the cover to keep it from falling backwards. Keep snapping and inserting poles to the front of the boat. 90% of the time I do it by myself while Jill is getting stuff and grandkids off the dock and up to the golfcar. I do it the same way for both boats. It makes sense once you have done it or seen it. Once the poles are adjusted, not super tight, you need to be able to snap the cover in front of the inserted pole, I don't every adjust them. They are numbered front to back. Been doing it that way since the first time I crawled under a cover to set poles on a blazing hot day and thought "there has to be a better way"
 

Jack M

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We tried a similar way , we didn't care for it. We can get it done quicker when we stick to our current system . And the best part is my wife agrees.
 

Michiman

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I never crawl under the cover to set the poles. I install the poles as I cover the boat. I start at the back and snap the back snaps and 3 or 4 snaps on the sides. I place the top of the pole in the cover and make the pole vertical. Pull the cover forward and the pole stays in place from the weight of the cover in front of it. Do the side snaps till you get to the next pole. Insert it and pull the cover forward. We are unrolling the cover so there is weight in front of the pole from the cover to keep it from falling backwards. Keep snapping and inserting poles to the front of the boat. 90% of the time I do it by myself while Jill is getting stuff and grandkids off the dock and up to the golfcar. I do it the same way for both boats. It makes sense once you have done it or seen it. Once the poles are adjusted, not super tight, you need to be able to snap the cover in front of the inserted pole, I don't every adjust them. They are numbered front to back. Been doing it that way since the first time I crawled under a cover to set poles on a blazing hot day and thought "there has to be a better way"
I’ve got my poles numbered as well. Much easier and little to no adjustment over the course of the season.
 

Remediation

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Jack M

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We have our system and it works for us .
 

Pbakk

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I’ve got my poles numbered as well. Much easier and little to no adjustment over the course of the season.
Hello Michiman, is your cover not very tight? I get water accumulation if it isn't tight in certain areas.
 

SEMPERFI8387

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I cover then insert poles. Even on a 100+ degree day I can be in and out in under 40 seconds. I’ve actually done it holding my breath as it’s so hot inside. Still quicker and easier for us than messing with them as we cover. We actually cover 50% of boat out in the water then the balance when we dock.
I lay two poles tops facing forward and two tops facing rear. They are slightly different lengths so I know where they go without numbering.
 

rbtnt

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My poles are numbered and put them in as the cover goes on from the back to the front. I had a zipper added to the front of the cover so I can reach front pole from the front deck with all the clips inserted.
 

Michiman

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Hello Michiman, is your cover not very tight? I get water accumulation if it isn't tight in certain areas.
Oh, it’s tight all right. Once in a while I’ll have to adjust a pole, but not very often.
 
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