Boat House

The boat house was designed to be somewhat modular and be built from standard parts. I didn't think that the wood and 6 mil vinyl style enclosure would survive the weather and length of this project. The frame fittings and coverings were purchased from Canopy Masters ( The tubing is 1-5/8" Medium duty galvanized fence top rail. The dimensions are 50 feet long by 18 feet wide by 14 foot legs and about 5 feet in the gable. The gable uses 120 degree fittings for high snow load. I found that many companies selling these types of fittings offer a light duty set that are probably not suitable for a canopy of this size. Canopy Masters has a heavy duty series that is quite substantial. In order to accomodate the racking moments, I used 3/16" 7x7 strand-core galvanized steel cable and 3/8" galvanized turnbuckles. All of the tarps attach with bungies and are quite simple to set up. The frame is anchored to concrete foundation posts poured with sakcrete and rebar, every 10 feet. I used 8" sonotube for the tops of the foundation posts and used female 1/2" bolt anchors in them so I can bury the posts (and still leave them future functional) after the boat is moved. To raise the structure, I used 2 - 2 x 12 x 16' planks with blocks and tackles rigged from their ends to a cleat at ground level. The following picture sequence shows the erection of the frame and main roof tarp.

Boat House Sequence 1    Boat House Sequence 2    Boat House Sequence 3

Boat House Sequence 4    Boat House Sequence 5    Boat House Sequence 6

Boat House Sequence 7    Boat House Sequence 8    Boat House Sequence 9

Boat House Sequence 10    Boat House Sequence 11    Boat House Sequence 12

After the tarp had been up all summer, I learned a few things about this style enclosure. When it gets windy, the top tends to lift because of its airfoil shape. With several seriously windy days and one hurricane passing just offshore, the tent was fairly well tested. The close hurricane provided 60 MPH winds here and the elastic bungies that hold the roof were stretched as the tent tried to lift. When I put the sides up later, I replaced all the roof bungies. When the sides finally went on, I found that a couple of things are important:
1) When you put sides on, you have to put all four on or the wind gets in and tries to blow the thing apart.
2) The sides have to be taut on all edges. We had gale force winds every weekend for about six weeks. The first weekend, I only had two of the sides up and that was a big problem. The second weekend, I had all four sides up but had left the sills loose. The wind was tearing the grommets loose near the sills. Once I put the 2 x 4 sills on, the wind has been blowing a ton and the tent has had no damage.

One drawback to the enclosure is that the corners and sides have gaps where the tarps come together. I have not done anything to close the gaps as I don't intend to heat the enclosure at this point, but it does allow snow and rain to blow through the gaps. I have found that the translucent white tarps allow plenty of light in and it is very pleasant to work out there while the sun is out. On days where the temperature is 35 degrees and sunny, I can work in just a sweatshirt or light jacket.

I also added 4 fluorescent fixtures to the overhead and wired the tent for a few weathertight duplex receptacles and weathertight light switches. I added a storm door that I had on hand from building our house that was never installed.

Boat House With Sides Attached          Boat House Sill Detail
I finally added the sides when it started getting cold.            I wrapped the sill in a 2 x 4 to tie it down.