Caring for yacht awnings and superyacht shade structures
Last updated: 12/08/2016
With the exterior deck spaces and beautiful colours of any superyacht often the first thing noticed when these spectacular vessels arrive in a port or marina, it is important to ensure the correct care and maintenance of the awnings, canopies and covers aboard to guarantee their long lifespan.
Retractable, fixed or freestanding, sun awnings, bimini tops, canopies and marine parasols are constructed out of high quality marine-grade materials that are weather and wind resistant. Each chosen for its attractive qualities, as well as its durability and ease of care and maintenance, all are looked after in a different way. Read on to find out how to care for and maintain the shade structures on board your yacht.
Cleaning yacht awnings, parasols, canopies and curtains
Superyacht awnings, canopies and curtains are made from state-of-the-art marine canvas, fabrics and threads, and should be cleaned regularly before dust and dirt can accumulate and make its way into the fabric.
TUUCI explained that crew can and often do clean awnings made of these materials on board easily, without removal from the frame.
How to clean marine awnings, canopies and parasols on board
TUUCI advised on the steps to be taken when cleaning yacht awnings, canopies and parasols:
- When dry, first brush the fabric to remove loose dirt and particles.
- Next, hose the fabric down and wash it with a mixture of mild soap diluted in lukewarm water that does not exceed 100°F.
- Rinse thoroughly to remove soap and simply leave them to air dry. No heat or heavy detergents should be used as these can damage the fabric, shrinking, altering the colour and/or becoming hard to remove.
Removing stubborn stains from marine canvas
If you find stubborn stains on marine canvas, these can be brushed and cleaned with a mild soap as above, but with an added cup of bleach. Scrub the stained area vigorously with a soft bristle brush, sponge or clean towel before allowing to air dry.
TUUCI instructed that this can remove part of the water repellency of any intelligent fabric, and so an application of an air-curing water repellent treatment such as SM Fabric Guard should be used after treatment.
When to call in awning cleaning professionals
If all else fails, there are several companies specialising in the professional cleaning of marine awnings, canopies and covers. Hana Verdoucq of Marine Top Clean recommended always using a professional service to clean superyacht awnings. She said, “It is often difficult for crew to carry out proper cleaning on board. Personally, I would not recommend spot cleaning as yacht covers are made out of delicate fabric, and the use of strong solutions and cleaning products can damage them.
“Regardless, awnings should be cleaned by professionals once or twice a year, off board. They will be soaked and cleaned with suitable products, priced by square metre. The cleaning and drying process typically takes a minimum of two days, after which they can be treated with a waterproof treatment to protect the surface.”
Of course, there are some low-maintenance alternatives available to the shade the yacht decks of today, such as acrylic fibre. Made of 100% acrylic fibre, the TUUCI Sunbrella© can be machine washed (again with a water repellent treatment applied afterwards) to re-establish their water repellency. These delicate materials should never be subjected to extreme heat to avoid shrinkage, so they should always be left to air dry.
Caring for awning frames, fixtures and fittings
The frames of shade structures are often made of fibreglass, aluminium, teak composites or hardwood, making them strong enough for use in the windy conditions of the superyacht deck. The connecting fixtures and fittings, including nuts, bolts, pulleys, cams, cleats, etc. are also typically made of marine-grade stainless steel to withstand the moist air.
Tuuci advised that fresh water rinses are carried out on the frames, fixtures and fittings of shade products once a week to enhance their long life and lasting beauty. During this rinse, it is also recommended that inspection is carried out, with loose screws tightened and broken components immediately replaced.
Safely stowing yacht awnings and marine parasols
Prior to opening any freestanding shade structure, such as marine parasols, it should be ensured that they are properly secured to an adequate shade anchor, and that that the locking system is properly implemented. It’s typically recommended that each rib is separated from the centre post before raising the hub, and it’s important not to force the hub if it does not rise easily by itself.
Common sense should always be applied in extreme wind and weather conditions, with collapsible shade structures and frames closed in wind conditions exceeding 25MPH, depending on the integrity of the structure.
When closing yacht parasols the fabric should be pulled out from between the struts to avoid pinching or damaging.
When storing all such equipment for the winter season or for long periods of time, it should be clean, air-dried and collapsed properly. A suitable protective cover should be used at all times to ensure its longest serviceable life, with all components stored in a dry, well-ventilated area.
Maintaining shade anchors and bases
Shade anchors and bases should be cleaned regularly to maintain their appearance with a gentle soap and water mix, using a non-abrasive cloth or pad. The bolts in the anchor or base should be checked regularly to ensure they remain tightened, perhaps on a weekly basis if these are regularly moved.
TUUCI instructed that Aluma-crete (aluminium shell, concrete filled) or finished bases should not be rolled on their sides as to not damage the shell or effect. These can be touched up with exterior paint as and when required. Although bases with wheels are intended for use of uneven surfaces, it is important to move them slowly and with caution on uneven surfaces, avoiding use on stairways and distances that exceed over 50 feet to avoid damage.