What is it?
If you aren’t familiar with a Bimini top or what it is, I’ve got you covered (pun intended). A Bimini top is an open canvas structure that sits over and covers the cockpit of the boat, supported by sturdy metal frames. These metal frames can typically be collapsed when the Bimini top is not in use or is not needed. In some cases you can have a Bimini top added as an additional accessory upon purchase of your Jon Boat but generally, you’ll need to purchase and install it later as an aftermarket accessory. The good thing is these are typically a fairly inexpensive accessory and If you are NOT able to include a Bimini top upon purchase, I suggest doing so as soon as possible after purchasing your vessel so you can enjoy your Jon Boating adventures in comfort.
Protect Yourself By Staying Shady
Bimini Tops are great for providing cover and added protection to you and your skin from the direct sunlight. In fact some Bimini tops can block up to 99% of UV rays! You’ll still of course want to be sure to protect your skin with sunscreen and appropriate clothing, especially if you are prone to burning easily, however, having the Bimini helps provide that extra layer of protection. Now let’s talk about the rain – sure, you’re on a boat on the water but that doesn’t always mean you are planning on getting wet. For these situations, having a Bimini top can be a game changer in the event of rain. In fact, it can truly be the difference maker in you pulling back up to the dock nice and dry (thanks to your Bimini protection) vs. soaked from the downpour of rain.
You spent your hard earned money to be able to enjoy your vessel and Bimini tops are a great way to help protect your investment from fading or premature wear. I mentioned above how the sun and harsh elements can be harsh and even sometimes harmful to your skin, they can also be harsh on your boat. Having a Bimini top helps provide added protection to your costly electronics, equipment and your boat in general by protecting it from being damaged by the consistent heat of the sun beaming down. Plus, if it happens to rain, you’ve got added shelter to keep yourself and any other important items that can be damaged by the rain, safe and dry! If it DOES happen to rain while you’re out and you’ve had your Bimini top open for added protection, be sure to leave your Bimini top up when you dock. This will allow it to properly dry and will help prevent any mold or mildew from stowing it away wet.
Convenient set-up and take-down
You’ve got your Bimini top and you’re ready to use it. How to set-up and take down your Bimini top will depend on the style of your Bimini, however, the process is typically pretty similar regardless. You’ll want to start by first either unzipping your Bimini cover (and setting the cover aside) or unsnapping the strap if you do not have a cover for your Bimini. The metal frames are typically already bolted or screwed into the top rail of the boat so once uncovered or unsnapped, simply unfold your Bimini top in the upright position and extend your Bimini to cover the desired area. From there, you can go ahead and connect your Bimini strap clips to the corresponding PAD eye. If you are used to canoe or kayak terminology, this is similar to a kayak deck loop and it is located towards either the bow or stern of your boat (depending on how your Bimini is configured). When opening your Bimini and connecting your straps, be sure to twist your straps slightly before clipping them on. If your straps remain straight, it can create a vibration which permeates a loud and rather annoying whistling sound which doesn’t make for a very enjoyable adventure.
Since most Jon Boat Bimini Tops have to be purchased and installed as an aftermarket accessory, check out this awesome tutorial video on how to install a Jon boat Bimini Top:
What Are They Made Of?
When it comes to the material of your Bimini and what it’s made of, not all Bimini tops are created equal. In fact, there are a few different types of material you can choose from when selecting a Bimini. Like most things, the higher quality your Bimini top material, the longer it’s going to last. Not only will you get a longer life out of your Bimini with the higher quality material, your Bimini is also likely to be more sturdy and durable as well as hold up to the intensity of UV rays, amongst other things. Let’s talk a little more about some of the different materials.
This is the most popular choice for boaters when it comes to Bimini material and is typically made using a poly-vinyl blend. It is a highly durable fabric and is generally waterproof which allows the rain to run off the sides rather than build up and sit on the Bimini which can eventually damage it. Vinyl is also an extremely easy material to clean which makes your life as a boat owner that much easier when it comes to maintenance. The downside to vinyl Biminis is that they tend to not be very breathable and can leave you feeling stuffy rather than cooled off from the heat.
Solution Dyed Polyester Fabric
This material is similar to the vinyl and acrylic materials when it comes to how it holds up against UV and mold & mildew but one key area it sets itself apart is with its water resistant abilities. Not only is this material water resistant, it is actually MORE water resistant than both the vinyl and acrylic materials. The downside to this however, is that the material will unfortunately fade faster and this material isn’t quite as durable as Acrylic.
Acrylic is a very breathable material which helps make it mold & mildew resistant. It also typically does really well against UV rays and the fade resistance allows it to hold color longer. Acrylic Biminis are typically more expensive and if not re-waterproofed after extensive cleaning or long periods of time, can be prone to leaking but overall, acrylic is a quality fabric used on many different Biminis.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Bimini
As mentioned above, Bimini tops are clearly made to withstand a lot of what Mother Nature has to offer such as the sun, rain and even wind. Much like the secret to making most things last, the key to a long lasting Bimini that you can enjoy for years and years is proper care and maintenance. It’s always best practice to wash or clean your Bimini (and your boat) after every use. Aside from this, you will also want to regularly clean your Bimini and may even want to have it professionally cleaned every few years. How to properly care for and maintain your Bimini can vary depending on the fabric and type of Bimini you have. Most Biminis however, can be gently cleaned using a soft bristle brush with some soapy water. While most Jon Boats are used in freshwater, in the event you do use it in salt or brackish water, you’ll also want to be sure to use salt-off (or something similar) to wash and care for the metal frames on your Bimini. These metal frames on your Bimini can easily rust or even corrode due to the sea breeze and salt water – yet another reason to rinse your Bimini after each use.
Just as important as cleaning your Bimini top is properly maintaining and storing it. If your Bimini did not come with a storage bag or cover, I strongly recommend purchasing one. If you choose NOT to get a Bimini cover, the next best thing to ensure you are preserving the life of your Bimini is storing it in a dry, covered place that is out of the sun. Having your Bimini stowed away and covered will help from over exposure to Mother Nature and her elements (especially if your boat is stored outdoors and uncovered) and will help extend the life of your Bimini for many adventures to come.
For more information on Jon boats and Jon boat modification ideas, check out the Small Boats section of this website. Until next time, enjoy your adventures!