Who makes or sells flybridge enclosures for MT 38?

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Mar 18, 2024
Home is Williams IN, boat is on Barkley Lake, Ky.
Vessel Name
Go, Dog, Go!
Vessel Make
'79 Marine Trader 38'
We are in the process of purchasing a '79 Marine Trader 38 aft cabin. This is our first trawler type boat.
We would like to have an screened enclosure on the flybridge. Photo is, in general, what we are looking for. Who sells or makes this type of enclosure?
Boated is currently located Barkley Lake, Kentucky but will be going south this fall.
Thank you,
Sanford and Val Gentry,
Williams IN


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Local canvas shop, they're most all custom made. Better that way anyway, you can specify exactly what you want. If the boat's now in a marina, the marina folks can make a recommendation.
I agree with jgwinks. There are local "canvasers" in most every major port.
These are all custom projects.

My observation is that there is a LOT of variability in technique, method, and design from vendor to vendor.
I expect there is also a LOT of variability in the cost you might pay for YOUR project. I will not get into specifics here now. But contact me if you'd like to explore more specifics. OK, one example, "Will the zippers be sewn in so the cloth "covers" the zippers protecting them from UV light, rain, wind and other outside environmental influences?"

If it was me, I would visit a MINIMUM of a half dozen boats like yours in your marina / neighborhood who have had this type of project done in the past 3-5 years by a variety of vendors. Get their input on what they like and don't like about the design and execution of their enclosures.

That will inform you on BUDGET, FEATURES, and ultimate ENJOYMENT of this key piece of gear on your boat.

If you are a seasonal weekend boater vs. a year round fulltime live aboard, the budget might be different. We have become fulltime liveaboards. This part of our vessel is a key part of our HOME. We will not skimp when it comes time to replace this part of OUR boat/home.

The TOP panel is the one that ages faster than the sides. SO, talk with your vendor about chafe. Should we double up on the material where the Sunbrella material comes in contact with the S/S tubing? Should a more abrasive-resistant / UV durable material be used on the TOP? Those are questions I would ask. ((No canvasser wants to replace the TOP only if it leaks or is worn in a few years after the job.)) How long will you own this boat? "Do you want this to last 5 years or 12 years?"

Some vendors take a LONG time to get the project done... (not what they promised). That is a major frustration of dock mates we've talked to. Manage that factor too... on top of everything else I've mentioned.

Lastly, the COLOR of the canvas is important. Consider YOUR personal cleanliness regimen. If you are the type that spends 30-60 minutes cleaning your boat every time you've come back to the slip VS Go a week or three between cleanings, know that your canvas and isinglass requires cleaning to stop mildew etc. A light color (tan/yellow) will require more diligent wiping down with Spraynine on a sponge or other cleaning agents. Darker colors are a bit more forgiving. Admittedly, we are not all the same... and it matters.

I wish there was a "shaded" darker isinglass product for the top 1/3 of all the isinglass!!! But, that's a different subject altogether.
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Whatever canvas you choose make sure the fabricator uses Tenara thread. It will last the life of the canvas. No restiching in a few years like poly thread. It is a bit more expensive but you will save in the long run.
Whatever canvas you choose make sure the fabricator uses Tenara thread. It will last the life of the canvas. No restiching in a few years like poly thread. It is a bit more expensive but you will save in the long run.
Good advice. Definitely specify Tenara thread (or equivalent).

Bimini tops can be found prefabricated, but full enclosures are all custom (though vast majority of Biminis are also custom). Spoiler alert - full enclosures are expensive. To fully enclose a flybridge of a typical tri-cabin 40-foot boat, I would not be surprised to hear quotes in excess of $10k (possibly by quite a bit).

Congrats on the boat purchase. Send pictures when ready!

Speaking from insurance background, never let anyone uninsured work on your boat. If they are legitimate, they will. Too many scabs with a machine out there, and marinas demand it. One of them falls on your boat, they will OWN it.
I used to fabricate all my canvas work but arthritis has stopped me from doing large jobs anymore. On our current boat we had all the canvas work done by the premier fabricator in our area. He did an outstanding job. The canvas work was about $13K. That was with Stamoid canvas and Tenara thread. It was extremely well done. I worked with him designing the canvas the way I wanted it. He also did all the seat upholstery with Sunbrella Horizon vinyl. It cost about $9K. It wasn’t cheap but the work was first class.
Look at many different boats in your area and find out who made the best looking ones... not color etc but all the details others mentioned. Shop quality of fabrication vs just low price.
Personally I prefer the tweed Sunbrella colors vs solid colors as I dontbthink they show their age as much and the appearance seems to look "richer"... just a personal opinion but compare some examples and make your own decision.
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