A bimini top accomplishes a variety of goals. First, it keeps you out of the sun and reduces your chances of sun burn. Second, it keeps you cool in the shade. Third, it keeps you out of the rain. For long days on the water it is a must have item. After we restored my 1967 Boston Whaler Sport 13 the first thing I ordered was the Bimini Top. I purchased mine from www.specialtymarine.com . They carry everything for the Boston Whaler and I felt like I would get the best fit buying a top made for my model boat. The cost was $389.00. The model I purchased fits the Boston Whaler 13, 15 and 17 foot models.
It took me approximately an hour and a half to install. I had to figure out where all the poles went together and then had to screw the fittings on. The instructions are good and all the parts I needed were included. Once I had the canvas on the frame I measured the boat width and pulled the two arms of the top together so that the width of the boat and the width of the brackets would match. After a few tries I got a match. If you don’t bend the arms and match the width of the boat the top will always be pulling against the brackets from side to side.
I then positioned the bimini where I wanted it to go and marked the position of the main brackets. You should be able to keep the back and middle seat covered if the bimini is positioned right. I kept the brackets as close to the outside edge as possible because I wanted to drill all the way through and use washers on the ends of the bolts. (If you just screw into the thin fiberglass with a wood type screw the brackets will work their way loose and the top will eventually come off.) I drilled through, filled the hole with 3m 5200, pushed the screws through the brackets and the holes and then put a washer and nut on the bottom side. After the top was mounted I positioned the strap brackets and did the same. The rear brackets are mounted to the transom so on those I was able to get a strong hold using stainless wood type screws. Again, every hole was first filled with the 3m 5200. After everything was tightened up I was done. There are some stainless arms that can be used along with the straps but I did not really need the extra strength. My boat only goes about 20 mph.
I have to say that I am very pleased with the quality of the top. Everything is stainless. The fabric is a nice marine canvas with a vinyl backing to make it waterproof. It is not as thick as I thought it would be but it is fine. I have a spray dodger and sail cover on my sailboat and that material is thicker.
Note – When you install the top make sure to tighten up all the allen screws. They are the ones that hold the stainless tube in the brackets. If you don’t tighten them the top will jump out of the bracket in rough seas. Also, keep the right size allen wrench on board just in case.
Steven Cole – (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida, Business and Innovation – Stanford University) 40 years of boating experience. Both sail and power.