Sunday, 8 January 2012

Winter in Vancouver: To Tarp or Not To Tarp?

Winters in Vancouver are relatively mild. The average daily temperature for January/February is 5.4°C [41.7°F], with the average daily maximum = 7.6°C [45.5°F]; minimum = 3.1°C [37.6°F]. On average, the thermometer stays above freezing (0° C) for at least 24 days of each month (Jan/Feb).
Vancouver (English Bay) today -- a typical Winter day
We do get a lot of rain: on average, a total of 159 mm [6.3 in] per month in Jan/Feb. Occasionally, we even get snow (on average, no more than 1 day per month with 5 cm [~2 in] or more of snowfall).

A recent visit to San Diego (November, 2011) got me thinking about Winter Tarping.  I was quite surprised to see many boats tarped-up for the "Winter". (Some even with full-on shrink-wrap covers.) Surprised, because Winters in San Diego are not all that "wintery": Average minimum temperature for January is 9.8°C [49.7°F] and average total rainfall is 57.9 mm [2.3 in] with an average of only 6 "rainy" days in January. So why tarp? Perhaps its all those bird droppings?

Back home in Vancouver, many boats do tarp up for the Winter, with the full range from shrink wrap "environmental protection covers" or custom, fancy (expensive) canvas covers, to tarps big and small. Many boats, however, choose not to tarp-up.

EPC shrink wrap cover

Custom canvas cover

Creative (and effective) tarps on SV Berkana

We are in the latter category. We do not tarp Pelagia. (We're not convinced tarps are needed or make such a large difference. Indeed, a little talked-about downside of tarps is that they provide wonderful shelter for families of river otters that abound here in BC -- the results can be very messy.) 

More importantly, we like to sail Pelagia in the Winter (to Howe Sound or to the Gulf Islands) -- so not tarping keeps Pelagia "ready to go". 

SV Pelagia in the Winter: Ready to go!


  1. Oh, but it is snowing a little today! (Jan 18th)

    1. Yes indeed -- but less than 2 cm on the boat. :)

  2. Snow ALL gone -- barely around a couple of days with only ~2cm. Now back to "normal" (+8 deg C)