As an angler first when I started boating, I’ve been a little slow to the “shade game” on my vessels as it was never a priority. Since having kids (the main reason), doing extended desert floats, and multi-day trips where fishing isn’t really part of the equation, I’ve become a little softer in my old age and really enjoy whole days sitting under one of the most unrated commodities on a river trip — shade.
I’ve had a few raft umbrellas over the years and they are fine. The problem is they have to be constantly adjusted and typically only cover one person if that. I’ve even used large golf umbrellas in a pinch but whole boat coverage is unheard of unless you’re utilizing a Bimini top.
If not familiar — Wikipedia describes one as, “A Bimini top is an open-front canvas top for the cockpit of a boat, usually supported by a metal frame. Most Bimini’s can be collapsed when not in use, and raised again if shade or shelter from rain is desired. Bimini tops differ from dodgers in that dodgers include protection in front and on the sides, while a Bimini does not. The Bimini is used mostly as protection from the sun; it offers no protection from wind, rain, or spray when moving forward at any speed. The top provides rain protection only if the boat is stationary and there is no wind. It can also be personalized to fit different types of boats and can come in different colors.”
This year I custom fit a stainless, Sunbrella material version from River Sombrero to my drift boat of all things. While I was scoffed at and prodded by many of my friends during the process, no one was laughing that first trip when I and my four-year-old chilled in the shade while the 95-degree heat beat down on everyone else. I felt like a genius.
The best part about a Bimini? It’s retractable and can be laid down in mere seconds for wind or weather and is incredibly easy to detach from the boat when not in use. Heck, with mine up a skilled angler in the bow position can still fish.
I was going to go through the ins and outs of a Bimini choices, set up, and mounting options but Eddyline Welding has done a much better job for me here.
So next time you’re out sweating buckets on your mid-summer float, consider a Bimini, even if you’re just pulling it up for lunch.