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To Cover or Not To Cover For Long Distance?


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Hey there fellow Malibu owners,

Have a 2003 LXI in almost showroom condition.  Moving 800+ miles.  Had planned to shrink wrap for the trip, then my little dealer talked me out of it.  Concerned that wrap without felt or soft pad on the boat side will mare the gelcoat and windshield.  When I bought the boat, Malibu Corp in CA told me NOT to trailer long distance with the 'Malibu' cover that came with the boat - stating same concern about marring.  This leaves me pulling 'my baby' 800+ miles 'naked'.  What would you do?  Suggestions and ideas welcome.  My travel date is around the corner, mid-Oct.  Thanks, Jeff-


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A lot of people buy the rolls of shrink wrap from Lowe’s for shipping pallets of stuff and do a few wraps around the boat and any other spots where the cover touches the boat to prevent the scuffing/marring/cover rub. 

Works great and Is a cheap solution. Shrink wrap isn’t hard enough to scratch the gel coat. I’d be more worried about the vinyl rubbing then anything. Good luck

  • Like 3
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The original shipping cover for my boat had a felt-like liner.  It went a couple thousands of miles with that one.  Not sure how the factory ships them now.  But I see shrink wrapped boats on semi-trailer all the time and they go thousands of miles that way.  I would npt transport a boat long distances without a cover, if only to protect the windshield.

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I’ve always been in the “haul open and clean when you arrive” camp. I’ve never had any issues. I hauled mine 800ish miles each year round trip to/from my cottage. 
I put the windblock in, lock the center windshield, and place any loose rear cushions in a secure area in the front. 30-60 mins wiping down once you arrive is all it takes. It’s a lot easier to clean than to fix gelcoat.

byw...Welcome to the ‘crew!! Any pics? We like pics! :biggrin:

Edited by braindamage
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It took many years, perhaps 15, before I noticed the effects of trailering covered. It was only evident upon close inspection, but was happening.  I have a Great Lake brand sunbrella cover that was supplied by Malibu, always secured tightly to prevent flapping.  I trailered as much as 4000 miles annually my first 9 years and that dropped to 500+ since 2011.  I never thought a cover as soft as sunbrella  would do that.  Great cover by the way, still have it and use it daily all summer.

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Depends.  If it is going to be raining when we take a long trip then I put a couple wraps of shrink film around the area at and above the rub rail and then put the cover on so that the inside of boat isn't full of road spray.  If it is nice I haul uncovered.

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My boat unfortunately came with snaps for a cover.  Fortunately, they are in the best possible place you can put them, screwed into the bottom of the rub rail, so they aren't all that noticeable and could be removed/repaired without any gel work.  When I tow anywhere not local (which is usually for several hundred miles), I always tow with the cover on.  But that cover is super tight too and no damage occurs.  Any cover that isn't really, really tight, I wouldn't do without plastic wrapping the boat first.  

Instead of wrapping the windshield frame, you can also cut pool noodles and use those as protectors as well.  Might be quicker/easier than trying to wrap the windshield.  

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Just wrap the rub rail with pallet wrap and throw the cover on. You will be good to go, done many ling trips with this setup as well as friends who drive to Arizona from Canada every year with this setup. 

for the guys who say the cover doesn't do anything it really depends on the gel coat colour. White gel coat won't show anything anytime soon where as back will show after one trip, also doesnt help that I'm the guy who will spend two days polishing my new boat with 10 hours on it. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Malibu cover on my 2008 had straps that went to the trailer, and started marking the boat as soon as I started towing it. 

Went back to the dealer and they cleaned it up, and recommended putting pool noodles (with a slit cut lengthwise to slide over the strap) on any of the straps that could contact the sides of the boat.   I did this for a few seasons and it worked well.  

Since then, based on great recommendations from the Crew on how to spend my money, I bought an Evolution cover.  Problem solved completely.  Now I tow with the Evolution cover and store the boat for the winter with the Malibu cover loosely covering it. 

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I only run with cover if rain is coming...always run open. I have a 2001 LXI since new which I bought at Detroit boat show. BUT be certain to put in wind block piece under center windshield. If you dont, the wind can create a low pressure zone and suck your walkway side panels of the sidewall and you may loose them. Happened to me once and now I install wind block and also wedge vests side by side to press on sidewalls in walkway...never had another problem. I have an evolution cover, which is a great cover, but it has also popped up in windy highway conditions...its just better not to cover. 

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