Boat Tent Test

Fits well on the first try. 


Coming up quickly, the first weekend in June, is the annual Chesapeake Float. A bunch of fine boating chaps I know, mostly from up in Baltimore/Delaware/Philadelphia area, get together for a three day boat camping weekend on the Bay somewhere. Most of them are the usual suspects you heard of here. Most have many years of experience sailing and camping in remote areas on the Chesapeake, and beyond. A good group of folks to know.

One of my long range goals has always been to fit out the Melonseeds for camping. I’m not much of an expedition camper, and these boats really aren’t big enough to be comfortable for very long trips, but there are a lot of places I want to go that would best be done over several days. I like the idea of nosing into marshes and small almost islands to spend the night.

This trip is a good chance to try that out with a handful of accommodating folks on hand in case I don’t get something right the first time. Likely. Plus, they happen to be very good company.

Spent a good bit of time on various custom combinations for shelter. Mostly I want the option of using just mosquito netting to keep the blood-suckers at bay when the weather is good. I want to see the sky at night whenever possible. Given the boats are small, I also want to have as much room as possible to move around, prepare meals, read, etc., without being tormented by flying vermin. Figured I’d rig a tarp somehow over all that for protection if rain threatens.

I actually have a small roll of mosquito netting from an army surplus store I planned to use. Was all set to buy some tarps and figure out a custom system. The more I thought about it, though, the more it sounded like a real tent. So I spent some time looking at all the options already available.


Turns out there are lots and lots of tents available now. I found one for sale at several online retailers for $50 that seemed the right size. I ordered two, thinking if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t be out much money, and I might canibalize  the parts to make something.

Well, as luck would have it, the tent is almost custom made to fit a Melonseed.


It’s a two person backpacking tent. Weighs about 5 pounds, and takes up very little space. The shape almost exactly follows the outline of the deck. The screen house portion is standalone, with a rain fly that can be added over top. Two doors, port and starboard, lead forward. All the loops and ties line up almost perfectly with the scuppers to secure it, the fore and aft ends tying to the rudder and stem. The mast will even line up with the zipper in the fly. Sweet!


Now all I need to do is cut the floor to open up around the cockpit. Then try pitching it from within the boat.


The only real concern is whether it will stand up to a summer thunderstorm and high winds.

Guess I’ll find out, but can’t wait to give it a try. Maybe I should camp out in the yard one night. Terri will think I’m regressing to childhood. Wait, didn’t I do that already?






5 Replies to “Boat Tent Test”

  1. How ironic. This is EXACTLY the same tent I used for camp sailing on my former boat. I slit the bottom just like you are considering and clipped the flaps to the combing as best I could with spring clips. I never had to put it to the test in a significant rain, so hey, maybe it was a rain repellent too!!!!!

  2. Please add images of what the interior looked like AFTER you cut out the floor in way of the cockpit.
    How might this same tent work on a Gloucester Gull Dory with no side decks; could it be rigged to overlap the gunwhales?
    How easy was it to set up and strike from WITHIN the boat?
    How well would the tent serve at anchor, would you be able to easily go forward and tend the rode?

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