Ever see those shrink-wrapped boats in storage and wonder why someone would do that? Why not just through a blue tarp over the thing and be done with it? The answer taken at face value is simple… protection. But what exactly would a boat need protecting from?
The first factor and the reason the majority of boat owners decide to shrink wrap their watercraft is to protect her from the elements. Strange as it might sound protecting a boat from the sun and moisture is crucial during winter or even summer storage.
To us landlubbers, sunlight reduces the longevity of the expensive materials used in boat construction and enjoyment. Residual moisture can also cause big problems, just like in your home. Left untreated mold and rot can form because of water getting into the cabin with no way of escaping.
A second consideration for shrink wrapping Ol’ Jenny whether she is a $12,000 sailboat or a $1,000,000+ yacht, the enjoyment she provides is the same. The last thing a skipper wants to see when they rediscover that lost love in the spring is to notice that the paint scheme has been changed, and not for the better.
When a ship is put into storage the owner should feel confident that their vessel will be left undisturbed. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When a boat is not shrink wrapped it stands a chance of being vandalized with spray paint, even if that boat is stored in the finest marina. Vandals, like water, can find the avenue of least resistance in and decide to leave their dastardly message.
When a boat is shrink-wrapped, it will be protected from spray paint as the paint does not adhere to the slick nonporous surface. Even if the paint did somehow stick to the plastic who cares? The plastic will be coming off come boating season. Whether or not a captain decides to get their boat shrink-wrapped may help to keep them from cursing like a sailor.
Shrink wrapping a seaworthy craft is not for the uninitiated. A thick UVI ( Ultraviolet inhibitor / sun light protection) shrink film is a must if the boat and it’s contents are to be protected from the sun.
Using industrial stretch film that can be found on rolls and most often used in a shipping or warehouse setting is not the same as boat shrink film. Shrink film requires a heat source to conform the film to the shape of the item being shrink-wrapped.
Stretch film is used to protect and secure loads but will not conform to the shape of a boat or other nonlinear object link shrink film will. While a weekend captain might think they could simply YouTube how to shrink wrap a boat it is not advisable.
They need to take into consideration that the fumes from melting the shrink wrap are toxic. Too little heat and the shrink wrap will not conform properly. Too much heat and a person may not only compromise the integrity of the film but, may worse yet, start the boat on fire.
Polyethylene shrink film is derived from natural gas and is created at the atomic level.** The shrinking happens when a heat source is introduced, like a heat gun or a shrink tunnel. The application of heat causes the molecules to re-orientate themselves from being a “tangled” mess to being in nice orderly chains.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Mark McClure is the VP of operations at International Plastics in Greenville, SC, and Roger Throckmorton is the company’s Chief Brand Officer. Both have combined for more than 50 years of experience in the plastics and flexible packaging industry.