Building a custom tender cover
Building a custom tender cover

Protect your tender from the elements, theft, and wear with a custom cover. Follow our step-by-step guide to create a cover that fits your dinghy perfectly.

Building a Custom Tender Cover

A tender is an essential part of any sailing adventure, providing a means of transportation between your boat and the shore. As such, it’s important to keep your tender in top condition, and one way to do that is by building a custom tender cover. In this article, we’ll explore the various options for dinghy and tender covers, discuss the benefits of having a custom cover, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to build your own.

Table of Contents

Why You Need a Tender Cover

Before we dive into the process of building a custom tender cover, let’s first discuss why you need one in the first place. A tender cover serves several important purposes:

  1. Protection from the elements: A cover will protect your tender from harmful UV rays, rain, and saltwater, which can cause damage to the inflatable tubes, seats, and other components over time.
  2. Security: A cover can help deter theft by making it more difficult for would-be thieves to access your tender.
  3. Aesthetics: A well-fitted cover can enhance the overall appearance of your tender, making it look more polished and professional.
  4. Reduced maintenance: By protecting your tender from the elements, a cover can help reduce the amount of cleaning and maintenance required to keep it in good condition.

Types of Tender Covers

There are several types of tender covers available on the market, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common types include:

  1. Full covers: These covers provide complete protection for your tender, covering the entire boat from bow to stern. They are typically made from heavy-duty, UV-resistant materials and are designed to withstand harsh marine environments.
  2. Console covers: These covers are designed specifically to protect the console area of your tender, including the steering wheel, gauges, and controls. They are typically made from lighter-weight materials and are easier to install and remove than full covers.
  3. Seat covers: These covers are designed to protect the seats in your tender from UV damage, stains, and wear. They are typically made from durable, water-resistant materials and can be easily removed for cleaning or storage.

Benefits of a Custom Tender Cover

While there are many off-the-shelf tender covers available, there are several advantages to building a custom cover for your dinghy:

  1. Perfect fit: A custom cover will be tailored to the exact dimensions of your tender, ensuring a snug and secure fit that provides maximum protection.
  2. Customization: With a custom cover, you can choose the materials, colors, and features that best suit your needs and preferences.
  3. Durability: By selecting high-quality materials and constructing the cover yourself, you can ensure that it will be built to last and provide years of reliable protection for your tender.
  4. Cost savings: Building a custom cover can be more cost-effective than purchasing a pre-made cover, especially if you already have some of the necessary materials and tools on hand.

Materials and Tools Needed

To build a custom tender cover, you’ll need the following materials and tools:

  1. Fabric: Choose a durable, UV-resistant fabric that is suitable for marine environments, such as Sunbrella or Top Gun. You’ll need enough fabric to cover the entire surface area of your tender, plus extra for seams and hems.
  2. Thread: Select a high-quality, UV-resistant thread that is compatible with your chosen fabric.
  3. Fasteners: You’ll need a variety of fasteners to secure your cover to your tender, such as snaps, Velcro, or drawstrings. Choose fasteners that are corrosion-resistant and easy to install and remove.
  4. Measuring tape: A measuring tape will be essential for taking accurate measurements of your tender.
  5. Scissors: You’ll need a sharp pair of scissors to cut your fabric and thread.
  6. Sewing machine: A sewing machine will be necessary for stitching your cover together. If you don’t have access to a sewing machine, you can also sew the cover by hand, although this will be more time-consuming.
  7. Seam sealer: A seam sealer will help to waterproof the seams of your cover, ensuring that it provides maximum protection against the elements.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Custom Tender Cover

Now that you have all the necessary materials and tools, it’s time to start building your custom tender cover. Follow these steps to create a cover that fits your dinghy perfectly:

  1. Take measurements: Begin by measuring the length, width, and height of your tender, as well as any specific features that you want to cover, such as the console or seats. Be sure to take accurate measurements, as these will be crucial for ensuring a proper fit.
  2. Create a pattern: Using your measurements, create a pattern for your cover on a large sheet of paper or cardboard. Be sure to include seam allowances and extra material for hems and fasteners.
  3. Cut the fabric: Lay your fabric out on a flat surface and use your pattern to cut out the necessary pieces. Be sure to label each piece to make assembly easier.
  4. Sew the cover: Using your sewing machine (or sewing by hand), stitch the pieces of your cover together, following the pattern you created. Be sure to use a UV-resistant thread and reinforce any areas that will be subject to stress or wear.
  5. Install fasteners: Attach your chosen fasteners to the cover, ensuring that they are evenly spaced and securely fastened. Test the fit of your cover on your tender to make sure the fasteners are properly positioned.
  6. Seal the seams: Apply seam sealer to all the seams of your cover, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help to waterproof the cover and provide additional protection against the elements.
  7. Test the fit: Finally, place your completed cover on your tender and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a snug and secure fit.


Building a custom tender cover is a worthwhile investment that can provide numerous benefits, including protection from the elements, increased security, and improved aesthetics. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a durable, high-quality cover that is tailored to the unique dimensions and features of your dinghy. So, gather your materials, roll up your sleeves, and get started on your custom tender cover project today!