Title:
Cover System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cover system for protecting boats, vessels, and other various shaped vehicles and objects is disclosed. A plurality of separate and distinct inflatable bladders supports a cover whereby a dome-like shape is produced. The resulting shape of the cover resists pooling of water and snow thereby reducing or even eliminating water damage to the underlying structure. Furthermore, since each bladder is separate and distinct, the plurality of bladders creates a support structure that conforms to objects of various shapes and sizes.



Inventors:
Reden, Gregory S. (Escondido, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/907829
Publication Date:
12/04/2014
Filing Date:
05/31/2013
Assignee:
REDEN GREGORY S.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B17/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100028105Floating Device for Transporting and Transferring ContainersFebruary, 2010Malchow
20070028827Marine hydro lift flaps and methods of using sameFebruary, 2007Smith
20070151496Device and method for removing kelp/debris from a keelJuly, 2007Valdes
20030161690Offshore loading or production system for dynamically positioned shipsAugust, 2003Breivik et al.
20090120348Bodyboard with Hull and Planar SectionsMay, 2009Bianchi
20090126615Moring cleatMay, 2009Strong
20080245286Articulated floating structureOctober, 2008Adamo
20070000422Finkeel for boats with foldable leeboardsJanuary, 2007Bianchi
20050172878Double flexible keelAugust, 2005Jenkins
20080308032HYDRATION SYSTEM FOR KAYAK INTEGRATIONDecember, 2008Skillern
20050159052Waterjet control systemsJuly, 2005Borrett



Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Greenspoon Marder (1401 Lawrence St. Suite 1900, Denver, CO, 80202, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed:

1. A cover system for a vessel comprising a cover and a plurality of inflatable bladders, where the plurality of inflatable bladders provides support to the cover.

2. The cover system of claim 1, where the plurality of inflatable bladders comprises bladders of at least two sizes, where each size of bladder inflates to a different diameter.

3. The cover system of claim 1, where the plurality of inflatable bladders consists of bladders with variable diameters, where the diameter of a bladder varies with the pressure within the bladder.

4. The cover system of claim 1, wherein each bladder of the plurality of inflatable bladders comprises an elastic material.

5. The cover system of claim 1, further comprising a pump, where the pump provides air to inflate the plurality of inflatable bladders.

6. The cover system of claim 1, further comprising a carrying case.

7. A method of covering a vessel comprising the steps of inflating a plurality of inflatable bladders; placing the plurality of inflatable bladders within a volumetric space of the vessel; and covering the vessel with a cover, wherein the cover is supported by at least one of the plurality of inflatable bladders.

8. The method of claim 7, further comprising the steps of removing the cover; inflating one or more additional inflatable bladders; and placing the one or more additional inflatable bladders within the volumetric space of the vessel; and covering the vessel with the cover.

9. The method of claim 7, further comprising the steps of removing the cover; removing one or more inflatable bladders from within the volumetric space of the vessel; and covering the vessel with the cover.

10. The method of claim 7, where the plurality of inflatable bladders comprises bladders of at least two sizes, where each size inflates to a different diameter.

11. The method of claim 7, where the plurality of inflatable bladders consists of bladders with variable diameters, where the diameter of a bladder varies with the pressure within the bladder.

12. The method of claim 7, wherein each bladder of the plurality of inflatable bladders comprises an elastic material.

13. The method of claim 7, wherein the step of inflating a plurality of inflatable bladders comprises using a pump to inflate each bladder.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the pump is a manually operated pump.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein the pump comprises an electric motor driven air compressor.

16. A method of storing a vessel comprising the steps of inflating a plurality of inflatable bladders; placing the plurality of inflatable bladders within a volumetric space of the vessel; covering the vessel with a cover, wherein the cover is supported by at least one of the plurality of inflatable bladders; and storing the vessel for a period of time.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the steps of removing the cover from the vessel; removing the plurality of inflatable bladders from within the volumetric space of the vessel; and deflating the plurality of inflatable bladders.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of placing the cover and plurality of inflatable bladders within a carrying case.

19. The method of claim 16, where the plurality of inflatable bladders comprises bladders of at least two sizes, where each size inflates to a different diameter.

20. The method of claim 16, where the plurality of inflatable bladders consists of bladders with variable diameters, where the diameter of a bladder varies with the pressure within the bladder.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

This invention was not federally sponsored.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

This invention relates to the general field of cover systems, and more specifically toward a cover system for protecting boats, vessels, and other various shaped vehicles and objects. A plurality of separate and distinct inflatable bladders supports a cover whereby a dome-like shape is produced. The resulting shape of the cover resists pooling of water and snow thereby reducing or even eliminating water damage to the underlying structure. Furthermore, since each bladder is separate and distinct, the plurality of bladders creates a support structure that conforms to objects of various shapes and sizes.

Many boat owners store their boats during the winter season or when not in use. Often, this involves removing the boat from the water and placing a cover over the boat to protect it from the elements, especially when stored outside. Rain and snow then fall on the boat, which has only its cover for protection. If the cover fails, significant amounts of water and/or snow can inundate and flood the boat, causing significant damage such as rusting out and ruining the engine compartments and electrical systems, staining upholstery, and even mold. It has been said that faulty boat covers allowing water to leak into boats during the winter season cost over one billion dollars a year in damage to engines, electrical, and interiors. While part of the blame has been attributed to the owner's failure to remove the drain plug at end of summer, faulty covers remain a significant cause of the damage.

Prior art cover systems have implemented a covered wagon type system of arched poles that create a framework that supports a cover. These systems often require attaching a customized or semi-customized framework of metal or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) arched poles to the sides of the boat's interior or exterior. This results in unnecessary and wanted modifications to the structure of the boat. Furthermore, the arched poles do not stay in place and tend to collapse forward or backward. Another system uses an umbrella type framework with poles and straps to create a structure upon which the actual cover resides. A particular system uses a single pole in the middle of the boat, and the cover is pulled as taught as possible using straps to create a tent-like cover. The single pole and strap system result in holes in the cover where the top of the pole contacts the cover, thereby causing the cover to fail. Even if the cover does not fail where the pole meets the cover, water can collect and pool in areas without taunt support. In many instances, it is a balance between creating a taught surface to resist the pooling of water and keeping the cover loose enough such that the pole does not puncture a hole in the cover. As one will appreciate, these prior art systems are very cumbersome and unreliable. The weight of rain and snow can sabotage these cover systems, especially after the wet cover begins to sag and stretch, repeated use, and heavy amounts of rain or snow.

Thus there has existed a long-felt need for a cover system that protects an underlying boat, vessel, or other structure or object, is easy to construct, resists pooling of rain and snow, and can withstand extended and repeated outdoor use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The current invention provides a cover system for protecting boats, vessels, and other various shaped vehicles and objects. A plurality of separate and distinct inflatable bladders supports a cover whereby a dome-like shape is produced. The resulting shape of the cover resists pooling of water and snow thereby reducing or even eliminating water damage to the underlying structure. Furthermore, since each bladder is separate and distinct, the plurality of bladders creates a support structure that conforms to objects of various shapes and sizes.

It is a principal object of the invention to provide a cover system that resists the collection and pooling of rain, water, ice, and/or snow.

It is another object of the invention to provide a cover system that conforms to and protects structures of various shapes and sizes.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a cover system for a boat, ship, watercraft, and other vessels.

A particular embodiment of the current disclosure is a cover system for a vessel comprising a cover and a plurality of inflatable bladders, where the plurality of inflatable bladders provides support to the cover; and where the plurality of inflatable bladders comprises bladders of at least two sizes, where each size of bladder inflates to a different diameter, or the plurality of inflatable bladders consists of bladders with variable diameters, where the diameter of a bladder varies with the pressure within the bladder.

Another embodiment of the current disclosure is a method of covering a vessel comprising the steps of inflating a plurality of inflatable bladders; placing the plurality of inflatable bladders within a volumetric space of the vessel; and covering the vessel with a cover, wherein the cover is supported by at least one of the plurality of inflatable bladders. Furthermore, the embodiment may also include the steps of removing the cover; inflating one or more additional inflatable bladders; and placing the one or more additional inflatable bladders within the volumetric space of the vessel; and covering the vessel with the cover.

An additional embodiment of the current disclosure is a method of storing a vessel comprising the steps of inflating a plurality of inflatable bladders; placing the plurality of inflatable bladders within a volumetric space of the vessel; covering the vessel with a cover, wherein the cover is supported by at least one of the plurality of inflatable bladders; and storing the vessel for a period of time. Furthermore, the embodiment may also include the steps of removing the cover from the vessel; removing the plurality of inflatable bladders from within the volumetric space of the vessel; and deflating the plurality of inflatable bladders.

There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto. The features listed herein and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of this invention.

FIG. 1 is a cutaway side view of a prior art cover system.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a boat with inflatable bladders being added thereto according to selected embodiments of the current disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a cutaway side view of a boat utilizing a cover system according to selected embodiments of the current disclosure.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of various components of a cover system according to selected embodiments of the current disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Many aspects of the invention can be better understood with the references made to the drawings below. The components in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. Instead, emphasis is placed upon clearly illustrating the components of the present invention. Moreover, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts through the several views in the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a cutaway side view of a prior art cover system. A boat 10 has a plurality of support members 91 secured thereto. These support members 91 support a cover 20. If the cover is not drawn sufficiently tight over the support members 91 and boat 10, water 90 can pool and collect, thereby causing the cover 20 to sag in the gap between support members 91 and the boat 10. The weight of the water 90 on the cover 20 can cause the support members 91 to puncture through the cover 20, thereby allowing water 90 to flow through the cover and into the boat 10.

In a particular embodiment of the current invention, there are a plurality separate inflatable spherically shaped bladders that fill the volumetric space within the boat and support the cover. Since there are many spherical bladders that support the cover, there is less pressure applied by each spherical bladder on the cover thereby lessening, if not completely eliminating, the chance of puncturing the cover. Furthermore, since the gap between each of the bladders is relatively small, there is little if any chance of water and/or snow pooling between the bladders.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a boat with inflatable bladders being added thereto according to selected embodiments of the current disclosure. Boats may have many different structural features, such as chairs, consoles, engine compartments, dashes, and windshields, that create a unique three-dimensional space within the boundaries of the boat. Inflatable bladders, especially ones of various sizes, can be used to fill the volumetric space within the boat. As shown in this figure, multiple inflated bladders 25 are placed within the volumetric space of the boat 10.

FIG. 3 is a cutaway side view of a boat utilizing a cover system according to selected embodiments of the current disclosure. The inflatable bladders 25 are within the volumetric space of the boat and provide support for a cover 20 placed over the boat 10. Since the cover 20 is supported at so many points by the inflatable bladders, the pressure at each of those support points is lower than with other prior art support systems. This reduces the chance of rupturing the cover. As is also shown in this figure, a more consistent slope is possible by adding and placing sufficient bladders to reduce and/or eliminate the pooling of snow, water, and other incident substances.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of various components of a cover system according to selected embodiments of the current disclosure. The cover system includes a plurality of bladders 25. These bladders 25 can be the same size, or different sizes, such as large 26, medium 27, and small 28. Alternatively, each inflatable bladder can be made of an elastic material, explained in more detail below, that allows for the size of the bladder to be varied depending upon the pressure of air within the inflatable bladder. To inflate each bladder, a pump 30 may be included with the system. The pump 30 may be manually operated, such that a user must manually operate a compressor and valve system to create pressurized air to fill each bladder. In an alternative embodiment, the pump 30 may include an electric or combustion motor to drive the air compressor to create pressurized air to fill each bladder. A cover 20 is also provided with the cover system. In a particular embodiment, the cover 20 includes straps 21 to help secure the cover 20 to a boat. A carrying case holds the deflated bladders 25, cover 20, and pump 30.

To cover a boat or other vessel or object, a user may remove the bladders, cover, and pump from the carrying case. The user then inflates one or more of the bladders. If the bladder has a variable diameter, the user inflates the bladder to the desired size. After inflating the bladder, the bladder is placed within the volumetric space of the boat. The user repeats this process until the boat is filled with inflated bladders. Then, the cover is placed over the boat and inflated bladders. The cover is supported by the plurality of inflated bladders and resists pooling of rain and snow. Straps may be used to secure the cover to the boat to prevent it from coming loose from the boat and inflated bladders coming out of the boat. The boat can then be stored for a period of time, such as during the winter.

In certain situations, the bladders may settle within the volumetric space of the boat, thereby producing certain areas or spaces with a void that fails to properly support the cover and could result in the pooling of water. The present cover system enables users to account for this scenario, whereby the cover may be removed and one or more additional bladders are inflated and placed to fill the void. The cover is then placed back over the inflated bladders, including the additionally placed bladders.

In other situations, too many bladders are placed within the volumetric space of the boat. Users may remove the cover and remove one or more of the bladders to create a more appropriate support for the cover. The bladders may be deflated and stored for use in the future. The cover is then placed back over the boat and remaining inflated bladders for storage. In yet other situations, the bladders need to be repositioned within the volumetric space of the boat, wherein the user may remove the cover, reposition the inflatable bladders, and then replace the cover.

After storing the boat for a period of time, the cover may be removed to once again provide access to and use of the boat. To remove the cover from the boat, any straps that have been secured should be removed. The cover is then removed. The inflatable bladders are removed from the boat and deflated. The cover, inflatable bladders, and the pump are then stored within a carrying case.

In a particular embodiment, the cover is made from a water resistant, sturdy, and lightweight material such as nylon, canvas or plastic. The inflatable bladders are made from soft, non-abrasive plastic, elastic, or rubberized materials. As discussed above, the bladders may be different sizes. Alternatively, or in addition to, the bladders are made from an elastic material, similar to that used for exercise balls, that enables the diameter of the bladder to change depending upon the pressure present within the bladder. As the pressure increases, so does the diameter of the bladder. In this manner, a plurality of identical inflatable bladders may be provided, and the user inflates each bladder to its desired size to meet the requirements of each boat. In another embodiment, each inflatable bladder is similar to a beach ball, wherein the diameter is relatively fixed once inflated and regardless of the air pressure therein. The carrying case is made from nylon, canvas, or similar materials.

It should be understood that while the preferred embodiments of the invention are described in some detail herein, the present disclosure is made by way of example only and that variations and changes thereto are possible without departing from the subject matter coming within the scope of the following claims, and a reasonable equivalency thereof, which claims I regard as my invention.