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  #1  
Old 06-04-2008
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Looking for advice from dodger owners

I am sure many of you have dodgers on your boats. I am looking for some advice and personal experience.
My boat has original windshield on top of which currently there is a kind of a soft dodger. I am planning to have the dodger replaced, preferably with a hard dodger. I was thinking of keeping the windshield - for once it is part of original looks and design, which I want to maintain. It is also excellent at keeping water out - the boat is center cockpit and waves routinely come right over to the cockpit, so windshield gets a lot of use. It is pretty watertight - even in pretty bad seas I don't get any leaks through it (partially because I don't spare 5200 to seal the seams ).
In any case, the pro that is going to do the work thinks it would be difficult to properly connect the new hard dodger to the existing windshield (and I somewhat agree). So, I am thinking about the option of getting rid of the windshield and installing a relatively traditional dodger - it would have hard top, but the front and sides are zip-on panels, the usual.

So now my question - how watertight are these? Would I get any water through the zippers or through the connection on the bottom of the panels or anywhere else, if the front was being hit by waves?

This is pretty important - I have a kind of a "pilothouse" design where right behind the windshield there is a chart table with instruments, and it is not waterproof at all.

So, what's your dodger experience?
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Old 06-04-2008
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I think you're better off with the hard windshield. I don't see a problem with connecting the hard dodger to the existing windshield, provided the windshield framing is strong enough to take that kind of load. A track can often be bent and attached around the top edge of the windshield and used to connect the existing windshield to the new dodger. The connecting panels would be canvas and/or vinyl, but the rest of the dodger could be rigid.
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Old 06-04-2008
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windshield is NOT strong enough - that's the issue. It is strong enough to stand on its own and keep water out, but to have another construction on top of it - is to have it fail pretty soon. This is one of the reasons the dodger is being replaced. The hard top would rely on posts/arches that connect to the cabin top. The issue is - placing arches in convenient locations creates top that does not match the line of the windshield very well. So, there are a few locations where the connecting pieces would have to connect to underside of hard top rather than the edge. These hard tops (Wavestopper, you can google them) really are designed for everything to connect to the edge, and we can't figure out a good way to attach zippers or cloth panels or whatever to underside, especially in the area where it is bent.
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Old 06-04-2008
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Brak,

What kind of boat is this?

My instinctive reply is to keep the hard windshield that you have, particularly if it's original equipment to the boat. People pay a lot of money for that kind of arrangement, and future owners might expect this feature if it's O.E.M.

There are plenty of examples of boats that have a hard windshield that transitions to a soft dodger. Malo, Hallberg Rassy, Amel, even some Beneteaus come immediately to mind (LINK). So you ought to be able to study some of those models and see how it's done. If your canvas guy can't figure it out, ask around and find someone who's seen these jobs before and knows how to handle it.
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It is a Hallberg-Rassy, very old Hallberg-Rassy

But these are all good points and support what I think - windshield should stay and I have to work around it.

The soft dodger connection would not be an issue, but I am not looking at a soft dodger. This thing is a hard roof that sits on the arches. If we place both arches inside the windshield, connection is not an issue - but I am trying to get one of the arches in front - and if this is the case, top would overhang the windshield somewhat.

Ok, so different angle - how would I connect a zipper or a soft panel to the underside of fairly thin fiberglass roof? Here is what the roof looks like - WAVESTOPPER.NET

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Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Brak,

There are plenty of examples of boats that have a hard windshield that transitions to a soft dodger. Malo, Hallberg Rassy, Amel, even some Beneteaus come immediately to mind (LINK). So you ought to be able to study some of those models and see how it's done. If your canvas guy can't figure it out, ask around and find someone who's seen these jobs before and knows how to handle it.
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I'm the same point, deciding for a dodger for my boat, so very interested in this thread. I have no experience with hard dodger before, but know very well what I DON'T want on a soft one. First, I wouldn't go for a hard, as this will certaily change the look, and don't know how to remove it on a daily basis to help illumination, to dry things out, to vent, etc ... On my previous ones, I thinkw they had a good watertight, for sprays and eventual waves. Weak points were where the traveller line enter the dodger, but never the zippers. During rain, water collected on deck eventually find its way, but that was because the deck shape where dodger was attached on; I had one with its front side attached through a "spagetti track" very watertight, and other connected using fasteners, what I do not recommend, specially if your deck has a flat shape, with little water escape. Sumbrella lasts 3-5 years, when looses the watertight on pannel junction, eventually dripping. Windows get foggy earlier, and replacement is the only alternative. I found cleaning them very often a bad practice, as it remove the sealants and scratch the windows. I never had problems with zippers, considering they are oversized making ease to open even after salt deposits. Make sure the sewing line are also UV protected, to avoid redoing the work frequently.

What I found of major importance, is the frame. Didn't like alluminum, and stailess steal is the only way to go. All my dodgers were mounted with a single arm attached to the deck, so the support was shared with the canvas itself. What a mistake ! My kids (and myself) never get educated enough to not hang on it, ripping the canvas eventually. Next dodger will have two arms landed to deck, making for a sturd structure and not depending on the canvas. It will have a handhold on it's back (for when you're standing in the cockpit) and handholds on its side, to help when you need to leave the cockpit. The front window will have zippers so I can open it, allowng breeze flow, the overall width must enclose the entire working area (wiches, stoppers, etc) so we can use it overnight to hold wet cloths and towels. Colour is important, and should find a compromise betwen light, cooling, and resistant to stain (Sunbrella Navy Blue seems the right one). We also made plenty use of velcro, to connect canvas pannel, if protect against UV they proved reliable and strong.

I heard about Makrolon replacing the soft windows, but seems somehow difficult to be removed on a daily basis, if you stow the dodger daily, like I do. But the look is very nice, and don't fade overtime. You can check more pictures of its owner at Sign in to SeaKnots - SeaKnots. Here goes some pictures I'm collecting from magazines to help me out with ideas too.

Sorry for the disconnected summary, but it was more a brainstorm to me and hope the Pro's coleagues of this community will add more important things that we could both benefit from ....
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Brak-

As I said previously, you could connect the hard dodger top to the windshield using tracks mounted on the hard dodger top's underside and the top edge of the windshield. Then the fabric could use boltropes to connect. You would probably have to do it in two pieces, to account for the fact that the two hard pieces are going to have slightly different profiles.

This is a photo of what I'm talking about.

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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-04-2008 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 06-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by negrini View Post

Sorry for the disconnected summary, but it was more a brainstorm to me and hope the Pro's coleagues of this community will add more important things that we could both benefit from ....
All good points. I am also just thinking, deciding etc. One thing that is less of a problem for me is removal - I don't plan to ever remove it With current setup I open the front panel of the windshield (window if you will), thats it. I certainly don't remove the top - I like the shade (and its also somewhat a requirement - gotta hide from the sun). The guy that does the work suggested macrolon and I liked the idea but it is pretty expensive, so I am not sure - this project is Big Money as it is.

I did look up some of these rope track connectors. They have a connector like that for the edge of the hard top, pre-made and very sturdy. I guess something has to be improvised for the inner surface but it's an idea.
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What a great product the Wavestoppers ! Removal is a "sine qua non" for us, specially for eventual races. I like the possibility to remove it when the wind really blows at anchor. But will contact the guys for other products as i think they really know the business ...
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Just a note on the Wavestopper. I added one to a previous boat of mine. Loved the fact that it was tough and I could put some weight on it when putting the sail cover on, etc. Hated the fact that it almost immediately lost it's color! I bought one in blue. Bad mistake. I've seen several ones in white that still look good.
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