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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 10-17-2008
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Dodger Ideas

This year we need to replace the dodger - canvas is shot and frame is falling apart. Anyway, we went to the Annapolis show with the mission of getting ideas. I thought I'd ask you all for your input as well. We sail mostly with the dodger folded down forward. This gives us the best visibility, fresh air in the cockpit, easy path to go forward and access thru the companionway without having to duck. When we need it, we flip it up and tie it off and we have the protection we need. Going forward is the one thing that's a PITA when it's up.

Handholds would be nice, but dodgers we saw that have handholds are meant to be up permanently. Also, dodgers that are folded down apparently have to use a lower grade of clear plastic that clouds sooner but apparently still retains creases from being folded. We were thinking we might design it so that all the clear panels will be rolled up before folding the dodger down. That would prevent creasing and maybe extend the clear life. We thought we could also make it so an external cross brace between bows would serve as handles when going forward. This would have to somehow come undone when folding the dodger down - maybe held in by wingnuts (snag hazard?)? Also, the canvas and sewn-in windshield are structural on most dodgers, i.e. the bows are captive in the canvas and held in place by the front edge of the canvas/windshield area being snapped to the cabintop. Most dodgers have a rollup portion of the windscreen that's the width of the companionway. By having the entire width of the windshield being made to roll up, we are weakening the structure. So maybe we have to use webbing straps clipped forward to solidify the whole thing. The whole thing would become more complicated to deploy as a result of this, however.

We didn't see anything close to what I'm trying to describe. Has anyone else come up with anything along these lines? I appreciate thoughts/comments.

TIA
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2008
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I did not have a dodger on my Endeavour prior to last year. Since I plan to spend considerable time on the Great Lakes, especially the Apostle Islands and the North Channel, I felt a dodger would be a great improvement to Ragtime. I looked at available designs supposedly made for Endeavour 37, then had one custom made to my specs. To increase both ease and safety while going forward, I had grab bars put on the outside of the frame. Because I am 6'5" tall, I had the whole assembly made as high as possible, just clearing the boom. Yes, I can stand under it! We used the clearest available window plastic, which by the way is quite expensive! All sections roll up, with canvas used only in the rooftop and as <2 inch framing for the clear plastic. The 5 window sections are easily removable with zippers when we want more air flow. I have sailed on a lot of boats with dodgers and have never seen one which I would consider better designed. There are solid framed dodgers with rigid plexiglass windows which are stronger, but the flexibility and ease of removal for winter storage IMHO outwieghs strength considerations. The stainless frame, much like a Bimini frame, is rigid enough to keep wind and rain off the cockpit. I am not planning on standing on my dodger! One thing I have found when rolling up the panels, when supported only by the tie straps, the windows tend to crease. I bought a couple of the styrofoam "noodle" swim floats, and roll the window around that before tying off. When at the dock or at anchor, I have a canvas panel which connects dodger to Bimini, so we can complete the sunshade, or even enclose the whole cockpit with mosquito net (or plastic sheet in the rain). Since my boat has a huge cockpit, (the roof over dodger and bimini measures over 17 feet) this gives us a lot of extra living space! If your main has mid boom sheeting and the traveller forward of the companionway, that panel may not be needed. Since both the Admiral and I sunburn easily, we usually sail with both the dodger and the bimini up. We have rigid tube framework in front, so the dodger is up except for winter storage. In hot weather the front and sides are removed or rolled up, leaving only the roof and framework. I will attempt to post some photos next week if you have interest.
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Old 10-17-2008
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I replaced the canvas on my dodger this year and had some of the same issues. My boat is Tartan 30 and is similar in appearence to yours. I did add external hand holds to the dodger and am very happy with the results. It makes boarding and going forward safer. It now is almost impossible to fold the dodger as the handles are attached with set screws, but in reality I never folded it much anyway. My solutions is to keep it low so I can see over it while standing, and to use the best quality clear plastic for forward vision while seated. I have to duck to use the companionway, but after hitting my head the first 100 or so times I am getting used to it. I think any solution with straps, multiple zippers and other supports to keep it sturdy (which you need if you are going to rely on the hand holds), yet foldable, would keep me from ever folding it in the first place.
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Old 10-17-2008
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A well designed and constructed dodger should not be an impediment to visibility or access to the forward parts of the boat.

We find going forward easier and more secure with an all SS frame dodger with outside handholds. Clear Lexan windows mean good visibility. Dodgers are compromises for sure, but as baboon says, keeping the profile as low as practical helps - aesthetically as well as for visibility and access reasons. Of course we do not fold ours down and it's true that complicates access to some of the halyard clutches and winches.
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Old 10-17-2008
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I'll just say...

I'll only say this a well designed dodger should never need to be put down.

Folding, rolling or collapsing a dodger is the single worst thing you can do to it. It can cut the life of windows by about 2/3 and the canvas by as much as 25-50%.

Don't waste money on a good well made dodger if all you are going to do is fold it or roll up the windows..

I have not had to drop a dodger in over 10 years but they are quality built (except for my current boat not yet replaced) and I can see through them and walk around them.

A well made dodger is worth every penny and bad one is not worth the cost of the materials it's made with..

Check out these guys and then compare your local dodger guys to them.

Iverson Designs (LINK)

Also consider a "drop top" dodger so you don't ruin your windows..
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Old 10-17-2008
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On my Ontario 32, my dodger has a hard top, with canvas, with clear inserts, sides and front panel. The front panel can be zipped out to allow airflow and access to the forward part of the companionway. I tie my solar shower down on the hard top, giving me a place not only for it to heat, but I can then use it in the cockpit from there. There are also handholds on the top. I find it a very workable setup.
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Old 10-17-2008
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I concur that the height of the dodger is key. I was on a friend's boat where the dodger was perfect for him -- he could easily see over it. Unfortunately, it was right at my eye level. My choice was to slouch a couple inches or stand on my toes, neither of which was comfortable for very long.

My boat came with a full enclosure for the center cockpit. It's medium quality and I'd rather a dodger and attachable bimini, but the enclosure is new and I can't justify scrapping it. The biggest problem -- what were they thinking??? -- is that there is no window in the top. Sails? You want to see the sails?? A window is on the list before next season.

I'm also planning to add grab rails so my family does not reflexively grab the edge of the canvas every time they come and go from the cockpit. Yeah, wishful thinking. Has anyone used these or similar: Grab-Rail
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Old 10-17-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterRiver View Post
...I'm also planning to add grab rails so my family does not reflexively grab the edge of the canvas every time they come and go from the cockpit. Yeah, wishful thinking. Has anyone used these or similar: Grab-Rail
Looking at those kits they look kind of clunky - the more typical grabrails provided by quality dodger makers are much cleaner/sleeker looking.

It seems to me if you went to a dodger builder you could have them fabricate a couple for similar prices to those kits and end up with something like this instead:

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Old 10-17-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbondy View Post
... Going forward is the one thing that's a PITA when it's up.
If you are trying to facilitate going forward, and improve visibility while sailing, you might consider a scuttle or companionway dodger. That's what we have and it improves both very much so. Ours can be folded down, but we never have any need to.




There is a handhold on the upper trailing edge (but not on the sides). We also added some pockets on the inside, port and starboard, for little stuff like cell phones, cameras, sunscreen,etc; and a small pocket in the overhead sized exactly to a mini-Maglite, which is always ready at hand when we arrive at or return to the boat in the dark. This isn't the best shot of thos efeatures, but you can almost see them:

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Old 10-17-2008
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John, Where is your travler located. I don't see one in the picture?
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