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davidpm 09-12-2008 01:00 AM

To bimini or not to bimini that is the question
My captain has a 30' Catalina. It came with a nasty very beet Bimini with forward panels so discolored it was hard to see.

One day when he was away I took it off the boat and hid it. He complained for a while but I like it a lot more with out it.

1. Can see where I'm going
2. Winch handles go all the way around.

I talked to a neighbor who sailed his boat for 20 years without one and just added it about three years ago and is singing it's praises.
He says he motored into a driving storm for 4 hours and loved it.

We are in Long Island Sound (In Florida I would reconsider)
We sail at night a lot.
I wear a dopey looking floppy hat.
I'm sure if I got in the right weather it would be nice but I can't stand not being able to use the winches properly.

So what is the word?
I see most Catalina 30's fitted with Bimini's so I must be wrong.

tdw 09-12-2008 01:24 AM

Bimini ?

I don't think so.

Dodger ?


blt2ski 09-12-2008 02:29 AM

Only been on one boat with a bimini, hated every minute I was winching! had one of the over the cockpit canvas dohicky's too. Could not see what the sails were doing. Along with the it did not make that 35-38*F day any warmer either. Freaking Hunters! any way.

This is probably one of those, luv em or hate questions! Racers probably hate them, cruiser luv em. You can probably tell my view! By the way, the my Admiral would tell you to dump the bimini too!

aka the cabin boy!

sailingdog 09-12-2008 06:35 AM

HMM.. Most biminis are just overhead panels. It really sounds like you're talking about a dodger. Here's my take on both.

Dodgers are good for helping shelter the crew from wind and spray. They can help you extend your sailing season by allowing you to stay drier. Properly designed, they're a great thing to have aboard.

Biminis, IMHO, are a necessity in the summer sun. They help keep the cockpit cooler and also reduce the amount of UV exposure considerably. In the rain, they help keep you dry. Again, having a properly designed and installed bimini is important. Poorly designed biminis are a PITA.

tweitz 09-12-2008 07:30 AM

I sail in Long Island vicinity as well and love my bimini. We never had one before this boat and on those hot days it is wonderful, in rain storms it gives us shelter, and when it is cold, we fold it back pretty easily. The problem you have may not be a bimini, but a poorly designed bimini. Ours has no effect on getting to the winches, etc. If it did I would probably feel the way you do.

davidpm 09-12-2008 08:28 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 367392)
HMM.. Most Bimini's are just overhead panels. It really sounds like you're talking about a dodger. Here's my take on both.

Yes I did mean doger. I'll have to check some other boats and see it they allow winch access.
Having a opaque forward panel probably reduced it utility in my case.

sailingfool 09-12-2008 08:35 AM

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For the warm weather I love our bimini, its shade makes a full day on the water in a hot sun a pleasure. Fortunately our bimini does not interfere with operation of the sheet winches. Just the same I only use it when it needed, in fact I put it on the boat in mid-June and remove it after Labor Day, due to the inconvenience of the visibility and sail trimming.

FWIW, on our boat the dodger is more of an inconvenience as all the lines lead to a winch bank on the aft cabin top and the dodger limits some winch use. So I put the dodger on only when needed, or likely to be needed. I usually have it on for May and October, otherwise I put it on if taking a trip where we may have rough weather, then take it off.

sailortjk1 09-12-2008 08:44 AM

If your bimini and or dodger are properly designed for your boat, they should not interfer with any access to anything. Sheets, halyards, vang, winches, clutches; all are fully accessible with our dodger and bimini in place.
My ONLY complaint, is that I have to open the two zippers on forward panel of the dodger to get at my traveler. Its a very slight inconvenience; the foward panel in the dodger is open most days, but when sailing on chilly midnight open water crossings, it is a great big bonus for the crew. We all stand watch tucked up under the dodger, forty degrees wind chill, no problem.

PalmettoSailor 09-12-2008 08:46 AM

The OP definitely seems to be refering to a dodger rather than a bimini.
Our boat came equipped with a dodger, but no bimini. We do have a sunshade that zips to the dodger and ties up to the split backstay. It can be deployed while sailing, but is really more suitable for use at the dock, though we have used it for some refuge on hot Chesapeake days.

I can understand the complaints about a dodger if most of your sailing is fair weather (as mine is), as dodgers do block wind that might be desireable to keep you cool and they can obstruct vision somewhat. We keep the main window panel of our dodger open nearly all the time for that reason. However we do like being able to close it to shelter the companionway if we get weather while at anchor. On our C36, the dodger does not obstruct the winches, but I can almost see that as a deal breaker, if the dodger isn't really needed to shelter the crew and you don't mind closing up if it rains while you are below.

A well designed bimini on the other hand can be a blessing for fair weather sailors as SD points out, since it provides refuge from the relentless sun you get out on the water and makes standing in the cockpit during a downpour less objectionable.

Since the OP's existing dodger blocks the winches, they may want to consider ditching the dodger and going with a large bimini that extends forward enough to cover part of the companionway. This would eliminate the issue with obstructed winch handles, allow better airflow and still provide some protection so the companionway could be left at least partially open if rain drives you below.

However, assuming nothing obstructs the winches, I think a dodger/bimini combo is the most versatile combination for cruising boats and I am planning to add a bimini to our boat that will have a removeable connector to the dodger. The connector will be see through and the bimini will have see through's so the helmsman can see the sails and windex. I will also make sure the frame does't interfere with the primary winches.

flyingwelshman 09-12-2008 11:41 AM

like the bimini: hated the dodger
I got my boat with a bimini and dodger.
I like the bimini for the reasons already stated (sun protection etc.) Last weekend I sailed with a friend who is about 4 inches taller than me. He hated the bimini as he had to duck when he was at the tiller.
The dodger was a real PITA. It was not designed well as you could not winch because the frame was in the way; you had to go outboard to get up onto the deck; it drastically reduced visibility; when the frame was resting down on the companionway hatch it prevented the hatch from closing or dragged across the top of the hatch leaving scuffs; if the frame was bungeed up it prevented the boom from setting properly; and - worst of all - I kept hitting my head on the damned thing!
The dodger is good at the marina or when anchored as weather protection, but I am much happier now that it has been removed.

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