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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-14-2008 10:05 PM
Stillraining Being a Center Cockpit my Bimini design and application is somewhat different then most... I have refrained from posting here as I have no real experiance with ours yet but am going to share what I have anyway.

On one hand it looks kind of funny on another it is very practical for the rainy PNW.

I like its hight as I do not have to stoop at the helm but it does affect visibility aloft even with the clear pannel overhead...So I see it as a trade off..if I were a racer Id definitely remove it but Im not so I definitely will retain it..Mine is so taunt that its like a drum head skin and its designed to be permanent not foldabel..I doubt it will budge in a 60 kt blow just by going by my trailerable fishing boat experiance towing boats down the highway...and It does not interfere with the winches in any way.
I plan on having removable clear curtains made for it all way around..with the front curtians extra heavy duty serving as a dodger to extend use of our boat to darn near year around...I need that as few weeks in winter is about the only time I get off.

Every thing on a boat is to some extent a compromise..this is just another individual choice that will not conform to every ones desires or likings...Make your boat into what you want it to do and be not anyone else.
09-14-2008 09:27 PM
jimmalkin I agree wholeheartedly that it's all about design for a bimini and for a dodger. Assuming the design and construction is right, you then get into the realm of personal opinion and individual boat use. Joan and I took the well built bimini off of our Passport 50 when we bought her; we use the boat from the Chesapeake to Maine and have never found we needed a bimini due to the sun or rain. Hats and wicking shirts on deck in the sun and hats and rain gear in the rain have worked well. We find that the bimini restricts our movement and our lines of sight when we are underway; this isn't acceptable for us.

The dodger is another story. An absolute must for cold weather and for beating into head seas. Many cruisers are fond of well designed and appropriate looking hard dogers - we are thinking of one of these. It is astonishing how much protection from spray and cold a good dodger provides to the crew on watch.

There are multiple sun shades with various tie-down solutions and batten frames that serve quiet well as sun shelters when anchored. We really find the frame and canvas of a bimini restrictive when underway.

But - again - that's one couple's opinion FWIW.
09-13-2008 01:08 AM
chef2sail Sit in the sun sans bimini on the Chesapeake on a mid July Day...there is no contest. I dont like my brains fried sunny side up..**:**)

09-12-2008 05:43 PM
Faster In areas where you are likely to be spending a fair amount of time aboard in inclement weather a good dodger is invaluable. I know that we would not be doing any shoulder/winter season sailing without it.

Biminis have their place in southern climes. We've sailed quite a bit in the tropics on a boat without one, and though I like the lack of visual interference with sail trim etc, at the end of a passage it's a panic to get some kind of cockpit shade in place.

I'm into the aesthetics of boats, and to me a dodger has to "look right" too. So often the dodgers are too big, to square, ill proportioned for the boat they're attached to, and this is the challenge of working with the canvas people and getting it "right" in the first place.

Our boat has a substantial bridge deck which created a real challenge for dodger height... enough space to get in and out of the companionway in a pretzel-free manner, yet not so high as to look ridiculous. The result worked well, but will keep us limber in our old age... I hope.
09-12-2008 04:29 PM
LarryandSusanMacDonald What RagtimeDon said: right on the money! Design is the key. If any of you are going to have a dodger and/or bimini made, make sure you are there on the boat when the canvas person is there to lay out the pattern.

My wife, the famed Saltwater Suzi, has worked in a couple of canvas shops, and I've worked in a number of marinas.

Between the two of us, we have seen many botched attempts by canvas workers, who may be very good at what they do, but they are not sailors - and sometimes not even boaters.

I have seen bimini frames set up within six inches of winches (hey, that rhymes). I've seen bimini tops which are built too low on the sides to see when you are heeling. I've stopped the layout guys on more than one occasion and pointed out the error of their ways and asked if they shouldn't clear it with the owner before proceding. One comment I got, "Oh, it's okay, he can just get a shorter crank thing."

All I can say is - be there when it's laid out and don't be afraid to speak up.
09-12-2008 01:21 PM
Design is the secret!

A well designed Bimini and a well designed dodger are each worth their weight in gold under certain conditions. The photo of Ragtime attached to all my posts was taken before I had a dodger. The Bimini in the photo keeps the sun from frying my brain and blistering my ears. Takes 2-3 minutes to fold and cover when sail trim is critical, as in racing. I do not normally need to see the Windex, as I have a wind instrument on the binnacle which shows both speed and direction. I recently had a dodger custom designed and made for me - I can stand under it, just as I can stand under the Bimini. (I am 6'6") The clear windows on all three sides zip out completely, so it becomes only another short bimini when I want greater ventilation, but it protects me from cold winds and spray in November (that reads August if you sail the North Channel with Sea Monkey!) Because my mainsheet traveler is in the front of the cockpit, just aft of the companionway, I have a zip out panel connecting the Bimini to the dodger. The mainsheet goes through there, with no interference. When I pull the boom and mainsheet off to the side (At anchor) I can put in that panel, attach screens all around, and I have another room in my house! I am currently making a heavy plastic rainshield to go all around for when the rain comes through the screens.
I can see where it wouldn't work on a smaller boat, because the boom is lower on a smaller boat, but for me, it's wonderful! BTW, I contacted a large canvas company on line that said they had dodger patterns for all boats- the photo of a 37 Endeavour they sent me looked like the dodger was 4 feet high!
09-12-2008 12:17 PM
BarryL Hello,

My last boat didn't have a dodger or bimini. My current boat does. The dodger really saved my bacon when I had to bring the home. A trip from Newport RI to Mt. Sinai, New York at the end of November is not when you will have real warm weather. By sitting forward in the cockpit, under the dodger, we were able to stay warm. In the summer, with the bimini open, the cockpit is comfortable in the August heat.

If you don't like your dodger (or bimini) it's because the unit is not designed or built right. My dodger has zippers around the center panel. In warm weather I open it up and fold it over the top. Now I have an unobstructed view, and cool air can flow past. When it gets cool or wet I can lower the panel to provide protection. And, when it's cold or nasty I have side panels that zip in and provide even more protection. I have plenty of room to swing winches and pull lines.

The bimini easily folds up or folds open. It takes about 5 minutes to open it and snap the straps down. It takes about the same to close it up and let the sun shine in. When open, the bimini does block the view of the main, so it's harder to trim the sail. Mine is also a little too high and blocks the boom from being trimmed in real tight. I am willing to live with those bad things to have shade on a real hot day.

I have attached two pics, both from when I first saw the boat (fall, 2006). In one you can see how the dodger is constructed, with the removable panels, etc. in the other you see the bimini folded up and covered.

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.
09-12-2008 08:46 AM
PalmettoSailor 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.
09-12-2008 08:44 AM
sailortjk1 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.
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