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post #1 of 41 Old 07-10-2015 Thread Starter
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Maintaining Good Vision

I've found one of the most challenging and dangerous aspects of sailing to be loss of good, clear vision during bad weather. I have a clear 10" or so horizontal sweep of vision just above the dodger and have thought about closing it off to the bimini with a clear vinyl "windshield" to block rain and wind. But, I know the vinyl in the dodger is not at all acceptable to look through when it's raining. What would be the best way to stop weather from blowing through and still have adequate vision forward? I see a lot of boats with clear vinyl all around but can't imagine how they see well enough through the stuff to navigate.

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post #2 of 41 Old 07-10-2015
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

I agree, and see the greenhouses of plastic and get sea sick just thinking of looking through it. Unless it is not that bad. But that wavy plastic, just seems to distort everything
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

Youre correct about poor visibility through dodger clear vinyl. Nothing is worse than a dodger full of salt droplets or salt crystals when youre heading directly into the setting/rising sun.

My choice for many years has been a 'low' dodger .... low enough so that when standing at the helm I/we can see over the top of the dodger and can 'just' see the bow(sprit) of the boat.
We wear high quality water-shedding ski googles if needed for spray, etc.
The boat also has a boom gallows over the dodger, so that with a 'sun shade' connected to it, and which does a good job of shield from 'falling' spray, yields a clear and visually unimpeded space between the dodger top and the 'sun shade'.
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post #4 of 41 Old 07-10-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

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Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Youre correct about poor visibility through dodger clear vinyl. Nothing is worse than a dodger full of salt droplets or salt crystals when youre heading directly into the setting/rising sun.

My choice for many years has been a 'low' dodger .... low enough so that when standing at the helm I/we can see over the top of the dodger and can 'just' see the bow(sprit) of the boat.
We wear high quality water-shedding ski googles if needed for spray, etc.
The boat also has a boom gallows over the dodger, so that with a 'sun shade' connected to it, and which does a good job of shield from 'falling' spray, yields a clear and visually unimpeded space between the dodger top and the 'sun shade'.
Yes, that's the way my boat is now. The bimini, which I just put on last year, actually overlaps the dodger a bit, leaving the small horizontal window. Ski goggles work well and have been right where I can grab them for years. This rain-in-the-face method may be the best that can be had although when the wind and rain are blowing right through, peeking up over the dodger to see is not a very comfortable situation. I just thought someone might have found a better way.

Alberg 35: With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.
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post #5 of 41 Old 07-10-2015
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

It isn't cheap but 0.064" Makrolon AR (abrasion resistant) polycarbonate is optically clear and flat without the wavy quality of vinyl. Of course, spray, rain, and other debris will interfere with your vision no matter what but it helps a lot to have a good substrate.
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post #6 of 41 Old 07-10-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

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It isn't cheap but 0.064" Makrolon AR (abrasion resistant) polycarbonate is optically clear and flat without the wavy quality of vinyl. Of course, spray, rain, and other debris will interfere with your vision no matter what but it helps a lot to have a good substrate.
I thought about maybe making a removable/zip down center panel with a stiff polycarbonate sheet sewn in, complete with a hand operated wiper blade. Maybe something like that could even be a clamp-on arrangement, clamped to the aft bar of the dodger just for times when it's really pouring horizontally.

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post #7 of 41 Old 07-10-2015
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

In reality, we don't find it takes but a couple of minutes to clean the salt off the dodger windows after a crossing, before entering a bay or port. A bit of fresh water to rinse and a clean, absorbent towel and Bob's your uncle, a clear view. Our dodger and bimini are one and I'm very appreciative to the designer and the PO for it. Since there isn't a space between them, the forward end of the cockpit is dry in inclement weather and we can comfortably be in the cockpit in squalls etc, when at anchor. It is not a full enclosure (no side or stern panels) however, as I just don't think I could live and sail in a hot house.
We do spend a bit of time keeping it clean and coated with 303 Aerospace Protectant, which might help.

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post #8 of 41 Old 07-10-2015
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Yes, that's the way my boat is now. The bimini, which I just put on last year, actually overlaps the dodger a bit, leaving the small horizontal window. Ski goggles work well and have been right where I can grab them for years. This rain-in-the-face method may be the best that can be had although when the wind and rain are blowing right through, peeking up over the dodger to see is not a very comfortable situation. I just thought someone might have found a better way.
I think you may simply have to accept that there are times when a sailor might have to actually venture outdoors, although many these days appear to be in deep denial of that 'inconvenient truth'...

;-)

As Rich H noted, the ability to sight over the top of a dodger is absolutely essential, for me... Probably my most common gripe about many of the boats I run, how difficult visibility forward from the helm can be in snotty conditions, and how impossible many boats are to run at night (well, safely, at least ;-))

I was aboard a big Beneteau at the Annapolis Show last fall, either a Sense or an Oceanis where the dodger and cockpit canvas was integrated to the arch... There was no alternative but to look thru the front of the dodger, even without the bimini it would have reguired a step ladder to sight over the dodger ;-)





I sat down at the helm, and was immediately struck by the incredible distance between my position, and the funhouse mirror eisenglass which served as the front panel of the dodger. It must have been easily 15 feet or more, and with a light drizzle falling that day, it was frightening how compromised and degraded the view forward was by those factors... Basically, you could not see sh_t...

;-)

How anyone runs such boats in snotty weather, or at night, is completely beyond me...
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post #9 of 41 Old 07-10-2015
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

Most of the time, my dodger is not in place - I really don't like looking through that wavy plastic, either. However, when the weather is cold, and rainy, the dodger goes on and so does the full enclosure. Now, the big advantage is the difference in comfort level. Sailing in the enclosure is like sailing in greenhouse - nice and cozy, especially when the sun is out and the outside temperature is just 10 degrees or less above freezing. In fact, there have been times when I actually had to open the back panel of the enclosure to allow some cool air to invade because it was too warm inside the cockpit.

One of the neat things I learned about visibility through the vinyl is that if I wax it using Lemon Pledge and polish the wax using a micro-fiber cloth, when it's raining the water quickly beads and runs off. Saltwater spray beads and runs off as well. When I was not doing this, it was a real disaster trying to see through the dodger - HUGE DIFFERENCE.

Additionally, I just added a Lowrance 3G radar system, which keeps me out of trouble as well. Still learning all the tricks with the radar, but so far, it's rally cool.

All the best,

Gary

Last edited by travlin-easy; 07-10-2015 at 07:29 PM.
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post #10 of 41 Old 07-10-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Maintaining Good Vision

Wasn't until last year that I put a bimini on and I gotta say I don't like having it in the way of seeing the mainsail. I am talking about the all-too-often condition when there is a torrential soaking wind/rain coming in over the dodger, obscuring vision. Maybe Jon likes to sit at the helm for hours with that directly in his face, hardy sailor that he is, but I do not. Intimating that maybe I should come out from shelter is simply preposterous. Come out on the bay in the middle of winter sometime on a commercial boat to see what "being in the weather" is actually about. The original question was how to alleviate a particular condition which seems to happen quite often and can be dangerous when in tight quarters around other boats.

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