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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I currently have a hardtop dodger for my columbia 39 (with no plastic windows) and no bimini. This is not great as for my height, when I'm behind the wheel, the dodger actually blocks a good portion of my view (I either have to slouch or sit up very straight to see around it)... So what I really would like is a new dodger (at the correct height for me, perferrably non hardshell) with windows and plastic bimini, maybe something that even fully enclosed the cockpit.

I am looking to get some suggestions on what this might run me, as I don't have any clue to what this might cost. I'm sure it won't be cheap, (unless the wizards here have some DYI suggestions for doing it myself to keep the cost down), so I'm open to hear your thoughts on the matter.

thanks everyone! :)
~Nick
 

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My wife makes ours
Bimini and dodger with connector 3-5k from a canvas shop at least
 

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You can most certainly DIY a new enclosure, bimini, dodger, etc. Personally, I generally like the durability of hardtops and would try to find another work around. Canvas wears out.

Unless one is an accomplished sewer, most DIY canvas work I've seen looks homemade, with sags, wrinkles, etc. A good pro makes a symmetrical, drum tight look and it's often easy to tell the difference. It's in the eye of beholder whether that matters.
 

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You can most certainly DIY a new enclosure, bimini, dodger, etc. Personally, I generally like the durability of hardtops and would try to find another work around. Canvas wears out.

Unless one is an accomplished sewer, most DIY canvas work I've seen looks homemade, with sags, wrinkles, etc. A good pro makes a symmetrical, drum tight look and it's often easy to tell the difference. It's in the eye of beholder whether that matters.
Our “ wife made” canvas looks every bit as good as a professionals. It’s not hard to do and with the correct tools ( Sailrite sewing machine” Can be a great skill to learn for future projects. That skill allows adjustments and future repairs with minimal expense. Some people won’t want to burden themselves and throw money at the canvas makers

This is one area that can be extraordinarily expensive and the average sailor can save money by DYI. Thousands of dollars . Canvas work is often a huge sticker shock when they go to an outside source. They all wear out and will require some repairs at an expense. We take ours off the boat ever season and go over them every year to keep them updated and fix and threads zippers which have become UV damaged. You can farm out all things pertaining to the accessories on your boat, or “ learn “ some new skills.

many of my male friends have learned to sew and are quite proficient in making this a winter project. Many of my cruising friends have a Sailrite machine on board for repairs while they are out as it can be used manually.

I completely reject the idea that doing it yourself leads to unappealing results. There is no doubt professionals who do this daily will find this easier, but it comes at an enormous and ongoing cost.
 

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Pictures
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Chef,

I too would like to see some pictures, that could be very inspiring to perhaps try and learn a new skill. I will freely admit I've never sewn anything in my life, so the learning curve would be high. However, tossing 3-5k at a vendor for metal tubing and plastic windows/canvas is not super appealing either.

In terms of the tubing, that is something I would probably have to have professionally installed yes? Do any of you gents have a resource for this in the Southern California area?

Also Chef, is yours fully enclosed or is it a separate dodger / bimini setup? My mate on the starboard side has a nice dodger / folding bimini setup on his boat that I'm always eyeballing, but as a kid, we had a fully enclosed cockpit on my parents Gulfstar 47, and that was really nice for night crossings.

So if its not overkill in terms of cost / labor, I'm kind of thinking an enclosed one sure would be nice. I'm also thinking it might be cool to attempt to make my own. Even if it's not "perfect", learning a new skill could be part of the fun.

Thanks again everyone for your suggestions / advice.
 

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You want pictures why? You are going to make one yourself? Lol😄
All my FRIENDS have seen our set up and some have even asked my wife to help them.
 
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Hi Chef,

I too would like to see some pictures, that could be very inspiring to perhaps try and learn a new skill. I will freely admit I've never sewn anything in my life, so the learning curve would be high. However, tossing 3-5k at a vendor for metal tubing and plastic windows/canvas is not super appealing either.

In terms of the tubing, that is something I would probably have to have professionally installed yes? Do any of you gents have a resource for this in the Southern California area?

Also Chef, is yours fully enclosed or is it a separate dodger / bimini setup? My mate on the starboard side has a nice dodger / folding bimini setup on his boat that I'm always eyeballing, but as a kid, we had a fully enclosed cockpit on my parents Gulfstar 47, and that was really nice for night crossings.

So if its not overkill in terms of cost / labor, I'm kind of thinking an enclosed one sure would be nice. I'm also thinking it might be cool to attempt to make my own. Even if it's not "perfect", learning a new skill could be part of the fun.

Thanks again everyone for your suggestions / advice.
I will PM some pictures to you, as I do to my friends.

The Bimini is the first piece to make. We have 3 bows. Bought the bows on Sailnet and fashioned them. All the hardware and slides are also sold by them, but you can occasionally find better deals. There are 4 web straps to keep it in place and for adjustments. The Bimini is basically a rectangle. The tubes the bows fit in have high quality zippers. We have a back stay so a separate zipper system .Two Strataglass windows to view the main sail for trimming.

There are zippers on all four edges. They are covered under the Bimini on the edge to prevent UV degradation. Three for potential enclosure panels, or screens, both sides and stern portion of the Bimini. . The advantage of zip in is that they are removed when not necessary which is most of the time. The fourth zipper is for the connector for the dodger. There are leather edges for chafe in areas. We also have zip in net screens in the same spot to keep the angled sun off us at anchor primarily. But they help in buggy areas and let the breeze through and good vision. You need to use quality YKK ZIPPERS.

I would look at a number of other boats for similar set ups or to personalize it as every boat is somewhat different
The Bimini is the easiest piece to make , but still requires skill, which you are learning when making it.

The dodger is customized for your boat and we can discuss later. I like the idea of a hard to Bimini as the base frame of the dodger. We don’t have that. Disadvantage is taking it off in a major wind event like a named storm.

These are some of the materials from the Sailrite site as well as a video.






the investment in the beginning is a $1000 Sailrite machine. It will more than pay for itself on the first Bimini/ dodger .
project

if you need some help after digesting feel free to contact me
 

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Here are three pictures
One off the Bimini...not the zippers and bow slides
One of “strataglass to see the main
One of one of our side panels drying in the slip after washing . Zipped in but not tightened in so there is a sag, but you can get the idea. Also have screen which can zipper in
 

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Dodger was a racing one originally. Had to duck exiting the companionway and didn’t really protect the helmsman and was right in my vision line. Most dodgers have woeful ventilation with just a center section of three open. There are distinct panels in the window with large 1” grids. We decided to have our front panel a picture window, no obstructions, which can be zipped out for most of the summer which is hot. Clear view of everything designed really as a second Bimini when panel is zipped out. Also has a zip in screen for sun deflection or bugs . Wide open ventilation.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow Chef,

Thanks for that, that is amazing.. I will take some pics of my current setup (hardtop dodger) and share so that you might have some suggestions for me on how to create something similar to what you have. Yours looks fantastic. Thanks for your advice and info... as well as a big thanks to everyone else here as well.. hands down one of the best sailing forums I've ever been on.

-Fair Winds,
-Nick
 

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Wow Chef,

Thanks for that, that is amazing.. I will take some pics of my current setup (hardtop dodger) and share so that you might have some suggestions for me on how to create something similar to what you have. Yours looks fantastic. Thanks for your advice and info... as well as a big thanks to everyone else here as well.. hands down one of the best sailing forums I've ever been on.

-Fair Winds,
-Nick
My wife is the amazing one. I helped with the design...but she is the one who puts it into reality.

I have learned to sew from her
She’s made our sail over, helm cover, and redone all the cushions inside (26).
Huge monetary savings plus we got what we wanted

lots of pride in ownership when you’ve made the improvements yourself vs buying it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So here are some pics of my setup, and since I have a hardtop dodger, that might save me a little bit in terms of cost, since perhaps I could reuse the tubing from it?

136395


136396
 

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I like your hard top dodger . I’d keep it. You could make a front and sides easily which snap on. For the front window you’d have to put sew the window into canvas, then attach to hard top dodger with snaps. You’ll need a snap tool kit .

Lots of different was to attach the sunbrella to the hard top or boat.


 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm glad you like it, but I'm.. not a fan of it. I hit my head on it frequently. It blocks my view when I'm behind the wheel. It offers no protection against the elements (although it sounds like that could be remedied), its ugly, and my solar panels don't work anymore, so I'm up for replacing it with a soft canvas variation.
 

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I'm glad you like it, but I'm.. not a fan of it. I hit my head on it frequently. It blocks my view when I'm behind the wheel. It offers no protection against the elements (although it sounds like that could be remedied), its ugly, and my solar panels don't work anymore, so I'm up for replacing it with a soft canvas variation.
Got it
A soft top will still be in your sight lines as the boom height is the limiting factor it appears.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'm sure you're correct on that, but I'm hopefully that the canvas will hurt less when I wack it with my head. =D
 

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I have a canvas dodger and have no shortage of hitting my head, as the edges are all pipe. You should have your boat any way you like, so have at it. The pics don't look ugly to me, but if they do to you, then swap it out. I just caution whether a new canvas dodger is going to be all that easier to see around. If you make it lower, it may actually increase the head hit ratio.

On the other hand, you could design a soft dodger that can be folded out of the way and it's generally only up to protect the companionway from rain, while down below.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have a canvas dodger and have no shortage of hitting my head, as the edges are all pipe. You should have your boat any way you like, so have at it. The pics don't look ugly to me, but if they do to you, then swap it out. I just caution whether a new canvas dodger is going to be all that easier to see around. If you make it lower, it may actually increase the head hit ratio.

On the other hand, you could design a soft dodger that can be folded out of the way and it's generally only up to protect the companionway from rain, while down below.

As goofy as this sounds, I don't tend to hit my head on the pipe areas, as I come up out of the companion way, for some dumb reason I stand up too tall, and whack my head in the middle of the dodger. Not sure why I can train myself not to duck every time, but sometimes I don't. I know, silly.

The bimini portion would be nice if I could fold that out of the way when not needed.. which might improve my sight line a little bit, and I was thinking with the canvas, perhaps I could angle it up just a touch... which may or may not improve my sight line, bumping my head issues...
 

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There will likely be a bow, in the middle of the dodger too. Head butts on boats are unavoidable. Hope you like your new dodger. Wonder if you could sell the old one to someone with your make/model. I think someone would want it.
 
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