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Discussion Starter #1
Just became the proud owner of a Ericson 34 located in the San Francisco Bay area. It came without a dodger and since the Summer winds here can be quite robust, I figured my first purchase would be a dodger. Called some ads I saw in Lat 38 and a few numbers the harbor master gave me for a quote and STICKER SHOCK! Prices ran from $2800 to $3500. At least twice what I thought it would be. Yes I did want 1” SS tubing and cover panels for the windows and ok grab rails on the side but still $3500!
So I am looking for other options. Has anybody seen and tried dodger kits or ‘do it your self kits’ or how hard was it to make your own? Any great web sites that may help?
Input will be much appreciated.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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While the price may seem high at first glance, it doesn't seem that out of line with the work required.
 
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Thats close to what I've been quoted. Same specs; 1" stainless, full covers, connecting panel to bimini, hand holds, etc etc. If you have a sewing machine and are good, you can do it yourself. But if you had a sewing machine you probably wouldn't be asking this question.
 

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I've just run into the same problem. Following advice on this website I looked up Sailrite.com and I think I'm going to go that way. They have sewing machines, instructional videos and kits as well as all the other materials needed for canvas work. Just what I need, another hobby.

The truth is, I bought a boat new to me last fall that needs tons of canvas work, probably as much or more than ten grand. I can cut that to about one third by making my own, and since I'm retired, I have the time. The bimini I want has been quoted to me at between $2K and $3K. The kit sells for $705, everything included. I'm sure it won't be easy, and the sewing machine costs $850 up front, but I should recover that on the bimini alone.
 

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Some price points:

I have a 42' sloop and have replaced dodger (in 2004) and built a new bimini frame and top (1994) while in the BVI. Costs were:

Bimini frame - BVI $400 1994
Bimini top - BVI $572 1994
Dodger - Annapolis $1485 2004

A pic of both can be seen here: Gallery :: Miscellaneous 2007 :: SBF_0126

As can be seen in the pic, they're both still in good condition after 14 years and 4 years, respectively. The Bimini top has been restitched once (in 2004, when the Dodger was built).

The first quote for a Bimini frame in the BVI was well over $1,200. I got a "second opinion" and went to a local metal shop, run by a Brit, and known to be good. Tony came down to the boat, measured, said he could build and install a good frame for $400. Two days later it was done.

Moral: shop around.

Bill
 

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Some things to consider..

Read this to gain a better understanding of what a custom made dodger entails..
Hale Kai Dodger Project

The price is in line with the amount of work required. Oh and I would suggest not wasting your money on a pre-fab dodger. You want a custom made dodger or you most likely won't be happy. Custom made will run about 20% more but be well worth it...

Here are some questions to ask:

Tubing: You want 316 thick wall! Not type 304 thin wall. All 1" or 7/8" stainless tubing is NOT the same.

Thread: You WANT a thread that will last as long as the Sunbrella. W.L. Gore's Tenara is the only thread that will do this..

Grab Rail's: Side and cockpit make sure the cockpit rail is welded on.

Windows:
Strataglass or equivalent. All 30 mil and 40 mil windows are NOT created equal!

Center Window: A full zip out window is a great option as you can lay it in the v-berth to prevent scratching the glass. Rolling windows up is one of the worst things you can do for dodger glass.

Design:
Your canvas guy should spend time with you ON the boat and then design the dodger to YOUR preferences. For example; do you want to look under the dodger or look over the top. When the frame is bent this data needs to be there or you'll be staring at the dodger frame when standing a the helm. Have your dodger built so you NEVER need to fold it. Folding a dodger is the single worst thing you can do for it!!

Lapels: Every exposed zipper MUST be covered by a lapel! A lapel is like the fly on your pants that covers the zipper. On a dodger it prevents UV damage!

Deck Attachment: Most builders use Lift-A-Dot's or Twist Locks to attach the canvas to the deck. This can create un even pulls in the canvas and eventually, after enough hot sun, the glass. You'll want to consider a luff tape attachment system. This plastic track can be heated with a heat gun and custom bent to match the contour of your deck. The dodger has a corresponding luff tape sewn across the entire front bottom edge that is slid into the luff track.
Best!

Better:

Mediocre:


Frame Support: If you have a hand rail you want support struts that attach the frame to the cockpit coaming to distribute the loads.
No grab rail or support struts:

Well done grab rail with support struts:


Use a LOCAL shop that does good work and let the price sink in for a bit..! A well designed and constructed dodger will out last a poorly built one by close to double! Loose fabric, that can flap in the wind, will DESTROY Sunbrella in short order!


A good example of a BAD (Mail Order) dodger:

An example of a good dodger (same boat):





A dodger can make or break the looks and aesthetics of your boat and IMHO it's not a place to cut corners! BTW here's a picture of that same dodger taken last summer after adding side grab rails. It was six year's old when this photo was taken..






If you feel like setting the bar really high, after reading this thread, take a look at this canvas work!

Mobile Marine Canvas Photo Gallery
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Don't forget to add a zipper at the back end so you can attach a Bimini later. You also need to incorporate zipper covers in the design.
 

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Laser,
I think, as the other posters have shown, that you got a fairly common price. It's a bunch of custom work and many man hours of labor.
If making your own is an option go for it. We have a bunch of places here that sell used gear - look around you may find a used frame that is purpose made for your boat, and used frayed dodgers can be used for patterns.
 

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That price is pretty much in line with most of the prices I've seen for canvas work. As others have said, it really isn't a place to skimp and having a good dodger on the boat can make it a lot more comfortable.
 

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I sell you mine for $1000...want it????

Maybe I can get rid of it, say it was stollen....my wife made me do it....man that is ugly....I really hate it....

Dodgers on boats is like bad make up on a woman....spoils the "natural" looks...don't do it....resist.....buy a wet suit and a blanket....
 

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I sell you mine for $1000...want it????

Maybe I can get rid of it, say it was stollen....my wife made me do it....man that is ugly....I really hate it....

Dodgers on boats is like bad make up on a woman....spoils the "natural" looks...don't do it....resist.....buy a wet suit and a blanket....
Exactly as stated above...I hate the look of a dodger...Have NEVER had one and never will. That's what foul weather gear is for.....If you need a dodger to sail...then perhaps a power boat would best suit your needs.;) Everytime I see a dodger all I can think of is "floating condo"....:eek:
 

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For daysailing perhaps, but I wouldn't want to be without my dodger when I'm cruising. When you're out there singlehanding, you don't need to be pounded by the weather all day. With mine, I can stand under the dodger and still be only a step away from the wheel.
 

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John...I didn't say they aren't usefull, as I am guilty as charged of hiding behind it sometimes...

I said I think they are ugly....and spoil the looks of a boat, no matter what windows, hand rails, finish, fittings, style, shape, colours, stainless steel you use or manufacturer of choice...they're ugly, period....
 

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His macho is threatened with the dodger on the boat, since his wife asked for it. The real reason he doesn't like having the dodger on the boat is that it reminds him who really owns the boat and wears the pants in the family.... after all, whose name is on the boat. :)

John...I didn't say they aren't usefull, as I am guilty as charged of hiding behind it sometimes...

I said I think they are ugly....and spoil the looks of a boat, no matter what windows, hand rails, finish, fittings, style, shape, colours, stainless steel you use or manufacturer of choice...they're ugly, period....
 

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Thanks Haleaki,
for the excellent pics and description of the dodger. I too am looking to purchase a dodger for my 33. Like laser, my quote was high and I expect to pay around 5k for the larger tubing, handrails, hardtop and bimini.

It's just that I have the same feel on dodgers as psych. Maybe the influence of my Harley for several years. It was most enjoyable without the bullet faring, that is of course, until I started thinking about the destination.
 

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One option to reduce costs and to improve visibility is to go with a smaller companionway dodger. But either way you go, one nice feature is to add a small pocket at the top of the arch for a flashlight, so one is always available when returning to the boat in the dark. You can just see our mini-mag light in this photo:




Another option to consider instead of bulky zipper lapels/flaps, is a single cover of sunbrella that snaps in place and protects the windows as well as the zippers. This is a good option for folks that use their boats for weekend/vacation sailing (as opposed to full-time cruising). The cover wraps around the front of the dodger and drapes over all the windows and zippers. It gets removed and stowed when the boat is being used, but otherwise affords more protection during the majority of time when the boat is not being used. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of our arrangement...

Halekai, that's a very nice dodger! Did you make it yourself?
 

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actually, after reading about more of the dodger posts, the following comes to mind:

Altough I don't like it but agree it is rather usefull, the following images make me believe my dodger has become a favorite among the youngest on my boat...several are known to make their confy nests there, which is good as we can see them as we sail...so it kinda warms my heart when I remeber who likes it and why...the shade and cool breeze provided make it a nesting spot all right...this is why its still there..the dodger stays, only for these reasons


Taking Fred to a race one cold early morning



The kid from hell giving us a break





Fred and his cousin Mariana



And his best friend and sister



Freds best friend

 

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Gui-

Those are priceless... :)
 
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