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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #1
I am sure many of you have dodgers on your boats. I am looking for some advice and personal experience.
My boat has original windshield on top of which currently there is a kind of a soft dodger. I am planning to have the dodger replaced, preferably with a hard dodger. I was thinking of keeping the windshield - for once it is part of original looks and design, which I want to maintain. It is also excellent at keeping water out - the boat is center cockpit and waves routinely come right over to the cockpit, so windshield gets a lot of use. It is pretty watertight - even in pretty bad seas I don't get any leaks through it (partially because I don't spare 5200 to seal the seams :) ).
In any case, the pro that is going to do the work thinks it would be difficult to properly connect the new hard dodger to the existing windshield (and I somewhat agree). So, I am thinking about the option of getting rid of the windshield and installing a relatively traditional dodger - it would have hard top, but the front and sides are zip-on panels, the usual.

So now my question - how watertight are these? Would I get any water through the zippers or through the connection on the bottom of the panels or anywhere else, if the front was being hit by waves?

This is pretty important - I have a kind of a "pilothouse" design where right behind the windshield there is a chart table with instruments, and it is not waterproof at all.

So, what's your dodger experience?
 

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Telstar 28
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I think you're better off with the hard windshield. I don't see a problem with connecting the hard dodger to the existing windshield, provided the windshield framing is strong enough to take that kind of load. A track can often be bent and attached around the top edge of the windshield and used to connect the existing windshield to the new dodger. The connecting panels would be canvas and/or vinyl, but the rest of the dodger could be rigid.
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #3
windshield is NOT strong enough - that's the issue. It is strong enough to stand on its own and keep water out, but to have another construction on top of it - is to have it fail pretty soon. This is one of the reasons the dodger is being replaced. The hard top would rely on posts/arches that connect to the cabin top. The issue is - placing arches in convenient locations creates top that does not match the line of the windshield very well. So, there are a few locations where the connecting pieces would have to connect to underside of hard top rather than the edge. These hard tops (Wavestopper, you can google them) really are designed for everything to connect to the edge, and we can't figure out a good way to attach zippers or cloth panels or whatever to underside, especially in the area where it is bent.
 

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Brak,

What kind of boat is this?

My instinctive reply is to keep the hard windshield that you have, particularly if it's original equipment to the boat. People pay a lot of money for that kind of arrangement, and future owners might expect this feature if it's O.E.M.

There are plenty of examples of boats that have a hard windshield that transitions to a soft dodger. Malo, Hallberg Rassy, Amel, even some Beneteaus come immediately to mind (LINK). So you ought to be able to study some of those models and see how it's done. If your canvas guy can't figure it out, ask around and find someone who's seen these jobs before and knows how to handle it.
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #5
It is a Hallberg-Rassy, very old Hallberg-Rassy :)

But these are all good points and support what I think - windshield should stay and I have to work around it.

The soft dodger connection would not be an issue, but I am not looking at a soft dodger. This thing is a hard roof that sits on the arches. If we place both arches inside the windshield, connection is not an issue - but I am trying to get one of the arches in front - and if this is the case, top would overhang the windshield somewhat.

Ok, so different angle - how would I connect a zipper or a soft panel to the underside of fairly thin fiberglass roof? Here is what the roof looks like - WAVESTOPPER.NET

Brak,

There are plenty of examples of boats that have a hard windshield that transitions to a soft dodger. Malo, Hallberg Rassy, Amel, even some Beneteaus come immediately to mind (LINK). So you ought to be able to study some of those models and see how it's done. If your canvas guy can't figure it out, ask around and find someone who's seen these jobs before and knows how to handle it.
 

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I'm the same point, deciding for a dodger for my boat, so very interested in this thread. I have no experience with hard dodger before, but know very well what I DON'T want on a soft one. First, I wouldn't go for a hard, as this will certaily change the look, and don't know how to remove it on a daily basis to help illumination, to dry things out, to vent, etc ... On my previous ones, I thinkw they had a good watertight, for sprays and eventual waves. Weak points were where the traveller line enter the dodger, but never the zippers. During rain, water collected on deck eventually find its way, but that was because the deck shape where dodger was attached on; I had one with its front side attached through a "spagetti track" very watertight, and other connected using fasteners, what I do not recommend, specially if your deck has a flat shape, with little water escape. Sumbrella lasts 3-5 years, when looses the watertight on pannel junction, eventually dripping. Windows get foggy earlier, and replacement is the only alternative. I found cleaning them very often a bad practice, as it remove the sealants and scratch the windows. I never had problems with zippers, considering they are oversized making ease to open even after salt deposits. Make sure the sewing line are also UV protected, to avoid redoing the work frequently.

What I found of major importance, is the frame. Didn't like alluminum, and stailess steal is the only way to go. All my dodgers were mounted with a single arm attached to the deck, so the support was shared with the canvas itself. What a mistake ! My kids (and myself) never get educated enough to not hang on it, ripping the canvas eventually. Next dodger will have two arms landed to deck, making for a sturd structure and not depending on the canvas. It will have a handhold on it's back (for when you're standing in the cockpit) and handholds on its side, to help when you need to leave the cockpit. The front window will have zippers so I can open it, allowng breeze flow, the overall width must enclose the entire working area (wiches, stoppers, etc) so we can use it overnight to hold wet cloths and towels. Colour is important, and should find a compromise betwen light, cooling, and resistant to stain (Sunbrella Navy Blue seems the right one). We also made plenty use of velcro, to connect canvas pannel, if protect against UV they proved reliable and strong.

I heard about Makrolon replacing the soft windows, but seems somehow difficult to be removed on a daily basis, if you stow the dodger daily, like I do. But the look is very nice, and don't fade overtime. You can check more pictures of its owner at Sign in to SeaKnots - SeaKnots. Here goes some pictures I'm collecting from magazines to help me out with ideas too.

Sorry for the disconnected summary, but it was more a brainstorm to me and hope the Pro's coleagues of this community will add more important things that we could both benefit from .... :)
 

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Telstar 28
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Brak-

As I said previously, you could connect the hard dodger top to the windshield using tracks mounted on the hard dodger top's underside and the top edge of the windshield. Then the fabric could use boltropes to connect. You would probably have to do it in two pieces, to account for the fact that the two hard pieces are going to have slightly different profiles.

This is a photo of what I'm talking about.

 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #8
Sorry for the disconnected summary, but it was more a brainstorm to me and hope the Pro's coleagues of this community will add more important things that we could both benefit from .... :)
All good points. I am also just thinking, deciding etc. One thing that is less of a problem for me is removal - I don't plan to ever remove it :) With current setup I open the front panel of the windshield (window if you will), thats it. I certainly don't remove the top - I like the shade (and its also somewhat a requirement - gotta hide from the sun). The guy that does the work suggested macrolon and I liked the idea but it is pretty expensive, so I am not sure - this project is Big Money as it is.

I did look up some of these rope track connectors. They have a connector like that for the edge of the hard top, pre-made and very sturdy. I guess something has to be improvised for the inner surface but it's an idea.
 

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What a great product the Wavestoppers ! Removal is a "sine qua non" for us, specially for eventual races. I like the possibility to remove it when the wind really blows at anchor. But will contact the guys for other products as i think they really know the business ...
 

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Just a note on the Wavestopper. I added one to a previous boat of mine. Loved the fact that it was tough and I could put some weight on it when putting the sail cover on, etc. Hated the fact that it almost immediately lost it's color! I bought one in blue. Bad mistake. I've seen several ones in white that still look good.
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #11
Just a note on the Wavestopper. I added one to a previous boat of mine. Loved the fact that it was tough and I could put some weight on it when putting the sail cover on, etc. Hated the fact that it almost immediately lost it's color! I bought one in blue. Bad mistake. I've seen several ones in white that still look good.
Thanks for the advice. I am looking for white/beige, so hopefully color retention would be decent.
 

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brak...

DO NOT remove an HR windshield and replace it with a hard dodger!! If you must add a hard top dodger it CAN be done with the right canvas guy TRUST ME!

If it were me I'd be going with a three bow design on top of the HR windshield frame (they are much stronger than you give it credit) and then covering that frame with Stamoid.

If you must have a hard dodger do what they do on walk arounds like Pursuits and do a frame outside the wind shield..

I really think you'll be sorry for ripping off that windshield and for using 5200 on anything!;);)

Oh and PLEASE update your profile! This is the third time in a month I've tried to look up your vessel or sailing area to answer your question! It's only fair to others, if you are asking questions, to at least list your boat brand model and length and your general sailing area..
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #13
DO NOT remove an HR windshield and replace it with a hard dodger!! If you must add a hard top dodger it CAN be done with the right canvas guy TRUST ME!

If it were me I'd be going with a three bow design on top of the HR windshield frame (they are much stronger than you give it credit) and then covering that frame with Stamoid.

If you must have a hard dodger do what they do on walk arounds like Pursuits and do a frame outside the wind shield..

I really think you'll be sorry for ripping off that windshield and for using 5200 on anything!;);)

Oh and PLEASE update your profile! This is the third time in a month I've tried to look up your vessel or sailing area to answer your question! It's only fair to others, if you are asking questions, to at least list your boat brand model and length and your general sailing area..
Ah, never thought about putting this stuff in the profile ;) I will.

The windshield may have been strong 36 years ago but it definitely isn't that way now. It is aluminum and quite oxidized, crumbling at the corners etc. The connecting brackets and fasteners are in the worst condition. Using this windshield for structural support is not the way to go.

I probably misstated what I am trying to do. I don't really plan on "hard dodger". Rather, I am considering wavestopper which is a hard top only. The front is either soft panel dodger or some sort of connection to existing windshield.

The problem with connection to windshield is that there is no place to put forward bow such that it is inside the windshield. If the bow is outside - hard top would overhang the windshield and these tops aren't really designed that way.

Well, we'll see - I guess when I get the guy on my boat again, we'll discuss the options. It's not easy to get the only person that builds these things on the boat.
 

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If your frame is that bad that really sucks because they can make a beautiful dodger. I've been on a couple of HR 35's and have never seen a wind shield in that bad of shape.

Here's an original line drawing and it shows a simple two bow design if it helps at all..

 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter #15
If your frame is that bad that really sucks because they can make a beautiful dodger. I've been on a couple of HR 35's and have never seen a wind shield in that bad of shape.

Here's an original line drawing and it shows a simple two bow design if it helps at all..
I have the drawings and I've seen the original hard top. (Actually I think you are linking to the drawing in my boat's Yachtworld listing :) She's still there - I can't get it canceled :) ) It isn't based on bows. It is a specially formed fiberglass roof with a flange that rests directly on the windshield. Here is what it looks like on a sistership:



From what I've seen (and I looked at 5 or 6 sisterships before mine) all of them had issues with aluminum windshields. It's the vintage really - 30+ years is a long time.
 

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My canvas dodger does not leak. There are some leaks when we attach the side panels of the almost full enclosure, but yes it is possible to keep the actual dodger from leaking. We have snaps along the bottom which did leak, but we made an additional strip of canvas that goes in a slot on the deck and then zippers to the bottom of the dodger. It keeps out any green or rain water.

http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee244/Mandalay0044/Mandalay/NewCanvass.jpg

http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee244/Mandalay0044/Mandalay/NewCanvas.jpg
 

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Brak ..dodger..

Brak,

Here's a post I wrote a while ago. Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now to edit it to it your exact situation but most of the points remain either the same or similar even when using a wave stopper..

Here it is:

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

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 or Staimoid. W.L. Gore's Tenara is the only thread that will do this..

Grab Rail's: Side and cockpit make sure the cockpit grab 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.

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 to the zipper!

Deck Attachment: Most builders use Lift-A-Dot's or Twist Locks to attach the canvas to the deck. This can create uneven 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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My Gemini was ordered with the full enclosure, it uses a combination of snaps, zipped panels - and what you may be interested in - bolt ropes that go into aluminum tracks.
The tracks are bendable for curves, very tight, and very easy to feed the bolt rope into.
Overall the enclosure is watertight to rain and damned if I ever want to know about boarding waves :). If you want pictures or supplier info on the tracks I'm sure I could get it from PCI.
Keep the windshield, Pilot House designs/looks are big sellers for folks wanting a safe stable dry cruiser.
 

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How does a dodger not interfere with a cabin top traveler ?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks all!

Chuckles - I am keeping the windshield, I meditated :) on this a bit more and I am definitely against removing anything.

Halekai - that plastic track (shown as "best" in your post) - where can I find out more about it? Manufacturer or supplier would help a lot. I think this would work exactly as needed.
 
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