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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I confess. I don't get it. I don't see why nearly every cruising boat has a dodger. What exactly do they do? My first boat had one, which was the most amazing abomination of car windows, plywood, driftwood and 2x4s which an engineer friend affectionately called "the shed". A master woodworker came to admire my boat and after asking politely if I had built the dodger myself, (to which I said no) he spat out that it was an "abortion!".

Anyway, I digress. I sailed a few voyages with "the shed" and then ripped it off. I've sailed on boats with dodgers and without. I can't really see the point. If it's windy and rainy, you're going to get wet unless you have the right clothes. It's all about the foul weather gear. Even going to windward, you usually sand far enough behind the dodger that you still get full wind and rain on you. They provide a horribly distorted window to try and see though.

So, what am I missing. I mean, "everybody's doing it" so it must be good right?

MedSailor
 

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I dunno. I haven't really sailed at all in bad conditions. It seems like a lot of windage to me, though.
 

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old guy :)
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We would not be without one. Come sail for a week with us up the coast of Maine - the Grand Manan channel can get pretty cold and wet - also a nice place to duck behind when the waves come over the bow.


Rik and Linda
Mystery
Irwin Citation 34
trip blog at: Mystery - the Trip Home
 

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Unpaid Intern
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Two things:

- Companionway hatch stays open while it's raining or it's wet on deck. Much nicer down below keeping air flowing, underway or at anchor

- Even underway in the rain, and even if you have to hand-steer instead of using an autopilot, the crew who isn't steering gets a much-needed break from the wind and rain tucked under the dodger.

For these two reasons, the dodger is worth its weight in gold. I wouldn't have a boat without one. I've been in conditions many times where the dodger paid for itself over and over simply by keeping me dry or warm or both.

Of course, this is just me, and that's why everyone can set up their boat however works best for them.
-J
 

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Where we are in VA, the dodger adds several months (to year round sailing) for me and the Mrs. Dry and warmer is always better than wet and cold.

PLus as Josh says, you can leave the companionway open, which we do when aboard, without too much risk of washing her down.

But it is your boat, and how you use it and set it up, depends on what works for you.

dave
 

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Crealock 37
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With my limited experience I didn't think much of a dodger....until I spent 4 days motoring right into 20-30 knots and 8-10 footers crossing the Gulf of Alaska. Several hours spent huddling behind the dodger. <G>

On my boat I put it down as much as the Wx allows.
 

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Telstar 28
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I'm with Rik and Joz... dodgers are very good...and in New England, they definitely extend your sailing season.
 

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I've always considered them very usefull, mine in fact has been in use every day since I bought the boat five years ago and it's extremely handy.

It's laying accross the rafters in the garage and I keep the basket balls, volley balls, and kick balls in it.

Ken.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm with Rik and Joz... dodgers are very good...and in New England, they definitely extend your sailing season.
So how exactly does it do that? Keeping the companionway open I can see. But keeping the helmsman, winchman, or anyone dry I can't. Most dodgers I see don't extend much past the coachroof so unless you're standing right up against it, leaning forward, AND going to windward, it won't help much. I can see that if you're on a passage and sailing under autopilot/windvane you could sit in the companionway and look out the dodger, but under coastal sailing I haven't been able to use them to stay all that dry. User error perhaps?

MedSailor
 

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We wouldn't be without one either, for all the reasons previously mentioned. The biggest factor for us is reducing crew exposure. Getting forward into the wind/sea break formed by the dodger makes a world of difference in comfort. The watch can put the boat on autopilot and stay in shelter with a good view and easy access to the radio, plotter, etc. We ran without an autopilot for a number of years, and not having that option dramatically reduced the amount of time someone could safely stand a watch.

I notice your handle is MedSailor but your location is Seattle... is that a recent move? I'd be very surprised if you went through a complete season up here and didn't see some value in a dodger. Indeed, a lot of people around here do go with a full-cockpit or pilot-house arrangement.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
We wouldn't be without one either, for all the reasons previously mentioned. The biggest factor for us is reducing crew exposure. Getting forward into the wind/sea break formed by the dodger makes a world of difference in comfort. The watch can put the boat on autopilot and stay in shelter with a good view and easy access to the radio, plotter, etc. We ran without an autopilot for a number of years, and not having that option dramatically reduced the amount of time someone could safely stand a watch.

I notice your handle is MedSailor but your location is Seattle... is that a recent move? I'd be very surprised if you went through a complete season up here and didn't see some value in a dodger. Indeed, a lot of people around here do go with a full-cockpit or pilot-house arrangement.
Med refers to Medicine actually. I've been boating in the PNW for 8 years. I guess I've relied on my gore-tex foul weather gear more than anything. I've never owned an autopilot though I guess standing watch in the companionway under autopilot would be an advantage.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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I think that it somewhat depends on the style of dodger that you have. There are small ones that really don't do anything but cover the companionway and offer limited protection from wind and rain, and then there are dodgers that extend well aft of the companionway and as wide as the cabin. We have a dodger that covers enough of the cockpit that you can sit in out of the wind and rain on either side of the companionway and it also has small side walls that can be unrolled to give protection from wind and water on the windward side when needed. We love it, but I agree with you about the distorted vision.
 

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Depends on the dodger...

So how exactly does it do that? Keeping the companionway open I can see. But keeping the helmsman, winchman, or anyone dry I can't. Most dodgers I see don't extend much past the coachroof so unless you're standing right up against it, leaning forward, AND going to windward, it won't help much. I can see that if you're on a passage and sailing under autopilot/windvane you could sit in the companionway and look out the dodger, but under coastal sailing I haven't been able to use them to stay all that dry. User error perhaps?

MedSailor
This, on a 20F morning in January.

The hat was an evil gag-gift from my adolescent daughter.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Now that's a dodger! I could see using one like that, but as I contemplate building a nice wooden one on my boat, it won't be extending aft into the cockpit and definitely not aft enough to enclose the helmsman.

Wouldn't have to worry about your beer getting warm on a 20F day....

MedSailor
 

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Honest, if it did not keep me out of the rain/sun, it wouldn't be worth the loss...

Now that's a dodger! I could see using one like that, but as I contemplate building a nice wooden one on my boat, it won't be extending aft into the cockpit and definitely not aft enough to enclose the helmsman.

Wouldn't have to worry about your beer getting warm on a 20F day....

MedSailor
of visibility. I keep the windows zipped down in nice weather, to see better. Try several boats before you chose. I have been on some where the visibility loss was terrible.
 

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Grasshopper
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Once a very long time ago I sailed from Hawaii to Ventura, Ca., with two other guys on a 28' trimaran. It was bare bones sailing, and no matter what the weather or the time of your watch, you would pull your 4 hour watch in a completely open cockpit. Sometimes the sun baked you to a crisp, sometimes the wind dried all the moisture out of your skin, and sometime the cold sucked the life out of you. There were times when sitting out in the open was nice, but most times it sucked...sometimes it took all of your endurance to make it to the change of watch. I promised myself if I ever got a boat of my own, protection at the helm would be a high priority. Now I have a very good dodger covering a good area of the cockpit, and a bimini type top over my head to the stern. I have the appropriate clothing for the weather if I need it, and standing a watch is a dream compared to those old days…I would never own a boat without a good dodger. Some people live for the open cockpit (but not this guy), so for those that do you can have it!
 
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