I built a hard dodger
out of 1/2"
for my Tanzer 28 last spring, and sailed with it all last season.
The T28 is a flush deck
boat, and I found that the hard dodger
lot by providing a hand hold on my way up to the foredeck, and also was
very convenient when sitting on it at the mast
, with one leg on either
side of the mast
, which held me in place very well and allowed me to work
with both hands. I also used the dodger to store winch
handles, which meant that I did not have to carry them up to the mast. So
I think the dodger added to the safety
of my boat quite a bit. I was able
to easily reef my main in 8 ft. waves and a lot of wind
at night and felt
very secure even though it was rocking and rolling and the boat was heeled
I also used it to store oars, boat hooks and docklines, which were held
securely under the dodger. A solar
panel sets on top of the dodger (not
fastened) and did not move all season.
I am sensitive to sun and burn easily, so for me a dodger that I can hide
under is essential if I am to continue sailing. I considered moving up to
from Southern Lake Michigan to avoid the hot sun, but we are
pretty much settled in here now and don't want to move. Probably in the
summer the sun is as bright up in Superior anyway.
The dodger also covers the main hatch
so it can be left open when it
rains. We did not have a lot of rain last year so I can't say how well it
worked. I never got around to installing the plexiglass windows because
was hot and I liked the wind
. I never sailed in bad weather!
I also never installed the front part of the dodger, up by the mast. I
have a pretty dry boat and decided I really would rather have airflow and
be able to store things underneath it.
I like to stand while steering
, and the dodger provides a good handhold at
shoulder level and makes standing and moving around the cockpit
On the negative side, it is not the prettiest dodger out there. It looks
like a Great Lakes
workboat, all function, no style.
After my first season, if I were to do it again, I would think about
making it bigger, covering the entire cockpit
and putting a traveler on
top, making an enclosed pilothouse on my boat. I would not want to do
without a dodger. I built a seat that fits in the washboard slots and
will run lines from the tiller so I can steer from my seat where I have a
good view all around, under shelter.
Things to consider in designing a hard dodger:
Make sure you can get around it easily when going forward.
When going forward and coming back from the foredeck, think about where
you want handholds and put them on your dodger so that they are at the
right angle for your hands.
Where will rain and dew drip from the dodger, on your favorite place to
sit in the cockpit? (slope it forward slightly)
Make sure that the edges of the dodger are easy to grab. Put a cleat on
the end that fits your hand and that you can hold tight.
Make sure you can see over the dodger while standing and steering
Make sure that you can see forward through windows or cutouts while
sitting and steering.
Think about exiting the main hatch
, avoid putting a beam where your head
could hit it.
The more window openings the better for your field of vision.
If you can find a way to open the front window (windshield) in hot weather
it would be good.
Here are some pictures:
I built the dodger out of 2x4's and plywood
. It would probably be strong
enough if it were built out of 1"x1-1/2" framing, which is how I would do
it next time. I through bolted cleats
down to the deck
and then screwed
the dodger assembly to the cleats
. It took about 6 months to think about
and design, one weekend to cut out and build, another to paint
another weekend to install the cleats on the deck. I had a few friends
help me carry it on board and then screwed it to the cleats. I made the
handrails out of plastic deck material, fake wood. It is tough on saw
blades but a fantastic material.
Total cost, maybe $200.
If I had to choose the best thing about it, I would say the additional
handholds that make the boat MUCH more safe.