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Old 14-08-2015, 08:55   #1
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Hard Top Bimini?

So it begins. Sea Castle is now in her berth at Halifax Harbor Marina and I'm beginning work on some items that just have to go.

Item #1 is the existing Bimini. It was fine for the previous owners but as I stand almost 6' tall the framework is well short of the boom and if I was to stand I would need a zipper for head clearance.

I'm very seriously thinking of a hard top bimini for a number of reasons. I'd like to hear from everyone who either has one or is also considering this option.

The old canvas is porous and the Isinglass isn't worth keeping so it is going to be a complete redo.

Looking for recommendations here on the east coast for a source of supply as well.

Thanks for any input.
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Old 14-08-2015, 09:24   #2
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Doc, Sea Castle is not in Halifax Harbor Marina but is up here in NC
Seriously, I am considering the same for my Sea Castle having done so on Beach Castle (our prior boat) and we were very pleased with having a rigid bimini.
Pros:
  1. no wear worries - lasts longer
  2. extra place to store things including solar panels
  3. added rain gutters to collect rain water and provide a nice handhold
  4. a layer of insulation from the hot sun
  5. a place for overhead lighting and speakers
Cons:
  1. cannot take down for high winds (more windage all the time)
  2. needs more support especially fore and aft to prevent movement
  3. tough to get it to blend with the existing boat shape
  4. you lose your overhead view of the sails - although you can add a viewing hatch
  5. more difficult to run backstays thru it
That being said, we are looking at how to build an integral dodge/bimini now for Sea Castle.
Ed
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Old 14-08-2015, 10:06   #3
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailorman Ed View Post
Doc, Sea Castle is not in Halifax Harbor Marina but is up here in NC
Seriously, I am considering the same for my Sea Castle having done so on Beach Castle (our prior boat) and we were very pleased with having a rigid bimini.
Pros:
  1. no wear worries - lasts longer
  2. extra place to store things including solar panels
  3. added rain gutters to collect rain water and provide a nice handhold
  4. a layer of insulation from the hot sun
  5. a place for overhead lighting and speakers
Cons:
  1. cannot take down for high winds (more windage all the time)
  2. needs more support especially fore and aft to prevent movement
  3. tough to get it to blend with the existing boat shape
  4. you lose your overhead view of the sails - although you can add a viewing hatch
  5. more difficult to run backstays thru it
That being said, we are looking at how to build an integral dodge/bimini now for Sea Castle.
Ed
Good input Ed, thanks! I like the idea of having solid overhead for all the reasons you mention. As Sea Castle is a center cockpit there are no backstay issues. Windage I think is likely a trade off, if you roll up your canvas and isinglass you only have to worry about so much. I've got enough freeboard that will have me consider windage so moot in my mind. Rain catching is one of the pluses and I had already thought I would like a slight slope forward to profile the boom. Viewing hatch is a capital idea.... Cheers! Glen
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Old 14-08-2015, 10:22   #4
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

I think you need to be able to take it down in preparation for a storm. It sounds like you have/want a full enclosure? Not sure how you will attach removeable windows? Might get complicated. But other than that...
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Old 14-08-2015, 19:36   #5
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Hard Top Bimini?

Cheechako, I think everything one would strip from a boat for storm prep makes perfect sense. I have a very nice arch for my solar panels / Davits so may lean on that fabricator for the framework. Simple 4/6 point attach points for the actual hardtop would make for an easy storm strip.

Extending the living area into the cockpit is one of my goals. The right combination of screen, canvas and isinglass and vertical clearance makes the world of difference on a 38 foot boat. Did I mention the existing framework was short?


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Old 14-08-2015, 20:04   #6
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Definitely following.
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Old 14-08-2015, 20:55   #7
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

My boat (Moody M46 Center Cockpit) has a hard dodger made of fiberglass. IT also had a bimini with isinglass all around to make a complete cockpit enclosure. The canvas finally wore out (I was putting sail tape on sail tape and patches on patches), so this summer we had it replaced with a hard bimini made of starboard sitting atop stainless steel bows. We have both isinglass side-back panels for winter or rain and full screen panels for summer. I think the arrangement could survive a good blow, so I really have no plans to take it down. I'd probably remove the sides during a hurricane. Was out the other day in 25 steady to 35 gusting with the screens in--no issues at all. There is a rectangular hole cut in the bimini with a clear plexiglas plate to view the sail trim.

I sail on the Chesapeake, so the screening is important at anchor in the evenings and often while sailing owing to flies. The starboard bimini (white, but you can gets other colors) seems to reflect the heat better than the old canvas did--it is definitely cooler inside the cockpit than previously, but I raised the height a few inches. Was done by Creative Canvas in Annapolis, MD. They have a web site.

So far the only negative is cost-- more than a new traditional set up. But it will last twice as long if not longer.

If you contact me via pm, I can send some pictures. I cannot figure out how to add an attachment photo--this system wants a url which of course my computer does not have.
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Old 14-08-2015, 20:56   #8
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Nice overhead view. These windows are 1997, covered by Sunbrella when not sailing.

Blending design is personal and depends on the starting point. Perhaps on the forward portion should be rigid; This will helps with the "take it down" argument.

Another plus is that a hard top is cooler, due to the insulating qualities of foam.
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Old 14-08-2015, 21:04   #9
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

We have a Wavestopper hard dodger- fiberglass top. All the window panels zip on and off separately. We like the stiffness, getting ready to put 3 solar panels on top.
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Old 14-08-2015, 21:07   #10
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

We put a hard dodger and bimini on our boat, which previously had only a soft dodger.

Some people said we'd miss the sky... but if you are cruising somewhere hot... you can always go up to the bow to see the stars... but 90% of the time you're happy you're not baking in the sun.

and putting solar panels on it makes them less obtrusive then a big array hanging off the stern davits or sides rails/life lines.
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Old 15-08-2015, 04:33   #11
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Thinwater, may I request more photos? Or can you share who made your hardtop? The WaveStopper is an idea but I'm looking at the utility of rainwater collection and a flat-ish design would be more utilitarian.

I'm considering using the same fabricator who did my stern arch and davits for framework. Standard Bimini bows often are in the way visually. I think a proper frame will be not only strong but aesthetically pleasing. The hardtop structure builds upon the overall strength addressing windage again.

Looking fo more ideas, photos and names of products. Thanks for all the ideas so far.

Cheers,
Glen
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Old 15-08-2015, 06:07   #12
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PuttingDoctor View Post
Thinwater, may I request more photos? Or can you share who made your hardtop? The WaveStopper is an idea but I'm looking at the utility of rainwater collection and a flat-ish design would be more utilitarian.

I'm considering using the same fabricator who did my stern arch and davits for framework. Standard Bimini bows often are in the way visually. I think a proper frame will be not only strong but aesthetically pleasing. The hardtop structure builds upon the overall strength addressing windage again.

Looking for more ideas, photos and names of products. Thanks for all the ideas so far.

Cheers,
Glen
The hard top is stock on PDQs. Google PDQ 32 images or look on my blog. You will also see that most have solar on them--works out great, just leave space to walk.

Rain collection is easy. Put a gutter on the edge and hang some sort of filter/funnel. Combined with chlorination and a good carbon block filter (NSF 53 rated) you will have good water. Depending on the configuration, this could all be made more permanent.

This is from Practical Sailor Mag

Sail Delmarva: Baja Water Filter for $25

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Old 15-08-2015, 07:37   #13
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

Picture of our hard bimini. If you look at the edge, you can see the isinglass is rolled up and held by snaps at the edge of the bimini. Do not have any photos with the glass sides down--yet. The second photo is looking out through the screens.
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Old 15-08-2015, 19:21   #14
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

so right across the water on the next dock down is a Starboard construction hardtop. Somewhat along the lines of what I think I need. I'd say it's not elegant but very utilitarian.


With the proper framework in welded aluminum I think something of this nature is what I'm looking for.


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Old 16-08-2015, 00:36   #15
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Re: Hard Top Bimini?

We're currently installing an aluminum arch and Bimini frame on our Tayana 52. The aluminum frame is supported as if it was a hardtop but instead of fiberglass we are going with Sunbrella. The solar panels will bolt through the fabric and if we had to could remove the cover. It's lighter than fiberglass and the Sunbrella then matches the dodger, main cover, jib cover etc. best of both worlds


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