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Old 22-11-2015, 00:25   #1
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Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Hi, just looking for some advice and ideas. I've recently purchased an aluminum sailboat and have found that we need a bimini and dodger. We're looking for functionality as a "mud room" while at anchor (a place to keep wet costs and boots etc) and for protection from the elements during long passages. So, there are two parts to the question:
1) What are some generic considerations that we should look at incorporating into the design (coat hooks, lighting, top window to view sails etc.)?
And
2) what should we be aware of specific to aluminum? We will be having professionals fabricate the dodger and I plan to fabricate the aluminum support with the help of a friend who is an aluminum welder but what about things like attaching the fabric to the deck- do they make aluminum fittings for this? How do people with aluminum decks do this?
Thanks everyone!
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Old 24-11-2015, 04:42   #2
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Hi,
We had bolt rope track welded to our bimini. It's wonderfully waterproof and easy to slide the fabric in and out of. I've had it on deck and liked it, but wouldn't want it anywhere people could step on it and pinch it.

For features... We went for:
- Good handholds
- Strong enough to string hammocks underneath
- Roll up side curtains for quick and easy shade
- Lots of room for solar
- No leaks (which is why we used aluminum sheet for the top)
- Cable runs through the poles. We plan to add lights and maybe speakers.

I don't think a window to see the main is important. We just lean out sideways to peek at it.
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Old 24-11-2015, 16:01   #3
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

That looks great, did you do it yourself or have a fabricator do it? The cable runs are a great idea.
How do your walls attach to the deck? Do you have a front facing window of some sort or is it open? It seems like a well-planned aluminum structure could really simplify the canvas requirements. Maybe even to the point that the canvas work could be done at home with a good sewing machine!?
Do you have any more pictures of it? I looked at your blog but didn't see any.
Thanks for the info!
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Old 24-11-2015, 16:22   #4
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Why not make aluminium hard dodger? It'll last longer, be much drier and if it is well designed it well look good. I like to see vertical rain runners n the side as a place to attach side windows that don't leak.
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Old 24-11-2015, 16:34   #5
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Thanks Paul, I'm really leaning toward a solid aluminum top with inset fabric walls that can be taken down in the tropics so, I like both of the suggestions so far.
What is a vertical rain runner though? What does it look like?
Thanks!
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Old 24-11-2015, 16:43   #6
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Partly, it depends on where you'll be cruising. If your plans include very hot places, I think it's a good idea to mount a couple of small hatches in the "roof" of the dodger, to allow airflow fore to aft for cooling.

Also, I like some form of built in water catchment, so you can refill your tanks from rain water (if your water thanks are aluminum, too, you'll want to filter all water you put in them, or get a watermaker.)

If you run bolt rope track on the aft end of the dodger, that is a great forward mount for a cockpit awning, or a bridge to the bimini.

We prefer a shorter dodger than the enclosure in the above photos. Ours is just enough to shelter us, and we have "downwind clears" that roll up to finish the enclosure. We have a half awning for sun shade for part of the cockpit that zips in, too, so we can have sun protection, but also stand outside it for having a look around. Unlike the poster above, we do like to see our sails, and want that area clear. Although many friends have enclosures that give them much protection, and we'd consider it if we went somewhere really cold, we do not like the windage they add, as well as wanting to view the sails. imho, the little windows just aren't enough.

Yes to exterior handholds, they can make getting around a lot easier.

Ann
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Old 24-11-2015, 16:46   #7
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Are you planning on long distance passage making? I don't see the advantage of having soft sides. They wear, they leak..... You can put in one or two opening ports and get air in the tropics.
The rain runner would run at an angle from the top to the bottom near the aft side edges. It gives you a way to securely attach side currents where the leading edge won't take the direct hit of deck wash.
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Old 24-11-2015, 17:15   #8
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Thanks Ann, more great suggestions! I'm just learning how to use google sketchup right now so that i can make some drawings incorporating all of these ideas.
I guess a little bit more information about what we need is relevant:
We have 42 foot junk rigged Gazelle (alminum) that we'll be doing some long distance cruising in. There are four of us and we have spent some time aboard in the PNW. We found that we need a sheltered outdoor area for the rain gear etc and expect that during long passages we'll be glad for some shelter from the wind and rain.
Paul brings up an interesting point: Is there any advantage to soft sides? I like the idea for air movement and for initial cost...
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Old 24-11-2015, 17:38   #9
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

FKG in St Maarten made ours. We were super happy with them. It took about a week. They were very flexible and happy to do any detail whatever way we asked.

We have a piece of canvas for the front, but only use it during rare days of torrential rain. It blocks the air flow too much.

The side curtains have a batten in the bottom so they unroll flat and stay down with gravity. If its windy they have bungees with clips that hook on to the toe rail. We wanted the sides and back to be quick and easy to put up and down, and to squeeze through if we want to go forward on deck. Fastening them down to the deck more permanently would sometimes be nice, but for the Caribbean we've preferred to stow them except when we want shade.

I think the vibe with clear side windows is totally different. In that case you are making a wind and rain proof bubble, rather than just shade and privacy, and want no gaps between panels. With our looser system and shade cloth material a little rain does get through. If we did not have a pilothouse or were somewhere colder we would want a different vibe.

On my last boat we spent a lot of time on passage underneath the low dodger. For shade and to get out of the spray and wind.

The bimini is about 1" taller than my head. I didn't want it too tall, but also wanted to be able to stand up straight at the wheel.
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Old 24-11-2015, 19:14   #10
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Our solution for the Pacific Northwest and north. The acrylic panels are held in place by zippers on narrow "connectors" that are held in place by keder awning track on the aluminum surfaces and keder bolt rope sewn onto the panels. The bimini "roof" are two solar panels held in an aluminum frame.

Each panel can be removed by unzipping or held up against the "ceiling" of the bimini with a bungee cord and hook arrangement that was sewn in at the bottom of the panels.

All in all a very satisfactory system which creates an almost perfectly dry interior cockpit for the notorious PNW rain.
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Old 05-12-2015, 17:44   #11
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

So, if we were going with a hard dodger: what sort of glass does a person use? Is regular window glass good enough? Tempered glass? Laminated? Acrylic? Any ideas?
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Old 05-12-2015, 18:17   #12
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

I used polycarbonate or Lexan (trade name) for the strength. But acrylic would be less prone to scratches.
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Old 05-12-2015, 20:04   #13
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Thanks Northwestsailor, I'm also curious about the fabric to deck connection. What did you use to hold the side curtains down? What is strong enough to walk on but not cause a tripping hazard? How do you connect it to the deck, I don't like the idea of drilling holes in my deck....
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Old 05-12-2015, 22:51   #14
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Re: Dodger construction for an aluminum boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmoandj View Post
Thanks Northwestsailor, I'm also curious about the fabric to deck connection. What did you use to hold the side curtains down? What is strong enough to walk on but not cause a tripping hazard? How do you connect it to the deck, I don't like the idea of drilling holes in my deck....
tmoandj, We use the same system all around. The lower keder track is attached to the coamings so no issues with leaks but we did tape before drilling and attaching keder with ss sheet metal screws. Since my boat is aluminum we use tefgel to protect the alloy material from the stainless.

I am sorry I don't have any close ups of the detail but the lower after keder is below the upper inside edge of the coaming. For the lower side panels we attached the panels with bungee cords since we need to fold the lower sections up to access the winches.
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