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Old 26-10-2008, 15:45   #1
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fiberglass dodger

has anyone had any experience building a hard fiberglass dodger? if so does anyone know of any good informational sites on how to do this. thanks

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Old 26-10-2008, 16:37   #2
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Not done one, but was an interesting thread a good while back from which I saved these links:-

Picasa Web Albums - Steve - Hard dodgers ...

(I think Steve posted on the thread - forget his nickname here!)


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Old 26-10-2008, 16:41   #3
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Search "hard dodger" from the home page and read the threads started by Celestial sailor. There is a long discussion with pictures and links to others who have done the same thing.
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Old 26-10-2008, 17:23   #4
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First, if the dodger is for a 27 foot boat as in your profile then you will likely find it impossible to build a useful one that gives access to the companionway but doesn't look like a skyscraper. It is very difficult (and those with a concern for aethetics would say impossible) to build a good looking hard dodger that fits the profile appearance of the boat well and still give reasonable access via the companionway in a boat much under 40 foot. At 40 foot you still need quite a deep cockpit to do so which translates into higher freeboard if you don't want the floor of the cockpit regularly backflooding through the drains.

In our own case the dodger was built by the yard who built the boat for us and this for a dodger which we wanted to be able to support a person walking on it as well as solar panels - so I did not build it myself. Among other materials the yard was very experienced building in fibreglass and composites including advanced ones such as kevlar and carbon. Out of their experience across those materials they chose, for a one off, to build it of plywood and then fibreglassing that inside and out. That saved the building of a mould and the heavy fairing needed on the at least one rough side if out of a mould.

To get the curve on the roof to get side fall they laminated several thicknesses of ply bent over a temporary form. The window cutouts were rebated out around the edges and the toughened glass windows glued into those with Sikaflex 295UV. If intending sailing in areas of high solar flux then would recommend using a high performance (tinted) glass but that incurs higher cost. A flange out of glassed ply (about 1/4 inch thick from memory) is around the bottom edge of the dodger and the whole through bolted with machine screws right through the deck on sealant.

The whole was then sanded to give rounded outer corners, glassed over inside and out and coved in the inside corners and faired with bog, epoxy undercoated and top coated inside and out with linear polyurethane. A useful thing often not seen on dodgers is across the aft edge of the top there should be a raised piece right across so as water on the top from light spray or rain does not dribble down off the aft edge into the cockpit - it also gives a bit of a finger grip when standing behind the dodger and looking for support. In our case that is about 3/4 inch high (from memory) from shaped timber and coved to the top with bog.

A problem exists if one needs to bring lines back into the cockpit through the front of the dodger (eg for vang, mainsheet, single line reefing, etc) in that the penetrations let water through. In our case we midsheeted the boom so the mainsheet track runs across a little in front of the dodger. It is raised on a solid base which then forms a wave break - even though penetrations are still required through this for the same lines it does do a lot to prevent water through the line penetrations in the front of the dodger.

Ours is quite similar to this one Picasa Web Albums - Steve - Hard dodgers ...
but is a bit lower (able to do so as we have a deep cockpit) and a little longer so giving a bit more cover in the cockpit. That link also shows the mainsheet track raised across in front as we did but in our case the track runs pretty much the full width of the dodger so longer than that shown.

Of course, much simpler structures can be made if don't need to support a person walking on them.
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Old 26-10-2008, 17:29   #5
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thanks midlandone would you happen to have any photos of the hard dodger install on your boat.
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Old 26-10-2008, 17:41   #6
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No problem at all - if you care to PM me your email address I will email you some by return.

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Old 26-10-2008, 19:04   #7
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With a little imagination and know how you can easily make a hard dodger for any size boat. If you are concerned about having a "skyscraper" looking dodger, incorporate an opening in the center of the dodger with a thin sliding hatch or canvas snap cover. I have seen this done and it is quite attractive. Of course if you want to sail and not worry about what the snooty neighbors next to you think of your dodger, build it so you are happy with it.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"
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Old 26-10-2008, 20:22   #8
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DIY Dodger...

I have just "completed" a hard dodger on Boracay in the manner described by MidLandOne.

Differences - The dodger is mounted on stainless steel plates welded to the cabin top.
- There was an existing "breakwater" on the cabin top so I led lines over the top of that to cleats etc.
- I made the dodger in parts so it could be disassembled. i.e. 2 *Side, 2 * quarter, 1 * front.

Construction comments.
- I built the front part first by taking two struts up either side of the forward line of the companionway opening, taking them back at an angle that I liked.
- I built the side panels second from three layers of 7mm ply. The only major problem was getting the angles right. (I found the cabin top slopped down towards the stern.) I sloped the sides inward at the top at an angle that looked right to me.
- I built the top from three layers of 7mm ply. Rather than forcing the ply to lie to a form I supported it at three points and clamped down the ends. Uses way less glue. I put a layer of fibreglass on top.
- I bolted wood planned to the correct profile to the front and side panels and glued layers of ply on them to make the quarter panels.
- I glued layers of ply onto the front struts to make the front panel.
- I ended up using 3/4" screws to "assist" the dozen or so clamps that I have to hold the layers of plywood together.

What I would do differently - I'd build a temporary frame properly aligned to the centreline of the boat and build the dodger on that. The process is similar to building a plywood dinghy.

The attached photos should give additional information.

Estimated time - 250 hours
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:16   #9
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Boracay, that looks real nice…….nice lines.

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dodger, fiberglass

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