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View Poll Results: When do you take your bimini down?
Never 17 23.61%
Only when the boat is laid up 18 25.00%
Very seldom, e.g. extreme weather 22 30.56%
More often 15 20.83%
Voters: 72. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 26-05-2020, 14:58   #1
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Do you ever take your bimini down?

I'm contemplating using rigid solar panels to make a bimini. One of the potential downsides would be that it would be quite impractical to take it down, so I would be stuck with the weight and windage.

But is this really a problem? Outside of winter storage, does anybody really take their bimini down anyway? And if so, is it a routine thing for cloudy days, strong winds, or an occasional thing like needing better access to the end of the boom, or just something that's useful in more extreme conditions?
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:01   #2
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

I take mine down it seems every year for Hurricane season, when one is coming of course along with the sails etc.
I have yet to ever take my Solar panels down though, but have never had a direct hit either, (knock wood) they would probably not survive a direct hit, but then the boat may not either.

I think your main issue may be building something that’s not unattractive, but panels are extremely strong, it’s what they are mounted to I believe that usually fails, I’d assume harmonics (flutter) may play a large part.
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:04   #3
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

Nope, neither the dodger. Even in a storm. It is at those times that you will want it the most. Better just to design it to take a beating.
My previous one took a direct hit from a waterspout in Bahamas, only the pvc ripped, and it was probably due replacing anyway.
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:11   #4
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

Neither dodger nor bimini comes down under normal circumstances. I have removed the dodger for repairs. And would take it down for extreme weather (so far, have only gone through a Cat I hurricane, and it did fine).

Same with bimini, which is actually a couple of bolted-on solar panels (no cloth). If I expected more than a Cat. I storm I'd consider taking it down. Not too hard to do.
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:21   #5
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

We take our Bimini down ALL THE TIME, because we can! We can fold our Bimini forward in about 20 seconds after releasing one hook. It adds a lot to the joy of sailing to be open to the sky when the weather suits, yet still hide from sun and rain when needed. It is a rare overnight offshore when we don’t drop the Bimini and enjoy the stars overhead.

It is one of the biggest complaints I have about “standard” sailboat design that everybody expects to built a “permanent” structure out of canvas and flexible plastic windows over the cockpit simply because it’s what’s expected. It seems a wildly inappropriate use of materials. Permanent structures should be built of permanent materials. Canvas should be saved for structures that move and fold.

We have solid windows in a hard dodger, and overhead canvas that folds. Seems a good solution.
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:27   #6
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVHarmonie View Post
We take our Bimini down ALL THE TIME, because we can! We can fold our Bimini forward in about 20 seconds after releasing one hook. It adds a lot to the joy of sailing to be open to the sky when the weather suits, yet still hide from sun and rain when needed. It is a rare overnight offshore when we don’t drop the Bimini and enjoy the stars overhead.

It is one of the biggest complaints I have about “standard” sailboat design that everybody expects to built a “permanent” structure out of canvas and flexible plastic windows over the cockpit simply because it’s what’s expected. It seems a wildly inappropriate use of materials. Permanent structures should be built of permanent materials. Canvas should be saved for structures that move and fold.

We have solid windows in a hard dodger, and overhead canvas that folds. Seems a good solution.
Fair enough, I can also remove mine easily, but I would never want to, either because I want protection from the sun, or the weather. I'm actually thinking of building a solid dodger when the fabric on mine finally wears out. And I don't expect "permanent", I understand the materials I am working with, but to get 5-7 years out of the work I put in is worth it.
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:35   #7
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

We have two 140W solar panels mounted above a cockpit length canvas bimini. We do not take either down when not using the boat. The set up survived Hurricane Odile in Baja (La Paz) which was a Cat 3 and close to if not actually a direct hit on La Paz. Our dinghy broke loose but only suffered minor damage.

We do not take down the dodger either. It has two 80W panels mounted on it.

We may have been lucky and in a different storm the results may have been different.



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Old 26-05-2020, 15:36   #8
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

Always!! before we leave the dock. We have a complete cockpit enclosure (not even side windows) for privacy when in the marina, but how can you set the mizzen if you can't even see it?
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:41   #9
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

I only use the biminin to block the burning sun when sailing downwind
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Old 26-05-2020, 16:00   #10
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

I live in a home, protected from the weather.

When I sail Lake Superior on weekends and occasional weeks, I want to enjoy the outdoors and the sky. So, on my 40í Tartan, I only put up the bimini up for rain, or those rare days with too much sun and not enough breeze.
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Old 27-05-2020, 08:21   #11
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

We store our boat on the hard in Marathon, FL. each hurricane season. We remove the entire enclosure but leave the 3 solar panels. 2 medium over the bimini and 1 large one at the davits. Irma eyewall was only 12 miles from our boat and there was no damage to the panels. Since we are in AZ during the season there is no running over to the boat to secure it. It has to be ready. The panels are almost horizontal and present little windage.
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Old 27-05-2020, 08:24   #12
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

I'm a powerboat, but I've reached the decision that when the current bimini gets more worn, I'll replace it with a hardtop. I never take it down, as having the shade is nice (especially at the helm), and I've got plenty of space to get out into the sun without needing to take the bimini down. So I might as well gain more space for solar, a spot to mount radar, etc. rather than having a piece of canvas that never gets moved anyway.
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Old 27-05-2020, 08:27   #13
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

Not until winter layup; I have my semi-flexible solar panels atop my bimini.
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Old 27-05-2020, 08:33   #14
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

When we were living on the boat, we would roll our Bimini up several times a week to watch the sunset and chill for sundowners. We have solar on an arch and the soft bimini takes 30 seconds to roll / unroll. Having it rolled up and stowed under the solar panels gives a nice view of the sky and almost feels like the difference between inside and outside. Also removed when the boat is stored on the hard of course. I would consider a hard dodger before a hard bimini. That said, if I were to do it again I would have integrated the solar panels as part of the bimini itself, as apposed to 2 separate structures.
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Old 27-05-2020, 08:38   #15
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Re: Do you ever take your bimini down?

I take down canvas if a hurricane is coming and lash the frame down for added peace of mind, though it's probably not necessary. Been through two hurricanes with winds up to 70 knots that way with no issues. If the winds get much over 70, I'll probably have bigger things to worry about. This assumes, of course, that the bimini frame installation and solar panel attachment were done correctly and robustly.
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