This new hard dodger
replaces a 9 year old soft Sunbrella dodger originally mounted on 1"
stainless bows. The new dodger frame is constructed of 1-1/4" heavy welded aluminum tube
and is thru bolted to the cockpit combing. It has a bolt on
1/2" thick expanded rigid PVC white top with gray Sunbrella and clear Crystal 20-20 sides.
The bolts, with nylon washers and no caulk, that fasten the PVC top to the
frame go through holes in 20 small tabs welded
to the top of the frame. There are 5 handholds placed at strategic
locations around the perimeter.
The Top of the Frame is made of white Celtec Expanded Foam PVC manufactured by Vycom Corp. Dave purchased this in one sheet in Ft. Lauderdale from E&T Plastics of Florida. We had to special order because of the size… 10’ x 5’ x ˝”. We used the Celtec 550 (density) From there it was easy to cut and form in our back yard with a standard jig saw and a router. It flexes easily enough to make the contour of the top. It is marginally strong enough for someone to scuttle out occasionally on one of the frames, but not really strong enough to stand on, in an unsupported area. Though Dave had plans to paint it (for UV protection), he has not gotten around to it yet. We just plan to paint it white.
Sherry's comments on our hard dodger:
I love our hard dodger--it has more interior volume (spacier) than a typical canvas frame dodger--and is really sturdy, so better for handhold when moving around the boat. And we can keep the hardtop part up in a hurricane, if, god forbid, we ever have to weather another one of those.
A few tips... the weak spots in the canvas part of a dodger are going to end up being (a) the stitching (b) the plastic windows (c) the zippers. The sun and salt air are just murder on all of the above. We specified the special goretex thread for our stitching, and so far it has held up really well after 3 years in tropical sun. It costs a lot more per inch than standard Dacron thread, and many canvas people hate using it (it's so slippery that it is harder to sew properly) but lasts so much longer that it pays for itself in the long run. Eventually the standard v90 thread just rots away in the sun. The UV is just a killer.
The trick to the plastic windows is to keep them out of the sun, covered, when you can. We had snap on Sunbrella covers made as part of the dodger for every window, and the roll-up parts of the windows can be rolled up with the covers on (part of the specs we gave to the canvas people), keeping them shaded all the time. Sometimes the covers make me feel like I'm living in a cave, but our windows are still in good shape after 3 years in the brutal sun.
Finally, the zippers seem to be one of the first things to go. I think Sunbrella shrinks, and therefore puts a big strain on the zippers. And the salt and sun... If you're going cruising, I would buy a lot of zipper spares (just buy 2 of everything you have on the boat). You can't find ANY of that stuff, zippers, sunbrella, stainless fasteners, plastic window material, etc, out here. (Maybe in the popular Mexican cruising spots, but nowhere further south).
The sun isn't such a big thing in the northern parts of the U.S., but when you go south, the sun is brutal. Deck awnings help too--both to save your dodger and to help keep the boat cooler. We have our own that were made for us in Trinidad, but they are such big canvas things, that unless you can be sure the wind will be less than 10 knots (never a sure thing), we never put them up.
We finally made a much smaller "eyebrow" that just covers the 8' in front of the cockpit (the hatches and deck of the primary living space on our boat). This and our dodger extension covers about 40% of the deck. We have been eying the Shade-tree kind of awnings with the carbon fiber tent poles--some neighbors in a marina had one and it seemed great--lightweight, roomy underneath, but pretty rock solid in normal winds and OK in short bursts of higher winds. We are talking about trying to retrofit our current awning with some carbon fiber poles when we get to Hawaii this winter.
2016 Update: We are getting ready to sell Soggy Paws, and I just had the dodger extension down for a little maintenance. I am amazed that the Gortex thread is still as strong today... 9 YEARS later... as it was when it was first made. That stuff is amazing, and worth EVERY PENNY we paid extra for it. The normal V90 thread only lasts 2-3 years before it has to be re-stitched.
The main things I have had to replace on our dodger windows (they get the most use) are the zipper pulls. The zippers have held up pretty well, though we have lost a tooth or two in areas that get sun. (we also specified in the design that all zippers will have a flap over them to keep them out of the sun). We started with metal YKK zipper pulls, and the tab you grab eventually just pulls off. I have since replaced most of them with YKK plastic pulls and these behave much better. Every 3 months or so, I take some Chapstick and run it along the zipper to lube it up and exercise the zipper. (you can buy pricey zipper lube, but Chapstick works well). When we went to take the dodger extension down, all but one zipper zipped right off. The one sticky one took a few minutes to work free.
The repairs on the dodger extension were mainly due to chafe of the mainsail. When we are reefed, sometimes the sail doesn't get (or stay) gathered up properly and rubs across the top of the bimini. The areas on top of the ribs should probably have had some chafe protection on top.
In early 2007, Sherry declared my old cockpit table too unsightly to leave on a circumnavigation with us. She promptly called a capable wood-working friend, Jerry Ross, to provide adult supervision and help me build a new one. He had extensive woodworking experience and a really good shop. I had money, time and could follow instructions.
We built the new table using teak strips, marine ply wood, black laminate and epoxy glue. The top surface was made of 1/4" x 4" teak strips glued to 3/4" marine plywood. Black laminate was glued on the bottom. The edges were trimmed with 1/2" x 1-1/4" teak. After thorough sanding the table was finished with 4 coats of clear Cetol. As you can see a vast assortment of clamps and clamping techniques were used to ensure tight glue joints.
Suppliers: Seafarer Marine (Teak)
Painted vs Varnished Teak
Topica Post 2/9/05 I think you are on a better track
using the painted finish. As a matter of fact Jim Dill of Chilly Pepper
recently did his aft teak toe rails with a Napa two part polyurethane very
similar to Awlgrip in a teak color that looks super. While in Trinidad I
used a cheap locally mixed two part polyurethane by Sikkens on my cap and
toe rails that has been on 5 years now, although it is now somewhat sun
bleached on the top. It is still intact but has not been touched in 5 years.