Deck Canvas


Gigi at Her Mooring


Date: Fri Apr 20, 2001 10:49 am

I'm in the process of fitting a dodger and maybe a bimini on my '79 ketch. My first quote from Island Nautical seems reasonable but I was wondering what arangements any of you may have and your likes/dislikes with your outfit.

Date: Fri Apr 20, 2001 1:10 pm

My boat came to me in 1995 with a dodger that I am pretty sure was made by Island Nautical. Its been on the boat for an age (probably since the seventies) and I have had to put in new clear plastic and make other repairs. I would say that it was very well made and satisfactory. Really a huge help in cold and rainy weather, and easy enough to open up or strike when more ventilation is desired in the cockpit. Provides protection for some of the varnish too.

Date: Sat Apr 21, 2001 7:42 pm

My original dodger, probably Island nautical, held well through the offshore year, storm and sun, with the one exception of the stbd zipper (that allows to roll up the front panel, so not critical), which is worn out and keeps opening. Most probably from sun damage. I did two modifications, one before leaving:

Replace the no longer transparent windows with clean, high grade thick panels, which are still as new.

and one during the stop in the Azores, after experiementing half of the perfect storm, with 65kts wind aft pushing rain all the way to the forward bunk through the upper hatch board (the lower two being in place to prevent green water splasing or sloshing in the cockpit from pouring into the cabin): hang two transparent curtains from the zipper that normally holds the froward part of the bimini. Velcro bands hold the middle slit, the lower side corners were held by buttons tied to the coamings, which pulled out, now simply a tie that goes through the foreard limber hole of the cockpit "pocket" port and stbd.

This arrangement was suggested by a Rye sailor met in Horta, who had that put in after a wet cruise in Maine... I can only highly recommend it for ofshoe or rainy waters, especially if you have good windvane, autopilots!


Date: Thu Apr 26, 2001 7:26 pm

I am interested in installing a bimini in the near future on my seawind II. If you don't mind I would be interested in knowing the various option you have installed, the fit and the total price of the dodger and also the type of service Island Nautical provides.

Date: Fri Apr 27, 2001 10:05 am

Our dodger frame is made of Stainless Steel with sumbrella fabric. It has held up in the Florida sun very well. We have a plastic panel which unsips on the forward side so we can get a nice breeze through on warm days. We kept the height low for storm conditions. One note of

importance. When measuring, double reef the mainsail because the mainboom may lower more than without a reef in it. Also we fold it all up and cover the entire dodger when not using the vessel, this results in much longer life of the fabric.

Date: Sat Apr 28, 2001 11:01 am

Spirit's dodger is stainless and Sunbrella, too, and I heartily second the advice to measure while the sail's up and double reefed.

Two modifications that might be of interest: After our first extended passagemaking we had a stainless grab-rail welded to the aft dodger bow, full width across the top with one support in the middle, modifying the aft top zipper on the dodger to fit over the rail. The angle is important. I

forget just what I figured out (with a cardboard template) but 11 degrees off comes to mind. That is, standing the aft bow vertically, the rail meets it 11o (?) aft of its vertical line. Then, when the bow is in its working position, the rail stands proud of the top of the dodger by about 1 1/2" (and looks good). Invariably, going into or out of the cockpit, I grab the radiused end of this rail: it makes life a lot easier and safer, especially going to or from the foredeck and, for tall me, down the companionway. Also, my habitual conning posture is standing, resting my forearms on the rail--just right, and a good support when you're using binoculars.

I also install SS struts between the aft bow, about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom end, and the inside of the teak cockpit combing, about a foot aft of the cabin trunk. You can do this cleanly with standard rail parts, widely available. The struts make the dodger rigid, and very strong. Thus it doesn't move around when you put weight on the grab rail (above), and you can lash the boom to the grab rail in an emergency and in the absence of a boom gallows.

These two simple modifications have made Spirit safer, stronger, and far more secure in feel. I'm completely pleased.

Date: Mon Apr 30, 2001 1:57 pm

I purchased an Island Nautical dodger and accompanying rain awning which zips into the dodger and covers the mizzin boom about 12 years ago, and have been very delighted with it. One of the single best purchases I made when upgrading the boat. (And I foolishly sailed this yacht with NO DODGER for 10+ years off shore in the ATLANTIC! )

Anyway, I highly recommend the snap-on COVERs for any dodger. Island Nautical has them for the main windshield PVC piece, which also zips and rolls up for summer breezes/cooling, but also the tiny round lites on the dodger's sides also have coverings. This prolongs the life of the plastic. Mine is showing wear, but it'll be several more years until it has to go back for repairs or a remake. Don't use the rain cover often, but more for getting out of the wicked sun, which graces even Vermont in July/August for a few days. Island Nautical has the template for Seawind IIs, although their first try on the rain tarp had to be sent back for modifications. They are good to deal with and back up there work. I first ran into them at the Newport boat show, and stopped in on a "whim" not thinking they would've ever heard of a Seawind II! Ordered it on the spot.

Good luck with your installation.

Date: Tue Jun 12, 2001 10:59 am

Last year I waited from Feb. to Aug. for Thurston Canvas to measure my boat for a bimini.

( They made my dodger, and offer 3 versions. I have drawings if anyone is interested.)

When I suggested the bimini should fold up I never heard from them again.

On one of my many visits to West Marine this spring I noticed a Taylor display for boat covers and bimini tops. They come off the shelf out of the box, in many heights, lengths and widths. If you don't like it return it for your money back. I purchased a top 4' in length, 3' in height and 79" to 84" wide in navy.

I mounted it to the forward most vertical section of the stern rail, This allows for height adjustment by moving the mounting bracket up or down the rail. I added to vertical pieces of tubing from the stern rail to the rear bow of the bimini, for the bimini to rest on when it is folded up. This also eliminates the need for the rear nylon straps. I attached the forward straps to each side of the split main mast backstay. If you have a flying backstay for the mizzen, you may have to cut the bimini on each side or move the mounting position of the flying backstay.

I raised the mizzen boom about 10" and sail with a reef in the mizzen with the bimini up.

I am undecided, how to resolve this problem, but would favor raising the mizzen mast.

The price was $278.00 including RI sales tax and about another $60.00 to add the additional pieces of tubing.

Date: Wed Jun 13, 2001 6:54 pm

I would love to see the drawings you have. The dodger is on my list of thing to do prior to blue water... I currently have a bimini but another item on the list (don't you just love lists) is to raise the mast about 14" as "Pianissimo" did there by I could stand in the cockpit. Let me know if you need an address for snail mail or via an attachment to email.

Date: Fri Jun 22, 2001 6:18 pm

We would all be interested in these drawings on the website database, as dodgers start showing age.

Date: Fri Sep 21, 2001 6:01 pm

I would like to install a bimini on my ketch when the deal is completed. (I have a contract to purchase at this point). Can anyone offer suggestions as to what will work? Any info is appreciated. Pros and cons. Suggested brands and dimensions would be helpful also. Thanks!

Date: Fri Sep 21, 2001 9:11 pm

I have inherited a very simple bimini: a rectangle that zips on the dodger aft rim at the forward end, split in the middle for the zippers running to each side, the split ending around the mizzen mast. The rest of the rectangle is full, and ends around a pole that can be tied at on the mizzen boom in its middle (a slit in the sleeve that wrapes around the pole) and at the pushpit (aft pulpit) on each end. Panels hang on each side, that can be tied along their lenghts to the lifelines.

This worked very well in Caribbean harbors, I would add panels on the aft side to protect against the setting sun in the trades... I have not put it up at sea offshore, as it is not as strong as a tought fully ribbed bimini such as you see on charter boats, but it has served well and I have not yet felt the need for something bulkier and more permanent.

Another protection I found most useful against rain and wind, is two transparent panels hanging on the same dodger aft rim and zippers that hold the bimini forward end. I shall never see rain entering the cabin (heavy rain in 65kts wind reached the forward V-berth through the small opening left above the two (out of three) boards on the companion way, whihc were effective in preventing green water cascading down the ladder, as we filled the cockpit every half hour on a rogue wave among the 12m-40ft waves. The cockpit drained in a couple of minutes with the existing 1-1.5" drains, a bit long, but not enough to make the change proposed by Don & Brenda, in my experience.

The transparent curtain, installed in the Azores after my big storm, proved a boon later when the watch person can lie comfortably athwart under the dodger, sheltered from rain and cool spray (even in the tropics, trades can be very brisk), watching the autopilot or windvane (when they work, down on Windhunter and hurrah for Cape Horn!), or dozing between the 20 minutes clarion calls of the kitchen alarm clock...

Date: Sat Sep 22, 2001 6:35 pm

My ketch came with a bimini, dodger, and an interconnectinb section that wraps around the mizeenmast and keeps the boat covered from dodger to the stern. The canvas has special openings to let the aft shrouds pass through.

It apparently was custom-made. I'll find out who did it, as I remember seeing ID tags on the fabric. Note that you can't use the mizzen that well with the whole thing assembled, but it is great when you are anchored or moored for some time. You can leave the interconnecting section out for better access while sailing, since it zips to the dodger and bimini. It feels good to be contributing for a change!!!

Date: Sun Sep 23, 2001 9:30 am

Probably your thoughts re the bimini design may immediately seem to approach the maximum desirable coverage but I offer a couple of observations.

1. The number of times a sailor must access the area of the stern for line handling, Bar-B-Que, peering over to insure water exit from the exhaust, furling, reefing or setting the mizzen, unshipping the dink and a few more I have overlooked may find that the extension not creep much further aft than the middle of the helm seat.

2. The three offerings for sun protection seem to fall into the categories of semi-fixed frames, an arrangement similar to the one Bert has described and the "fly" which is essentially a flap attached to the mizzen mast or aft end of the dodger. In almost all cases the mizzen boom's original height must be adjusted upwards to allow comfortable room below the sun shade arrangement.

3. Those of us who find the sun to be objectionable and wish to sail from below a bimini understand that the slot between the dodger and the mizzen must be kept uncovered for operation of the mainsheet, observation of the sail trim and a "pop-up" observation position. This immediate removes a certain portion of that protection.

4. Be well aware that when under sail the bimini presents a very unusually high windage area. It certainly will affect your navigation by presenting noticeable leeway when trying to maintain a particular course objective. When coupled with the dodger the effect is amplified. But when at anchor the two areas contribute to the "weather cock" effect and often steady the swinging you see in those around you.

Bert has noted that in the tropics where at anchor the boat is most often flooded with late afternoon sun from astern the use of a drop curtain at the aft end of the bimini is almost a requirement. Drops that form more protection from the sides work well at anchor even if they do create an obstacle to going forward if not carefully designed, but are impossible under sail. My aft drop is made from heavy Textilene fabric and allows both visibility and breeze to pass through it but does a great job at diffusing the eye-searing sun.

As Sea Quill is equipped with a boom gallows that is slightly higher than the (semi-fixed) bimini I have made a "fly" that attaches to the aft face of the gallows and zips to the forward edge of the bimini. This directs cooling air below and into the cockpit and makes life just a bit more comfortable in the rain as well. I've attached a photo showing her full array of canvas to show the coordination of sun protection and air-flow at rest.

Date: Sun Sep 23, 2001 1:31 pm
My bimini as described earlier requires a still mizzen boom at close to centerline. As such, it is unsuitable for sailing, and it would prevent the mainsheet lateral motion as well. I found that the mizzen sail and mast-boom offer enough sun protection under way, so I have not pursued yet a semi-hard bikini.

I also have a fly system of light blue reinforced vinyl panels that can be hung over the main boom for longer term cooling at anchor in the tropics. Very rarely used, since I only remained at anchorages for an afternoon and a night at most...

Date: Mon Sep 24, 2001 12:56 am

We have our SW located in Florida on the west coast near Tampa. We have a dodger and a small bimini with a zip in panel that can go in between the two, and another panel that can snap on across the aft section vertically and sea spray panels along the sides. With all this we can

cover up on the hot windless days of Florida and keep the sun off of us almost completely.