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Our dodger solution

Saw some discussion of dodgers on another thread, so thought I would post our solution to this perennial question. Ripple came to us with no dodger, and for the Chesapeake we prefer not having one. We need every breath of breeze we can get into the cockpit during the sweltering summers, and seas tend to be mostly pretty calm. But as we contemplated going further afield we knew we'd need something more. So when it came time to replace the bimini canvas, we had our canvas guy design and install three panels that zip into the front edge of the bimini and tack down to the deck just beyond the front edge of the companionway hatch. On our 382 with traveler moved to the cabin top, the front edge goes neatly under the raised traveler. My main fear in doing this was that it would interfere with going up and down the companionway, but it actually leaves plenty of space for that.

However, as with all things boat related, there are trade-offs:

Cons:
1. As currently configured it is a pretty flat panel, does not wrap back like a traditional dodger, and as such it misses some waves/spray that other dodgers might catch. We could add some side panels, but it would make passage forward near-impossible. It is already tight with all three panels up.
2. With no framing, a real storm would likely rip it apart. We have had it up in some pretty sporty conditions with no problem, but when the big test finally comes, we will take it down (and hopefully reduce some unwanted windage).
3. Large isenglass panels require careful cleaning and storage when not in use.

Pros:
1. Visibility is fantastic, for short and tall helmsmen alike.
2. Versatility: taking off the side panels greatly improves air flow in light conditions while still keeping passing rain squalls and most stray spray out of the companionway. We find we often leave just the center panel up.
3. With all three panels up the protection from wind and waves is quite good in most conditions. Automatic connection between the bimini and dodger without a connecting panel is also a plus.
4. Easy removal and storage: when conditions calm, we just clean and unzip all three panels (my daughter shown below doing the first part of this), roll them up and hang in the pilot berth.
Abby cleaning dodger.jpgDodger side panel.jpg
 

pmf44

Member
Keefer I replaced my dodger last year and I changed the whole configuration. I prefer to take the middle panel out for most of the summer. I think a dodger of some sort is a must for every cruising sailboat but as with anything else boat related...there are more opinions to consider.... Give me a call. Pmf
 

mpearson

Mark Pearson
Staff member
Hi Keefer - thanks for sharing this good info, the Pros/Cons. I didn’t understand the concept at first glance, but think I do now.

So instead of the framing and canvas of a traditional wrap-around dodger, you added front panels to your Bimini.

Seems like a good and flexible alternative, as long as you can remove the panels before a real storm. It seems like another “Pro” would be that it would be less expensive than the traditional wrap-around dodger? All the added framing of the traditional style adds cost and also means the sewing/canvas work would be more expensive too.
 
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