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Hard Dodger and Extension

Cockpit Table


Last Updated: 11/25/2017

Future Additions:
Engine Room Port
Winch Rearrangement
MR 10 Lexan Companionway Hatch Boards
Air Conditioner
Teak Cockpit Combing
Binnacle Handhold
GPS/Fishfinder/VHF Mounting Box


Hard Dodger and Extension

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 new dodger is super strong but the PVC top can still be removed quickly to reduce windage in case of a major hurricane. The hard dodger covers the front third of the cockpit while the rear is covered by a Sunbrella dodger extension.  The extension and sides are attached to the PVC top with white PVC slotted track.  The track is fastened to the PVC top with small hidden screws.  A more permanent attachment could be made by first gluing the track to the top with PVC cement.

The two back bows are 1" stainless tube held in position with handholds on both sides, two 1" tubes off the back bow to the boom gallows and an angled cross bar across the back for athwart ships rigidity.  These two bows support the Sunbrella dodger extension that attaches to the boom gallows at the aft end of the cockpit.  Roll up sides and front are attached to the dodger top using the PVC track.  Rollup sides further aft are attached to the Sunbrella extension with zippers and snaps.  They are all used to enclose the cockpit in case of rain or heavy spray.

Centerline handhold

Stbd side and aft corner handholds

Port side and aft corner handholds

Cutting the PVC top with a jigsaw
and smoothing the edges with a router

Attaching the track to the underside
of the top

Track attached with small round
head screws

Preparing to make the curve
around the corner with the track

Finished top and frame

Finished top and frame

Finished top and frame

Finished top and frame

Under side of top and frame showing
placement of top mounting tabs

Side view of finished top

Under side of top showing track
around front

Under side of top showing track
along back for Sunbrella extension

Welded corner tab with top bolt

One of the two aft corner supports
through bolted with 1/4" bolts.

One of the four side supports also
through bolted.

Roll up side panel with cover on

Roll up front panels with covers on,
corner panel does not roll up

Details of stbd roll up panel showing
handhold protruding through

Port side panel down with
cover on showing velcro
straps used to reduce wind

New aft side curtain

New aft side curtain

SuppliersIndian River Fabrication (frame), E & T Plastics (expanded PVC sheet), Canvas Connection (dodger) (321) 308-2905

Original specs provided to Frame Fabricator

  1. Legs must allow propane locker full opening
  2. Top Pads - .25” anodized aluminum plate
    1. 14 ea at positions shown
    2. .25+” holes for .25” bolts
    3. Welded flush with top of tubes
  3. Leg Pads - .25” anodized aluminum plate
    1. 6 ea at bottom of legs
    2. Sized to conform to landing spot
    3. Minimum two 5/16” holes in each pad
  4. Frame of 1.25” ID heavy-wall anodized aluminum tubing
  5. Front of top to follow the contour of the teak cockpit combing
  6. Treat all welds and exposed edges for corrosion
  7. Open middle port and starboard legs for wiring run to center of aft tube
  8. Top camber 6” down to edges for crown
  9. Side aft legs angled in and forward 4”
  10. Middle side legs angled aft 6”
  11. Handholds
    1. 2 ea x 6” at aft port and stbd corners between aft tube and leg
    2. 1 ea x 9” below center of aft tube, angle 45 degrees aft
    3. 2 ea x 12” along side tube angled 30 degrees down to clear the top
    4. 1” OD tube, 2” clear inside except aft corners.
  12. Light mounting plate
    1. Mounted at center of aft bar (inside)
    2. 2” x 12” x 1/8” anodized aluminum plate
  13. Owner will mount top & track—fabricator to fabricate and mount frame

Original Specs provided to Dodger & Extension Fabricator

  1. Front Windows
    1. Stratoglass .040” thick, smoke colored
    2. Roll up with straps & covers while rolled up
    3. Covers snap on
    4. Bottom fasteners – ‘common sense’ fasteners
    5. Zipper sides w/ flap covers
    6. Top with bolt-rope for track
    7. 2” Sunbrella borders
  1. Quarter Windows
    1. Stratoglass .040” thick, smoke colored
    2. Covers snap on
    3. Bottom fasteners – ‘common sense’ fasteners
    4. Zipper sides w/ flap covers
    5. Top with bolt-rope for track
    6. Positions for staysail sheet line, chafe-protected
    7. 2” Sunbrella borders
    8. Vinyl-backed chafe material where material passes over aluminum posts
    9. 3 straps around each post with Velcro
  1. Side Windows
    1. Stratoglass .040” thick, smoke colored
    2. Roll up with straps & covers while rolled up
    3. Covers snap on
    4. Bottom fasteners – ‘common sense’ fasteners
    5. Zipper sides w/ flap covers
    6. Top with bolt-rope for track
    7. 2” Sunbrella borders
    8. Vinyl-backed chafe material where material passes over aluminum posts
    9. See frame handhold detail
  1. Extension Aft (attaches to back of dodger frame, and  goes back over former bimini frame to boom crutch)
    1. Front with bolt rope for track on the back of the dodger frame
    2. Back end with stainless steel grommets every 6” (#1 nickel/brass)
    3. Zippers along sides so we can later add a zippered window
    4. Snaps under aft end every 6” so we can later add a back window
    5. Run seams fore and aft
    6. Keep side edges inside/above the existing hand-holds on the port and stbd sides of the aft bow
    7. Use vinyl-backed chafe material where Sunbrella passes over the bows and braces.
    8. 2 each 18” pockets with zippers over aft bows
    9. 18” wide strip of vinyl-backed chafe protection down the middle, to protect against chafe from the boom
  1. Miscellaneous Notes
    1. Consider shrinkage when installing bottom front corners
    2. Owner will provide charcoal gray sunbrella
    3. Use maximum chafe material at all chafe spots
    4. Strongly reinforce high tension areas
    5. Construct for maximum life
      - Chafe protection for all chafe areas
      - Sun protection for sensitive areas (zippers, windows, velcro)
      - Use sun-resistant thread (Profilen thread)

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.


Cockpit Table

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.

Gluing on the black laminate

Gluing on the teak strips for the top surface

Clamping technique for gluing the corners

Edge pieces ready for gluing

Clamping the glued corners and front edge pieces

Clamping the glued side edge pieces, blue tape keeps glue from squeezing out onto the top surface

Applying 4 coats of clear Cetol

Table in up position, fitting the
leg dead bolt

Table in the down position

Table in use

New cockpit table in up position


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. Based on
Jim's recommendation, and he knows paint, I will repaint my exterior wood soon using the Napa product. We don't do varnishes on Soggy Paws except on the cockpit teak where we use Cetol touched up every couple of years. We hate to varnish.