When I was compiling a list of equipment I felt was required,a dodger was high on the priority list. And with time ticking away I needed to really push to get this project completed. To make the project more complex, not only did I have to build a dodger but I also had to construct a frame. Originally I thought about a full hard dodger but decided against it based on the boat’s size and design. The other choices I had were a full canvas dodger or a compromise between both; a hard top. While trying to decide my good friend Thor pulled me over to his boat and pointed out threads pulling out of his canvas that had been restitched just the year before. That helped persuade me towards the hard top. I wanted something strong, low maintenance, and still pleasing to look at. I also wouldn’t mind having just the top at times and store the surrounding canvas to allow airflow. So back to the drawing board I went. I decided on a fiberglass and foam core top with a canvas surround. My goal was to alter the construction that I had used for the bimini top. The design of the bimini was ok, but ended up being heavier than I originally anticipated. To addrress this issue I ended up making a carbon – fiberglass hybrid layup. The top is two layers of 24k 19oz carbon and the underside being two layers of 17 oz biaxial fiberglass with extra layers on the edges. Sandwiched between these layers is 1/4 ” core cell foam with extra layers of strategically foam placed underside for more
rigidity. The end result is a nice looking top with stainless grab handles when traversing forward. It is strong and best of all weighs about 20 pounds.
The frame was constructed after measuring about 1000 times. I order my 1″ stainless tubing in 8 ft sections and then spline the pieces together with 7/8 stainless tubing inside both 1″ sections and then rivet both ends. If you purchase a sailrite kit they use this method. It creates a very strong frame that is easy to transport until you rivet all the splines.
I added two fore to aft supports on top of the frame, a set on the sides, supports on the aft of the frame running to the deck and also a set of supports running forward to the sprayhood with grab handles attached to allow safer passage when entering and exiting the companionway. The next step will be cutting and sewing canvas for the Windows. stay tuned for more! Hopefully I can get something pieced together before this boat hits blue water!