The thing is that dodgers are often big, boxy structures that can drastically change a boat’s graceful lines. When we decided to make a dodger, we wanted to avoid that. While we mulled the idea over in our minds, we began to take photos of dodger’s that we saw and liked. We surfed the net for pictures and copied them onto one page in a word file. When the time came to design our own dodger we reviewed those photos and pictures came up with a general plan.
If you wish to replace an already existing dodger or have a ready made frame for your dodger, then skip steps one through four and begin at step five.
1.Our first step was to decide between a permanent “hard dodger” and a canvas dodger that could be simply dismantled whenever we wished. As we live and sail on the Red Sea where summers are very hot, we realized
we wouldn’t want to leave our dodger up year round. So we decided to look at canvas construction.
2. Canvas dodgers require a frame or bows. Before we could design our bows, we needed to think about how the dodger would be attached to Yofy’s deck. Manny decided to fiberglass in a “ledge” or a coaming. This coaming would work as a lip, preventing water from running off the deck and seeping under the edge of our dodger. It would also provide a better sheer for attaching turn buttons. Manny bent and laminated thin layers of mahogany plank and shaped them to contour to the curve of Yofy’s deck. Then he coated each coaming with fiberglass and gel coat. Finally he glued the coamings in place. The finished result is attractive and strong.
This prototype allowed us to view the dodger shape from different angles and to check height while exiting and entering the companionway or sitting in the cockpit. We got the feel of how it would be to maneuver around the dodger when walking on deck and how the dodger would alter our line of vision from the wheel. Now we could make any adjustments or odifications to our prototype. PVC pipe is cheap so even if we had had
to start all over again, this would be the time to make changes.
4. Once your prototype is ready, you will most probably need to take it to a metal worker and have them prepare your frame. Manny made our frame himself using 1 inch stainless pipe and fittings. The end fittings for the bows are available from any marine store. You can also order ready cut and bent pipe and appropriate fittings from Sailrite even if you choose to
sew your own canvas design.
of marine canvas work are much harder to find. Enter Alex Kashtan, an enthusiastic racing sailor from Russia and we had our canvas man.
When we met with Alex to discuss our project, we showed him our word file with pictures. This was really handy as it allowed Alex to get a clear understanding of exactly what we were looking for.
6. Alex helped us to calculate how many meters of Sunbrella and vinyl our dodger would require. He made a list of fittings and supplies that we would need to order. We ordered the sunbrella and vinyl locally and the fittings from sailrite. Then one calm sunny day he arrived with a roll of
clear plastic and two sided tape. He was ready to make his pattern.
First Alex taped thin two sided tape to each section of the bows. Then, together with Manny, he carefully stretched the clear plastic over the frame, smoothed out every wrinkle and pressed the plastic in place with the tape. Where there were curves or a bow in the dodger, Alex gently folded the plastic to fit and then taped that too. (Anyone who has dressmaking skills can think of how a dart is made) Once he was completely satisfied with the pattern, he trimmed the edges to the deck contour. Then Alex got out a permanent marker and made notations right on the plastic. He marked in windows, pockets and noted any details that we requested. Now the pattern was gently removed from the frame.
7. Alex took the pattern to his shop, peeled off the tape and cut out sections that would become pattern pieces for cutting the sunbrella. Once he’d cut the sunbrella and sewn the first major seams, he brought the dodger back to Yofy for a fitting and made notations of any adjustments he wanted to make.
The final product fits snugly to the frame and follows Yofy’s lines. It has an opening window that allows for ventilation in dry weather and better vision for the helmsman when docking or navigation in tight quarters. Alex sewed in plenty of reinforcements as well as a handy pocket for stowing sunglasses, or other light gear. Our dodger is easy to install and to take down when the warm weather arrives. When not in use we gently roll the dodger and store it inside a drawstring sack in a settee locker.
The following is a slide show of Alex’s work: