Dodger refit

Planning and patience is all it took to get a fantastic new dodger for Reach.  This along with our hardtop is one of the most important pieces of gear on our boat, especially when passage making for keeping us comfortable and out of the elements with good visibility.  For extreme or colder conditions, we even have a full enclosure that forms a virtual pilot-house if needed.  

Manta's aluminum hardtop provides the skeleton for our dodger, bimini, side shades and dinghy davits.  

It isn't the prettiest structure in the world, but it is infinitely functional. 

For example, it is also the framework for cockpit lights, stereo speakers, fishing pole rack, clothes-lines and American flag, as well as a base for our Furuno radar, SSB tuner and 28' whip antenna and Bullet WiFi system plus antenna, aft lockers and 12' dinghy hoist.

The primary dodger acts as a windshield for the helm station.  A tight fit and quality materials are a priority for a cruising solution.  

Unfortunately, our old dodger was missing the latter criterion despite making a hefty investment in it before we left Connecticut five years ago.  The overall design was great, but the execution left a lot to be desired.  Within a short period of time the thread disintegrated, even though we'd spec'd UV resistant Tenera.    It was sewn "unfinished" on the inside and looked very amateurish, not to mention the inevitable wear and tear, scratching the "glass" and reducing visibility.

Ready to get things done right this time, Mark sourced all of the materials for a new dodger into Guatemala.  Some items were available or could be ordered from Almacen Naval in Fronteras.  They ordered 40 gauge O'Sea clear vinyl and Weblon white vinyl direct via Bainbridge and already had stock for the 40 gauge regular vinyl for the side shades.  Tenera thread and grommets came back with us from the States in our suitcases.

Quality materials ~ check!  Now how to put this thing together?  

We used a local canvas maker Rony, who had recently re-covered our cockpit cushions.  He was recommended with the caveat that speedy turnaround wasn't his forte.  Timing is never really an issue for us, so we settled on a very reasonable price and sent Rony away with all of our new materials and the old template to refit our dodger.  

Two months and several mañanas later, pieces of our new dodger started to trickle in to be fitted onto our aluminum hardtop.  

It all slowly came together and Rony and Mark redesigned the side panels slightly, since these are panes that we roll up or down depending on the weather.  

The cockpit stays very dry when it's raining with the sides down.

The quality of the sewing, re-fitting and installation by Rony and his crew was excellent.  

He designed a double-layer white vinyl sandwich with the O'Sea clear vinyl layer in the middle and was clever enough to come to the boat with one layer of the white vinyl intact to protect the clear vinyl from scratching in transit.  

On Reach's deck, he deftly cut away the last white vinyl layers of each piece to install a crystal clear new dodger.  Then they re-fit each pane individually, knocked out the grommets and installed snaps on-site.  


The job is impressive, inside and out.  This is what quality looks like!  

Based on our previous experience, we were probably a bit more conscientious about the work we were getting for such an important part of our boat.  We are very happy with the result.

© M&M 2019