This hurricane season has been extremely productive for us. Eben has some sort of fire under his because he is starting, AND FINISHING, all sorts of amazing things that have been on our “to do” list forever. The biggest one yet, and one that makes me extremely proud, is the dodger he just spent 5 days making. Eben sewed our bimini years back. And we have always wanted a dodger, and have been carting around all the materials to make it for the last three years. Yes that’s right, we had huge rolls of strataglass and “sea hawk” sunbrella just sitting in the vberth, taking up space, begging to be made into something. Finally, last week, the time came to get’er’done. So with a little motivation, and some help from friends’ that offered us dock space and an air-conditioned room to do the sewing in, this project has been completed.
Here are the 3 vague and not-so-easy steps to making a dodger! (this being written by the person that had nothing to do with making it!)
1) Make the frame. Eben took it upon himself to find the stainless and bend it, by hand, to make the shape of our dodger-to-be. With good measuring, and some pieces of wood taped to our beefy bimini structure, he started bending metal, little by little, with nothing to help him but his own strength. (and sometimes me standing on the opposite end of the post!) Getting angles right when bending pipes by hand can be tricky. But after a lot of back and forth he got it. Once the shape and angle was to our liking, we had to decide how we wanted it to sit. That meant, a lot of looking at it from different angles and simply seeing if it was appealing to the eye. We didn’t want the thing to stand straight up looking like a wall of glass, but didn’t want it to be too low either to get in the way of our visibility. We spent a lot of time dinghying around looking at other peoples’ dodgers (trying not to look too dodgy as we starred into peoples cockpits!)
|One of those moments when he needed my weight to hold down the opposite end of the pole.|
|Checking out different angles.|
2) Make a pattern. With a plastic “painters’ drop cloth” Eben made the pattern for where the Strataglass and material would sit. Then the real cutting had to begin. Of course there was triple measuring that happened in between, because at the price that Strataglass costs per foot, you do not want to make a simple mistake. Once the first cut was made, it was on. From there I did not see my husband for three days. He literally spent from morning until late night (almost 2am one night) in that air-conditioned room, folded over our Sailrite, sewing away.
Every now and again he would appear back at the boat, to take a few more measurements, try things on for fit, and then take off again. The girls and I would stop in and give him encouragements and kisses before taking off on some sort of “land adventure”. I think we were having a little more fun than him, but he was being way more productive.
3) Attach it to the boat. He had to bring the thing back to the boat and install all the common-sense fasteners to our hull and the bottom of the dodger, so that he could stretch it down taught, and attach it to our boat. That took another day of work. About an hour per fastener, which he said went way faster thanks to the hot knife he used. He said that without that tool he would have added countless hours to this project. The reason it took so long is that he had to do them one by one. It looked something like, pull dodger taught, make mark of where to install fastener, install fastener, pull dodger taught and make mark where to cut hole in dodger to attach other half of fastener, install fastener, connect the two together, and move on to the next.
In the end, the dodger he made is a thing of beauty. It gives our cockpit a whole new feel. A feel of, more money? More luxury? More comfort. That’s what it is. More comfort. We ride in style now, without the salt water splashing in our hair and without the worry that our daughters are going to get soaked by the squall we see on the horizon. The dodger looks like it was done by a pro (it was, Eben is a pro) and gives our boat a whole new feel.
If you want any more specific details about making your own dodger feel free to contact us, as well as stay tuned for the interview that Sailrite has requested to do with Eben on his dodger building.