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Bimini Design Ideas

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by rortega46, Jan 11, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. rortega46

    rortega46

    Joined Dec 23, 2009
    40 posts, 1 likes
    Catalina 34
    US New Orleans Marina
    My bimini and dodger/windshield is nearing the end of it’s life. I’m planning on replacing both and would appreciate ideas and/or photos on construction and design. Things have changed a lot in the 16 years since it was installed, so your feedback would be great.

    My existing bimini extends from the sterm rail past the main cabin hatch. It is too large to fold up or remove on a day-to-day basis so it stays in place all the time. The large amount of shade it provides is great on most days but I’d like a new bimini with either a zip out or opening section to see the sky at night or on comfortable days.
    96A0FE06-1CFB-4FD3-AC7F-34B787974FC8.jpeg

    I’ve seen a newer Beneteau 38 with an “easy open” bimini that looked great. The fore section has a zipper, and the fore and aft sections are connected with straps for tension adjustment when open. For those with experience with a zip out connector, how easy is it to remove and replace it? Does anyone have experience with a bimini similar to the “easy open” one I saw on the Beneteau 38?
    2760B7E6-3950-45BD-B63F-E43A1E7A1C15.jpeg

    Rather than a traditional drop down (below the bimini) dodger, my bimini has a constant height and the windshield attaches directly to the bimini and foredeck. It is a nice design as it maximizes headroom the entire length of the cockpit. What are the benefits of the drop down design on most bimini?

    A few more bimini questions....
    What’s your fav windshield design? Rollup, zip out, or fold up?
    Which canvas material is best for water repellancy and durability?
    Which material is best for windows? Eisenglass, Makrolon or something else?
    Which thread material is best for durability?

    Thanks for your input.
     


  2. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    2,961 posts, 1,291 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    We have a dodger and Bimini that are separate and connect with a zipper connector. The only problem we have with connector is that we use it about once a year when it raining and we can't remember which end goes where. :doh: Once we remember, it is easily installed.

    The dodger has a roll up center window, which stays rolled up most of the time and 2 side panels that zip in. They usually live with the connector somewhere below. We install them when it really raining hard, otherwise we want the air flow. I prefer the roll up center window because it is always there, so even in a passing shower it can be rolled down quickly. The other zip in panels don't get used much and storing them below is OK.

    Material is Sunbrella. There is one brand of thread that is UV resistant and has a lifetime warranty. I forget the brand name. It is more expansive than the usual thread, worth the extra money, which should not be all that significant a cost. Here's a link to the thread on Sailrite: https://www.sailrite.com/Notions/Threads/Lifetime-Thread

    The attached photo shows the Bimini/dodger in its usual configuration.




    IMG_0115.jpg
     


  3. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,685 posts, 1,348 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    I would do the entire thing, Bimini and dodger. The dodger is too tall, obscures your view from the helm and frankly just looks too big. Retain the services of a good canvas shop and plan to start with all new materials. We have some great artisans in Annapolis and ours was done by the best, the late Chris Ford. Nobody looks good in a poorly fitted one-size fits all suit, and neither does your boat.

    Get your Bimini up where you have headroom and end it no further forward than the 2 feet or so from your dodger aft end. Construct the dodger so that you can see over it from the helm. You don’t need headroom here, you need protection for your open companion way.

    I would go with 3 bows for your Bimini, and bring them forward from the cockpit aft. If you want a connector (Bimini to dodger) you can have the canvas shop add zippers to both and create a zip in panel. We have one, but I will tell you that we very rarely use it. Crew like to stand aft of the dodger (nice handrail attached) and observe sail trim and surroundings. Put a window over your helm so that you can observe mainsail trim.

    Biminis and dodgers don’t need to be waterproof, they are there to deflect spray (dodger) and sun (Bimini), if you get some relief from a downpour, great, but if you want to stay dry, stay at the yacht club. A nice big Bimini is my way of keeping crew in the cockpit on a hot southern day. If they want to be dry, they put on a rain coat.

    Materials: Sunbrella, technora teflon thread, YKK zips, and strataglass / regolite windows. I recently switched to makrolon windows in the dodger and they are beautiful, but I absolutely hate them. Heavy, rigid and you have to treat them like slabs of drywall. Here is a photo of with the old strataglass windows. I would recommend that the center window zip out and stow, just having that one center dodger window out will greatly increase airflow in the cockpit and down the companionway. Also suggest spending for 1.25” diameter bows on your Bimini, these things take quite the wind load.
    75B7D8D6-5BAD-4FD0-892D-779BD4785743.jpeg 823601C7-6FAB-4295-A2CC-44C84EFE1063.jpeg
     


  4. John Nantz

    John Nantz

    Joined Jul 1, 1998
    2,940 posts, 29 likes
    Hunter Legend 35
    US Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
    With regard to canvas, my pet peeve is the zipper. Because they fail before any other fastener and they're usually difficult and expensive to replace.

    Our dodger has several zippers and they have covers for protection from UV; however, they do age and when they do, it's expensive to replace. The windshield has 2 roll-up sections, each with a zipper, and then there are two zippers on the aft end of the dodger with the plan to connect a section if a Bimini was ever installed, but wasn't. Then there is a zipper, inside, on the front dodger bow which has been replaced even though it is out of the sunlight.

    The glass also has covers for when the boat isn't being sailed. As for the glass, the roll-up sections kinda hang down a bit when they're rolled up, not a pain but a bit fiddly to deal with. Thread: I've sewn a few things on my wife's Viking sewing machine and used Tecnara thread. It seems to be rough on the eye of the needle.

    Made covers for the running lights to keep the plastic from crazing (they face south in the slip) and the furler top swivel (to keep dirt and UV off the swivel area) using a naugahyde-type material and Turn-Button type fasteners. Also made a cover for the outboard when on deck (that was a workout).

    In the future, the plan is to find another solution to the zipper wherever possible.
    Edit: The window has 2 roll-up sections with a zipper in the middle (and on each side of the two sections). With the traveler in front of the windshield, the main sheet can be hauled in amidships. This is handy to have minimal water coming in through when the spray is going over the coachroof or it is raining.

    By the way, this is a good thread.
     


    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  5. Dave Groshong

    Dave Groshong SBO Staff Staff Member

    Joined Jan 25, 2007
    1,360 posts, 104 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Seattle
    We build dozens of custom biminis every year, both Rail Mount and Coaming Mount, give me a call if you'd like to discuss it.
    dave
    877-932-7245 x116
    Mon-Fri, 9-3:30 Pacific
     


  6. Sumner

    Sumner

    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,180 posts, 228 likes
    Macgregor 26S/Endeavour 37 .
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    [​IMG]
    On ours you can remove the whole window if you so desire, but the window is also zippered in such away with 4 zipper pulls that you can open any one part of the window or open it so that you have two parts of it open and opened to any size at any location on the window. Also you can unzip it and it will fold down in or out of the dodger. Additionally there is a zippered bug screen that can easily be put on or off.
    [​IMG]
    The bimini attaches to the dodger with common sense fasteners. Like them better than zippers for this application. We didn't go with the heaviest glass from Sailrite since the dodger isn't up all year and we wanted to roll it up easier. If yours is up all the time I'd go with the best that they have. Talk to them maybe.

    Lots more pictures of making the dodger and bimini here .....

    http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/endeavour-main/canvas-index.html

    Sumner
    ================================================================
    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...
    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
     


  7. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,837 posts, 916 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    I absolutely agree on the zipper thing. If you can't get plastic zippers strong enough for the job, talk to a professional canvas person about options.
    Our Bimini is over ten years old and still going strong. We have been on several other P-530's, all with different dodger/Bimini configurations, we feel we got really lucky.
    As with yours, we have full headroom fore to aft and plenty more, and that is a super plus! We also have clear side panels on the dodger, which I prefer to the cave like effect of the non-seethrough side panels. Ours had a zipper separation between the dodger and the Bimini, but we never used it and eventually the solar panels mounted above the Bimini closed off that option.
    Whatever material the windows are, it is amazing. Still perfectly clear after all these years. We fold the middle one up about in half. I feel rolling them scratches them and shortens their life.
    We have given a lot of thought to what would make the best dodger/Bimini combo for us and we are leaning toward at least the dodger having a hard top. One advantage would be a solid window in the middle with a windshield wiper. It could still fold up from the middle or so. We stand in the companionway (with a 360 view) when squalls and things are going on around us and it is important to us to do so and stay dry.
    A complete hard top would have a window down the middle to view the sails, but have sectional blinds, so when unneeded, we can block the sun.
    One thing we have done is connect the dodger frame to the Bimini frame with a horizontal bar. This strengthens both and is a very useful as a hand hold when stepping out onto the deck from the cockpit.
    looking at the photog 2.JPG
     


  8. rortega46

    rortega46

    Joined Dec 23, 2009
    40 posts, 1 likes
    Catalina 34
    US New Orleans Marina
    There are some great ideas in this thread.

    My top take-always so far....
    1. As capta says, full head room fore and aft is nice. I don’t understand why some think it gives better vision if the dodger is lower than the bimini.
    2. I like capta’s idea about connecting the bimini frame and dodger frame with a horizontal bar for added strength and a handhold.
    3. It’s a good idea to cover zippers in direct sun with a sunbrella flap to preserve them.
    4. Zip-in connectors between the bimini and dodger are rarely installed or removed. They are usually always in or always out. Maybe it’s too much trouble.
    5. No one has experience with a connector like the Beneteau 38 I describe with straps that make it easy to quickly unzip and fold back the connector. It would be nice if this process were easy for a quick change, like after sunset in the summer when it’s cools off and to be able to see the night sky, or when racing to better see sail trim and the masthead wind vane.
    5. Bimini window configurations vary widely but it seems best not to roll up to avoid scratching. It is better to either remove or fold up windows without creasing them. For fold up the lens could be held against the bimini roof with snaps to hold them open for ventilation.
    6. I’ll consider using fasteners in lieu of a zipper for the bimini/dodger connection.

    Keep the comments and ideas coming if you got ‘em.
     


  9. rortega46

    rortega46

    Joined Dec 23, 2009
    40 posts, 1 likes
    Catalina 34
    US New Orleans Marina
    Capta, I like your YouTube videos linked in your post, and the quote from Bernard Moitessier ”...give me wind, and I’ll give you miles...”
     


    capta likes this.
  10. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,837 posts, 916 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Thanks. Sadly, since we started chartering, we haven't had time to do any more. After messing with making these little ones, I'm amazed that those who produce the more polished and professional looking ones while sailing, have the time to do them and sail.
     


  11. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,685 posts, 1,348 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    Because on a wet, foggy or rainy day, especially with low light, looking through a plastic dodger window is akin to looking through a fogged up shower door. Better to not have it in your line of vision from the helm.
     


    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
  12. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,837 posts, 916 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    I haven't found that to be true with our set up. If not for the dodger, I'd need a mask or goggles to see in the squalls and inclement weather.
     


  13. dLj

    dLj

    Joined Mar 23, 2017
    310 posts, 118 likes
    Hunter 30
    US Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
    Nobody has really said what material they prefer for the windows. The two terms Eisenglass and Makrolon are trade names, the first is an acrylic and the second a polycarbonate. Traditionally acrylic is more UV resistant than polycarbonate, but they have a lot of modern formulations that are changing that. Thoughts?

    dj
     


  14. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,837 posts, 916 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    There are materials other than and better than Eisenglass that have been mentioned on the boating forums before, but I didn't pay too much attention then. I have to assume that is what we have and I would love to know what it is. After all these years, ours are still soft and very flexible, not to mention clear.
     


  15. Sumner

    Sumner

    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,180 posts, 228 likes
    Macgregor 26S/Endeavour 37 .
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    [​IMG]
    We used 30 gauge Crystal Clear from Sailrite and they recommended it since we wanted to take the dodger up and down. If you leave it up all of the time you might want to consider one of the 40 gauge options.
    [​IMG]
    When the dodger is stored the front window gets wrapped in an old sheet to keep it from getting scratched and is stored in a separate bag shown above.

    http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/endeavour-main/canvas-index.html

    Sumner
    ============================================================================
    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...
    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
     


  16. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,685 posts, 1,348 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    It isn’t that simple. All these products are spec’d for UV exposure. Strataglass is a layered product, top shelf, regolite is coated, makrolon is also coated. They all come in various thicknesses that will have to match the application. And all of them will benefit from having covers made to protect them. So, what you decide to build will determine what materials a canvas shop uses. As will your budget.
     


  17. dLj

    dLj

    Joined Mar 23, 2017
    310 posts, 118 likes
    Hunter 30
    US Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
    I think you read my post too fast - I thought, or at least tried, to express the complexity... The issue for me, is not what my canvas shop uses - either I will tell them what to use or I might end up as my own "canvas shop".

    I'm much more interested in folks direct experience.

    Capta, I would love to know what your windows are made from. You sail in the Carribean, correct? That's a tough place for poly windows....

    dj
     


  18. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,837 posts, 916 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Yep, me too! That is why I put it out there like that. We don't even wash them in fresh water all that often but do use fresh water to wash them, when we do. No covers or sun shades either. Amazing stuff.
     


  19. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,685 posts, 1,348 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    So I have had dodgers with the commonly used commericial plastic boat window materials - Strataglass, Regolite and Makrolon. They are all good quality products, sold at different price points, and thickness specific to application (roll-up, fold-down, curve radius, etc). What you end up with depends on your design. Brand of window material is minor, material characteristics and thickness are more important.
     



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