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Embarking on an enclosure project

Macboy

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Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
If there was a single certainty in my life as far as sailing goes it is this. Bugs could very well put an immediate full-stop to all of my family sailing hopes and dreams.

Our inland lakes in Alberta are wonderful - even more wonderful for these little (I call them) fish flies. I know they're harmless. But try telling that to a daughter who is petrified of anything flying. The list of all of the "for the family" creature comforts to come to our Mac includes dedicated USB charge outlets in the berths, led reading lights and a composting toilet complete with urine diversion. On top of all of this I'm going to attempt to enclose the cockpit with a proper dodger, bimini/canopy and sidewall setup. So hear my plan and please, tell me if you can foresee any better way about this. I've virtually memorized Sumner's mods and will be incorporating some of them. Ditto that for the Analog Engineering listed mods.

Here's my (current) plan. Our Mac has a bimini already. I haven't had a good look to see if the tubes are single spans or if they are riveted together. I'm hoping they are at the very least some sort of universal kit that can then be disassembled and reconfigured. I found another universal bimini kit on Amazon that has an additional tube on each side making a second hard point mount to the coaming. I'd ideally use that bimini as the rear portion.
Bimini on Amazon

THEN I'd disassemble the current bimini and cut/shorten/narrow/bend as required to create the two bows to form the upper and forward bows for a dodger frame, the front most fabric running down to the deck attaching with swivels or snaps - most likely snaps as I assume they'd be less snaggy in general? This dodger would either be forward enough or wide enough that I could still operate both winches. In any case it would be tall enough that the pop top could be opened. (We can currently sail with the pop top in the up position without boom interference - PO may have raised the boom?) And no, no boom vang.

Join the dodger to the bimini top with a zip in panel protected by rain flaps. Ditto for side curtains - zip in at the top to the bimini top as required and then snaps on the coaming, zips to join the sides. More window/screen than fabric on the sides to stay nice and bright in the cockpit. I guess a window on the roof for sail monitoring. Or figure out a way to make it "convertible". Just the bimini part - not the dodger part. The dodger would have to go on and off when the boat was splashed and taken out otherwise it'd interfere with mast stepping.

I've got an old, heavy duty sewing machine that should be able to punch through five or six layers of sunbrella etc. It's all set up with industrial needles and industrial threads. I can't fit the binding attachment so I'd have to do that part the old fashioned way.

Am I crazy? I looked at the BWY dodger for the X and don't think (but don't know) that it'll work at all - even as a starting point for a classic Mac. I'm not scared of the patterning process at all and understand that the bimini frames will need horizontal bracing. I have a 3d printer and can model and print any fittings I'd need in addition to the ones the kit comes with. I have searched and searched over the years and haven't seen anything "typical" on the classics. I've seen Habitent and while a good idea, seems a bit spendy for something that won't be a GREAT fit for the boat.

I'm sure I'm overlooking something(s) here. Please, anything you think I ought to know or give some thought to, let me know.
 
Feb 21, 2013
2,930
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Last edited:
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Macboy

.
Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
It looks like my best bet might be to “sort of” fashion a frame system that would hold the pop top cover in place without the pop top lifted. That’s about as close to a typical dodger as I’ll be able to get. Which is fine. Makes for some easy sewing for that part of the project. Of course I can’t literally use the pop top cover since I’ll need to add some width to accept the tubular frame. And I’d wan5 the front windowed anyway - not solid like the current pop top cover.
 

Macboy

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Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
I've just ordered a 3 bow bimini top kit that I'll cut and bend to suit my needs as well as a dozen yards of patterning fabric and tapes. The best bang for the buck is/was a bimini top kit from the Amazon that I'll just find something to repurpose the "free with purchase" top fabric for. I'll be ordering Sunbrella once the patterns are ready. The place I am ordering the supplies from (JTsOutdoorFabrics in Canada) had a bare tube three bow kit but the ones on the Amazon have two extra legs instead of straps front and rear - I just wanted some extra tubing since I'll need short bits to build rigid supports for the dodger setup. I feel like the hardest part is going to be getting the frames set just right. The patterning process and sewing don't intimidate me.
 

Macboy

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Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
My patterning materials arrived today - the bimini frame should arrive tomorrow or the next day. I bought a four bow kit so that I would have eight pre-bent corners and four arched top tubes to work with along with an extra set of jaw slide/hinge fittings vs what I would have received had I just ordered a three bow bimini. I will need to drill out the rivets and cut the tubes as required to do what I hope to do but I think it's still cheaper than buying all the pieces separately. So here's the plan that I've come to thus far.

I'm going to attach awning track to the forward, port and starboard edges of the pop top. I'm deciding now between Flex-a-rail or typical aluminum track as they both have different profiles and I feel like the Aluminum track's profile might be a better option. Into this I'll be inserting zippers (sewn to Keder welt with appropriate fabric rain flap over top). This way I can quickly zip and unzip the side curtains.

The side curtains will be mostly "window". The forward curtain will actually reach all the way to the mast and zip around the front of the mast which will hopefully provide enough angle to shed any spray to port or starboard rather than just taking it blunt. Not that I anticipate sailing in smashing seas - I just think it'll be a nice "finished appearance". I saw a pop top cover on a C25 that reached forward around the mast and liked it. Not sure if this will be all one piece or zipped such that it would break down to three pieces. I'm feeling like just one piece might be fine. Perhaps I'll need to make the windows screened and zippered. They will attach to the deck with twist locks most likely.

I'll then set a bimini bow up across the top of the companionway, as far aft as I'm able without interfering with the mainsheet and as wide to the outer edges of the coamings as I can. I want to ensure that the winches are still easily operable and access to the foredeck is still safe and convenient. I'll then pattern "wings" to transition from the pop top fabric to this bimini tube, securing along the outer edge of the coamings with snaps.

Leaving a little gap for the main sheet I'll then install a very typical bimini structure that reaches from this main sheet gap to just past the end of the boom. Side curtains down to the outside of the coamings, secured with snaps. It's from this point aft that I'm not sure what my a plan will be. Part of this whole plan involves installation of four 40w solar panels on top of an arch of some sort (saw a great article in Good Old Boat about two years ago and will build my arch using their build as inspiration).

I had thoughts of lifting the enclosed area to standing height aft of the boom but after drawing it out a few times it looks really terrible - and windage! Oh my! So I'm considering taking the enclosure straight back at the same level/height as the "just clearing the bottom of the boom" bimini. Which then means I'll need a zip or velcro quick-roll "hatch" (kinda like the companionway slider) so that getting in and out of the boat from the swim ladder isn't like crawling into the aft berth. Or MAYBE I'll lift that back bit but only 6-8" so that if I were to sit on the laz hatch (higher than the cockpit seats) I still have ample headroom.

Not sure what to do about closing up the motor well space (bug prevention being one of the goals here).

It also means the rail mounted BBQ will need to either get a much longer arm and be a dockside grill or come off entirely and be a shore-grill only. Not sure how I feel about that as I do love the grill on board. Maybe there is heat safe fabric I can put just around that section of the enclosure.

Pics will be added to this thread as the project gets going. Please, if anyone sees any issues with my thinking or has other things they think I should think about, let me know. Costs (in Canadian dollars) to this point is as follows:
Used, heavy duty sewing machine - $100
Patterning material (12 yards) - $25
Seamstick tape - $15
Four bow bimini top kit (Amazon) - $242
Running total: $382

I'm guessing I'll need 4+ yards of 60" Sunbrella so let's call it 5 yards @ $35/yd = $175
Window material (Cheaping out on this one a bit) - $80
Probably two more rolls of Basting tape - $30
Hopefully just one roll of Tenara thread - $170 (I still can't get over THAT one!)
Misc fasteners and accessories like the awning track, zippers etc - $175 - $200

Shooting for just over one boat buck. Not bad.
 
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Cmackg

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May 5, 2018
35
Macgregor 25 Home
I took an old tent and made a popup tent -- used the mosquito netting from it, etc. So my enclosure covers the cabin, not the bimini area, but you can certainly expand from the idea.
 

Macboy

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Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
I wonder if I saw yours at one point in my life. Did you do it a while ago? I actually found a giant tent to attempt the same sort of thing with a couple of years ago but it sat on the to do list. I wonder if I should look at that once more before committing the boat buck (gotta love the Amazon return policy).....
 

Macboy

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Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
I received the fabric swatches yesterday. After reading so many posts about "another blue enclosure" I thought I'd have a look at Sunbrella Slate (too dark for me), Tan (pretty nice....reminds me of like a high end ragtop convertible luxury car?) and Turquoise (the family favourite but awful close to "another blue boat enclosure". Has anoyone ever seen canvas work made from the tan or turquoise in person?
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,252
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
If your planning on using it during the summer for bugs, I’d consider making panels out of screen door material. It’s going to get hot in there fully enclosed.
 

Macboy

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Aug 8, 2014
253
Macgregor 26S Sherwood Park, Alberta
Thanks for those pics/tips guys. I see bits of both that I'll take into consideration. I've decided on the canvas color (Sunbrella Tan) but haven't go the frame set up yet or the patterns made. Hopefully I get to that within the next two weeks. Summer is here finally so the pressure is on.