The Dodger Begins to Take Shape

My brother's picture of yours truly beavering away on the patterning.  (those of you who know him may recognize his thumb in the upper left corner)

In a scant four weeks I expect to pass through the Ballard Locks heading to Sitka.  I've carefully organized my task list so as to maximize the drama of these last few weeks.  Spring varnishing is underway,  and it looks like the weather for that will cooperate.  Why settle for the unvarnished truth when you can have sparkle plenty, as my Mom is wont to say?

But the real drama is all about the dodger.

I've known I needed to make one since a day two years ago in early August in the Broughton Islands with Terry.  The warming summer sun was obscured by a weeping marine layer.  I was wearing every stitch of clothing I had with me -- five layers -- and I was still cold. In August. Protection against wind and spray will be pretty important (which is why I left it to the last possible moment). Knowing you're going to be hanged in the morning wonderfully concentrates the mind.

So, I ordered the Sailrite video on building dodgers, and arranged for a local company, King Marine Canvas,  to fabricate a two-bow, 1" stainless steel dodger frame.  Sailrite offers kits with all the materials, including sectional frames, but I really did not want to go the sectional route.  I want the frame as strong as it can be.  King Marine worked with me to get the frame right, coming to the boat to measure, and they got the job done quickly, in spite of being very busy.  I am grateful!

The prospect of adding a bunch of stainless steel hardware to Ripple's traditional aesthetics is offputting, to say the least, and the dodger further demands the addition of combing boards to the house top to carry the fasteners that will allow the canvas to be fixed along its lower margins.  Ideally the frame would be on the boat to help define the shape of these combing boards, but there is a chicken-and-egg conundrum here, as the dodger pivot fasteners bear on the combing boards as well.


These boards will help distribute the stresses on the dodger as well as providing a substrate for the fasteners.  As my house top is a traditional Irish felt and canvas, this is particularly important, as fastening any hardware directly to the cabin top would almost certainly induce premature failure of the cabin top surface.  I am hopeful that the boards I've fabricated will distribute stress sufficiently to avert this.  I guess we'll find out.

The dodger DIY video arrived Monday, Tuesday I got a call that the frame was ready, and I had it adjusted and installed that day.  Today my brother Randy helped me pattern the canvas, and as soon as I can gather the requisite materials, I'll be sewing.  Maybe not so much drama as I had planned for.

Given that Ripple will spend most of her hours dodger-less, making these additions as unobtrusive as possible and aesthetically consistent with the look of the boat is important to me.  I have done the best I can.  Shelter from a rainy Spring wind will be my consolation for whatever aesthetic indignities I have visited upon my boat.




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