The Dodger: A Gentleman's "B"



I finished the sewing for the dodger on Saturday, but didn't have the nerve (and the snaps) to try to fit it to the boat until today.  The most difficult aspect of the process of patterning and sewing is that you have little sense of whether you're accurate enough until the end.  The very end.

Today, under warm sun, I installed the snaps (every 4 inches) and studs, working from the front and moving around 1 snap on each side at first, then a pair at a time.  They all went in securely and easily.
I set the snaps in the canvas by hand, rather than with a fancy snap tool, but it went ok.


The straps I will set to the forward jamb cleats in the cockpit, the forward most hardware that exists in the cockpit.  The angle is slightly acute (less strong), but the whole assembly seems to be plenty strong enough, and not too difficult to move around in order to gain access to the foredeck.


I am thinking about how to do an extension (about 24 inches) aft from the aft bow, to increase the rain protection.  I installed a long zipper the length of the tails on the dodger in anticipation of this possibility.  I'll use a collapsable tent pole to spring the aft edge and keep the whole thing taut.

The sewing was challenging.  The SailRite LZ1 is about the lowest level of machine competent to do the sort of sewing called for.  The walking foot is essential to feeding through multiple layers of canvas, window vinyl, and leather, without skipping stitches.  The problem comes when you have to feed an unwieldy 9 foot assemblage and keep it feeding past the needle evenly so stitches are straight, fair, and even.  I failed in this objective many times, and the result is drunken stitchlines or worse.

I improved as the process went on, but it is hard to do 20 feet or more of curvaceous top stitching at a go without making mistakes.  More experience and talent would help here, but the whole process would be far easier with a larger sewing surface that is smooth, slick, and easy to maneuver the work on.  My side table is a mere 2 feet by 6.  Four feet by eight would much better and twice that would not be excessive.  A dining room table might work for an exceptionally talented sewer, but that ain't me.

The video from SailRite was excellent. There were points where things might have been clearer, but over all, it was very good, and essential, really.  I don't know how one could do the job without it.

The folks at King Marine Canvas were very good to me.  The got me materials in a timely fashion and a good price, and their expertise at frame design and construction really worked well for me.  No one will mistake my workmanship for a professional's, but I am very pleased with the result, and it passes muster for the "50 foot boat" test -- looks good from 50 feet.


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