Monday, June 25, 2018

Dodger? Why Not?

If you take a walk down any given dock here in the PNW, you will notice that virtually all the sailboats over about 30 feet long will have dodgers (except racing boats of course, but they are a different breed).  And except for a few obviously home-made ones, they are constructed of stainless tubing and canvas.

Have you asked yourself, "Why is this?"  I have.

They are made from stainless tubing and canvas because that is what the aftermarket can most easily produce to custom fit the broad variety of boats.  But these dodgers are not particularly sturdy and the canvas ages out over a decade or so.  And they are all add-ons, and they look it.

Why are these apparently universally desirable items left to the aftermarket to produce?  Why don't the boat manufacturers produce boats with designed-in, molded-in fiberglass dodgers?  If sailboats were cars, the auto manufacturers would be selling them without windshields.  And the aftermarket would be producing vinyl windshields that slowly decayed in the weather.

Question to my readers:  I have been in other parts of the coastal US but wasn't paying attention to the dodger issue.  Is this a universal trend in both temperate and tropical climates?  (I am virtually certain that all ocean-going cruising sailboats have dodgers.)

So. here's the challenge that I issue to Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau, Jeanneau, Morris, Hinkley, etc:
Design and produce sailboat decks with graceful, proportional, integral, fiberglass dodgers.  Dodgers that don't look like clumsy add-ons.
If not on all the boats you sell, then at least offer dodgers as an option.  If you don't try to price gouge on the dodger option, I think you will see that almost all the boats you sell will be ordered with the dodger option.

Come on.  I dare you.




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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catalina actually does offer a factory hard dodger option on all their larger new models. That said, I'm also surprised there aren't more manufacturers offering factory dodgers and/or pilothouse designs.

Deb said...

Funny you posted this just now. I just read a post on one of the sailing Facebook groups I belong to where the gentleman was asking if anyone had ever epoxied their canvas dodger to use it as a mold for a fiberglass one or had actually fiberglassed over their canvas and metal frame. Most of the hard dodgers I’ve seen put here are pretty ugly concoctions of marine plywood glassed over. I second your challenge!

Deb
SV Kintala
www.theretirementproject.blogspot.com

dbostrom said...

Late to this party, but the challenge has gone unanswered, so far.

Our dodger is low and sleek, fits the lines of the boat nicely, looks sporty, presumably is a little less windage in the grand scheme of things. However, my spine is becoming lower in its own way even as I become less sleek and sporty and I can certainly see a day when emerging from the companionway in a hunched position is going to become distinctly awkward and painful.

Plus (and this of course lives as a fantasy) I have the option of --really--- letting KALLISTO show herself to best advantage by entirely stripping the dodger off the boat.

So perhaps dodgers are in a way apparel, something to be donned or doffed and changed as the mood or requirement strikes. We're born naked, are given diapers, eventually choose our own clothing and then follow fashion or function where it may or must lead.

dbostrom said...

Late to this party, but the challenge has gone unanswered, so far.

Our dodger is low and sleek, fits the lines of the boat nicely, looks sporty, presumably is a little less windage in the grand scheme of things. However, my spine is becoming lower in its own way even as I become less sleek and sporty and I can certainly see a day when emerging from the companionway in a hunched position is going to become distinctly awkward and painful.

Plus (and this of course lives as a fantasy) I have the option of --really--- letting KALLISTO show herself to best advantage by entirely stripping the dodger off the boat.

So perhaps dodgers are in a way apparel, something to be donned or doffed and changed as the mood or requirement strikes. We're born naked, are given diapers, eventually choose our own clothing and then follow fashion or function where it may or must lead.

Robert Salnick said...

Very well written dbostrom!
Where are you located?

dbostrom said...

I'm in Seattle, pining for our boat at her moorings in Bellingham. Ideally situated for fun but for a pathogical chin-stroker and wrench-turner it's not so wonderful. But we do undoubtedly save a lot of money!

I am a huge fan of your blog because your narratives present cradle to grave history of "hmmm, that could be better," from itching discontent to well-reasoned and workmanlike disposition.

Plus as somebody who has been around the UW from age 6 as faculty offspring to 60 as faculty spouse, your U-Dub affiliation and interesting history just can't help but produce a friendly glow.

Every time we touch at Friday Harbor I think about knocking on your hull but between "tanks must emptied, tanks filled, guests snagged from airplanes" and too shy, I've never done it.

Robert Salnick said...

Thank you so much dbostrom for your kind words! All I can say is that I am disappointed that you did not knock on our hull - we always have beer and wine aboard and would love to share some with you. And you might see us in Blind Bay doing a "wine cruise" (drifting around in our dinghy with a bottle of wine) - please join us if you do!

bob

Deb said...

While I totally get your point dbodstrom, for us a dodger is essential. We have a companionway on our Tartan 42 that only opens on the top. There's no forward opening into the cockpit. The dodger allows us to keep the slider open even in the rain. We couldn't do without it. On open seas, it also serves very well to keep you dry on watch. I love our dodger and rate it as one of the top three projects we did to the boat in terms of cost to reward ratio.

Deb
SV Kintala

dbostrom said...

Yeah Deb, don't get me wrong-- I love our dodger, how it seemingly magically keeps us dry while sitting at the top of the companionway on watch as the boat drives through cold wind and rain. The perfect design for a bimini that does not interfere with sail sight-lines etc. still eludes us, leaving the wheels distinctly exposed-- where would we be without our dodger for the watchkeeper??

My thought is only that a "soft" dodger is mutable, lending itself to adaptation. We chartered a boat in Australia a few years ago and when we brought her in it was minutes before the charter firm was taking down the dodger in preparation for a race (part of quite a transformation; everything movable taken off the boat, tanks emptied etc.)

Honestly, even further along Bob's line of reasoning sometimes a sensitively executed pilothouse sailboat can look very attractive, of a March or November day. :-)

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