DIY Dodger and Bimini

Well, the time has come to replace my aging bimini. I never liked it. It looked more like a tent than something that belongs on a boat. When I first got Revenge I had to cut down the bimini because I couldn't sail with it up ... and everybody knows I'm much too lazy to take it down and put it back up every time I wanted to sail. Besides, who ever heard of such a thing. But you couldn't see over it and in bad weather you couldn't see through it.

Now you all know I bought a sailrite sewing machine last year and I've had a little practice with it making a mast cover and other small projects. Making a proper dodger and bimini though, this is a serious project. The materials came close to $2000. Making a mistake could leave me with and expensive pile of junk. I used Sea Mark instead of Sunbrella, more expensive but it should last a lot longer ... I hope.

There was lots of planning, lots and lots of planning. I never did anything like this before so I spent a long time thinking about how it should look and freting over the details. How do I finish the edges? How do I put in the zippers? Where should I use Velcro, snaps and zippers?

I took a couple of trips to the Sailrite store just to ask questions. They have a set of CD's that takes you through the entire process. I had a hard time getting it to play though. It's a good thing I'm a computer geek with 3 cd players and 2 operating systems.

I had to hack the CD's and copy the videos to a linux system to view them. They were worth every bit of the fuss, answering many of my questions and helping gather the confidence to do it.

So, armed with a detailed plan, a how to CD and Dan from Sailrite not too far away I ordered the materials and started to work. First I cut the existing bows to the correct size for their new positions. I needed one new bow made. Now how hard could that be. I have one that's just the right size, make me another one just like that. It must be a lot harder than I thought, the cost was over $300. Apperently it took a $90 an hour rocket scientist 2 hours to put 2 bends in a piece of pipe. Guess what I'm gonna do when I retire?

All right, didn't see that coming, did I? Moving foward I got all the bows taped up in place like the CD showed and made patterns with this clear plastic stuff. I cut all the patterns out. And then scissors in hand I took a deep breath and started cuting the expensive Sea Mark. It was scary and it took a couple of weekends to cut all the pieces - there were 24 individual pieces of Sea Mark - and sew everything together.

Do you remember that old comercial, "Give it to Mikey." "Hey Mikey, he likes it!" Well, it was that kind of moment! First I finished the dodger and slipped it over the bows. IT FIT! Next was the bimini. IT FIT TOO! Finally I made the last measurement on the bridge cloth, sewed the last edge up and guess what? IT FIT TOO!

So there you have it. If I can make a compilcated dodger and bimini like this one ... anybody can. All it takes is careful planning and patience. Do you know what the best part is? I can point to my new canvas and say, "I made that!"

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