Early Light
gets a new dodger


The dodger that was on "Early Light" when I purchased her was getting tired, but I managed to squeeze a couple of years out of it so that I could spend my boat bucks on other items of higher priority. Well, the time had come to replace the old dodger. The old dodger was one that was manufactured from a master pattern by Island Nautical in City Island, NY. It was built with sunbrella, but there were several deficiencies and/or flaws.

1. The windows were made from 30 gauge roll plastic which is not nearly as optically clear as sheet plastic.


You can see the lack of
optical clarity in this photo.

2. The vinyl on the top above the aft frame had dried out and was cracking.


The cracking of the dried out
vinyl is very evident in this photo.

3. The stitching had been redone several times and the windows replaced at least once.

4. The sunbrella was starting to show it's age (14 years as best as I can determine).

5. The frame is 7/8 inch aluminum tubing and all of the frame fittings were aluminum.


The light weight 7/8 inch aluminum
tubing can be seen in this photo.

6. The lead for the traveler control lines as well as some halyards was not fair and chafe free.


Halyards obviously chafing
on bottom of dodger.

7. The side panels did not allow for full 360 degree rotation of the winch handles on the primaries.


Lack of clearance for primary winch
handles is evident in this photo

I got quotes from three canvas shops with good reputations and found them all to be within $30 of each other. I contracted with Steve Halley of Creative Canvas Designs in Solomons, MD for a new dodger. Some of the features of the new dodger are listed below.

1. New 1 inch stainless steel frames were bent to the same shape as the old dodger and all new stainless frame hardware was used. The nylon straps to pull the frame aft and tight have been replaced by 1 inch stainless steel struts which makes the frame VERY rigid.

The new 1 inch stainless frame
with struts instead of straps

2. 40 gauge strataglass (sheet vinyl with a scratch resistant coating) was used in all windows to give the best optical clarity.

3. The fabric is Pacific Blue Sunbrella with blue stitching so the stitching does not stand out like the white stitching on the old dodger did.


Steve making dodger patterns
(please forgive the out of focus photo)

4. The side windows are a more modern triangular shape rather than the round ones like the old dodger.

5. The side panels were cut back approx 4 inches to allow for 360 degree winch handle rotation while grinding the primary winches.

6. A zipper was installed to accomodate my existing helmsman fly which is still in perfect shape.

7. All the existing snaps in the coachroof etc. were utilized so as not to necessitate filling any holes in the fiberglass.

8. Chafe protection was installed in the way of all halyards and control lines running forward from inside the dodger.

9. Blue vinyl was used on the top surface of the aftermost frame to eliminate wear and dirt when people grasp it.

When I arrived at the marina this morning, Steve was already there and ready to do the final fitting and the installation of the snaps and other hardware.

The dodger was fitted to the frame and held in place with lots of clamps to properly position all the snap hardware.

Dodger on frame ready to have
snaps installed (The Strata Glass
panels were protected from
scratching with paper)


Steve at work installing snaps

Grommets were set into vinyl reinforced areas to allow for the entry of the traveler control lines.


Close up photo showing entry
of traveler control lines as
well as entry points
for halyards etc.

The new dodger has much better visibility than the old one due to larger "glass" panels and the use of a triangular shaped side port as opposed to the round ones on the old dodger.


The completed dodger

Total cost: $1764.00 (Well worth it in nasty weather!)

All in all, I am extremely happy with the new dodger. I would strongly recommend Creative Canvas Designs to anyone in the Solomons, MD area.


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