[Public-List] A30 Dodger

David Van Denburgh via Public-List public-list at lists.alberg30.org
Thu Sep 11 13:23:01 PDT 2014

Jeff asked the question about Sailrite's dodger kit. I built one a few years back for my Cape Dory 36. At the time, it was just what I needed: a straightforward kit that didn't require expensive specialized equipment or tons of experience.

Here are a few observations about Sailrite and the kit. First, Sailrite is awesome to deal with. They are knowledgeable and extremely helpful. You will receive plenty of support if you need it. Their kits are complete. There might be a few extra bits that you could buy to make the job simpler, but all the necessary parts come standard with the kit. Sailrite's instructions are carefully written and revised over the years, so there isn't much guesswork - yes, you'll have to get creative at some points, but you won't be utterly confused.

Like all kits and one-size-fits-all applications, there are limitations: 1) the bows are designed in three pieces: two hockey-stick shaped uprights and one straight center piece to join the uprights together. The center pieces are (or were) straight, which means that your dodger will not have any camber to the top - it will be flat across the top. Having camber or arc in the bows is not only more attractive and fitting to the lines of most boats, but it also helps shed water. 2) The three-piece bow design requires splicing the pieces together.

This really isn't a criticism of the design, but simply the reality of the difference between a kit for the do-it-yourselfer and what you get from a professionally-built dodger. Naturally, the quality of the workmanship is only as good as your skill level and the quality of your equipment.

Another consideration is your sewing machine. I bought an LSZ-1 from Sailrite and used it for the dodger. The LSZ-1 is a great machine for DIY-ers, but even it will require some careful handling during construction, especially if you intend to incorporate reinforced areas for chafe protection, etc. Working a heavier gauge window material (that you don't want to scratch) through a small throat area requires care too. A moderate-duty machine like the LSZ-1 (or LS-1) is certainly up to the job, but keep in mind that most home machines are not.

If your labor is cheap - as was mine - and you have the inclination and skill, I say go for it. I'd plan on investing about 40 hrs into the project. You might invest less or more time depending upon the fit and polish you're after, but it's a fairly labor-intensive project, especially the first time through.

Whatever you decide, a dodger is a wonderful addition to a boat. I know a lot of people dislike them, but when you spend weeks aboard at a time and cover a fair bit of water in all kinds of weather, the dodger makes life aboard much more pleasant.

Good luck.

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