DIY Hardtop Dodger

My ketch Silverheels didn’t have any cockpit canvas when I bought her, just an old two-bow dodger frame. I had visions of installing a hard dodger and bimini, but a lack of time, patience and skill caused me to opt for a hardtop for the dodger frame instead.
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My DIY hardtop was easy to build and looks great on my dodger frame

My DIY hardtop was easy to build and looks great on my dodger frame

My ketch Silverheels didn’t have any cockpit canvas when I bought her, just an old two-bow dodger frame. I had visions of installing a hard dodger and bimini, but a lack of time, patience and skill caused me to opt for a hardtop for the dodger frame instead.

I wasn’t confident I could lay up a fiberglass hardtop from scratch, so I used a couple of sheets of white prefab glass panels from Home Depot. Normally used to panel bathrooms, these handy 4.5 x 8.5ft sheets aren’t especially strong, but they’re wonderfully flexible, and I was able to bend them around the outboard ends of my dodger frame. On one side the panels are smooth, on the other, they are textured.

I made templates, cut out the pieces with a jigsaw, and clamped the first piece onto the stainless steel frame with the textured side down. Then I spread an adhesive paste on the panel’s top side and clamped a matching second piece onto it, this time with the textured side up. I also laminated in a 3/8in plywood core in the center section of the hardtop so I could later mount a boom crutch there. Alternatively, I could have cored the entire top with high-density foam. Once the cored section had cured, I drilled and fastened the hardtop edges to the frame tubes with self-tapping screws. Finally, I painted it top and bottom with off-white deck paint to provide extra protection from the elements. The result is a strong good-looking dodger top that should last indefinitely. As I write, it’s six years old and still as good as new.

Tor Pinney has logged 150,000 miles under sail and is the author of Ready for Sea: How to Outfit the Modern Cruising Sailboat.
Visit him at www.tor.cc

TorPinney

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