Friday, April 26, 2013

Planning A New Bimini!

Nirvana's "First Sail" ... or actually OUR "First Sail" in Feb, 2010 before her visit to the boatyard.  
She looks better with age!

We love our bimini and wouldn't cruise with it.  However, the bimini that came with the boat has a few rips and tears and has seen better days.   Since we now have a new sail pack, we figured it was time to get a new bimini.  As you can see in the picture above, our bimini is pretty big.  We love the shade it provides, and we want to keep the original aluminum frame. 

As with any boat project, there's so many things to think about and learn!  Planning our new bimini is no exception.  When Ken removed our original bimini from its frame, we thought we'd just bring it to a local seamstress and be done.  But then I started thinking ... that can be dangerous!  Wouldn't it be nice to have a plastic window in the ceiling this time?  Okay, we want the plastic window ... which plastic is best?  If  we have a plastic window, perhaps we should have a piece of Sunbrella that will cover the plastic when not in use .. perhaps with velcro, or maybe a zipper?  Oh, and wouldn't it be nice to have zippers or snaps on the back and sides of the bimini so we could easily attach fabric for shade/privacy or more plastic for protection from the rain?  Then my mind starts racing ... what color do we want the zippers, and what about the thread?  Hmmm ... have to look at our sail pack and see what color that thread is.  I think I'd like black zippers on our green Sunbrella ... gotta make sure I tell the seamstress we want Marine Sunbrella.

Then there's the issue of our boom rubbing on our bimini .. it does.  If you look at the first picture you can see how far the boom extends over the bimini.  The backstay also rubs sometimes.  Our original bimini had some sort of black vinyl across the exterior front (see last picture below), which we assume was due to the rubbing.  We've decided to buy some green marine vinyl and have it sewn on top of the area that rubs. 

My search begins on plastic window material. I did some quick research yesterday and it seems that Strataglass is one of the better products, but it's not cheap!  I considered a less expensive product since the only way to buy Strataglass was in bulk.  However, the Strataglass had some great reviews and if I could just find a place that sold smaller pieces ... After surfing the internet I found a site called Sailmaker's Supply, which sells it in 54" widths by the foot.  It's $28 ft, and we only need one foot so I was sold.  Pretty cheap for a window on our bimini.    

Ken wasn't trying to be precise, but marked the area with blue tape that we'd like a "window".

We were a little stressed about finding a seamstress for our bimini.  We loved the work that Robin did on our sail pack, but she said that she prefers smaller jobs so we were a little lost.  Luckily, just two days ago a mutual friend told us of another local lady that works with canvas.  I met with her yesterday at my office.  I brought our original bimini with me and gave it to her to duplicate.  After meeting Jackie, I'm sure we'll be happy with her work as well.  She gave me a rough idea on the price, about $600.  Since this is canvas and a boat project, that's about what we expected.  We were hoping for a little less, but this includes not only the labor but all the materials (except the Strataglass), including 8 yds of Marine Sunbrella, marine thread, zippers and velcro.

Jackie liked the idea of zippers on the edge of the bimini, and she also had a great suggestion about zippers.  She suggested that she sew zippers on the areas of the bimini that attach to the frame.  What a great idea!  This will allow us to remove the bimini without having to take the frame apart.  It wasn't easy for Ken to remove our original bimini.  We told her to go ahead with that, and decided to bring the bimini back to her later (since it's so easy to remove) to have her add zippers on the edges.  We can't buy the materials for the sides just yet, so we'll have that done when we do.  She'll then add zippers to the fabric as well.  Oooh,  I could also get screens.  Does it ever end?!

The picture below shows the strip of vinyl that we think is there due to the boom rubbing on it.  You can also see some of the tears on the bimini.

After asking you guys your suggestions on our Facebook page, several of you mentioned that we really need a dodger ... perhaps instead of a bimini.  A dodger isn't on our "Becoming A Cruiser" list, but it's not because we don't want one.   We understand the comfort and protection that a dodger provides, but it's just not in our budget at this time and we're already spoiled by the bimini.  I guess I should add it to our list with a "?", as we did other items.  We know we can't have it all, and we'll add things as we feel the need and when we can afford it.  Getting out there safely and soon is our main concern for now.  Keep the suggestions coming!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!


Sandee said...

You've already figured out the most important part. Everything has to be marine strength if you want it to last. It's just what has to happen.

Have a fantastic day and weekend. ☺

Anonymous said...

One thing we really liked-- side screens made of Phiffertex material. It is a open weave material that blocks out about 80 or 90 percent of the sun but allows a cooling breeze through. Ours zipped along the sides and back of the bimini and tied down on the bottom. You can take a shower in the cockpit without showing too much of those good bits. You see a shadow but not the details. The shape is simple so it was fairly cheap and easy to make.
A dodger really will make your time in the cockpit better. Sometimes the wind just blows too much for too long. The wind break makes for a lot more usable space when you are tired of being cooped up below. Ken

Pamela said...

I am glad to learn about Sail Maker's Supply. Do you know about Sailrite? A great resource for materials, instructions and how-to videos. Great customer service, too.


SY Sophia said...

H there. I'm just a random reader who stumpled upon your blog and I may be a little late with my two cents.
Our bimini has gutters on each side and a skin fitting in the middle of each gutter so that we can catch rain water. It's actually our main water supply, especially in places where it rains regularary. It's good because it's always up, all we got to do is hook up hoses and containers, no fiddling with a seperate catcher.
We don't have a window and we don't ever miss it.
My boy friend is a sail maker (and can do canvas too), so I'm very lucky he can make these things himself and exactly how we want it.
Cheers, Astrid

Drew Frye said...

I can't remember if you have solar panels, but this would be a good time to consider the options, perhaps somewhere around 200 watts.

Also consider white on the top of the bimini; we had a green we painted white on top, and it made quite a difference in the sun. I'm surprised this sort of 2-tone is not common. You really only notice it on really hot days, but you might experiment with the old one.

Tasha Hacker said...

Just as Drew said, I was going to suggest the Solbian flexible solar panels for the top of your bimini!


Ken n Cheryl said...

Great ideas! We will add zippers and panels for wind/rain/shade protection next Spring. Privacy for showers in the cockpit would be a nice perk. Gutters to collect rain sound interesting!

Drew & Tasha .. those Solbian flexible panels sound great! We just wonder about how long they'll last compared to the traditional, and they're more expensive. But, they're flexible and light. We'll have to look into these a little further, because they would be nice! We may place solar panels on the bimini, or perhaps on davits.

Pamela, we're very familiar with Sailrite and our Sail Pack kit is from them. Great stuff!

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