Creating a New Bimini

Sept. 4, 2017, 10:41 a.m.

Starting the bimini

The one thing we found when we did the two day sail was the problem of being under the sun all day. Back in the spring we had bought a bimini and dodger kit from Sailrite and so this weekend (a long weekend including Friday which is a public holiday) we decided to start it. My expectation was that we could get the metalwork done on Friday morning, the templates done on Friday afternoon and get the sewing done on Saturday/Sunday. How wrong I would be! On Friday we started the metal work... well... we worked out what we wanted to do, which was to modify the original plan from Sailrite to try to make a significantly bigger bimini. The original plan was for a 2 bow bimini and a very large 2 bow dodger and to join the two together. However, the 2 day sail had shown that sailing in the Mediterranean you really want all the wind you can get to cool you down except for rare occasions when you need some protection. So we modified the plan to become a very large double 2 bow bimini with a much smaller dodger. This was possible because we had the old bow from the old dodger to be part of the new kit. Having done the planning we then worked out the metalwork, cut and fixed in place. That was a whole days work and we ended up Friday evening with the metalwork in place but nothing more. Tim remarked that his uncle used to say projects take twice and long and cost twice as much as you expect. Saturday the whole day was taken up with making the templates... and making a work space in Tim's sunroom for sewing and other boat related work over the winter. Sunday we started the sewing. By the evening we had got the first of three panels completed. Hopefully it will go quicker as we become more competent with the sewing machine and cutting out the material etc. Our final job for the weekend was to take the completed panel down and check it on the boat. Yes, looks good... now just to complete it.

 Sewing... sewing... sewing... a bimini

 Seems we're always sewing these days. We started making a bimini with a kit from Sailrite two weekends ago and thought we'd get it completed in a weekend. Wrong!
Tim has converted his sun room into a 'sail loft'. Since its a penthouse apartment, it really is a 'loft'!
At the far end of the room we have a work surface that he found as someone was throwing it out and with the addition of five 2 euro Ikea legs we now have a very good working area for the sewing.
Before you sew though you have to cut out the Sunbrella, which we do with a hot knife. Hence the MDF on the floor to protect the tiles.  Well... when I say hot knife I mean soldering iron to use as a hot knife.
A real hot knife costs about a couple of hundred dollars, so we found a high temperature soldering iron and find that works quite as well. We created Sunbrella tubes with zips along them to hold the Bimini onto the frame. Fitting long zips to these thin tubes proves easier than I expected. It was about the only thing that was easier than expected.
The sewing machine was inherited with the yacht and is about as old as the yacht (more than 35 years). Solid as a rock. When we first used it we broke about 5 needles so we took it to the Singer shop in Larnaca and got it serviced. Net result was that we haven't broken one needle on the whole project!
You need two or three people for this. The electric drive for the sewing machine is dead so Tim acts as the drive motor, holding everything steady while I feed into the foot.
In order to feed some of it through you have to roll up one side. That we found was a three person job.
To start with we let gravity pull the material through while I guided. This resulted in very uneven stitches, and having a third person take the weight of the cloth improved things no end.
We had hoped to finish by the end of the day, but we made a mistake sewing one panel in the wrong way round and had to unpick and start again. We lost about an hour and a half over that.
However, by the end of the day we did have all the panels together and took it down to the boat to measure for the final zip placement. We really want to have as much shade as possible, so we have made what amounts to a four bow bimini, or you could consider it two two bow biminis joined together in the middle. Our original design had been for a king dodger joined to a two bow bimini, but we like the air flow because of the Mediterranean heat, so have reduced the dodger for inclement weather and increased the bimini.
The photo shows it in place with safety pins holding the final zip.

Bimini finished

Yes at last the bimini is finished and we will fit it this Saturday. This evening we sewed the final pieces of tape along the sides and did the final trimming and finishing. We still have tapes to make, but we will use cord/line on Saturday to work out the best placement and then make tapes to fit.

Dodger finished

Yesterday evening Tim and I spent an hour finishing off the dodger: Sewing in the clips for the cover for the plastipane. We particularly wanted to cover the plastipane as the Mediterranean sun really destroys it making it somewhat opache over time. This morning very early (7:30) we went down to fit it. We're really pleased with the result. You can also see the lazy jacks we fitted over the weekend.

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