R 22

Rhodes 22

 

Bimini

I sail primarily on a high mountain lake in Colorado where the sun is especially brutal, so last year I added a bimini to our boat. Though there are many inconveniences associated with an installed bimini, the advantages are greatly appreciated. In addition to shade, it also provides an extended "covered porch" when used with the pop-top canvas enclosure, allowing sheltered air circulation with the enclosure door open. As an extra bonus, it's great support for a large tarp when wanting spacious, full weather protection in the cockpit.

The major disadvantage, as currently installed, is loss of hiking & walking area on the gunnels between the winches and aft of the cabin. The bimini is mounted just inside the genoa tracks, forward of the winches. The side supports then angle slightly inward, and slope upward, to where they meet up with the cover, which starts just at the cabin back (is this a clear picture?).

These side supports basically prevent sitting, and cause inconvenience when walking forward, on the gunnel area underneath. I'm considering installation of jogs in the bimini support, that would make them parallel the outer rail from their attachments forward to the cabin rear, then jog inward at a 90 degree angle. This seems like it would help clear the underlying gunnel? This may look strange but will it compromise the strength of the bimini frame? Any other thoughts on this, or another solution?

Pamela Vana


I have the bimini on a car on the genoa tracks. If stored aft on the backstays, the mainsheet and the winches would get in the way. If you find an answer I would love it. Iíve been known to leave it on the dock some days.

MJM
07 Oct 1998


I too have the bimini mounted on cars attached to the genoa tracks. We store the top in its zippered boot on top of the cabin. Every time we sailed this summer in winds 15-18 knots or less we sailed with the top and bimini up and this gave us a huge shaded cockpit/cabin area for our average crew size of 5+. If the winds got higher, we rested the bimini on the lowered pop-top and then dropped the boom to the lower position and the boat stiffened right up. While there is some sacrificed space for "butts on the rail" heeling, this trade-off worked for us.

Dave Scofield
s/v Buygones 1995
07 Oct 1998


Making the bimini wider at the top will not help. It will only add none to only a few inches at the gunnel. It will also make going forward more of a problem with it up. Resetting it on the pop-top works, I just do not like it there because getting in the cabin is more of a problem when stored there (At least for me and my size). The bimini on the boom suffer from the fact it will follow the main sail (good at anchor, bad while sailing). I would think about adjustable 90 degree to 0 degree fittings that have little teeth and a setscrew. Use 3, one each side to fold inside poles, and 3 down the centerline to fold over top (cutting access hole from the bottom into the pocket), should end up with stored size of 48" x 12" x 12"; will need a custom storage bag. The down side is setting up will take longer. The up side is there are now a few places to store it out of the way.

Think about it, if we cannot find the fittings, a shop might be able to make them up. Might need few of us to get the run size up, and the cost down.

MJM
S/V Mistress-97


The bimini is real nice when you're not sailing, keeps the rain and sun off the cockpit. I'm not satisfied with how it stores when folded. The bimini top rests on the aft end of the cabin and the "legs" take up gunnel space where the crew (my wife) would like to sit when the boat heels. I'm going to try mounting the bimini on cars that attach to the aft end of the genoa tracks--that way I may be able to shift the folded unit aft to the stern rail. Then it will probably be in my way!

What we need is something that folds up and stows under the seats, so the gunnels are clear. Another engineering project!

Gary Sanford
s/v Raven


After spending several hundred dollars & countless hours of my time in custom designing & building my bimini room, I may not be completely unbiased. However, I think my bimini room is better than a combination of the OEM bimini top & boom room from GBI for the following reasons:

Many pieces of gear on the Rhodes 22 are designed to function in more than one role. Factory standard examples of this strategy would be the dining room table & the companionway hatch board. This strategy has the advantage of providing greater capabilities while saving weight & space. Assuming the goal is to have both a bimini top & boom room, my design gives the capabilities of both.

Storage requirements with my bimini room are less because the bimini top provides the roof & supporting framework for the boom room. These components all store together rolled up under the bimini top. They don't interfere with the operation of the bimini top, when that's all you want & are more quickly deployable for the boom room when you need it. The only bimini room components which must be separately stored are the port & starboard side curtains. These components do not have any rigid pieces/parts, they are just canvas. Thus, they roll up & store very compactly.

I don't know about the OEM bimini top from GBI, but my bimini top has standing headroom under it while also allowing for light air sailing with it up. On a hot day, this makes sailing MUCH more civilized.

Because the bimini top is mounted on swivels on the gunnel, it is always readily available & quick to set-up. My front & rear roof extensions deploy quickly from the bimini & don't involve setting up any other supporting structure. With the pop top & bimini up and the front & rear roof extensions deployed, you create shaded outdoor living area from the mast all the way back to the transom. Since the system is quick & easy to set-up & take-down & already in place on the front & rear of the bimini top, you are likely to use it more often than the boom room.

My front roof extension extends from the leading edge of the bimini top all the way forward to the mast & across the entire width of the boat from lifeline to lifeline. In use with the canvas pop top enclosure, my front roof extension acts like the rain fly on a tent to shed rain overboard. This allows the side windows on the pop top enclosure & the opening ports on the sides of the cabin to be left open for ventillation in all but the most driving rain. The downside of my front roof extension is that it tends to restrict access to the foredeck because it is so wide.

If all you wanted was a bimini top; then, my bimini room would be hideously expensive. In mass production, I suspect it would be slightly more expensive than the current OEM boom room from GBI. Mass produced, my bimini room would certainly be much cheaper than purchasing both the GBI bimini top & boom room while offering the capabilities of both at a significant savings in weight & storage requirements.

We frequently cruise in remote areas. Here in Michigan at certain times of the year, biting insects like mosquettos, no-see-um gnats, & black flies can be a problem, especially near water. Being able to weather proof & bug proof the entire living area is pretty important. The extra storage area made available with my bimini room design can make a significant difference in being able to safely carry all the gear required for the expedition.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
21 Mar 2000


With a project this involved, you've got to start somewhere. I selected this particular bimini top to start with because it was basically the right size. After some calling around, I was satisfied the basic quality of the material & workmanship was high. I knew I was going to be using the bimini top & adding the design elements one by one. That's why I wanted to start with a working bimini.

Why reinvent the wheel or solve a bunch of problems somebody else has already solved? Also, the price was right. The mass produced bimini top was cheaper than I could make myself buying the separate fabric & other pieces/parts. I'd made some careful measurements & drawings. The 72 inch long, 3 bow bimini top was the largest bimini I was able to make fit into the available space without bad interferences.

It turns out, my 72 inch long bimini, with the pivot mounted as described, extends as far aft as the traveller & main sheet geometry permits. A 96 inch long, 4 bow bimini would have to be mounted 24 inches forward relative to mine & then the leading edge would interfere with the pop top & boom vang. Note that I also had to contend with the placement of the port & starboard gates in my railing, which I wasn't about to move! Thus, I really couldn't move the bimini top pivots forward. I believed it was possible to have a bimini top with standing headroom which could still be used for light air sailing.

However, it's difficult to do a sufficiently accurate drawing that incorporates all the geometry & all the elements. There are many potential elements that could screw up & interfere with the boat's ability to sail with the bimini top up. Originally, I had the bimini top pivots mounted on the railing uprights on the rear of the port & starboard side gates. I used a pair of side mount pivots mounted on Helm FHC-12 rail clamps for this. Using the Helm rail clamps, I could experiment with different height settings by sliding the clamps up & down the upright. At any given setting, I could check for interference by actually sailing the boat. I sailed with the bimini mounted in this manner for a whole season.

Eventually, I found a height setting which worked pretty well. The bimini needed to have anti-chafing patches added to the fabric at the peak in the middle & to the port & starboard rear corners. Once I was satisfied with the functioning of the bimini top, I could design the rest of the Bimini Room system. Eventually, I did build a new frame for the bimini top with legs about 10 inches longer which pivoted off of gunnel-mounted pivots.

All of this happened while we were living in Arkansas from 1987 - 1990 & I haven't been able to find the drawing for the final bimini top frame. It may have gotten lost in the move back to Michigan. Or I may not have kept it, probably figuring I'd ever need it again. Anyway, the final height is something like 64 inches. When I get the boat out of winter storage, I'll have to actually measure the frame to tell you exactly how tall it is.

The boat cannot be sailed with the 1st stage of the rear roof extension deployed. The rear roof extension interferes with the main sheet. A longer bimini would have the same problem.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
24 Mar 2000


I see in my catalogs it is possible to buy a Bimini frame without any fabric. If you were starting all over again would you use just a frame and Custom make all the fabric parts, or start with a standard frame and standard fabric?

You used a 3-bow 6 foot long Bimini and added an 18" extension supported by a built-in batten and straps. Do you think that is better than using a 4-bow 8 foot long Bimini and mounting it 6" forward?

Is the 54" Bimini height the maximum possible? Is it the same for IMF?

Bill Effros


Let me try to respond to your questions one at a time:

"Biminis must ship in pieces--how small is the package?"

My bimini top came completely assembled - via truck. The trouble is the center bow of the three bow frame is one piece. This one piece of tubing is bent into a U as wide as the boat & as tall as the bimini top. As I recall, the shipping container was something like 96 inches long x 60 inches wide x 12 inches high.

The bimini frame tubing threads thru sleeves which are sewed into the underside of the bimini top. For extra cost, these sleeves can be fitted with zippers to make attachment & removal of the bimini fabric easier. Without the zippers, all the hinge pivots on the frame tubing must be removed in order to be able to slide the sleeves over the tubing. There are also tie-down straps & straps which control the open position of the bows which must be removed, reattached, & adjusted every time the fabric is removed & reinstalled on the frame.

This is a time consuming procedure which involves many small easy-to- lose pieces/parts & would not be very much fun to do routinely.

"Do you think a collapsing bimini frame is a viable solution?"

As noted above, you would need a bimini top with zippered sleeves. There is no reason why the bimini frame could not be designed to break apart into managable sections. The frame sections would need to have some sort of positive coupling device so they wouldn't come apart if the wind got under the bimini top & lifted it slightly. Some sort of a spring loaded button & hole design would probably work OK for this.

However, even if you did all this, you would still have about 50 square feet of very stiff bimini fabric + a pile of tubing + supporting straps & hardware to store somewhere.

"I would like to have a semi-enclosed space where we could sit in the evening as the temperature drops, and then be able to sleep while retaining the ability to further enclose it if my wife starts to feel cold. I would also like more space in the morning if one of us awakens before the other."

When my family first started overnighting on Dynamic Equilibrium, we used a 10 foot X 12 foot blue poly tarp draped over the boom & tied to the railing with parachute cord for a boom tent. This strategy has several advantages & disadvantages:

+'s:

The blue poly tarp & parachute cord are cheap & available in any hardware store. For a little more money, you could use a HD nylon or Sunbrella acrylic tarp which would last a lot longer than blue poly.

At anchor, where the boat tends to point into the wind, the blue poly tarp is fairly weather proof. At a dock, where the rain might blow in from the stern, it's not so good.

There is standing headroom along the cockpit centerline.

Set-up/take-down time & trouble are not bad.

The tarp & guy lines all roll up into a nice compact package, so storage requirements are not bad.

-'s:

The sloping sides mean there is only sitting headroom along the gunnel. Note that if you got a bimini top & draped the tarp over that, you would have standing headroom all the way out to the gunnels. There was a time while I was building my bimini room that I only had the bimini top, front, & rear roof extensions installed. I had a big piece of mosquetto netting which I could throw over the boom & the bimini top to semi bug proof the cockpit. When it rained, I threw a tarp over the top & secured it in the same manner to semi weather proof the sides of the cockpit.

The tarp boom tent is not bug proof.

The only usable opening is at the stern, so getting on & off the boat is not very convienient.

Access to the foredeck is somewhat restricted.

There are no windows. Sitting out in the cockpit under a tarp boom tent is not as pleasant as you might think. It's dark &, except for what you can see directly astern, there is no pretty sunset or view to gaze upon while you unwind from the day. This is where my bimini room with the bimini top, front & rear roof extensions deployed is great. The roof keeps the dew off, the sides are open to let the cooling breezes blow thru. You sit out in the cockpit with your wife & a drink & watch the sun go down. Ah, how civilized!

Ventillation is poor. It will get incredibly hot under the tarp during the day.

I'm going to make a confession here. Having to set-up the pop top canvas & bimini room canvas every time we stop for the night is a royal PITA. Drying off the canvas in the morning, taking it down, & stowing it probably adds 30-45 minutes to the get ready to leave routine. Everytime I see a big boat simply pull up its anchor & depart while I'm still fooling around stowing stuff away, it makes me extremely jealous. But, this is the reality of cruising on a small boat.

You have to be patient & keep your sense of humor. You're out there enjoying the same water as the big boat while spending 1/4 as much money or less. You have to keep reminding yourself of the other advantages of a small boat, like shoal draft, trailerability, ease of maintenance, etc. You just have to make up your mind that you are going to be "roughing it", i.e. camping out on the water.

My bimini room is probably close to the best that can be achieved with current materials & technology in terms of maximum living space & headroom, ease of getting on & off the boat, minimum storage requirements (assuming you're willing to put up with a bimini top on deck), ease of set-up/take-down, maximum light & visibility while set-up, maximum weather & insect protection, & minimum maintenance. Yeah, it's expensive, but much cheaper than a bigger boat!

I've not seen a free standing tent which would work out in the cockpit. It would be a miracle if you found one that was the right size & shape, but that doesn't mean it's not out there somewhere. If you ever find one, let me know.

The only time we ever take the bimini room off is if Daniel & I are going racing. Why do you feel you'd have to make a decision about whether to leave the bimini top behind or not?

If you really don't want to have a bimini top; then, I'd go with the standard boom room from GBI.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
25 Mar 2000


I face an on-board storage issue that you and other "just pull the boat right up to the house" sailors don't share. You can make Bimini decisions on a trip by trip basis. If I don't want to travel with the Bimini on any given day, I've got to figure out where I'm going to put it and how I'm going to get it there.

Michael suggested some sort of collapsing frame that I pictured as a variation of the GB pop-top mechanism.

Someone else suggested pitching a small free-standing tent in the cockpit.

The appeal of the GB boom room is using structural components already in place, and the ability to stow the rest of it when it's not needed. Your bimini room offers simplicity of design, mass produced components,and demonstrated success. Although, I'm sure we would use it if we had it, we don't need the bimini.

My wife is small and is easily chilled. When we sailed in Florida and BVI she was cold whenever she had to stay under a bimini. So the bimini itself is not an important feature for us, and I'm sure there would be many times we would not want to have it in the cockpit.

What I'm trying to do is make a good thing better. I anticipate we will sleep on board frequently this summer. There is plenty of room for both of us in the cabin. We have the Pop-Top enclosure, 2 hatches, and opening side ports. We've slept on board and my wife loves it. We can close things up if she gets cold at night.

I would like to have a semi-enclosed space where we could sit in the evening as the temperature drops, and then be able to sleep while retaining the ability to further enclose it if my wife starts to feel cold. I would also like more space in the morning if one of us awakens before the other. Your bimini room seems like the ideal solution except for the problem of what to do with the bimini when it's not wanted.

Do you think a collapsing bimini frame is a viable solution? (Biminis must ship in pieces--how small is the package?) You've seen a lot of tents, is there some kind of free standing tent that might work? No one has jumped in to tell us how much they love their GB Boom Room, so I assume the design has not yet been perfected.

I'm going to do something for this summer. If I don't like how it turns out, I'll try something else. I'll keep trying until I get it the way I like it because I know what you have, and what the boys have described is very close to what I want. Given my criteria are slightly different from yours, would you continue to believe the most likely road to success involves starting based on your proven bimini room concept?

(No need to be modest--I'm sure all the people waiting for their boats who have been reading this stuff are hoping you'll suggest I proceed with a solution that doesn't involve Stan's time.)

Bill Effros
25 Mar 2000


Bill, Tom, & Anyone Else Interested In The Bimini Room,

GBI is a business. If enough of you expressed interest in my bimini room concept, I'm sure Stan could be convinced to build it. Expect to pay a little more than the standard boom room but less than the combined price of the standard boom room + bimini top. It's a complicated piece of boat canvas, by far the most difficult thing I've ever built for the boat. I certainly don't want to build another. You can expect GBI will need your boat for a few days to a week for a final fitting. GBI has the advantage of having plenty of Rhodes 22 around to take measurements from right up to point of the final fitting on your boat.

As far as royalties or licensing fees, I don't want any. It would be kind of neat to see a photo of several Rhodes 22 at anchor with their bimini rooms up.

Your other option would be to take your boat to a local custom canvas shop. Look in the yellow pages under "Canvas Goods". Any good canvas shop should be able to take my descriptions + the photos & build you a reasonable facimile of my bimini room. Your custom made bimini room will be slightly different than mine because of Dynamic Equilibrium's custom railings vs. the standard lifelines & stern pulpit most of you probably have on your boats.

Expect to pay $2000 - $3000 & they will need your boat for two to three weeks for repeated measurements & fittings with this option. That's a lot of money for something made of canvas, but you get nearly instant gratification & don't have to bother Stan. If any of you ever go this route, it would help me in negotiations with my insurance agent to have an estimate of a fair market value of the bimini room. My agent & I couldn't agree & we finally ended up assigning the combined price of the standard boom room + the bimini top to it. I would love to know a realistic valuation for my work.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
25 Mar 2000


Thanks, Roger,

You've given me plenty to chew on.

This is a topic that has interested me since I first decided to buy the Rhodes, but I've never before felt I really understood the issues.

I will be proceeding with an evolving bimini room design. Cost is not a driving factor, so if you think of other tips like zippered sleeves, please pass them along. Elegance interests me. That's why I love my boat.

When my wife and I were first married we bought a VW van with an enormous sunroof (not the camper) and drove it all over the country, moving around ammunition boxes containing our belongings and pieces of plywood to change the configuration according to need. We put a large piece of mosquito netting over the sunroof opening and slept under the stars, inside the van. It was a carefree time. Gas cost 25 cents a gallon. We cooked our own food. Everything else was free.

The Rhodes is just like that van. Whenever we start moving stuff from one place to another we can't help but think back to that trip. It's a feeling we always remembered, but never thought we would be able to re-evoke.

The bimini room will be the frosting on the cake. I'll let you know how it goes.

Bill Effros
26 Mar 2000


Although I'm sure GB's boom room is great, we're trying other homemade options to minimize weight and storage size. We do have GB's wonderful canvas pop-top enclosure (it's a must in my opinion). However, this is much smaller in size than the canvas boom room, and it's still enough to 'wrestle'.

Before our bimini, we used the tarp-over-the-boom technique. This did not provide comfortable seating, as the angled sides didn't provide a wide 'roof', and we'd have to lean forward or hunch when seated in the cockpit.

The second year, we added a bimini and we're very happy with this feature. It's convenient to use, and provides shade and weather protection without having to use the boom for support (so the sails can still be up).

An additional bonus, has been that this bimini provides a great support for the large nylon tarp cockpit enclosure. Bungeed down to the outer gunnels, it keeps us quite dry in extreme rainstorms. This tarp stores very compactly in a 12" x 4" roll.

Anyway, for our new/improved cockpit enclosure, I'm just trying to expand on the advantages of utilizing the nice bimini support structrure we already have, and keeping the weight and size down (Trying to cooperate, as Alex thinks BlewDaze already has too much stuff onboard). The tent I bought to convert will not eigh much, and will store in a small roll. Hope my experiment is successful!

Regards, Pamela
13 Feb 2001


Maybe everyone else is accustomed to higher quality than I, but we had a Bimini made at a local awning company for $125. I had them cut a piece of good quality SunBrella fabric (the usual marine blue) 6 ft. x 9 ft., with 2-inch sleeves going in the 6 foot direction every three feet and at each end (four sleeves in all). I had them put grommets at the corners and at the ends of the sleeves and one in the middle of each six-foot end (10 grommets in all). I put some one-inch PVC pipe in the 6-foot sleeves, laid the entire thing over the boom, put some tie-downs at the grommets to tie it down, with a tie-down at the mast and at the foot of the boom -- et voila! A relatively inexpensive, pretty good-looking bimini, that stows easily, sets up in a minute and you don't have to travel to North Carolina to pick it up. It's not fancy, but it's good enough for us.

Dana LeTendre
Joplin, MO
31 May 2001


It would depend a bit on your bimini, but if it's like ours, you have no worries about keeping the boom up with the topping lift. You will be free to sail under the bimini with only a few issues.

1. you won't be able to easily see your mast top wind indicator. You should have wind indicators attached to the shrouds. IE colored yarn or Davis ribbons.

2. When the wind pipes up into the high teens and above, you will want to drop and stow the bimini to protect it. We have sailed with winds in the 20's with the bimini up, but it was not planned. The wind just snuck up from zero to howling. The bimini can get in the way during heavier winds.

3. Boarding and leaving the boat requires a bit more manuvering. Not a really big deal, but be aware of it. We disconnect one of the forward straps when dockside.

4. It's important to keep your drink in the shade since you went tot he trouble of putting the bimini. It's just plain cool to sail along in the shade on a hot day and hoist your drink in salute to the open cockpit boat you just went by. You will go by a few boats. It's improtant to look good when sailing the Rhodes.

Alex Bell
02 Feb 2002

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