R 22

Rhodes 22


Fold Up Bimini

Julie and I were kicking this idea around - we'd love to have a bimini that would collapse down far enough that we could store it in the v-berth. We like to have the bimini when it's hot, but we have to leave it on the dock when we don't want it because we can't store it in the boat and it gets in the way on a heel.

26 Dec 2002

The bimini on Blew Daze has always been a mixed blessing. When I worked on her to get ready for the season, it was always something that I was tripping over. I swore it was going to be the first thing I got rid of. Pamela told me to wait till we used the boat a few times to firm up my final opinion. After sailing in Colorado where the sun is on full strength almost all the time, I changed my mind. We needed the bimini when sailing. Never took it off, but it's still a trip hazard.

As to taking the bimini off, I'd not do that for normal sailing, but I can see other people might want to do so. The answer to that might be a form of collapsible, telescoping tent pole. I'll have to look into this, but it might be fairly easy to use the tube bender to form a tent pole tube. The bimini on Blew Daze has a frame of 7/8" aluminum, not stainless. So the frame would not look much different. When the pole tube was collapsed, the frame would probably be a foot or more shorter, thus easier to store when removed. Some other thoughts on the bimini from Pamela; zippers on the bimini to allow drop curtains/cockpit enclosures, different design to cockpit cushions, making the side cushions extend fully to the stern, making the lazerette cushion the size of the laz lid so that when you open it, the you're not lifting the full cushion (which runs all the way across the stern) and making two cushions per side so that storage would be easier.

Roger mentioned a dodger/spray hood that would work with the pop top. Not sure that would be a workable project. A dodger is the most expensive and difficult item to make as a canvas project on a boat. Usually, the larger the dodger, the easier it is to construct. The smaller framed dodgers are supposed to be very difficult. Add to that, the pop top, and I don't know if it could be workable. I'll have to think a bit and look at some possibilities. Perhaps snap covers that go around the pop top, using the pop top as the frame, but designed to form a dodger profile? Add connector panel from bimini to pop top for the big boat canvas package? Who knows.

27 Dec 2002

We have a beach sun shelter that is supported by hollow fiberglass tubes that slip into a metal sleeved onto one end of each. Once inserted, they are held in place by tension of a small shock cord running down the center.

Could you do something similar to create a bimini with one or more "hinges" to fold for storage?

If the shock cord weren't strong enough, how about substituting a low-stretch sybthetic line and clam cleat sort of thing instead?

Jim Connolly
27 Dec 2002

Dynamic Equilibrium has a custom made bimini top, which has built-in awnings that can be extended fore & aft to create shaded area from the mast all the way back to the transom. These built-in awnings are stored rolled up under the bimini top when they are not in use & held up there with built-in straps & snaps. There is standing headroom under my bimini top. In light air, the boat can be sailed with the bimini top up. But, sailing with it up does adversely affect sailing performance, increasing heel & adding weather helm. To sail with the bimini top up, I must have the boom gooseneck in the upper position & I must remove my boom vang.

The following link shows the bimini top with the front & rear awnings deployed:

The front awning can be deployed with or without the pop top enclosure canvas. The above photo illustrates the use of the front awning without the pop top enclosure in maximum shade + ventilation mode. The following link shows the front awning used with the pop top enclosure. Used in the manner, the front awning acts a "rain fly" for the side windows on the pop top enclosure and the opening side ports on the cabin. They can be left open for ventilation in all but the most driving rain.

In the 2nd photo, please note than my custom made bimini top can be converted into a boom room by attaching side panels with built-in snaps & zippers. The following photo illustrates the complete boom room looking from behind the boat:

In the 3rd photo, you can see how my rear awning actually deploys in two stages. The 1st photo shows only the 1st stage deployed. This 1st stage of the rear awning extends the aft edge of the bimini top back to the double backstays. The 1st stage has a built-in batten made from 3/4" square aluminum tubing which enables it to maintain its shape to shed water off the "roof". This batten is clearly visible in the 3rd picture. In the 3rd picture, you can see how the top corner of the 1st stage is attached to the double backstays with built-in straps & parachute cord. The 2nd stage is stored rolled up under the 1st stage with built-in straps & snaps. In use, the 2nd stage unrolls & is attached to the transom with built-in snaps. Note the built-in "sock" to permit bug proof entry of the tiller over the transom. Note the built-in roll-up doors on the port & starboard sides of the 2nd stage. These permit use of the boarding ladder & access to the outboard engine. The rear doors stay rolled with built-in straps & snaps. Note the use of zippers & Velcro storm flaps on all the doors & window coverings. In a driving rain, zippers will leak without a storm flap over them. The storm flaps must be secured down with something like Velcro or they will flap in the wind.

The 1st & 2nd stages of the rear awning can also be deployed without attaching the side panels if ventilated shade is desired. The following photo shows the complete bimini top + both awning extensions fully deployed without the side panels:

Please note that my bimini room was entirely custom made to fit my specific boat & is not something you can just go out and purchase. This discussion is merely intended to give you some ideas for what you might want to do on your boat.

I designed & built this custom canvas project myself over the course of several years. It is, by far, the most difficult canvas project I've ever attempted. I think it turned out OK, works very well, & doesn't look too bad. It gave me great respect for those who do this kind of work for a living & completely turned me off on building anything else from canvas.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
31 Dec 2002

You're welcome. Enclosed is one more picture. That's me in the foreground purifying raw Lake Michigan water for drinking. My younger son, Gary, is standing behind me in our 10' inflatable sport dingy. Dynamic Equilibrium is lying at anchor in the background. If you look real close at the boat, you will see the bimini top all furled up & stowed lying on top of the cabin roof. The bimini top is enclosed inside of a custom made, blue Sunbrella acrylic cover. The bimini cover had to be custom made because, with all of the extra awnings & stuff that are built-in to my bimini top, it folds up quite a bit bulkier than a standard bimini top of the same size. So, no standard bimini cover would fit.

This is the way we normally sail with the bimini top stowed. The windage & center of gravity are low & near the center of the boat. So, the effect upon fore/aft boat trim & helm balance is minimal. We find the furled up bimini lying on top of the cabin roof functions as a somewhat lumpy, but still pretty effective, dodger for wind & spray. You have to duck under it to go below & climb over it to go forward. But, we find these to be pretty minor inconveniences compared to the all-weather capability & increased living space when the bimini room is deployed.

You might want to rethink whether you really want to have a bimini top or awning that must be assembled/disassembled & stowed in the cabin. You will use a bimini top much more often & get more enjoyment out of it if it is quick & easy to setup & takedown. Also, the cabin & lazarette compartment are pretty prime space aboard an R-22. Do you really want to use them for stowing a piece of gear that can just as easily live out in the cockpit?

If all you want to have is rain protection, then an 8' X 10' tarp thrown over the boom & tied down at the edge grommets will do just fine, especially at anchor where the boat will swing to the wind. Tied up to a dock, you may get some rain blown in over the transom depending upon the wind direction. Boom tarps ventilate poorly & the cockpit will get hot during the day. With no built-in doors, access for boarding & unboarding is also poor. With the front & rear open, there is essentially no bug protection. So, boom tarps are difficult to sleep under unless you wear personal mosquito netting or bug repellent. Boom tarps are also not much fun to sit under out in the cockpit. There is only standing headroom right on the boat's centerline. The only scenic view tends to be directly astern & they can be quite stifling hot. About the only good things that can be said about them is they are cheap, readily available, easy to setup/takedown, & don't require much storage space when stowed.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
31 Dec 2002

I currently am using an awning. Wish I had a photo since my explanation may be hard to envision, but here goes. The awning requires that the pop-top be up. The awning can be in place when you are under sail.

I attached 2 webbing buckle tri-rings (west marine catalogue page 1045) to the tube that holds up the aft end of the pop top. I have 1 ring on each side of the tube. The rings are held onto the tube with stainless steel hose clamps. I have 1 clamp & ring located at the 90 degree bend on the tube on each side of the pop top support tube. The rings do not interfere with the pop-top operation or hatch slider. These rings are used to hold the forward end of my awning.

The aft end of the awning is held by permanently mounted bamboo poles attached to the forward end of my pushpit. The poles are about 40" long. The lower edge of the bamboo poles is even with the lower edge of the pushpit tubes. The bamboo is attached to the forward vertical pushpit tubes with 2 hose clamps (2 holes clamps on each side). The hose clamps get covered with white tape for the season. This sounds like it looks awful, but it's not really too bad. I asked people at the marina what they *really* thought & they all said it looked fine.

To the top of the bamboo poles I attached 2 more webbiing buckle tri-rings - one on each pole. The tri rings on the bamboo poles & the ones on the pop top provide attachment locations for the awning.

The awning is made out of blue tarp. I made a sleeve on the forward edge of the tarp. (You can use tarp material & double stick carpet tape to make any shape you can think of). Inside the sleeve I have another bamboo pole & on this pole I have attached 2 bronze baby fixed snaps (west marine catalogue page 981). It is these snaps that clip onto the tri-rings mounted on the pop-top support. On my awning, the pole on the forward edge of the awning is about as wide as the cockpit interior.

My awning is about 4 feet long. I put a grommets into the aft corners of the tarp. I tied light weight bungy material to these grommets & the bungy cords terminate at a plastic hook. These plastic hooks are used to secure the aft end of the awning to the bamboo poles at the pushpit.

When I'm not using the awning, the tarp gets wrapped around the bamboo pole (the pole that forms the forward edge of the awning). I unclip the awning from the tri-rings on the pop-top support & store the awning on the v-berth.

I can deploy or remove the awning in about 30 seconds.

I was going to replace this system with a bimini since I have to take down the awning once winds pick up to about 10 knots. Also, I wanted to get a larger area of sun prtection in the cockpit. I was under the impression that a bimini would also give me stand-up headroom. Now I realize that is not so - so I think I'll modify the awning rather than going the bimini route.

Thanks everyone for your help in making this decision.

Clinton, CT
31 Dec 2002

I just found one more photo of my boat with just the bimini top up:

You can see the rolled-up, custom, front & rear awnings hanging from underneath the bimini, secured up with the built-in straps & snaps. I described how these awnings worked in my previous posts.

But, the bimini itself could be a standard 3 bow: 72" long X 91 - 96" wide X 42" high, like a Taylor M/N: 62024 on page 783 of the 2002 West Marine Master Catalog. The stainless steel hinges on the gunnel could be Taylor M/N: 11733 (2 pieces reqd.) (page 788). Be sure to thru bolt the hinges to the gunnel & use a backing plate or fender washers under the deck. The black nylon eye straps for attaching the bimini's corner guys could be Taylor M/N: 11713 (1 pack of 4 pieces reqd) (page 788). Your bimini top will last longer if you store it inside of a bimini boot such as Taylor M/N: 63194 (1 piece reqd.) (page 784). This project would be an easy 1 hour installation. It will look just like the enclosed photo & will store on top of the cabin roof like the photo in my previous post.

After reading your post, I have several comments:

I'm 6' tall & I have standing headroom under my bimini top. In the photo, my family & I have just returned from motoring around Sanford Lake. We had tried to sail as you can see from the uncovered & loosely furled mainsail on the boom. But the air was just too light that day. The photo was taken from our dock at home looking to the south. You can see from the limp US flag at the spreader that it's a very light air day. By the way, I've had my bimini top for quite a while. Those two boys in the picture are now 16 & 19 years old & both are taller than me!

As you can see from the photo, a bimini top can extend the full width of the cockpit with full standing headroom & be about 6' long without interfering with the mainsheet & boom. If your awning is only 4' long, that must limit the amount of shade it can provide.

A bimini or an awning is a light air only sailing accessory. Either one will add heeling & weather helm. Either one is really something that's nice to have on hot windless days when you are motoring or sailing with the wind or after the sailing is over & you are hoisting cocktails watching the sun go down.

I hate putting too much effort into modifying any of the blue poly tarps because they don't last.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
01 Jan 2003

The bimini top on Dynamic Equilibrium is mounted in a pair of fixed mounts, which are thru bolted into the gunnels. As you might imagine, with all the extra "stuff" built into my bimini top, it must be located rather accurately in order for everything to fit properly. However, while I was building it, I did experiment with various mounting locations. It turns out there is a fairly narrow range of fore/aft mounting locations that will work without interfering with various ship's functions.

For sailing, the best location is as far aft as will fit without interfering with the main sheet & the boom. My bimini actually has HD antichafe patches on the aft port & starboard corners as well the very peak in the middle of the bimini. So, my bimini top is located about as far aft as is physically possible on an R-22. The further aft the bimini, the better the view of the genoa telltales for sail trimming & steering to weather. A bimini top or awning will restrict your view of the mainsail & make trimming much more difficult. We must stick our head over the side & crane our neck upwards to see the mainsail. I suppose one could install a clear plastic window with a roll-up & zippered sun shade into the bimini top. That way, the sun shade could be rolled up to permit mainsail trimming & zippered back into place when you want shade. I always sort of figured the purpose of the bimini was to create shade & putting a clear window into it would sort of defeat that purpose. So, I never installed one.

For boarding/unboarding, the best bimini top mount location is as far aft as possible. We don't find our bimini corner guys to be particularly restrictive regarding boarding & unboarding. However, when we sail with either my aging parents or my even older in-laws, then we will usually unclip the two forward corner guys & fold the front bow back to get the bimini top out of the way entirely for the old folks to board & unboard safely. The corner guys are attached with snap shackles, so unclipping them is quick & easy. You didn't say how old &/or flexible you are, so this may or may not be an important factor for you.

Going forward with our bimini top up, I can fit in between the front edge of the bimni & the cabin roof & side railing without too much trouble. So, we usually leave the front bimini guy lines attached. A very big, clumsy, or inflexible person might want to unclip the front bimini corner guy to go forward.

At anchor, the bimini top tends to make the boat weathercock into the wind more strongly. In effect, the bimini top gives the boat much more windage & tends to make it lie more strongly to the wind & less strongly to the current. However, over the course of an evening at anchor, the wind may die entirely, change direction, &/or strength. While the currents tend to change much more predictably & more slowly. In a light & variable wind situation, the bimini top will cause the boat to lie to the wind one minute & to the current the next. In this respect, the bimini top tends to make the boat behave much more like the power boats at anchor all around you.

I would never leave the boat with the bimini top partially unclipped. That's just asking for the bimini top to get damaged &, with snap shackles on the corner guys, it's totally unnecessary. In fact, what we usually do is unclip the two rear corner guys & fold up the bimini onto the top of the cabin roof. The gunnel mounts permit the bimini top to simply pivot forward. The two front corner guys are long enough to permit this without unclipping them. Even if we don't stow the bimini top inside of its boot, its still safer furled down on top of the cabin roof.

I suppose there would be some small advantages to having the bimini top mounts on a track-mounted slide vs a fixed mount. However, the genoa track-mounted bimini mount would block free movement of the genoa sheet lead position. I guess it would depend upon where the bimini mount ended up on the genoa track. If it was anywhere forward of the sheet winches, then that would be totally unacceptable on our boat, but you may not care as much about sail trimming.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
06 Jan 2003

web page developed by Logic Unlimited, Inc.