The first mate and I live at around 48 degrees north latitude, which means that we don’t get a lot of hot weather. We have four distinct seasons and enjoy them all. It will get to around 100 degrees for a couple of weeks in August, but that’s as hot as it gets. The rest of the summer is in the 80’s and 90’s.
Mrs. $tingy is susceptible to heat exhaustion. She had a close call once while we were anchored out one summer after a full day of cruising on a clear, hot day on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. We took all of the appropriate precautions. She tried to stay in the sail shade most of the time, drank plenty of fluids, took breaks below deck, etc. but it only delayed the inevitable.
All that to say that consistent shade in the cockpit is more than just a luxury for her, it could mean the difference between a great weekend of cruising and one cut short by making a beeline for home or worse, the emergency room. I hadn’t seriously considered adding a bimini to Summer Dance until after that episode.
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The winter after her close call, I installed an inexpensive 3 bow bimini with these features:
- Thick-walled aluminum frame with nylon fittings
- 600 Denier PU coated, UV resistant canvas cover & matching boot
- Front straps with stainless steel hardware
- Matching rear support poles
- Stainless steel eye straps and fasteners
The hardest part of the decision was figuring out what size to buy for the most usage and stowing options once it was mounted. I settled on:
- 6′ long covers most of the cockpit but leaves room at the stern for the main sheet, backstay, and a good view of the mainsail
- 73″-78″ wide mounts easily on the deck outside the coamings. You can also install it on top of the coamings but you will need to shorten the top to clear the boom.
- 44″ high, which is 8″ higher than most biminis sold for the C-22. I wound up shortening the frame by 5″ to not interfere with the boom but we can still stand up under the cover.
I purchased the top in gray to match the non-skid surfaces on our deck. Later the next summer, I sewed the blue Sunbrella cover that you see in the picture above and a boot to match the rest of our canvas.
For maximum versatility while under sail and at anchor, I mounted the frame onto Carver 36″ tracks (not included) just outside the coamings. This leaves just enough deck width to walk forward around the bimini when necessary. The tracks let us position the bimini in the middle of the cockpit while under sail to shade most of the seating area.
We can slide it to the rear and fold it down onto its support poles when at a dock or at anchor and board or walk around in the cockpit without it being in the way.
To get it completely out of the way without detaching it, we can slide it all the way forward, fold it down, and it will pivot forward onto the cabin roof in the space between the pop top and the mast.
The rear support poles really add to the cover’s versatility, particularly with the top folded up in the rear position. They replace the typical rear straps that would otherwise need to attach to the pushpit railing, right in the way of the main sheet and operating the outboard. I mounted hinged jaw slides (not included) on the sides of the pushpit railing, one pair forward for the mid-cockpit bimini position and one pair rearward for the rear cockpit position. The slides aren’t used when the bimini is in the forward position. When attached to either pair of slides with tethered quick-connect pins, the bimini is very stable in both locations and takes less time to set up than having to adjust straps.
For front supports, I kept the nylon straps but replaced the double-D type buckles with cam buckles so that I could quickly and easily lengthen or shorten the straps depending on which set of jaw slides the bimini is attached to. I mounted the included eye straps to the existing screws for the pop top dogs, so no drilling was needed.
Shortening the frame was fairly easy:
- Detach the vertical tubes from the frame so that you can work on them.
- Drill out the aluminum rivets that hold the bottom hinge fittings in the ends of the tubes and remove the fittings.
- Cut the tubing to length with a metal cutoff blade in a miter saw. Use a hacksaw if that’s all you have and file the end flat and smooth.
- Drill new holes in the tube and reattach the hinge fittings with new rivets or sheet metal screws.
You might also need to shorten the rear support poles in the same way to fit your jaw slide locations.
Mrs. $tingy loves the bimini and when she’s happy, I’m happy and we can keep cruising.
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