Valkyr’s Hard Dodger

So I thought I had posted pictures of Valkyr’s hard dodger long ago but it seems that I didn’t. These are not the best formated pictures but should help to give an idea of what I did.


aft starboard view boat and dodger

Starboard view of whole dodger frame

dodger aft view handrail and boom protector mounts

We had 1/4 inch aluminum plates welded into frame to bolt the top rails onto. In finished dodger this is what actually holds it to dodger. There are 6 of them.

dodger aft view 1

Aft partial view of dodger frame

Drilling coring filling mount holes 7

We drilled the holes to mount frame to boat and then filled with epoxy and drilled again to make sure we would never have an issue with water penetration into the core.

deck mount and backing plates for under the deck

This is picture of the above deck mount and two of the backing plates for under the deck. As you can see the deck mount has a pivoting base. The reason we went with this is that once mounted we could unbolt the entire dodger with four bolts, and have no risk of water ingress while it is off the boat. also 4 bolts vs 16 bolts is a lot quicker and easier.

portside aft handrail and boom protector mounting plate underside

Underside of one of backing plates for top rails.

aft port side view of whole dodger

aft portside view of entire dodger frame

aft starboard view down dodger

starboard view down top of frame. You can see the next attachment point at the center of the handrail and then forward attachment point. Dodger has 3 rails, hand rails on either side that are full length of dodger and atached with 12 1/4 inch stainless bolts. I’m almost 200 lbs and can yank on a rail as hard as I can and it barely shivers the dodger. More rocks the boat the the dodger. The third rail is what you can see in the left foreground of the picture and is simply to keep the boom from hitting the dodger if it falls and for tieing it down if you need to.

visibility sitting at helm looking under dodger

We spent a lot of time making drawings and sitting on the boat taking measurements to get the height of the dodger correct. This is the view sitting at the helm. You have clear unobstructed view under and if you stand up you can see over it. We also did a lot of different version of the side supports to finally end up with the graceful design we got. The curves added strength and elegance yet still left us with a lot of unobstructed view forward under the dodger. The top of the dodger has the same camber as the deck under it.

dodger pad mounting 7

dodger bolted down with sealant.

dodger pad mounting 1

sealant to keep water from running down the bolt.

dodger pad mounting 6

again sealant to keep water from running down bolt. All epoxy filled holes through deck were counter sunk to allow the built up sealant around bolt here to fill and compress in the holes.

dodger pad mounting 8

It took several go around over a few days to fully tighten down. The sealant we used was pretty thick and it would gradually ooze out as it sat after being tightened. After a couple go arounds it was all good and hasn’t leaked in the 4 years since it was installed.


Temp attachment of forward port side handrail on dodger.


temp attachment on starboard


port side view of dodger frame


Middle starboard side attachment for handrail.

Waterproof junction box

This is a bit out of order but has to do with dodger. This is the central junction for all the solar panels on the dodger near the startboard aft leg of the dodger that the main wires from it run below to the charge controller. We used a water proof document case that we modified into a junction box. notice all wires into have a drip loop. All exposed wire and buss bars are coated in di-electric grease. 4 years later it still looks like new. No corrosion.

Wires from solar panels penetrating dodger top

You can see the deck penetrations where the wires from the solar panels penetrate the dodger. It was a lot of work drilling and then filling all the holes with epoxy and then drilling again. We actually glued the wires to the underside of the dodger in neat runs to lead to the junction box. It has also worked well.

solar panels1

Solar panels on dodger roof. We used a adhesive sealant to attach them to roof. It has held really good. Forget what it is called, something kevlar 400? from PPG.

solar panels2

another view of solar panels. Each one of the panels is 25 watts. They are a thin flexible panel that it is safe to walk on. There are

junction box closed

junction box closed

wire runs to junction box

roof penetration for solar panel wiring and runs glued to roof as they go to junction box. I used quick set gel super glue to do the gluing. Run a line of glue and press wire into it for a few inches and hold for 15 or 20 seconds and then repeat. It took a while to do it all but in the end it was very neat and held good. when I painted it is hardly noticeable under there. Sadly I should have sanded before glueing the wiring in. Not that it was an issue with the wiring but some of the paint flaked off on the under side.

underneath of dodger

another view under dodger. If you notice the chips in the white paint on the aft upper edge of the dodger, That edge takes a beating sometimes an has to be touched up on a regular ( annual basis )

butyl mastic used to seal under the hand rail pads.

Hand rails being attached to the top of dodger once roof is installed.

Hand rails installed

Picture with 12 panels attached. For some reason I think I added a 12th panel behind the aft most two panels for a total of 275 watts on the dodger. There is another 190 watts in one big panel on the dingy davits also for a total of 465 watts on the boat. We had power hooked up at the dock when we lived on the boat to run the AC. Since then though the boat has been powered by the installed solar. We turned off the dock power to save money and never noticed the difference.


Kaylin helping paint!!


Zsanic in the galley and kaylin hanging out under dodger.


forgot to mention. If you look in the lower left corner of the dodger you will notice a drain. We custom made drains in all 4 corners of the dodger with 1/2 inch hose leading down on deck from it. No matter what angle of heal rain will drain off and if we wanted we could lead it to the tanks.


Good view of the aft rail that protects solar panels and dodger top from boom if it falls.

I will link to here from the forum where I was asked about this. Probably best to comment in the forum rather than on the post if you want to talk or ask questions on this post.

High Tech Towels

We were having space storage issues with our regular towels as well as them staying damp forever. I did a lot of reading of reviews on a lot of brands of the new high tech towels and finally came down to the Discovery Trecking brand. They were very expensive and the only reason we ended up getting them was a gift card we got. We bought 5 of them and it is all we have used now for the last 6 months or more. We purchased the largest size they had and it is huge. I probably would have tried the next size down if I had known how huge these are.  Remember I’m saying that as a 6’2″ guy. In retrospect I would now spend my own hard earned money for them.

The Good

  • 5 of these take the same amount of storage space as one of our cotton towels did.
  • Even as big as these towels are you can fold/roll one up small enough to stick in a pocket.
  • These towels are also the silver treated anti-microbial kind that don’t grow mildew.
  • We just wash and dry them with the rest of the cloths and they seem to take it just fine.
  • Using them is a bit different than a normal towel. they sort of stick to your skin as your trying to wipe yourself off and end up kind of just rolling over your skin. You get used to it and I think it works as well if not better than normal. It’s kinda freaky amazing how dry they will get you with just a single swipe. If you give three or four really good rubs to your head it leaves your hair very dry also. 🙂 assuming you have short hair like me I guess.

The Negative

  • The negative is the cost. They are expensive comparatively. We bought our very nice thick cotton towels from a guy selling them in at a flea market for 2 dollars each. You can get cheap wall mart towels for 4 or 5 dollars. I just hope these last for years seeing we laid out about 130 dollars for all 5 of them.


So far we are very very happy with these towels. They dry us very well, they dry out very fast, they haven’t ever gotten a mucky odor and they take up very little space. Here is a link to where we bought them on amazon. Given the free shipping they ended up cheaper from there than anywhere else at the time we bought them.

Discovery Trecking Towels



Reviews of those most essential items, your kettle and airpot :)

Reviews of the
KitchenAid Teakettle 2-Quart Gourmet Essentials Stainless Steel Kettle , Brushed
BUNN 32125.0000 2.5 Liter Lever-Action Airpot, Stainless Steel

My wife enjoys her coffee (maybe more than enjoys)  and I really like my hot tea, chocolate or chai, not to mention a pack of instant soup or oatmeal of one sort or another once in a while. Hot chocky (chocolate), is also a vital part of our two and half year old daughters morning routine.  Very Vital! hmmm… maybe a bit of daughter following in mommy’s footsteps. She started off wanting mommy’s coffee but we compromised on hot chocolate. 🙂

With two women in the house and on the boat I am finding that the word compromise is a good word 🙂 Yes luv, and yes dear, also work very well. 🙂

Heating water in the kettle takes a fair amount of energy and time, we came to the realization that we could use about 1/4 the energy to have the same volume of drinks/soups etc.., over the period of a day, if we used an airpot. We now heat water two to three times a day, rather than every hour or two, because of using an airpot. It is also  much more hip with today’s lifestyle of instant gratification with a large dash of energy conservation and green living. Hot water on tap any hour of the day or night. If your on watch it takes just a couple seconds to make a cup of something hot as opposed to having to heat water to make it.

The below reviews are the accumulation of about a decade of experience using different products and continually refining what worked and what didn’t for us. There are many products out there that we have not used and I can not comment on how well they would work, but these I have experience with. This model kettle holds exactly the right amount of water to fill this specific airpot, so they work well together that way. To slightly overfill the airpot I have to seriously overfill the kettle, which ends up causing a mess anyway. If you over fill the kettle that much it will bubble out the spout as it is heating and starts to boil.

What to start with “The Kettle”

So I happened across this kettle that we have been using for the last three years on amazon and decided to write a review of it there. Then I thought you guys might find it valuable as we have found it to be a great product at the house and on the boat. As you can see from the below picture it fits the burners perfectly on the Hiller Range for those of you still using the original stove on our boats.

Here is a picture of it in daily use :) It gets a lot of daily use

Here is a picture of it in daily use 🙂 It gets a lot of daily use

I got this Kettle for free from a store that someone had returned it to (Ross, I think). It had been burned, and the store policy was that they couldn’t sell returned kitchen stuff, and someone had mistakenly put it back on the shelf. I really liked the heavy weight of the stainless and the design. So I started working up through the store ranks trying to convince someone to sell it to me for a slight discount due to the cosmetic damage. I am all about a bargain if I can get it, and if you don’t ask you for shure are not going to get it most of the time. 🙂 I finally worked my way up to the manager who told me the policy of not selling returned/used kitchen products, and she didn’t know why it was on the shelf at all. At this point I was alarmed as I wanted it and she wasn’t even going to sell it to me for full price. After a plea or two or three or maybe even four (persistence sometimes works) she firmly told me that she wasn’t allowed to sell it, but if it disappeared out of her sight quickly all would be good since she was going to throw it away anyway. I didn’t argue any more, just said thank you, thank you, thank you, and ran before she could change her mind. If your reading this, thank you again. 🙂 When we got it home I used an aggressive scotch bright pad to clean it to a like new appearance. It took a little elbow grease but it was worth it.

We have used this kettle now for about 3 years. I have overheated and burned it due to forgetting to put the whistle down. Once, it overheated to the point that the plastic spacers between the handle and the body started to melt. It did not deform the stainless body, handle, or whistle at all, and a quick scrub with a scotch brite pad cleaned up the burn marks inside and out till it looked like new (you have to love scotch brite pads). As for the handle I simply tightened the screws to snug it back down to the base; on the now slightly thinner, by reason of melting, plastic spacers. That was at least a year and a half ago. It is till going strong. I have overfilled it hundreds of times and had water bubble through the whistle and it still mostly whistles as long as water isn’t currently flowing through it. 🙂 I will admit that it doesn’t seem to be as loud nowadays as it used to but it still works.

We live on a boat in a salt water environment and I have never seen the first sign of rust on ours like some reviewers on amazon have reported. It has been used with water from the well at our house, that is treated with a water softener and filter, and with municiple water at the dock where our boat is. We filter that water before use for drinking or cooking also. At the house with a reverse osmosis filter there is never any build up of residue over time. At the dock on the boat with municiple water filtered through a seagull filter we do get a bit of residue build up after 3 or 4 months of use, still we have seen no rust either internal or external.

I have used it on both electric and gas stove tops and it works well on either. With gas the handle can get hot if you have a huge burner and turn it on high. Otherwise we can use it bare handed. Like other reviewers have said, if you have an issue with the handle getting to hot to hold, just turn the gas burner down a little bit till the handle  is still cool after boiling your water. The handle with its silicone inserts is probably the best handle out of the many kettles I have used. Most of the high quality stainless kettles I have had in the past had solid metal handles, and often had to be handled with a towel, or oven mitt, to pour from as they got quite hot by the time the water was boiling.

So far, out of five or six different brands of kettles, this has been one of the most durable ones I have ever owned. We use it on average 3 times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Hey we drink a lot of hot drinks! 🙂 So far that means that we have boiled about 3285 kettles of water in it since we bought 🙂 um-mm..  or should I say acquired it. I am not sure if they still build them like the one I have here but the pictures look identical to ours. Ours is stamped (18/10 Stainless, 2QT/1.9LTR, Kitchen Aid, C Q06, Whistling kettle) on the bottom.

So this is the bottom of the kettle with the manufacturing information stamped into it. I have loved this kettle for the heavy compared to most kettles construction. I have had several kettles that the stainless is just super thin. This has a very decent weight grade of 18/10 stainless.

So this is the bottom of the kettle with the manufacturing information stamped into it. I have loved this kettle for the heavy compared to most kettles construction. I have had several kettles that the stainless is just super thin. This has a very decent weight grade of 18/10 stainless.

On the boat when in use the kettle sits on the stove as pictured above, but as soon as we finish  heating the water and it is poured in the pump pot that is hanging to the left, we then hang the kettle from a stainless S hook. See the picture below, it is hanging  on the right in the picture below. It keeps the counter tops and stove  much less cluttered in daily usage. The kettle is always empty hanging but the pump pot seen on the left in the below picture, is normally full of hot water on its hook, and can be pumped into a cup or bowl while it is hanging. When underway we can use a little bungee to hold the pump pot and kettle against the bottom curtain rail.

Both the pump pot with water in it and the kettle as well as other stuff pictured here hangs from bronze curtain rods.

Both the pump pot with water in it and the kettle as well as other stuff pictured here hangs from bronze curtain rods.


Here is a link to this kettle on Amazon (sadly is is a discontinued product now but you can still see it at the link.
KitchenAid Teakettle 2-Quart Gourmet Essentials Stainless Steel Kettle , Brushed

Here are a few other highly rated kettles that would make awesome boat kettles Some even better than the above one. In no particular order here they go.

  1. Here is the pink one 🙂 and here is the Green one This Kettle at 24 dollars is the ultimate in compact as it has a stainless base with silicone top that collapses down to make it very compact for storing. I have never used it but it seems to have good reviews. Try at your own risk and let us know what you think.
  2. Large 2.4 quart stainless kettle
  3. 2.75 quart stainless kettle
  4. designer kettle for more money than anyone would ever pay, but it is cool and has a very low center of gravity 🙂

Airpot or Pump Pot the Next Essential Ingredient.

You will have noticed the Airpot hanging up to the left in the above picture. It was a long and expensive journey to arrive at that particular airpot. Many years ago, I started using a Stanley glass lined air pot that I purchased at Wal-Mart for fourteen dollars. It lasted for two or three years at the house and gave good service. However the seal at the neck was some sort of putty, and it was getting old, and pieces of it were falling into the interior, also it lost a lot of its efficiency over time.  The big monkey in the room issue though was that if you dropped one (or had it bounce off the counter in rough seas, we had bought a second one for the boat) it would shatter and leave you with microscopic glass slivers that went everywhere, as well as a couple litters or quarts of boiling hot water exploding like a bomb. It was a Bad! THING!! Luckily no one was hurt when it happened to us. Today with a two and half year old daughter running around, a glass lined pump pot would give me nightmares.

So the journey started into the land of stainless airpots. I purchased a Stanley Professional Air Pot for our boat that had a stainless liner rather than a glass one.  I bought the Stanley as it was the same brand as the cheap wall mart glass lined one that worked quite well for the most part. It worked very well, and we liked it a lot, but something happened to it (don’t remember what right now) that we needed to replace it after a year or two, and we couldn’t find that model again. The reviews for the other Stanley models were not as good as the old one so we passed on them. The next one we purchased was a Trudeau Apollo 2-1/5-Liter Stainless Steel Pump Pot, Satin Finish that we purchased from amazon, we were ultimately very unhappy with this model.  We used it for several years, and over time just were on average dissatisfied with it. It didn’t hold temperature as well as I would have liked and finally the end came when for some reason it would start regurgitating boiling water for no reason just sitting by itself on the counter. This was unacceptable behaviour and we fired it. After much reading and research we bought this slightly smaller unit from BUNN, and it is everything the other one wasn’t, It keeps water hot for 8 to 12 hours without fail. I can put hot water in it at 6 or 7 in the evening and it is still hot enough to be (uncomfortably) hot to the touch 12 hours later. I also like that it is slightly shorter than many of the other units we have owned, just a personal preference.

So far we have owned the Bunn Airpot for 6 months and have used it daily. It has been the best airpot we have owned or used over the last decade. However we only have 6 months of history with it so I can’t really comment on durability. It feels and looks like a solid unit to me though and it does get good reviews from other owners.

Bunn Airpot that most of the time can be found hanging in the galley on a stainless S hook from the curtain rod

Bunn Airpot that most of the time can be found hanging in the galley on a stainless S hook from the curtain rod

The link below will take you to this product on amazon where you can read other reviews of it.
BUNN 32125.0000 2.5 Liter Lever-Action Airpot, Stainless Steel

I know this isn’t strictly a boating review, but these are two of our live aboard items that we feel enhance our daily life a lot. They are some of those items that are not flashy, or ooh ahh, but that when we think about them; we see that they add a tremendous amount of comfort, saved labor, and saved cost in fuel consumption for us. Actually this applies every bit as much to our usage at the house as it does to the boat. I would say that the Air Pot also enhances safety on the boat. It is a lot easier to contain hot water in it, as well as to pump out a precise amount into a cup or bowl, while bouncing around under way than it is just pouring directly out of the kettle.

Website and Forums Upgrade

Hopefully I was able to do the upgrade of the website without impacting to many people’ access to it. It and the forums were down for a little while this morning. I have had people bring to my attention a few features that were acting up or not working over the last month or two and noticed a couple more myself. In response I have done a major software version upgrade to the base wordpress website as well as the forum software. As always I don’t anticipate this going perfectly smooth. Experience says that there are always small issues. Please let me know of you notice anything.  I am anticipating that some of the forum plugins will possibly need to be upgraded also. If so I will do that over the next day or so as we figure out which ones no longer work. Sadly those are not free. I need to check that if I have already purchased them once can I re download the the newer versions of them for free. I don’t think that will be the case as it was more of an annual service contract the last time I did this. No worries though as the donations that have given over the last year or so will go a long way to covering the cost. For those of you that have donated please feel warm and fuzzy as I wouldn’t have been able to purchase the new updates without your support.

It is kind of irksome that we are having to pay for these plugins. When we started using this forum software many years ago it was all open source and free. About 4 years ago? the developers went to a new version that the core forums are still free but that plugins that handled stuff such as the image uploading plugin, wysiwyg editor, and other features that we were using became paid for plugins. It would be a major project fraught with potential issues to try and start using a new forum software and keep all the existing posts and content. Many thousands of posts and pictures by hundreds by members. Just for that reason we paid for the plugins the last time we upgraded. Though I feel a bit hostage to the developers at this point seeing as it was all open source and free to start with, I do acknowledge that the writing of the forum software is a huge task and they have made significant improvements, bug fixes and performance enhancements over the years. I have the feeling that they might have moved on years ago and mostly quit developing on it if they were not getting some sort of money out of it now. We all grow up and start to have bills that seem to drive our lives toward income producing jobs. 🙂

As always I depend on you guys to let me know when something isn’t working right. Don’t just ignore it. Sometimes I can’t fix it as soon as you notify me as it needs an upgrade like this to resolve but I do listen and note those things down and address it sooner or later. Sometimes I get it fixed in a few hours. Sometimes it is something in the software that requires a developer update to address and we have to wait.

So in my rambling way this is what has happened if you notice differences and or the site was down for you this morning or had major glitches when you tried to access it. As of now I am not currently working on it and it should be working.

Reinventing the Headliner: Done! DE38 s/v Sanpatricio


This past weekend marked the completion of the new headliner (cue trumpets), a much awaited milestone indeed! I could lie and say we did it all in a few weekends with minimal effort and planning, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was tricky and there were several setbacks along the way, but having a classy looking overhead that is both easily removable (for deck maintenance) and easy on the eyeballs is reward enough.


The fictitious "Nauga" was part of a 1960s ad campaign for Naugahyde.

The fictitious “Nauga” was part of a 1960s ad campaign for Naugahyde.

First things first – the DEMOLITION! We had the great intention of carefully removing each headliner section to preserve for template making…a lovely thought, but we quickly learned it’s impossible. The headliner was affixed to the cabin top and sides with roughly 1,000,000 staples, most of which were rusty, brittle and stubborn. The staples numbered as many as stars in the Milky Way. Seriously! It took the better part of 2 days to remove them, our hands tender from prolonged plier gripping. We surmised that the original installer must have been paid per staple. Curse you Staple Man!

In the wake of battle, we found mold in spots, mummified insects and several suspect areas where thru-bolted hardware had likely been leaking for decades. These problem areas needed to be addressed before going further but with the headliner out is was considerably less complicated to do so. Additionally, It was a good time to remove the handrails and secure them with proper SS washers and fasteners and the dorade boxes had to come of to access the brass thru-deck flanges underneath.

In the meantime, I scoured the web for inspiration and information for a handsome and practical headliner replacement. Of course in our case, it was really a headliner/cabin side/underdeck replacement – given the original headliner wrapped around the cabin sides and underneath the side deck. My eureka moment came when I happened upon John Stone’s Far Reach Blog. After reading over his wonderfully detailed process write up a few times my tenuous grasp on what needed to be done turned into an informed confidence and know-how. Without it, I think I’d still be doodling on graph paper and scratching my head.

Using Mr. Stone’s ideas I went to installing overhead cleats to screw the new headliner panels into. I ripped 3/4″ marine ply into several 1.5″ strips and pre-coated them with Smith’s Penetrating epoxy. While those cured, I roughed up the FG where the cleats would be glued with 50 grit and cleaned with acetone. Some of the gel goat on the stringer tabs needed to be ground off before cleats could be glued but the disc grinder made quick, albeit messy work of it. To affix the cleats, I used some 1.5″ self-taping screws and liberal amounts of PL Premium. Once the PLP cured I removed the screws and filled the holes with epoxy.

After weighing the pros/cons of a few different materials we found a promising product over at CaliBamboo made of thin, finished sanded bamboo paneling on a mesh-backed 4′ x 8′ roll. After estimating the square footage needed I ordered 6 rolls and went to work making templates out of cardboard. When the bamboo arrived it was obvious that the mesh was not rigid enough to hold the form of the cabin top curvature – in other words, it sagged a bit during the rough install. The simple solution was to cut matching panels from luan and glue the bamboo panel atop those to add rigidity and hug the curvature of the cabin top. In the end, there were 14 panels making up the new headliner – coated with clear polyurethane.

(Unfortunately, CaliBamboo has since discontinued the 4′ X 8′ bamboo rolls I used. They do however now offer 1/4″ bamboo plywood with the same planked look and no need to double-up with luan backing.) 

Holding it all up are 1″ red oak battens fixed through the panel edges and into the 3/4″ overhead cleats with #6 brass finish screws and #6 finish washers. I found the battens pre-made at our local Ganahl Lumber for a reasonable price, freeing me up from lots of work with the router. Most sections have 3 battens holding them up – forward, middle and aft. Not only do the battens hold the panels securely in place, but they hide any gaps and trim the overhead to the stringers. I tapered the end edges of the battens so they’ll fit snuggly in place once the top cabin side moulding is installed. Once they were all cut and sanded they got a few coats of Epifanes clear varnish. The original teak trim rings for the dome lights had to be shaved of a bit to accommodate the 3/4″ drop in headliner height.

With a 3/4″ gap between the overhead panels and the bare FG cabin top we considered installing some insulation in that space. So far however, that pocket of air has kept the cabin very comfortable in our So. Cal climate. It is nice to know it can be added easily if the need arises, as each section takes less than minute to unscrew and take down.

With the overhead complete I’m moving forward with installing wood panels under the side deck and getting started on the really fun part – ultimately trimming everything together to create a seamless work of wooden art!

Article Courtesy of s/v San Patricio at