How to Make Your Own California Dodger Top

Item # X-HT-300636

A dodger is a must-have boating amenity that makes your time on the water more comfortable and relaxing. Sometimes called a sprayhood, a dodger covers the cockpit or companionway on a boat to shelter you from rain, spray and wind, as well as offering some shade. But did you know that, in addition to the standard dodgers you see around the marina, there's a second style called a California dodger? If your standard dodger has seen better days, now is the perfect time to upgrade to a versatile, California-style dodger with this three-part DIY video series.

The Sailrite California Dodger Kit has all the materials to make a custom California dodger.

You may be wondering what the difference is between a standard dodger and a California dodger. There are two main things that set California dodgers apart. First, California dodgers have larger side windows than standard dodgers do. This gives you more visibility side to side while under the dodger. Second, the front and side windows on a California dodger are completely removable, while standard dodgers usually allow you to roll up or remove the front window only. So, a California dodger offers more flexibility to decide how much shelter you want when you’re on the water.

Sunbrella Marine Grade Fabric is a high-quality, long-lasting option for California dodgers.
The dodger top has zippers on the underside to make installation and window attachment easy.

If you’ve never made a California dodger before, don’t worry! We’ve made the process clear and easy. Our California Dodger Skin Kits (#124251 and #124252) come with all the materials you need to make a custom-fit sprayhood for your boat. These boat dodger kits are designed to fit a two-bow frame, so you can make your California dodger on an existing frame or pick up a high-quality frame kit (#121918) from Sailrite®. The three how-to videos in this series will show you how to assemble the dodger top, front window and side windows. You’ll never be without the help or supplies you need.

Are you ready to add a spray dodger to your boat or upgrade your current dodger to a California-style sprayhood? In this first video, we’ll walk you through creating the top of your California dodger, including how to properly tension and measure the two-bow frame. Watch the video now to get started on this easy boat upgrade!

How did the top of your dodger turn out? Let us know in the comments below! The next step toward completing your California dodger is to make the front window. Check out our blog, "How to Make Your Own California Dodger Front Window" (#300637XHT), to learn how to make the removable front curtain for your dodger. You can do it!

Chapters List:

  • Intro — 0:00 min.
  • Patterning on the Frame — 1:20 min.
  • Patterning the Top — 16:58 min.
  • Cutting Hang-Down Tails — 19:45 min.
  • Creating Zippered Pockets — 23:00 min.
  • Sewing Hang-Down Tail & Pocket to Top — 45:40 min.
  • Sewing Inside Pocket Zipper to Top — 56:22 min.
  • Sewing Binding Around Top — 1:00:17 min.
  • Sewing Side Zippers for Curtains — 1:07:52 min.
  • Sewing Front Zipper for Curtain — 1:14:59 min.
  • Installing Top — 1:19:11 min.
  • Materials & Tools List — 1:27:51 min.

Materials List:

All listed materials are included in the California Dodger Skin Kit (#124251 or #124252).

  • Filament Strapping Tape 3/4" (#5643)
  • Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas (50 yds.) (#129)
  • Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material 74" (#103134)
  • Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric 46" — Pick a color
  • PremoBond® V-92 White UV Bonded Polyester Thread 4 oz. (1,350 yds.) (#123337) — Pick a different color if desired
  • Lenzip® #10 White Single Pull Finished Zipper (Molded Tooth) (#123744) — Pick a different color if desired
  • Seamstick 1/4" Basting Tape for Canvas & Upholstery (36 yds.) (#122065)
  • Sunbrella® Acrylic Bias Binding Tape 1" — Pick a color
  • YKK® SNAPCAP® #10 White Zipper Top Stop (VISLON®) (#123706) — Pick a different color if desired
  • Lenzip® #10 White Double Pull Finished Zipper (Molded Tooth) (#123746) — Pick a different color if desired
  • DOT® Snap Fastener Cloth-to-Cloth Stud (Stainless Steel) (#444100)
  • Blind Rivet for SnapRite® Surface Die (Stainless Steel) (#103755)
  • DOT® Snap Fastener Cloth-to-Surface Set 3/8" Screw (Stainless Steel) (#444002)
  • Shelter-Rite® White 61" Fabric (#112011)
  • Leather 4-5 oz. Chrome Pearl Grey (#559111)
  • DOT® Twist-Lock Fastener 2 Screw Stud Cloth-to-Surface Set (Nickel-Plated Brass) (#777400)
  • DOT® Twist-Lock Fastener Extended Legs Eyelet (Nickel-Plated Brass) (#777006)
  • Strataglass™ 30 Gauge Vinyl Window Material 54" x 110" Clear (#791123)
  • DOT® Twist-Lock Fastener Double-High 2-Hole Screw Stud (Nickel-Plated Brass) (#777035)
  • Trimmable Butyl Tape 1" (30 Feet) (#103689)
  • Sample of Boat Blanket Gray 72" Fabric (#100111)
  • Polyester White Hook 1" (#473100)

Tools List:

  • 2-Bow 1" Dodger Frame Kit with Rigid Supports & Hand Rails 84" x 40" x 40" (Stainless Steel) (#121918)
  • Gingher® Scissors Right Hand Lightweight 8" (#101017)
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" (#102400)
  • Soapstone Fabric Marking Pencil White (#102766)
  • Sailrite® Tempered Cutting Glass (#121915)
  • Sailrite® Edge Cordless Hotknife 18V Package (#122177)
  • Tape Measure 120" (#102986)
  • Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler (#107040)
  • Scribe-All® Water Soluble White Marking Pencil (#120681)
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 PREMIUM Sewing Machine With WorkerB® Power Pack (110V) (#311603)
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® Industrial Sewing Table (#120934)
  • Basic Thread Snips (#123222)
  • Deluxe 5-1/2" Magnetic Sewing Guide (#103597)
  • Prong Bending Tool for Twist-Lock & Lift-The-DOT® Fasteners (#120445)
  • Sailrite® 1" Swing-Away Binder (#100103)
  • Spring Clamp (#50211)
  • Sailrite® Professional Rotary Hole Punch (#123274)
  • Professional Rivet Tool (#103520)
  • SnapRite® Surface Mount Stud Die (#103754)
  • Pres-N-Snap Installation Tool (#109011)
  • Scribe-All® Black Marking Pencil for Vinyl (#121977)
  • Chalk Pencil Cartridge Set (#121669)
  • McLube™ Sailkote 8 oz. (#120679)
  • 3M™ Specialty Adhesive Remover 32 oz. (Quart) (#108984)
  • Rubber Cutting Block 10" x 10" (#378100)
  • Sailrite® Twist-Lock Eyelet Hole Cutter (#108001)
  • Barry King Mallet Hammer Style 3# (#68563)
  • Sailrite® #5 Drill Hole Cutter 5/8" (#121824)
  • Seam Ripper Deluxe (#18104)
  • Triangle Tailor's Chalk - Red (#121914)
  • Tape Measure, Permanent Marker, Yardstick, Straightedge, Fine Point Marker, Center Punch, Hammer, 1/8" Drill Bit, Drill, Packing Tape, Countersink Drill Bit