Monday, May 9, 2011
posted by Jason
[Click Here To View The Original Article]
We sailed for a few years with Hello World's original canvas cockpit covers. The dodger windows were mostly opaque and distorted. The bimini canvas was easier to see through than the windows. The material was started to decompose and fall apart. The frames were rusty and flimsy. Any attempt to prevent a crew overboard in a seaway by grabbing hold of our dodger or bimini would have ended with a very startled crew member swimming next a pile of stainless steel and blue canvas.
No longer, people.
We employed the services of Iversons Designs to remedy our canvas woes. And remedy them, they did. We spoke with Jason Iverson at the boat show about what we were looking for. The interesting thing about Iverson's is that they don't really go to your boat and quote you a price. They have a standard price for their dodgers and biminis and standard prices for all the extras so he was able to give us a quote without knowing anything about our boat. The first time they step foot on your boat, they are there to build.
We requested a new dodger, bimini, solar panel mounts on top of the bimini, a full cockpit enclosure and just about every extra option we could get our grubby hands on. We also ponied up a little extra for the dodger that allows us to completely zip out all the windows and store them below. After handing over a $300 deposit back in February, we reluctantly waited our turn. If you want what they got, pack a lunch because you're going to wait for it. Finally, in mid-April we got a call asking if they could start the next day.
The build team came out and talked with us for a bit about what we wanted. They were very accomodating to our requests. Even though he didn't write anything down in our 30 minute conversation, he nailed everything I asked for. By the end of the day, we had our new stainless steel frames. I got to the boat after work and found the bimini frame to be a bit lower than I'd like. I sent an email asking them to raise it an inch or two. I waited for the reply giving me all kinds of excuses about why they couldn't raise it (the boom was perilously close, the stainless steel frames were already cut, bent and installed), but 10 minutes later I got an email quickly telling me "no problem at all". The next time they came out, the bimini frame was sure enough, two inches higher.
A word of caution about their install. They will bed every bit of hardware into the deck with 3M 5200. If you ever want a shot at removing any of their bedded hardware, you have to request they use something else. I didn't mind the snaps to the deck installed with 5200 but I did not want the frame footings mounted with 5200. Since all they carried was 5200 and silicon, I gave them a tube of 4200. Later in the summer when the weather improves, I'll pull the footings off, over drill the holes, fill with expoxy and through bolt the footings through the deck. At that point I'll bed the bolts with something a little more sealant like (3M 101 or butyl sealant) and a little less adhesive like.
Over a period of two weeks, they installed the dodger, bimini, solar panel mounts and finally the cockpit enclosure. Since then, I have poured over every inch of their work. The craftsmanship is excellent. Full of small details you don't notice at first like a small flashlight above the companionway, snaps to hold the cockpit enclosure panels out of the way when unzipped, and grab loops at exactly the right place when you need to pull the fabric together to zip panels together. Every possible chafe point is protected with at a minimum some kind of vinyl fabric and in several places with leather. Many of the seams and edges have two or three rows of stitching in place. And? It looks good. These guys have a keen eye for aesthetics. Covering the ass end of your boat with reams of canvas can turn out pretty ungainly. We've seen plenty of examples where canvas has gone horribly wrong. This installation looks like a natural extension of the boat, like Caliber had this in mind the whole time.
Let's be clear: this quality comes at a price. Iverson is not in the business of giving these things away. His prices seem to be incrementally more expensive than others out there. If you just went with the standard dodger and bimini, you're probably going to pay in the same ballpark as you would elsewhere (surprisingly, Mexico was not really any cheaper). We super-sized our canvas order so we're paying a pretty healthy bill. But given the quality of work and responsiveness we received, we'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Now, every night Christy and I have dinner out in the cockpit. We sit up there browsing the internet or reading. When we're home we rarely put the hatchboards in, even if it's 48 degrees and pouring rain. The cockpit enclosure has essentially given us another room on the boat. And this room has a bitchin' water view.
(Disclosure: We have no affiliation with Iverson's Design other than being a one-time customer. When a marine vendor does good work and treats us well, we want to let people know about it.)