A Cockpit Awning
This page was last updated on 6 July 2002

We decided to build an awning to protect the cockpit (well, mainly its occupants) from the sun.  Way back when we had the dodger built, we already had the general plan in mind for the awning, having seen a nice design on another Triton in our area, Jock Brodie's E-Ho II.  We decided to more or less emulate his design for our own, so we had a zipper built into the top of the dodger at that time.

With our long cruise pending, we knew that some sun protection at anchor would be critical, so we moved forward with building the awning in time for the cruise.  The basic design and construction is very straightforward:  a basic rectangle of cloth (Sunbrella, in our case), which is attached to the dodger with a zipper at the forward end and supported by a batten at the after end.  Heidi did all the sewing, of course.

The following measurements were critical and were taken by Heidi and I off the boat:

  1. Width of the front and back of the awning

  2. Length between dodger zipper and the mainsheet (which requires a cutout)

  3. Overall length from dodger zipper to just forward of the backstay (our awning extends past the mainsheet a bit)

With these measurements in hand, construction could begin.  Heidi sewed the whole thing up in a pretty short time.  The width of the awning (over 48") requires two pieces of Sunbrella sewn together longitudinally, with the seam in the dead center.  Once the basic rectangle is made, the edges are folded over and sewn to avoid any exposed edges.  There is a 1" wide slit in the back part of the awning to allow it to pass around the mainsheet tackle, and a 1" pocket in the aft end into which a batten will slide.  Pretty simple stuff.  To finish things off, we added a grommet in each corner for some lines that help secure everything, and in the center, on either side of the mainsheet slit, Heidi sewed a piece of webbing on each side that we can tie around the backstay.  For the batten, I went to my local sail loft and picked up a length of 5/8" diameter round batten stock--it's nice and stiff.

The pictures tell a better story of the awning than my description, so here they are.



This is the view looking aft from underneath the awning.  




This is the view looking aft above the awning from up on deck .


Here's how it looks from the water.  The aft end can be raised or lowered if desired.  A couple full size pictures (click them) are shown below for a better view.  The control lines at each corner really only serve to slightly stretch the fabric and stabilize the batten at the aft end for a tight fit.


awning1.JPG (135623 bytes)     awning1close.JPG (167305 bytes)     awning2close.JPG (171579 bytes)

Our first deployment of the awning was a rousing success (when these photos were taken).  We had a few gusts of wind early on to test it out (good), a little bit of sun (good), and even some light rain.  It's amazing how the awning has such an effect on the living space of the boat.  That little piece of fabric effectively extends the living space to the cockpit even more than the dodger does, and helps protect the cockpit from rain, enabling the occupants (us) to stay up there longer.  Of course, it's not wide enough to block all the sun all the time, but it sure is a big help.  Future modifications might include basic screens, or basic side curtains to block more of the sun from the side.  We'll see...no rush to change anything.  It works exactly as planned, and perhaps will make even more of a difference to our comfort than we originally thought.

Removing the awning is a matter of untying the four corner lines, slipping the batten out of its pocket (so that it can get by the mainsheet), and rolling it up.  Removal or deployment takes a minute or two.  And it's still easy to get in and out of the cockpit.

Nice job, Heidi!


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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