Monday, June 3, 2013

Dorade Guards

Ever since we installed the dorade boxes on the foredeck, we've been planning to install dorade guards. The last thing we want is to get our sheet leads caught on one of our cowl vents, potentially ripping them out of the boxes, or worse. As a temporary stop gap solution, we simply removed the cowl vents when sailing and covered the holes with a deck plate, but this was far from convenient.

Many years and a few boats ago, Bill made these dorade guards for a 31' Irwin out of 7/8" stainless and bimini fittings, so our original intention was to make some for Phoenix as well, but this time with 1" stainless tubing.

Dorade guards Bill made on an Irwin 31
We had some scrap 7/8" and 1" stainless from discarded bimini frames that we had picked up in various places, so we decided to try to bend a few test pieces with our hydraulic bender.  This little bender did a great job when we curved our sheeting track to fit the curve of our cap rail, and was similar to what Bill used on the Irwin. Each tube was corked on one end, packed tightly with wet sand, then tightly corked on the remaining end. Despite several attempts we just weren't really happy with the results. Bill could do a nice 90 degree bend, but all attempts at a "U" just kinked or crushed the tube.

Looking at our laundry list of projects, we decided that maybe we shouldn't try to make everything. This could be one of those projects that we outsource to make our lives easier, or at least we could get a couple of quotes to see if it was worth the headache of doing this one ourselves. There are many good (and expensive) companies in the Annapolis and Baltimore areas that we figured we could tap if necessary, but for simplicity we began our search online. 

Ahoy Captain was the first company that we tried, and at first pass they seemed like a good fit. Simply fill out their worksheet with your dimensions, email it to them and you'll get a quote. Well, after a week of waiting, I contacted them again, and finally got a quote. Not a bad price, but we wanted a little clarification and discussion before signing on the dotted line. Bill called to discuss the quote, made a few tweaks to the design, and was told we'd get a revised quote. Several days (a week or more) went by, and despite several phone calls and emails on our part to follow up, we never heard back from them. Completely turned off by their lack of customer service, we decided to seek out a more professional company to work with.

We then contacted White Water Marine in Port Huron, Michigan. They custom fabricated all of our stanchion poles (will be installed soon) and we were very happy with their work. We initially hesitated in contacting them because we didn't love the shape of the example they had online (more square than we wanted), but when Bill spoke with them, they said they could custom fabricate the dorade guards to our specification. They provided a quote via email the same day (which was cheaper than Ahoy Captain's), and said they had a 4 week turnaround.

Three weeks later, our new dorade guards arrived -- well packed, made exactly to our specifications, and they looked great!

We immediately unpacked them and took them down to the boat to see how they looked.

Checking out the dorade guards in spot
Even though White Water made the guards to our specification, we knew they would need a little tweaking prior to installation. To simplify fabrication, we had them make the guards slightly taller than desired, so we could play with them, pad them out, etc. to make them fit the camber of our foredeck.

Plastic pad under forward tube
After careful measurements, Bill made plastic pads to fit under each base, cut 1" off of the inner-most tubes and 1/2" off the forward tubes, and the guards were then level with the deck.

Now it was time for final fitting and placement, drilling the holes through the deck, filling them with epoxy, and then screwing the pads and guards in place. We used a marine grade silicone to help create the "gaskets" between the base and the pad and the pad and the deck, and to prevent any water penetration. We chose silicone so we could remove them if necessary in the future.

Time to punch holes in the deck -- never my favorite part!

Ready for a dress bead of caulk
Now that the dorade guards are installed we won't have to worry about catching our sheet leads on the cowl vents anymore, and they serve as great hand holds when going forward!

The finished product

Once the dorade guards were installed it was time to celebrate with a crab lunch -- we are on the Chesapeake after all!



  1. Remember, the definition of cruising is working on your boat in exotic places. See you in the Chesapeake in a couple of months. Maybe think about heading south in the fall. Chuck and Susan

  2. We're still thinking about heading south in the Fall, but it all depends on how quickly we can sell off most of the "stuff" keeping us here on the Chesapeake and get some of the major projects done.

    Having the bigger tools here at the house also makes some of the jobs go quicker, but we'll get there!