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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Folks,

I have an 18 foot Sotar "raft". I need to get a bimini top for a very long trip next summer. I'm using 11 foot oars and am having great difficulty figuring out how I will be able to stow the oars with the bimini top up. Seems like either the bimini top frame or the tie down straps are going to stop me from bringing the oars into the boat - which is important since I will be using a kicker motor on the trip.

I live in Alaska and there are no bimini tops for me to look at - so its buy online and take my chances. I have a DRE double rail frame that is about 81 inches from outside pipe to outside pipe width. I'm looking for an 8 foot bimini for a very long trip. Any comments or suggestions on stowing oars with a bimini top would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I have no problems stowing oars. You will just have to work out where you connect the straps. There is a lot of flexibility in where you can place them. I run 10' oars on a 76" wide frame... locks are a bit wider. I just set my blades in between the tubes and the spare oar handles to ship them. I run the back straps off the bimini to the back quarter D-rings. You want the bimini to mount inside your oar stands so it can fold un hindered. The oars will have to be stowed outside the frame parallel to the boat, at least somewhat like I describe above to drop the bimini.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. I am planning on using an 8 foot bimini and using it as a "frame" for an on-board tent. I know I'll need some addition support straps to give it some sideways support, but am struggling over whether to get the aluminum frame with stainless fittings - or to get the frame in stainless also. Thanks for the help.
 

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That's a tough one, not knowing your trip, nor even if I did what kind of weather/accidents could happen... I'll tell you that the ebay bimini's work great for here but they're not over built. My guess is if it were going to support a tent for a really long trip in Alaska I'd think about heavier duty/higher quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks - your spot on. Total weight for the long trip is a factor and the stainless frame weighs about 30% more. Cost/Shipping to Alaska is horrendous for either so not an issue. They make what they call a double wall aluminum frame and then the all stainless frame, both considered higher end and both use stainless fittings. What I have no way of knowing is if the double walled aluminum frame will provide adequate strength. Unless the stainless frame is substantially stronger - I wouldn't want the weight. Its the pits I can't actually see/inspect them here locally.
 

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Don't beeline the "double wall" BS. Its an inside surface and an outside surface, therefore "double". Mine said the same thing but its really just standard Al tubing...

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Mountain Buzz mobile app
 

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Thanks. How would you rate your tubing's strength?
I believe panicman read my mind...

I would not trust the aluminum setup on a bimimmi for my sleeping quarters on a long wilderness trip. They are not built that tough.
I think if I were going to do any thing like your planning I'd build one from 3/4" schedule 40 pipe and handrail fittings. Would be heavy but bomber. Not sure about weight limitations but if your lodging depends on it, I'm guessing it would be worth the weight... Somebody on the site has done just that though I can't remember where...search and ye shall find if that floats your boat, so to speak.

In fact I was seriously looking into this idea when I decided to pull the trigger on my top. It would have cost more than the one I bought but would be much stronger and you could totally customize size, attachment points etc. My 8' top is just barely big enough to cover the rower and the front passengers. Another foot would be nice, maybe 2 and when I looked at 10'ers they were another couple hundred bucks more. In your unique position I think it's worth investigation...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks folks - everyone is correctly understanding my situation. A Buzz member that has helped me tremendously over the last year or so also suggested making my own early on so I could customize it for my specific purposes. My search for plans on making a bimini only produced PVC construction and what I consider marginal execution for the fabric top. Having a kicker on the back and fixed motorman seat presents its own issue with folding down the bimini which might require a forward fold. There is also the issue of whether or not to mount to the inside or outside double rails - all associated with stowing oars and having adequate on-board sleeping room width.
 

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Man, you are going to have one hell of a rig. I would love to do one like that. More pics of the rig please. Just got off the middle fork in my 18er. Slept like a baby on her, had room for 4 groover tanks, all the trash, 3 coolers, 260 beers, lots of liquor, mixers, a mandolin, a guitar, couple drums, lots of food and more. There's no better boat if you have the water.
 

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Given your high costs of shipping and inability to view pre-ordering, I was just thinking that home-made or locally fabricated would be the way to go. And I was thinking PVC as well. They do make it in various grades, you know. I used a stick of 1 1/4" schedule 120 to use as a tie-down for 4 rocket boxes on a burly ww trip, and it worked great.
 

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Hi Jack. I've seen your rig and it's just fine. When comes to shipping your oars in while motoring, assuming you have your two spares tied one on each side, those should hang below the frame correct? To ship the oars that in the locks, why not just rest them on the spares and leave them ready at all times? If you're really traveling long with the motor, you can always throw a strap on. They don't need to come all the way inside the boat, and the bimini frame shouldn't interfere in any way.
 
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