Did "strapless bimini" get your attention? Well, it does involve some sexy hardware, and the finished strapless product, as seen on this local sloop, has a certain elegant attraction. The trick is that those 1" strut tubes seen under the port and starboard edges of the canvas each contains an internal hinge that lets the whole deal fold aft, but they also have a 10" section of 1 1/8" tube that slides and locks over the hinge, rendering them rock stiff. (But maybe enough with the double entendres?) I have not tried this hardware myself, yet, but have been watching the manufacturer, Gemini Marine Products, perfecting it for years...For a long time Gemini seemed like a classic marine canvas shop, though of particularly excellent quality, but it seems that proprietor John Lemole has a fair bit of inventor in him. He holds a patent on the hinge seen below (and now made in both 316 stainless and ABS plastic), and he also designed two styles of the side mounts needed to let a folding strut rotate at its ends, not to mention a neat tool for drilling tubing even when you can't slide a guide over it.
And having your bimini go strapless is not the only attractive way Gemini hardware can dress up your boat. The same concept means that a dodger can also lose its straps, while you get a handy grab rail and the ability to tension the dodger with virile leverage (sorry). Lemole also has an interesting "drop-top" dodger design based on his years of building and repairing them, along with some good explanations of how to use his hardware. Yup, I am plugging a local business with national ambitions (heck, the Gemini marketing guy is the neighbor who occasionally brings over eggs just laid by his own chickens). But who can't like an inventive company that will sell direct but advises that you can "save a few dollars by ordering from one of our partners, Sailrite."