Originally Posted by OffshoreDreamer
I sail a Pearson 365 ketch on the San Francisco Bay and along the California coast. We have davits for hanging a light, roll-up inflatable dinghy. I've had some sailors say to me that davits are a safety issue when offshore. I'm guessing the danger comes from the potential load from a flooded dinghy. So, a 2-part question:
1. Is there a reasonable way to protect the dinghy from being flooded by a boarding wave while it is hung on the davits (e.g. a fabric cover) or should I just stow the dinghy on-board in rough conditions?
2. I'm now looking at adding solar panels and the easiest install would be across the top of davits. Does anyone have experience to share re: saftey of this type of installation in coastal conditions?
Several comments in the order your post raised them:
1. I’m an east coast sailor and I don’t know much about the CA coast, but to me sailing outside SF Bay seems more like “offshore” than coastal sailing in that the boat is exposed to the full force of the Pacific Ocean and has few places to hide once you’re away from the Bay. ??????
2. Davits themselves are not the issue. You’ve surmised correctly -- it’s the dinghy that’s the problem. Weight in a place the designer didn’t figure on and windage may be an issue depending on the boat size, design, etc.
3. In rough conditions -- Stow it! Fill the dinghy with water and the stern settles. Next wave fills the cockpit. Not good. Worse yet, once you begin to have problems with the dinghy your inclination will be to attempt to fix things. “Fixing things” with a dinghy on davits means you or crew begin hanging over the stern. In rough weather, not a good idea. Solution: Stow it! All that said, I’ve seen many boats head offshore with dinghies hanging off the stern. On big boats it’s probably less of a problem due to their mass and height of davits/dinghy. Small boats are another matter.
4. Risk of solar panels on the davit arch is that they get hit by a wave and carried away -- depending on how high the davits are above the water my guess is that this is a low probability event. Other than that I don’t think they present a problem.