The advantage of coastal cruising is being able to pick your weather and duck in somewhere if it turns on you. We keep ours on the davits all summer. For a long passage would we turn her over on the foredeck.
She sits about 6 or 7 ft above the waterline. Conditions that cold put water in her are not all that treacherous and it happened once. A following wave just crested and probably put 20 or 30 gallons of water inside, which drained out slowly. That was roughly an additional 200 pounds and it didn't seem like much inside. She held, but it got my attention. A real pooping and there is no way. I would estimate the dink could hold 100 gallon of water or more. Maybe as much as an addition 1,000 lbs. Goner in that scenario.
I'm not sure about a cover. It would be a good idea, if you could be sure it would remain tented under extreme pressure. Otherwise, if it was pressed into the raft, it would hold the water like a bowl and prevent it from draining.
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In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair. Margaritas fix everything.