Join Date: Mar 2007
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Camaraderie explained it well. Most off-shore cruisers try to get the dinghy on deck or stowed below. Even on deck, though, the dinghy can be damaged by the force of water/waves. But it's much better there than in stern davits.
Some big boats can get away with it most of the time, but if you do a lot of off-shore passagemaking the odds will eventually catch up to you. That said, we sailed from Abaco to Beaufort NC with a big inflatable in davits without any difficulty. My friend, the boat's owner, was comfortable with this arrangement, but I confess it caused me a great deal of apprehension (further heightened when I learned after departure that the dinghy in davits was also our liferaft for the voyage!)
If you are only coastal cruising/daysailing, you can get away with davits pretty much all the time and they are very handy to have. I don't think there are any special problems with using davits on canoe sterns -- I've certainly seen them often enough.