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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 02-26-2012
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Are davits a safety issue for coastal cruising?

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?

Thanks,
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Old 02-26-2012
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One question, would a covered dingy be dangerous if you had to board it in rough weather? It would seem to me to be like most aspects of sailing... a trade off. Although I am certainly no authority.

I am looking forward to this thread, should get lots of good information out of it.
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Old 02-26-2012
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Dreamer, covering would help but consider the force of a wave dropping on the dink, even covered. It might readily exceed the limits of the attachments, or the davits, and even if it did not it would push the stern down.

If you had realiable forecasts for good wx, I'd say leave it. But if there's any chance of wx deteriorating, stow it on deck. You know, like reefing? If you have to ask "should I" it is already past the time to do it.
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Old 02-26-2012
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I was surprised about the number of boats crossing the Pacific with a dinghy on davits - starting with all of the multihulls and including a reasonable number of monohulls. Many of the monos had vane steering which makes davits extremely difficult if not impossible. I would put on a cover, perhaps with supports under it (plastic pipe comes to mind). Also make sure the drain is open.
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Old 02-26-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Dreamer, covering would help but consider the force of a wave dropping on the dink, even covered. It might readily exceed the limits of the attachments, or the davits, and even if it did not it would push the stern down.

If you had realiable forecasts for good wx, I'd say leave it. But if there's any chance of wx deteriorating, stow it on deck. You know, like reefing? If you have to ask "should I" it is already past the time to do it.
This advice from "hellosailor" sounds wise to me. I use davits for coastal cruising an keep all extra weight off the dinghy offshore. I also have sturdy SS pipe davits that are well supported. Modern forecasts are very reliable for sustained storms and the biggest risks will be short term thunderstorms that can whip up a big wind for a half hour or so, but not long enough for unpredicted big waves. I won't discount the exception and as said above, ..."it is already past time to do it.


This second photo shows a solar panel above my davits and shrounds from the distal end of each davit to the top of my mizzen. The pieces with the wrapped line are just a stowed boarding ladder. I have the height and room to pull the side of my dinghy furthest from my transom up at an angle that leaves the dinghy unable to hold much water. I also selected the light weight Carribe without the full double hull. Take care and joy, Aythya crew

Last edited by CaptainForce; 02-26-2012 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 02-26-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
I was surprised about the number of boats crossing the Pacific with a dinghy on davits - starting with all of the multihulls and including a reasonable number of monohulls. Many of the monos had vane steering which makes davits extremely difficult if not impossible. I would put on a cover, perhaps with supports under it (plastic pipe comes to mind). Also make sure the drain is open.
Exactly. Listen to Killarney

I have seen 2 yachts 'pooped' with davits torn off at their mount. Solar panels, antennae, radar and wind gen all gone. One one of these, apparently, everything was slapping about at the stern until they had to hacksaw it off.

We have davits, but if leaving the bay, the dink goes upside down on the foredeck.
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Old 02-26-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
I was surprised about the number of boats crossing the Pacific with a dinghy on davits - starting with all of the multihulls and including a reasonable number of monohulls.
I think this whole topic is rather boat-specific, but...

... this is certainly a place where cats and monos are different. The reason is that cats carry the tender further forward, because it is between the hulls, not behind them. Additionally, they ride different down wind, as witnessed by the large salon doors. They aren't towing a big displacement wave down the middle.

Different.
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Old 02-26-2012
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as for the davits, I have solar panels on mine and have seen lots of them in the Caribe and elsewhere. As for carrying the dink on the davits, I did it hopping from one island to the next on a good forecast. If going farther, it goes on the foredeck or rolled up down below. I also have a dive knife under my dodger where it can easily be grabbed - if worst comes to worst and you have to cut the dink away, it is better than what else might happen if you don't. I have never even come close to wanting to do that but if I ever did want to, I would want it fast.
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Old 02-26-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OffshoreDreamer View Post
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?

Thanks,
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.
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Old 02-26-2012
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Since you have a Ketch can you post a picture that shows that area ? (to give better opinion by others) Also, because it is a ketch(I never had one), is it not practical to make a Bimini out of solar panels ?
...What do you think will/might happen in each stage of wind force. 30-40 knts ? Waves ?
..... Have you practiced with dinghy yet ? How get to dinghy with davits ?
I assume these questions are for the original poster's ketch, but I responded with my ketch as well and would address the same topics. I have seen solar panels mounted on hard tops or bimini frames upon ketches, sloops with center or aft cockpits. Their placement can be fragile or robust with any design, but all is at risk to a point. Naturally anything hanging further from amidship is more exposed to risk. My dinghy on davits with the panel above has been exposed on two occasions at anchor in 85 knot winds, but not challenged by a high overtaking following swell. As I said earlier, we are attentive to forecasts and advantaged by being coastal cruisers selecting the best weather without time commitments. Our davits are high enough to allow easy access to our lowered dinghy between the davits and under the solar panel without "ducking".

Here you'll see my outboard left on the dinghy up the Pamlico River, but I would always have it aboard when offshore. I also raise the starboard side of my dinghy offshore in harsh conditions.

Take care and joy, Aythya crew

Last edited by CaptainForce; 02-27-2012 at 07:30 AM.
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