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Offshore Dreamer
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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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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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██▓▓▒▒░&
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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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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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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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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
 

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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.
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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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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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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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. ??????:confused:??????
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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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
 

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I have a question. Its been said a few times to stow the dingy on the deck when off shore. Why wouldn't you cover it and tow it behind you? I assume there is a reason?

Brad
s/v KIVALO
 

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.. In rough conditions -- Stow it!...
That's a very good advise;). Let me add that many that say that Davits are dangerous sail happily with the tender on the bow, that is one of the two places you can store a dinghy on a 36ft or smaller boat, if you don't have davits.

Having it on the bow is probably as dangerous or more than having it on davits. If you have a problem on the front sail or need to change for a storm sail the dinghy makes it dangerous to go and stay forward working.

The other place is back on the stern, firmly attached to it. I found it better and more safe that way. Waves are not a problem but in my boat it obstructed partially the back navigation light and I found out that over 40K wind the windage is so big that it can seriously compromise the ability to control the boat: With that wind a light modern boat is sailing with less sail area than the one that is provided by the flat dinghy on the back and the problems are obvious.

So, as Billy have said, unless you are sure of having tame conditions, stow it while you sail. A easily roll up dingy is a must on a small boat and the new ones with inflated floor are a very good idea.

Regards

Paulo
 

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I have a question. Its been said a few times to stow the dingy on the deck when off shore. Why wouldn't you cover it and tow it behind you? I assume there is a reason?

Brad
s/v KIVALO
Yes, if you take out the engine and oars it will be not a problem in not very bad weather but it slow you down and with bad weather the fixation points can break. The cover will not prevent the boat to capsize (with the wind) and that will slow you down even more and put more strain on the fixation points.

The last time I have done that on a small passage, last year between Minorca and Maiorca the wind suddenly gust over 40K (about 25 sustained) and the dinghy just take off like a kite on the back of the boat, finishing upside down.

We had it on the end of a long cable so it was just funny but the strain on the attachment points could have broken and will broke if we do that too many times;)

Regards

Paulo
 

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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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Mermaid Hunter
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Having it on the bow is probably as dangerous or more than having it on davits. If you have a problem on the front sail or need to change for a storm sail the dinghy makes it dangerous to go and stay forward working.
I think that varies from boat to boat. I carry my Caribe L9 upside down between the mast and inner forestay. The storm staysail is hanked on and bagged atop the dinghy. The dinghy provides a great step and seat for working at the mast. There is still plenty of room to move past it on both sides. When I do have to work on the bow the dinghy proves to be great to wedge against.
 

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I've looked aft to see my dinghy in tow spinning in the wind and throwing the floor board slats away. Light weight on robust davits continues as my choice for my kind of cruising. If I had a smaller boat; then, I would favor the dinghy packed and folded away or nesting pieces on deck. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
 

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Just had a thought. With an RIB, I suppose you could fashion attachment points underneath the hull and hang it inverted. Probably more trouble than it's worth.
 
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HANUMAN
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Just had a thought. With an RIB, I suppose you could fashion attachment points underneath the hull and hang it inverted. Probably more trouble than it's worth.
My thoughts exactly. I don't have davits, nor do I sail off shore.

However, IF I did, I would hang the inflatable upside down and rig a simple way to invert it (invert itself?) as it's lowered.

I can think of a couple simple solutions but it would depend on the davits, dink and boat.
 

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I have a question. Its been said a few times to stow the dingy on the deck when off shore. Why wouldn't you cover it and tow it behind you? I assume there is a reason?

Brad
s/v KIVALO
Several people have mentioned that towing a dinghy in high winds will probably result in towing a dinghy upside down and/or flying around at the end of the tow line. But there’s another reason you probably don’t want to do it:

Bad weather offshore creates stress on skipper and crew. You begin to worry about stuff going wrong....things breaking, etc. Because the bad weather stays with you for a while, the stress doesn’t go away -- it can be with you for days. Now, imagine what a dinghy flying about and plowing it’s inverted bow into every other wave will do to your already stressed brain. It’s just another worry and, unlike some of the imagined stressors, it’s very visible and constantly following you -- you can’t stop looking back to see what’s happening..... you get the picture. You’re going to want to do something about it -- but you can’t because once you’re in that situation all you can do is live with it or cut it loose. You you realize you can’t fix the problem, you begin to think, “How could I have been so dumb to have that dinghy back there in conditions like this?” The self-doubt also adds to the stress.

In bad weather the towed dinghy is a problem you don’t need AND, unlike other problems you may face during the ordeal of a storm at sea, you can do something about it. Stow it! before things get bad -- which, practically speaking, means stowing it before you leave.
 

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Yes, if you take out the engine and oars it will be not a problem in not very bad weather but it slow you down and with bad weather the fixation points can break. The cover will not prevent the boat to capsize (with the wind) and that will slow you down even more and put more strain on the fixation points.

The last time I have done that on a small passage, last year between Minorca and Maiorca the wind suddenly gust over 40K (about 25 sustained) and the dinghy just take off like a kite on the back of the boat, finishing upside down.

We had it on the end of a long cable so it was just funny but the strain on the attachment points could have broken and will broke if we do that too many times;)

Regards

Paulo
Several people have mentioned that towing a dinghy in high winds will probably result in towing a dinghy upside down and/or flying around at the end of the tow line. But there’s another reason you probably don’t want to do it:

Bad weather offshore creates stress on skipper and crew. You begin to worry about stuff going wrong....things breaking, etc. Because the bad weather stays with you for a while, the stress doesn’t go away -- it can be with you for days. Now, imagine what a dinghy flying about and plowing it’s inverted bow into every other wave will do to your already stressed brain. It’s just another worry and, unlike some of the imagined stressors, it’s very visible and constantly following you -- you can’t stop looking back to see what’s happening..... you get the picture. You’re going to want to do something about it -- but you can’t because once you’re in that situation all you can do is live with it or cut it loose. You you realize you can’t fix the problem, you begin to think, “How could I have been so dumb to have that dinghy back there in conditions like this?” The self-doubt also adds to the stress.

In bad weather the towed dinghy is a problem you don’t need AND, unlike other problems you may face during the ordeal of a storm at sea, you can do something about it. Stow it! before things get bad -- which, practically speaking, means stowing it before you leave.

Thanks for the response gentlemen. One more question. What about towing it using one of the various systems for rigidly attaching the dingy to the stern of the boat? It wouldn't clutter the deck and wouldn't be blown around.

Brad
s/v KIVALO
 
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