Deck Cranes and Dinghy Davits

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Boat Bum
Oct 7, 2010
Vessel Name
Traveling Star
Vessel Make
Pilgrim 40
I own Pilgrim 40 hull #18 and as best I can tell it never carried a dinghy on what we would call down here the Texas Deck.* I have no signs of davits ever being installed.* I originally had planned to replace my existing mast with a sailboat mast and boom and handle the dink from the Texas Deck to the water using a self tailing winch, line and multiple blocks.* An additional benefit of that would be that I could also install a steadying sail.* After studying all the photographs of other Pilgrims I realized that my boat lacks the overhead beam to carry the weight of a dink and motor on the mast.* Although my boat is a Project boat I have no desire to tear into the overhead and redesign the existing boat.* I am a trawler newbie coming from a strong background in sailing.*

*I am planning to use a 9-0 RIB with a 4 or 9.9 hp engine as my dinghy

Those of you who use a davit or deck crane to raise a dinghy out of the water and up on to a higher deck


Which is better, 12 volt or 120 volt?

Those of you that are using a deck crane, is it manual tilt?
Do you have any problems with it?
Is it 12 volt or 120 volt?


Do you have any Dos / Donts or recommendations on deck cranes or dinghy davits?

John Allison
Pilgrim 40 Hull #18
Kemah, Texas
On a friend's Pilgrim 40 the dink sat on the port side, aft. He had two swinging cranes that worked together to lower it. The dinghy itself was a small fiberglass rowing/sailing dinghy with a 5 hp OB.
I realize that some Pilgrims have "Lifeboat" style davits.* I do not plan to use a hard classic dink and think I would have problems handling a RIB*with the block and tackle style davits.
think I would have problems handling a RIB with the block and tackle style davits.

Use blocks that self tail , or have a cam cleat lead.
We have a pipe davit that uses a 12 volt 'superwinch' and it works fine. Our hard dink weighs about 100lbs and with the motor another 45. Our Rib (just sold it!) weighed more like 180 with the motor and also lifted easily. We use a 3 point adjustable sling like the one Wichard makes, and have no problems. Some time ago we used a block and tackle off the boom on our Albin 36' and easily lifted an 11' Whaler. Block and tackle is fine, just work out the advantage you need and build it to suit. Of course the more advantage, the slower the lift. We used the blocks with a rope to wire splice and led the wire to a hand crank two speed trailer winch on the mast which worked as well as the electic one (slower of course) that we have now.
In April I replaced out 30 year old wood mast boom with a new Aluminum mast boom,* The mast is 20 ft tall and the boom is 14 ft long.* I used 12 volt winches, 2000 lbs that I bought from Friday harbor tool for 50 bucks with wired remote up and down.*

When designing the mast and boom make sure it strong enough and the angle of the pull is less than 45 degrees.* I used 4 round thick wall for the mast and 3 round thick wall for the boom.* Rounds is stronger than square tubing.* The angle of the pull is very important the less the angle the less the strain.* Engineering designed, the plant made and installed it for me so it become another controllers R&D project.* *

If you have to take the engine off and on then a light weight engine.* Also if the transom is plastic aluminum the high HP engines tend to flex the transom especially with a heavy load and cause leaks.*Most leaks are back by the transom and a bitch to repair.

Anyway what ever you install make sure it fits and is strong enough for the application.*
A dinghy carried on a boat deck (or Texas deck if you will) can be very problematic to downright dangerous if you have to launch it in rough water, which is almost always the condition you'll be in during an emergency that requires the dinghy to be deployed. I've seen an RIB get away from people who were lowering it from a boat deck in a bay with very little water movement--- the dinghy still got away from them and took out a cabin side window and severely injured one of the people lowering the boat.

So we don't believe in carrying a dinghy on a boat deck or aft cabin top at all. We'd tow it before carrying it there.

The only dinghy mount I believe is practical from a safety and quick deployment aspect is on the transom, either in davits that hang it horizontally above the transom or on something like a SeaWise Davit that pivots the dinghy (and motor in the case of the SeaWise) into a vertical position on its side on the swimstep.

Open ocean cruising imposes some different considerations with regards to dinghy storage. But for cruising in coastal waters, a dinghy carried where it can be quickly and easily deployed with no risk to the boat or the crew even in rough water is the only way to go in my opinion. Should we ever get a larger, heavier dinghy than the one we currently carry on Weaver davits on the swimstep, we'll tow it.

There are a number of good davit systems for carrying a dinghy on or over the stern that might be worth checking out.

Thanks for the great response and safety thoughts.* The only problem I have with stern davits is the fact the I have a fantail stern (rounded) and no swim platform


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I wonder.* If the dinghy is also the lifeboat (like a Pudgy), would it do OK in a heavy sea being towed or while the boat has employed a sea anchor?
This cruiser tows its boat-sized dinghy.


-- Edited by markpierce on Thursday 6th of January 2011 04:04:00 PM
There is*the option of using an inflatable dinghy and carrying it deflated on the deck or cabin top.
We have a Nick Jackson 12 VDC davit.** For the type of cruising we do it works great.* When we bought Hobo, she came with an Avon 13.5 foot RIB with a 50 hp Yamaha that weighed 750lbs.* It was a*little scary when we were raising or lowering it.* We found we towed the dinghy a lot.*

We replaced the Avon with*a 10.5 foot RIB and*a 15 hp 2 stroke.* The combination*weighs a little over 210 lbs with dinghy wheels.* We hoist and secure the dinghy against the rub rail at night for security and to cut down on bottom* growth.* We rarely tow it since the weight is the equivalent of a big guy and we fish a lot.* It is wired into the house bank and we find the power usage minimal.* Marin's concern about raising and lowering from the boat are valid.* As a rule it*is a 2 person job.* With walk around decks we have good control with a tag line.**
Alfton wrote:


Thanks for the great response and safety thoughts.* The only problem I have with stern davits is the fact the I have a fantail stern (rounded) and no swim platform
In order to deal with the fantail, you just need a little longer reach on the davits. As to the lack of a swim step, you really don't need one. A ladder will take you directly from the big boat to your dinghy. We have done it for years. Our dinghy is about 425 pounds, with full fuel tank and 15 horse four stroke outboard. With the aid of the five to one block and tackle, and wrapping the line around my waist, I push off the gunnel with my foot. I also utilize jamb cleats to hold it up as I get ready for the next pull on the line. I designed this davit and had it built. Given the weight of the boat, I might consider a powered system, but chose not to due to the poor retationship that electricity has with salt water.


-- Edited by Carey on Thursday 6th of January 2011 04:28:05 PM


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Quite a few Willard skippers use stern davits. Wilards have very rounded sterns.
In my avatar it shows us using a weaver tilt up. That was when we had the rib (my wife hated the rib and so did I). I now have a Olson Ross-Kelly stern davit thats powered by a 12v winch which works just fine. My 13 foot whaler and 35hp Johnson weighs 850#. I have seen this transom davit on a fantail. Ive met with the designer and have been in his shop and have seen some with adjustable arms which I think are specifically for fantail applications.

That said, and having used mine for several years now, Ill let you know that I prefer to stow the dink in the davit only while at a dock. Otherwise we tow it because of the issue raised above sea state.

First (if its a boat with a removable drain plug in the stern) remember that you will have to somehow get the drain plug in place NOT something Id want to do in anything other than calm waters.

Also, with the dink stowed you should cross lash it to help arrest momentum loads from rolling. So that means that if you need to deploy, you have two crossing straps plus the two wire stays to remove just to lower the dink. To remove the wire stays, you have to lift the davit to slack the stays so they can be unclipped. Then you need to lower the dink, get into it and unclip the harness. Doing all that in a protected area or anchorage is fine but I would not want to do it in 2 foot plus seas let alone if the engines died and I could not put the bow into the waves.

OH one other thing, with the dink up on a fantail keep in mind that the motor may catch passing waves. (Mine would if I didn't tow it as the whole rig is wider than my beem).

I do a lot of UW photography and crabbing so Im willing to go through all this. If it werent for that Id recommend staying with something much lighter. But whatever you use Id still recommend deploying and towing long before any waves build.

Regarding you boat and your concern about having to stiffen the texas deck. Nothing says that the cranes mast needs to be in the center of the deck. You could position it just outside of the wall over an area that already has support or where support could be easily added without being too ugly.

-- Edited by carvendive on Thursday 6th of January 2011 04:37:22 PM
How about a oicture of a Willard with davits, just curious.*
12 volts, that is the only way to go. A friend of mine had a 120 volt winch an while he was lowering the dink as I grabed the winch cable it lit me up, and he is an electricia, I was the ground. I was fine, J.T.Duncan
Never done this before. Snitched a pic off the Willard Boat Owners site.
I hit "paste" and nothing showed up. I don't think we have a shot but it's just like Carey's except the davits need to hang out a few more inches more because of the curvature of the stern. And w some davits the "boom" may not be straight aft but conform to a line 90 degrees to the rail. I think the non-parallel boom installation is best. Join the Yahoo group Willard Boat Owners and fine the pics under "photos" or search the archives for "davits"

-- Edited by nomadwilly on Thursday 6th of January 2011 05:51:51 PM
Here's a Picture of our Willard 40 Pilot House with the*Dinkon Top of the salon. Our Skiff is a 12 foot Lund with a 15 hp outboard. Probably near the same weight as a 10 foot RIB. As you can see there is a little bit of rigging aboard the Lady Anne due to the Paravanes and boom. The boom is lifted using a hand crank boat winch and the boat is lifted/lowered with a 12vdc winch. I have thought about using a hand pulled lift with a self tailing sys. But I have been a little Leary of the ropes getting out of control and ripping my hands apart as well as the obvious dangers of several hundred pounds of dingy crashing around. I have loaded and unloaded with this system for the past 6 years without any problem, just using a tag line by myself.

I have had to launch the dingy from the top one time in an emergency. I cut the tie down lines and got 'er down in a hurry. My wife says that we had the skiff launched in*side of*three minutes. Not all that fast by some standards but we were able to take care of our abandon ship call safely. That's a whole other story.


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nomadwilly wrote:

Never done this before. Snitched a pic off the Willard Boat Owners site.
I hit "paste" and nothing showed up.
This may have been what you did, but in taking a photo off a website or a Google Images search page*I right-click on the photo, then do a "Save As" and direct the copy to be saved to the desktop as a jpeg.* If the photo is not copy protected, the copy will show up on the desktop at which point you can insert it into a post in the normal manner.

Remember to open the photo on the original website if you have that option--- the initial display photo may be extremely small* and if you save a copy of that, it will be equally tiny.
Thank's Marin. I think I've got an image but don't think it will be very big as it only took about 15 seconds to upload.Yup * ... small. Probably was small on Yahoo.

-- Edited by nomadwilly on Thursday 6th of January 2011 08:27:08 PM


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I'm not sure I'd welcome the vulnerability of a dinghy hanging from the stern.


I wouldn't want 50-something-foot waves come from abeam or astern.


-- Edited by markpierce on Friday 7th of January 2011 04:36:27 AM
Most folks carry a dink in aft davits INSHORE , offshore a different plan is used.

With a condom dink , even with the unfolding hard bottom exploring ashore can be costly.

A hard dink , aluminum seems best, can take the hard knocks of a shale beach or overcrowded dink dock.
Many off shore boats have a dink and a life raft for emergency quick deployment.* Also most have the dink up high because of the following seas.* We had a life raft but over the years I did not maintain it and will buy a new one when we head north.* I use the shell as storage.
what make/model is that green hulled pilouthouse you just posted? Sharp looking boat!

Regardless of where I store my dinghy, I hope I NEVER see 50' seas except via youtube! *:)

-- Edited by Woodsong on Friday 7th of January 2011 08:24:22 AM
Hey Mark,Thanks for posting that Coot pic again. You're boat would be the best boat for me * *...
even better than a Nordy. I love to see it from time to time. But my all time favorite boat remains the Nordhavn 46.
And thanks for that outrageous pic of that woman having lunch next to those big seas. I see there's nothing in the wine glass * * ...but * but *it's there and unlikely to be glued to the table.
It looks like the Willard guy has put extensions on those davits. I am considering davits also. Would make my own though. Store bought toooo $$$$

-- Edited by nomadwilly on Friday 7th of January 2011 09:16:53 AM
nomadwilly wrote:

Hey Mark, ...*thanks for that outrageous pic of that woman having lunch next to those big seas. I see there's nothing in the wine glass * * ...but * but *it's there and unlikely to be glued to the table.
You're welcome, Eric.* For some people, food is the only thing of interest.* As this was the 12th day of the cruise and breakfast menus were unchanging, she should have had the menu memorized by then.* ...* The wine glass was probably one of hundred of such, plus plates, baskets of pastries (it was breakfast)*silverware, and people*in chairs*that ended up on the floor. ... Some of the waves struck the windows, about 50 feet above the ship's waterline.

nomadwilly wrote:

*But my all time favorite boat remains the Nordhavn 46.
Wouldn't we all want one.


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