I have read your article several times, and it is really a touchstone for me. The conditions you went through are worse than I have ever had to sail in, although I did get pounded pretty hard (for many days) on a trip back across from Hawaii to California. I saw several times the "submarine boat" you described. It was an educational experience. Especially the time I was working to sort out a problem with the furling gear at the bow when the boat disappeared... We had rail mounted solar panels (folded down) that took a hit from waves hard enough to break stanchions. Fortunately just broken metal, not ripped fiberglass. Another lesson learned.
I once expressed an opinion that I thought having a dinghy on davits was a hazard offshore. We have seen a boat limping back to harbor with totally twisted and mangled davits when a wave filled the dinghy hanging there. A very popular internet guru responded that he had an Island Packet 38 with REALLY high freeboard and just could not image a wave large enough to poop his dinghy while it was hanging on davits... I was kind of flabbergasted. As if the ocean cares how good your imagination is...
We have decided that an intermediate approach fits our risk/benefit equation. A simple arch with only solar panels. No davits, no other attachments. If we ever really expected to be in serious survival conditions offshore, I'd cut the whole thing away without a second thought. Total cost of replacement, about $8K. Peace of mind: Priceless.
I don't worry about it at all with wind, it had no issue with winds of 70 knots in Hurricane Dorian. Waves: A totally different story. If we were ever in a situation where waves were large enough to impact the solar panels in any way I KNOW the structure would be compromised.
I know and understand that our choice is not the best from all perspectives. But I know that the value of having a solar system that supplies half of our power needs is significant. Not just from a cost perspective but extending our self sufficiency, and off grid fuel independence is really a major addition to our boat's capabilities.
Annapolis, MD, USA