Re: All that stuff hanging off the stern-- Gel batteries, solar panels and inverter - an experience

Ross Hickey & Donna Hammond

There is a lot to be said about good seamanship. All things not secured properly will move in any big sea. This is the reason containers fall off ships. I have also seen containers pushed in by the force of waves.

We also have a solar arch along with well over a hundred other Amels. Many of which have sailed thousands of sea miles. The only time the solar arch is used with the dinghy hoisted is in sheltered waters otherwise the dinghy is folded and stowed in the lazerette when sailing offshore.

When offshore extra tie downs are passed on the solar arch to ensure it is secured well and to limit movement. I too would not hesitate to cut it free if sea state and weather were likely to compromise the safety of our vessel.

We are very happy with the solar arch and the self sufficiency it provides us when cruising.

Kind regards
Ross and Donna
SV Intrepid Kiwi
Currently cruising Turkey

Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

On Friday, October 22, 2021, 7:42 AM, Bill Kinney <cruisingconsulting@...> wrote:


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.

Bill Kinney
Sm160,  Harmonie
Annapolis, MD, USA

Ross Hickey & Donna Hammond
SV Intrepid Kiwi
SM2K #356
Currently in Turkey

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