Group: Forum Members
I wrote this for another venue, but I intend to try to post my writings, as they emerge, on the Forum in hopes it can become a livelier place to share information, thoughts and procedures.
The talk of solar panels nudges me to share some thoughts on their installation and the storage of gear in general. This is intended mostly for boats that will go offshore, but is (I think) wise for all boats who do more than day sailing hops.
The forces of boats that fall off a wave or get slammed by the rare, but predictable wave, are enormous. (For those who have never been in a sailboat who has fallen off of a wave or gotten slammed by one: think enormous blow, one that takes you a while to shake off, even if you were securely seated: eg. you worry about your fillings). Any misc gear attached to the lifelines/stanchions is problematic, but solar panels are among the worst (followed by kayaks) because of the huge amount of surface area for the wave to hit. Stanchions can and do rip right out of the deck leaving holes for water to enter the boat. At best they become mangled and leave a dangerous deck to work on. Even blows of a less catastrophic nature over-stress the fittings leading to leaks in the stanchion bases (if your stanchion bases are leaking, look to whether there has been gear attached).
This goes for jerry cans (they are necessary equipment, just stored empty down below), bicycles, kayaks, spray curtains (my spray curtains are attached with light bungie cord so they stretch/break away well before any stress/damage to the stanchions/lifelines), etc. Lifelines are there as lifelines, not as convenient tie off points. Alchemy carries ~~90g of fuel which has been enough to get me from one fuel depot to the next without keeping fuel on deck for 15+ years. This includes 2 Atlantic crossings and many major hops in between, and often spending considerable time in areas where fuel depots are considered scarce.
Bottom line, I consider gear stored attached to lifelines dangerous. Many, perhaps most, will go years, perhaps decades, without mishap, but if you wish your boat to be fitted out and in seaman-like shape for offshore sailing and passage making, I would suggest re-thinking all gear attached to lifelines/stanchions with the intention of freeing this area of gear.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy