Dinghy Launch/Retrieval

A number of you have asked about how we launch and retrieve Beer Can (our larger aluminum dink). I will start with a bit of commentary.

Our last boat was a Nordhavn 50 and the dink was stored on the upper back deck area some 12 to 15 foot off the water. Launch and retrieval was a scary affair even in benign conditions. Add even moderate winds and waves and it was downright deadly. Imagine 800 pounds of dinghy swinging on the way up past the salon windows and then imagine trying to wrestle it to ground on the top deck while it was chasing you around like an angry billy goat – all while you had no escape route except being thrown off the top deck. Not good.

Things are much more civilized and reasonable aboard Iron lady. First, the dink rests just a bit more 6 feet above the water on the back deck. Second, it only has to be raised a few feet above the lifelines to launch it or retrieve it. We have launched and retrieved the dink in winds of up to 30 knots with nasty waves and nobody was in danger.

Here is our procedure with 2 people (one is doable but would be tougher in less then ideal conditions).

First order of business is to set things up. The lifting bridle is generally left in place. Remove the stainless turnbuckle tie downs on the dink, raise the motor, release the fore and after guy lines on the boom, and reeve the dinghy hoisting tackle back to the aft deck winch.

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The dink painter is tied off to the small winch on the aft deck as a safety line.

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One of us runs the winch to lift the dink while the other guides it off the cradle. As it is raised, the one running the winch moves over to guide the stern of the dink out.

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Once clear of the rail (the dink naturally drifts slowly out as it is moved outboard), one of use guides it down as the other feeds the line off the winch.

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That’s it – once in the water, we remove and hook the hoisting tackle to the the port lifelines and drift the dink back to the swim platform with the painter.

Retrieval is simply the reverse process. VERY simple and straightforward. The whole process doesn’t take much more then 5 minutes including cleaning up the deck and lines and can be managed in some pretty nasty conditions without putting anyone in jeopardy.

Another huge plus to the FPB64.

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3 Responses to Dinghy Launch/Retrieval

  1. D.M. Zuniga says:

    Very slick, Don Pedro!

  2. Chris says:

    Just curious, can you elaborate on what was so bad / different with the N50 arrangement? Clearly the height above water has a huge influence, but I would think you’d have equal or better control of the tender with the hydraulic davit (powered rotation, etc). Was it a lack of control, or the fact that you had to be on 2 different levels of the boat to start and finish the procedure?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the FPB (and most envious of you for having one) and its block & tackle approach , but I would have thought it actually more ‘complex’ than the normal yachty-type davit.
    Thanks for your blogging, and best of luck as you continue to enjoy your boat.

    • myironlady says:

      Our davit on the N50 was manual – simply power up and power down – no boom up or down and no power rotation. The boom up and down was no issue as the boom was set in one position to lower or raise the dink. The other issue, however, is that you could not get at the dink as it was raised past the port side salon windows – the dink was too far forward to get at it directly (no walkway on the port side). The other issue was rotation and the height above the water. While power rotation would have been beneficial, it would not have stopped the swinging of the dink fore and aft or port to stbd as the boat rolled and with the pick point 15 feet off the water with the dink at the end, the swinging motion was greatly amplified. Once at the boat deck level above the lifelines, given the size of the dink, there was very little room to stay out of its way as it moved about.

      The 64 rolls a bit as well, but remember that the center of motion is much lower on the back deck where the dink resides and that makes a huge difference.

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