The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

A very bad place to put a solar panel

Seriously? One wave strike, or even a gale, and this will end very badly. More on why we should not do stuff like this, at least if we plan to go offshore.

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Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Another reason to resist securing stuff to lifelines is that the forces absorbed by the stanchions goes right into the stanchion base and into the hull. Imagine that solar panel’s weight, with the lever it has, moving the stanchion (and base) with every wave, even small, that most every boat endures hundreds of times an hour. Stanchion bases and their bedding are not designed for that sort of assault.
If there are leaks into the boat, or worse, a water saturated core, first consideration might be as to whether the skipper had “stuff” secured to the stanchions and lifelines.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dan Perrott

I’m curious, if you used a light weight flexible solar panel lashed in place, would it be any worse than a piece of canvas as is commonly used to provide extra cockpit protection?

Dick Stevenson

Hi Dan,
The less weight of flexible panels and its attendant diminished lever action would certainly make a difference, but, I believe that one of the appeals of that mounting is that there will be stands to hold the solar panel in place so that its position is facing the sun: which would be harder with a flexible panel.
BTW, my spray curtains are installed with light-weight bungy cord, so if/when it gets hit by a wave, it is less likely to damage the stanchions and lifelines.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy 

Marc Dacey

In a case that even experienced cruisers can make this error, on a delivery to the USVIs in 2009, our skipper’s boat’s lifeline-mounted panel sheared a bracket in heavy seas, and I had to clip on to the jacklines, hold on to a Lewmar 66 on one side and the edge of the panel with the other until the skipper could effect a repair.

Our panels are now “nutlocked” to welded tabs on our solar arch and are checked yearly for issues. Lifelines are not sturdy enough and are too exposed.