Title:
Small boat stowage system and skeg assembly for boats
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stowage system for stowing a smaller boat on board a larger parent boat is provided. A well sized to receive the smaller boat is formed below the aft cockpit deck of the parent boat adjacent the stern. A movable cover assembly in the nature of a hatch(s) covers the well and sits flush at deck level when in a closed position. The cover assembly is movable to expose the well so that the smaller boat can pass through the opening when the cover is in an open position. Also, a skeg assembly with twin skegs provides an improved tracking capability for a powerboat and provides sufficient space for the small boat stowage system. The twin skegs, which provide support for inboard engine shafts, are symmetrically located on opposite sides of a centerline of the hull near the stern. Water flow tunnels between the skegs.



Inventors:
Compton, Terence J. (Portsmouth, RI, US)
Application Number:
10/815178
Publication Date:
12/09/2004
Filing Date:
03/30/2004
Assignee:
COMPTON TERENCE J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B3/38; B63B3/48; B63B19/14; B63B19/19; B63B23/20; B63B29/02; B63B35/40; B63H5/16; B63H5/08; (IPC1-7): B63B35/44
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
VASUDEVA, AJAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRETI FLAHERTY BELIVEAU & PACHIOS LLP (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A small boat stowage system for stowing a small boat on board a parent boat, comprising: a parent boat comprising a boat hull extending from bow to stern; a well formed below an upper deck level adjacent the stern and sized to receive a boat smaller than the parent boat below the deck level, the well being open at the deck level; and a movable cover assembly in the opening over the well, the cover assembly flush with the deck level when in a closed position, the cover assembly movable to expose the well so that the smaller boat can pass through the opening when the cover is in an open position.

2. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly comprises at least one cover member supported along edges of the opening.

3. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly comprises at least one cover member hingedly supported along an edge of the opening.

4. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly comprises at least one bi-fold cover member supported along edges of the opening.

5. The stowage system of claim 4, wherein the bi-fold cover member is hingedly supported along an edge of the opening.

6. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly comprises two bi-fold cover members supported along opposite edges of the opening and meeting at a centerline of the opening.

7. The stowage system of claim 6, wherein the cover assembly further includes an overlapping portion to close a gap between the two bi-fold cover members.

8. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly comprises at least one cover member supported along a periphery of the opening by an edge supporting element.

9. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the edge supporting element comprises a bracket.

10. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the edge supporting element comprises a lip or ledge formed in the hull.

11. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the edge supporting element is formed around an entire perimeter of the opening.

12. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly includes an opening mechanism operative to open the cover assembly.

13. The stowage system of claim 12, wherein the opening mechanism comprises a pneumatically actuated device.

14. The stowage system of claim 12, wherein the opening mechanism comprises a gas-filled strut.

15. The stowage system of claim 12, wherein the opening mechanism comprises an electrically actuated device.

16. The stowage system of claim 12, wherein the opening mechanism comprises a hydraulically actuated device.

17. The stowage system of claim 12, wherein the opening mechanism is operative to assist in opening the cover assembly.

18. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the cover assembly includes a biasing mechanism operative to bias the cover assembly to the open position, and a retaining mechanism operative to hold the cover assembly in the closed position against the biasing mechanism.

19. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the well comprises a pan configured to fit within the hull.

20. The stowage system of claim 19, wherein the pan includes at least one removable wall panel.

21. The stowage system of claim 19, wherein the pan includes a central channel.

22. The stowage system of claim 19, further comprising supporting elements arranged to support the pan within the hull.

23. The stowage system of claim 1, further comprising: a davit assembly mountable on the boat hull adjacent the well and comprising a davit arm movable between a position over the opening and a position over a side of the boat and configured to transfer the smaller boat into and out of the well.

24. The stowage system of claim 23, wherein the davit assembly is pivotable between the position over the opening and the position over the side.

25. The stowage system of claim 23, wherein the davit assembly is rotatable about a vertical axis between the position over the opening and the position over the side.

26. The stowage system of claim 23, wherein the davit assembly is removably mountable on the hull.

27. The stowage system of claim 23, wherein the davit assembly is removable from the hull and stowable in the well along with the smaller boat.

28. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the well is sized to receive the smaller boat in an athwartship orientation.

29. The stowage system of claim 1, wherein the well is sized to receive the smaller boat in a fore and aft orientation.

30. The stowage system of claim 1, further comprising a small boat stowable in the well.

31. The stowage system of claim 30, wherein the small boat comprises a dinghy.

32. The stowage system of claim 31, wherein the dinghy comprises an inflatable boat.

33. The stowage system of claim 31, wherein the dinghy comprises a hard shell boat.

34. The stowage system of claim 30, wherein the small boat comprises a dinghy, life raft, rowing boat, outboard motor boat, sail boat, surfboard, or personal water craft.

35. The stowage system of claim 1, further comprising: a skeg assembly comprising a pair of skegs depending from a lower surface of the hull, the skegs located symmetrically on opposite sides of a center line-of the hull extending from the bow to the stern, the skegs located closer to the stern than to the bow of the hull; and wherein the skegs have an airfoil profile in transverse cross section and generally taper away from the hull.

36. The stowage system of claim 35, wherein each skeg includes an opening therethrough, an engine shaft passing through the opening from an engine within the hull to a propeller below the hull aft of the skeg.

37. The stowage system of claim 36, wherein each skeg includes a bulge surrounding the engine shaft.

38. The stowage system of claim 35, wherein each skeg supports an engine shaft passing through the skeg from an engine above the hull to a propeller below the hull aft of the skeg.

39. The stowage system of claim 35, further comprising a pair of engines disposed within the hull, the engines each include a drive shaft a and a propeller, each propeller located aft of the pair of skegs.

40. The stowage system of claim 35, further comprising a jet drive engine having an underwater outlet, the skegs located aft of the underwater outlet.

41. The stowage system of claim 35, wherein each skeg further includes fins located near a bottom of each skeg.

42. The stowage system of claim 35, wherein each skeg is located in front of a rudder assembly, and a rudder brace extends between a bottom of each skeg and the associated rudder assembly.

43. The stowage system of claim 42, wherein the rudder brace pivotably supports the rudder assembly.

44. The stowage system of claim 35, wherein the skegs are formed integrally with the hull.

45. The stowage system of claim 35, wherein the skegs are fastened to the hull.

46. A skeg assembly for a powered boat comprising: a boat hull, the hull having a lower surface; and a pair of skegs depending from the lower surface of the hull, the skegs located symmetrically on opposite sides of a center line of the hull extending from bow to stern, the skegs located closer to the stern than to the bow of the hull; the skegs having an airfoil profile in transverse cross section and generally tapering away from the hull.

47. The skeg assembly of claim 46, wherein each skeg includes an opening therethrough, an engine shaft passing through the opening from an engine above the hull to a propeller below the hull aft of the skeg.

48. The skeg assembly of claim 47, wherein each skeg includes a bulge surrounding the engine shaft.

49. The skeg assembly of claim 46, wherein each skeg supports an engine shaft passing through the skeg from an engine above the hull to a propeller below the hull aft of the skeg.

50. The skeg assembly of claim 46, further comprising a pair of engines disposed within the hull, the engines each include a drive shaft a and a propeller, each propeller located aft of the pair of skegs.

51. The skeg assembly of claim 46, further comprising a jet drive engine having an underwater outlet, the skegs located aft of the underwater outlet.

52. The skeg assembly of claim 46, further comprising an outboard engine located aft of the skegs.

53. The skeg assembly of claim 46, wherein each skeg further includes fins located near a bottom of each skeg.

54. The skeg assembly of claim 46, wherein each skeg is located in front of a rudder assembly, and a rudder brace extends between a bottom of each skeg and the associated rudder assembly.

55. The skeg assembly of claim 54, wherein the rudder brace pivotably supports the rudder assembly.

56. The skeg assembly of claim 46, wherein the skegs are formed integrally with the hull.

57. The skeg assembly of claim 46, wherein the skegs are fastened to the hull.

58. A stowage system for stowing a bulk item on board a parent boat, comprising: a parent boat comprising a boat hull extending from bow to stern; a well formed below an upper deck level adjacent the stern and sized to receive a bulk item smaller than the parent boat below the deck level, the well being open at the deck level; and a movable cover assembly in the opening over the well, the cover assembly flush with the deck level when in a closed position, the cover assembly movable to expose the well so that the bulk item can pass through the opening when the cover is in an open position.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/459,189, filed Mar. 31, 2003, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] N/A

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Dinghys are a convenience and often a necessity on cruising boats. With powerboats, towing a dinghy reduces speed and causes safety issues. On-board stowage of a dinghy as an alternative can be a problem for small watercraft. In larger vessels, dinghies, sailboats, windsurfers, etc. are stowed either in davits hanging from the stern or sides of the vessel or in shaped chocks set onto the decks, typically upper decks, where they are secured by straps. Some larger powerboats and sailing boats over 50 feet have storage for windsurfers, etc. that is accessible from the stern. This storage is usually a slide-in, semi-submersible storage system.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention relates to a stowage system for stowing a dinghy or other bulk item(s) on board a larger parent boat. With the present stowage system, a well is formed below the after deck in the hull of the parent boat adjacent the stern. The well is sized to receive a smaller boat, such as an inflatable dinghy, a hard shell dinghy, or another type of small watercraft. The well is opened through a cover assembly, generally hatches or solid covers, at the deck level. The hatches of the cover assembly sit flush with the deck level when in a closed position. The cover assembly is movable to expose the well so that the dinghy or other small boat can pass through the opening when the cover is in an open position. In this manner, the dinghy or other small boat does not have to be stowed in an inconvenient and dangerous or hard-to-access location on the foredeck, cabin roof, cockpit, in davits, or resting on a swim platform. After the dinghy is stowed, the cover assembly is closed to present a flush deck.

[0005] Another aspect of the present invention relates to a skeg assembly with twin skegs that provides an improved tracking capability for a powerboat. The skeg assembly in turn allows the engine drive shafts to be placed so as to open up space for the well for the dinghy or small boat stowage.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] The invention will be more fully understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

[0007] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a powerboat incorporating dinghy stowage with a cover assembly in an open position and a dinghy stowed athwartship according to the present invention;

[0008] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the dinghy stowage of FIG. 1 illustrating the covers in a closed position;

[0009] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a power boat incorporating dinghy stowage illustrating a dinghy stowed fore and aft;

[0010] FIG. 4 is a partial side view illustrating transfer of a dinghy to or from the dinghy stowage of FIG. 1;

[0011] FIG. 5 is a partial plan view of the dinghy transfer of FIG. 4;

[0012] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line VI-VI of FIG. 4 and illustrating exemplary dimensions as well as a twin skeg assembly according to the present invention;

[0013] FIG. 7 is a plan view of a power boat incorporating dinghy stowage according to the present invention illustrating placement of components to accommodate dinghy stowage;

[0014] FIG. 8 is a side view of a power boat incorporating a twin skeg assembly according to the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the boat of FIG. 8;

[0016] FIG. 10 is a partial side view of one skeg of the boat of FIG. 8;

[0017] FIG. 11 is a partial cross-sectional view along line XI-XI of FIG. 10;

[0018] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of one skeg with propeller attached;

[0019] FIG. 13 is a side view of the twin skeg assembly with propeller blades removed for clarity and rudders attached;

[0020] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the twin skeg assembly illustrated in FIG. 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0021] Referring to FIGS. 1-3, a parent boat 10 is provided with a well 12 in the aft cockpit deck 14 near the stern 16 large enough to accommodate a fully inflated or hard shell dinghy 20 or other small boat or bulk item(s). A cover assembly 30 in the nature of a hatch(s) 32 fits over the well and, when closed, lies flush with the deck 14 or forms a flush-decked cockpit sole 34, as can be seen in FIG. 2. The dinghy can be stowed athwartship (FIG. 1) or fore and aft (FIG. 3). In the present invention, the terms “dinghy,” “small boat,” and “smaller boat” are used to include any type of rowing, outboard, sailing, surfboard, fully inflated life raft, personal water craft, or the like capable of being stowed in the below deck well 12 of the parent boat 10.

[0022] To deploy the dinghy, the cover assembly 30 is opened, and the dinghy 20 is lifted out of the well 12 with a davit assembly 40, for example, a pivoting or rotating davit arm 42 mounted to the parent boat 10 and equipped with a hoist system 44, such as a rope or wire and pulley system. See FIGS. 1-5. The davit assembly is mountable in any suitable manner to the parent boat. For example, the davit assembly may include a pole 46 disposed vertically in an aperture 47 in the hull in the stern area and may be secured to the sides. The hoist system of the davit assembly has a set of lines 48 fastened to hoisting rings 49 or the like in the dinghy 20. Using these, the hoist assembly lifts the dinghy high enough to clear the parent boat's rails or bulwarks, swings the dinghy clear of the parent boat, and lowers the dinghy into the water. To stow the dinghy, the cover assembly 30 is opened, and the dinghy is lifted up out of the water by the hoist system, swung into the boat and over the well, and lowered into the below deck well. The hoisting lines are stowed and the cover assembly is closed. Once stowed on board the parent boat, the dinghy, in its fully inflated or hard body construction form, is not visible or in the way of aft cockpit usage.

[0023] The cover assembly 30 preferably includes one or a pair of cockpit or hatch covers 32. See FIGS. 1-3 and 6. The covers are mounted to the parent boat in any suitable manner, such as with piano hinges 52 and well edge lips, ledges, or brackets 54, and are of a sufficient size and strength or reinforcement to support the expected loading over the well. Preferably, the covers are hingedly mounted along opposed edges, as illustrated in the embodiment in FIGS. 1-3 and 6.

[0024] In the preferred embodiment illustrated, two covers are provided. Referring to FIG. 6, each cover is in a bi-fold form having two panels 56a, 56b, 58a, 58b connected by a center hinge or hinges 60, 62. The innermost panels 56a, 58a of the pair of covers meet along a centerline 64 of the well opening. Preferably, the innermost panels are reinforced to bear the load between the sides and may include an interlocking or overlapping element 66 for additional strength and to close gaps between the panels and minimize entry of water below. Similarly, the panels of each bi-fold cover may include an interlocking or overlapping element 68 at the hinge for additional strength and to close gaps between the panels.

[0025] Preferably, an opening mechanism 70 is provided to perform or assist in the opening of the cover assembly. For example, one or more gas-filled or pneumatic struts or other opening device may be mounted along the sides of the or each cover or in another suitable location that does not interfere with access by the dinghy. The opening mechanism can alternatively be electrically or hydraulically operated. In one alternative, the opening mechanism can be configured to open the cover once the cover has been moved out of a fully closed position. In another alternative, the cover can be biased open with a biasing mechanism and held in the closed position against the biasing mechanism with a retaining mechanism. For example, one or more quick release pins or hooks can be provided to hold the cover in the closed position, such that, once the quick release pins are removed, the cover opens under actuation of an opening device such as a gas-filled strut. In this way, the dinghy can be quickly accessed so that it can float out of the well if the parent boat floods or sinks, resulting in the equivalent of a ready-inflated life raft. Also, the cover or covers can be opened entirely or partially manually through, for examples recessed grab rings or handles.

[0026] As can be seen in FIGS. 4 and 6, the well 12 can preferably be formed by an internal pan 80 that fits within the hull. A channel 82 for a bilge pump is provided along the centerline of the pan. Suitably sized and shaped supporting blocks 84 are provided to support the pan within the hull. The pan may be formed in any suitable manner, such as by fiberglass molding, as would be known by one skilled in marine construction. The hull structural and support members along with the propeller shaft(s), fuel tanks and other components are placed sufficiently low in the hull or to one side or the other side to allow clearance for the dinghy. See, for example, FIGS. 4, 6, and 7. Removable access panels 86 may be provided along the sides and front and back of the well if desired. Alternatively, the internal pan may include integrally formed upstanding panels.

[0027] When the dinghy 20 is stowed, there is no loss of deck space. Other items can be stowed in the well also, such as the davit assembly 40, which can be foldable to stow along side the dinghy. An outboard motor can fit inside the dinghy. Similarly, gear such as ropes, lifejackets, fenders, etc., can be stored within the dinghy. Approximately 85% of the underdeck space is useable in the case of a conventional hard sided dinghy. In the case of an inflatable dinghy, approximately 60% of the underdeck space is available for storage.

[0028] The dinghy is suitably sized for the given length of the parent boat into which it fits. For example, a 32-foot powerboat can accommodate a dinghy up to 10 feet long by 5 feet, 6 inches wide and having a total vertical height of 2 feet, 2 inches. Vessels as small as 31 feet or smaller can stow a 9-foot dinghy and motor with relative ease. FIG. 6 illustrates dimensions of one exemplary embodiment.

[0029] In another aspect of the present invention, illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6-11, a skeg assembly 110 is provided on a powerboat to improve the boat's tracking capability and reduce or avoid autopilot sway tolerance. Advantageously, the skeg assembly also allows the engine drive shaft(s) 112, such as for forward mounted engines 114, to be lower in the hull, which provides sufficient space for the dinghy stowage well 12 described above. Referring more particularly to FIGS. 6, 9, 11, and 14, the skeg assembly includes twin skegs or a pair of skegs 120, 130 that depend from the bottom of the hull 116 of the boat. The skegs are placed symmetrically on either side of the boat's centerline 64, preferably as far aft as possible. In use, water is tunneled through the region 118 between the skegs 120, 130. Symmetrical placement minimizes or prevents unbalancing forces on either side of the boat. The skegs have a fore and aft airfoil profile and generally taper or narrow in transverse cross section away from the boat hull. The cross section may include a deviation from the tapered shape in the form of a bulge 122, 132, described further below. Referring to FIG. 10, the aft edge 124 of the skeg is generally straight and extends down from the hull orthogonally or nearly orthogonally. The front edge 126 of the skeg is more tapered and may include a transition to a more angled edge 128 (FIGS. 4, 9, 10) or more curved edge 129 (FIGS. 8, 12-14). Additional fins or bulges 123, 133 may be placed near the bottom of each skeg to stabilize and promote a smoother water flow.

[0030] The propeller shafts 112 from the inboard engines 114 extend downwardly at an angle through each of the skegs 120, 130. Thus, each skeg forms part of the propeller shaft support. The bulge 122, 132 is formed in each skeg where the propeller shaft passes through. A propeller mount 142 is bolted or otherwise affixed to the aft end, and a propeller 144 is mounted to the propeller mount.

[0031] A brace 150 extends from the bottom of the skeg to a rudder 152 on a rudder shaft to provide extra support for the rudder and prevent fouling from lines and obstructions. The brace is bolted or otherwise affixed to the bottom of the skeg via a suitable bracket 156 at one end. The brace includes a pivot mount 158 for the rudder shaft at the other end.

[0032] In an alternative, if a boat is provided with a jet drive, the twin skegs can be placed aft of the jet drive underwater outlet. In a further alternative, the twin skegs can be used with an outboard engine. In this case, the propeller shaft bulges would not be necessary.

[0033] The skegs can be integrally formed with the hull or attached thereto in any suitable manner. The skegs can be formed from any suitable material, such as bronze, stainless steel, fiberglass, or wood, using marine construction techniques. The skegs also provide some degree of protection to the hull.

[0034] The invention is not to be limited by what has been particularly shown and described, except as indicated by the appended claims.