Radar arch of awesomeness

Our boat was never used for cruising. She was purchased with Texas oil money in the early 80’s, and from what we can tell–based on the equipment aboard when we took ownership–she spent most of her life either at the dock, or anchored out for the day for football games/dance parties. (So. Many. Speakers.) That’s great for us; she was lightly used, and no one tried to charge us extra for a bunch of out-of-date navigation equipment or worn-out self-steering gear; but it means she needs a lot of outfitting to prepare for live aboard life.


One item on our non-negotiable list has always been an radar arch–a big hunk of aluminum to span the stern our our boat. Arches provide a great spot for installing a radar, but we plan to use ours primarily as a spot to mount our solar panels.

Off-the-grid electrical is an important topic for us. We hope to spend most of our time at anchor, instead of being tied to shore power and dockage costs. The last thing we want is to have our solar panels rip off our not-super-awesome bimini, or be shattered by a wayward kid. On the arch, our panels should be safe and sound.

...and after
…and after

We also plan to use our arch to hoist our dinghy out of the water. It’s not as secure as pulling the dink onto the bow, which we expect to do for longer passages, but it keeps the slime from growing on the bottom and protects the little boat a bit more from theft.

Some boats come with an arch integral to their design. Some owners custom-weld their arches. We ordered an offset sail arch from Atlantic Towers (for our Beneteau 38, we ordered the one to fit 88-100″ forward, 78-90″ aft).

First off, Michu fabricated some custom backing plates to prevent flexing and carry the load of the arch. Wiggling around in the aft lazarette, he was able to place them in an area of solid fiberglass, braced against a corner where the aft deck and transom came together–super strong.

Thanks, John! You're the best!
Thanks, John! You’re the best!

Next came the math. Figuring out how to perfectly fit the legs on both the (mostly) flat deck and the sloping transom–no problem, right? Second-grade math! Easy-peasy! Time to blithely hack away at the $2000 piece of aluminum… Michu decided to take it in stages, sawing off a few inches and then doing a trial fit with a crane assist. His calculations turned out to be perfect.

IMG_2435 (1)
Finishing up in the fading light.

We still have to fine-tune our dinghy hoist system; we have a Harken Hoist that we’d like to string off the back to avoid adding davit arms, but our little inflatable dinghy needs some attachment points to make it work smoothly. The solar has yet to be purchased, as well. But: we LOVE our arch. It looks amazing, it’s solidly attached, and it makes us feel like real cruisers.

4 Comments on “Radar arch of awesomeness

  1. Pingback: Electricity Part 4 – Three ways to fill a battery (mostly alternator) | S/V Milou

  2. Nice blog! Looking forward to reading more. Answered my question, “where are ye bound?” Be safe!

  3. Hello
    We have a Beneteau first 38 1984, that we have been getting ready for cruising. We want to put on an arch for solar panels, I read your post and saw the pictures. Do you have any pictures of the arch showing the proximity to the back stay? Did you ever mount solar panels?
    Did you ever convert main salon seating into bed? Was trying to figure out how to do this… if you did can you post pictures.
    Thank you

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