on a ship, the structures, accessories, and mechanisms used to lower boats into the water, raise them on board, and store them on the ship.
Boat-handling gear includes the boats themselves, davits, boat winches, boat falls, boat cradles, lines, and covers. The davits, two for each boat, allow the boat to be swung out over the side under the force of gravity or under manual control (for example, with a worm drive). There are three types of davits: turning davits, which turn on a vertical axis; swing-out davits, which turn on a horizontal axis parallel to the longitudinal axis of the ship; and roller davits, which, together with the boat, move to the side of the ship on guided rollers. Work boats are sometimes lowered overboard and hoisted by a freight crane or boom. The lowering of lifeboats may be controlled from the ship or from the lifeboat. When not in use, boats are set on cradles, secured, and covered.
Classification societies regulate the strength of the parts of boat-handling gear, the maximum trim and roll angles under which the safe launching of lifeboats must be provided for, gear design, the hoisting rate for boats, and the number and capacity of lifeboats on a ship (specified with respect to the number of people on the ship and the ship’s area of operation).