Knockdowns don't always happen in bad weather. I was sailing in the New River inlet in North Carolina. I was headed back to my Marina after a trip from up near Emerald Isle. I was in a 24' Neptune with a 3' draft. Winds were 15 knots and fairly steady. I had full sail up cruising along at about 5 knots boat speed. There are a couple places where there are points of land sticking out about 100 yards. I'd been in and out of that inlet probably 50 times and never had trouble. However, on this day, I passed one of the points and the wind gusted and knocked me fully down. The main started to scoop water, I popped it loose and the boat instantly righted itself giving me and the young lady I was with a shower. Other than letting the main loose, we both were hanging on to the lifelines as tightly as we could. We were not strapped in but did have our sailing life jackets on. The total time from up to down to back up-maybe 10 seconds. It happens fast. http://www.sailnet.com/forums/images/smilies/eek.gif
Up to down-1 or 2 seconds, then I grabbed the main line and let it loose and she just came right back up.
Everything that was loose inside was on the port side of the boat. There was no damage to any stuff inside. The hatches were all battened down because on that particular vessel, they get in the way of sails when tacking. No water got into the cabin, but a little did get into the cockpit. I'm unsure whether this is because of laying on it's side or from the main and jib throwing all the water on us once she righted. You don't really have a lot of time to take a look around when you're on your side.
It was definitely a learning experience, but not one I'm eager to try again. Like Tonic, I think the seasoned sailor comment is a little goofy. I sailed every single day when I lived in North Carolina. I experienced a lot and would consider myself seasoned, but I could have gone all my lifetime without this experience.