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Old 12-31-2011
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Concerning dub420sailor's #5 recommendation above, about being able to right the boat in the event of a capsize or turtle. The best preparation for this would be to intentionally capsize your FS in benign conditions in a relatively protected area first, just to see what it takes to get it righted.
Righting it is the similar procedure as a Sunfish; mast pointing across the wind, jump on the center board, then hold on as it comes up and bail like a madman.
I'm guessing it would be pretty easy to right with 2 people and a bit harder solo. If nothing else your crew member can gather the stuff that is floating in the water around your boat.

I flew the spinnaker on my Lightning with just 2 of us on board - what a Nantucket sleigh ride that was. I wish I had a GPS along to see how fast we were going. We came close to dumping the boat over but I am pretty chickenspit and did not want to learn how to right it and deal with the consequences. The Lightning was my 2nd or 3rd boat at the time so I had to let it go. I miss the way that boat sailed.

Compass for sure.

I'm not surprised no one has mentioned a GPS as a must have piece of equipment. They are a bit expensive to be carrying around on a boat that can swamp or go over and you'll almost always stay within sight of land, right? Not much fog down in FL either so the only benefit I can see for a GPS is that you can use it to help tell what the current is doing to your progress in an inlet. Your eyes can also help you with this so I'll say that a GPS would not be on my 'must have' list for what you intend to do.
On the subject of inlets I thought that the Gulf had fairly minimal tides most of the time? If that is true the current at the inlets should not be terribly strong. It is the hurricane storm surges you really have to watch out for and consistent strong winds that pile the water up in one part of the Gulf or another.
Enjoy your FS down there. I am jealous that you can sail now and up here, well, the water isn't hard yet but it is cold.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen

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Old 12-31-2011
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A test capsize sounds like a good idea, but the Scot is not "self bailing", and if you turtle it, then it all but requires a power boat to assist in righting it and pulling it back to shore. Also, the mast is like 28' high, so I have been reluctant to risk turtling it and getting the top of the mast in the rocks below. Now-a-days, Flying Scots are required to have a 4" drain port in the transom in order to race. This is so they can drain most of the water out quickly when towing the boat back to the dock. My 1985 model did not come with this feature and it only has a standard small plug. How long would it take to bail out a 19' dinghy with a 1 gallon bucket?
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Old 01-05-2012
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All bets are off if you can't recover from a knockdown. If that means you can only go out into the ocean with a support launch, so be it. It's no fun bobbing around on the wide open ocean....don't ask me how I know.

We beach launch, and go for shorter sails than you do so,as far as equipment needs go, YMMV

Personal equipment (all tethered):
Life vest - always worn.
shackle tool

On the boat:
A small spares kit. - shackles, pins and ring dings. some cord.
tiny roll of duct tape.

I used to carry a compass, but foolish as it may be, no longer. We only sail in VFR, and even if pea soup formed out of no where, the sea state is consistent enough to guide us back to land. Being beach launched, I've got seven miles of island where I could put it in (but I haven't missed my own beach yet.) But, I will not contradict the recommendations here to have one on board.

You will also need a throwable.

Edit: I forgot the Leatherman along with the spares.
Also if you have an engine, you'll need an extinguisher and Visual Distress Signals. (Not a bad idea to have the VDS, regardless.) For the USCG guide, see

Last edited by ottos; 01-06-2012 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 01-06-2012
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Almost forgot, needle nose pliers or vise grips and a knife, better yet a Leatherman. Basic tools and first aid kit are great. Also, to make your boat less likely to sink look at these: Sailing Gear: Clothing, Equipment, Hardware, Shoes, Line, Sailboat Parts | Annapolis Performance Sailing

I bought the bow shaped one but haven't installed it yet. There was some deal either at APS or West Marine where you can get it for $30 instead of $100 same product, different item number. I think it was at APS... Seems like not really enough, but I will probably buy a couple of the tube ones once I have finished redoing all the rigging under the deck.
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Old 01-14-2012
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I lived in Naples, Fl and sailed my sunfish regularly in both calm and stiff wind out on the gulf, your limitations are directly linked to your confidence and ability. In 8 years of towing the sunfish as a dinghy the, only problem I ever encountered was a mast shear at the deck level, however it should be noted I had a phantom sail on her which swept the deck with her extra size. I replaced the mast and sailed on, the wind was 25 to 30 knotts out of the east that day!
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