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Old 05-01-2012
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question about dinghy sailing

So I have a question about stability. Took my lessons in a Compac 23 keel boat. she heels over but won't capsize. got that. Did my solo time in a Compac 16 keel boat. She heels over but won't capsize.

If I were to purchase a 16 to 18 foot dinghy with center board, how do they heel over before capsize? Are they able to sail on days with high winds of 20 mph or so without capsizing? I would love to get a smaller boat to practice on as it is easy to set up and easy to find a place to sail it by myself. However I also want to take the better half with to get her used to sailing as well. This will not happen if the boat is going to capsize on regular basis. I realize some boats are more likely to capsize then others but in general are dingy's able to sail without capsize is the question.

thanks for the advice
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

Yes, dinghies are able to sail without capsizing. You just have to pay close attention to what is happening with the wind, the sails, and the rudder. This need for careful attention is a good thing--it is the very reason why dinghy sailing can make one a better sailor overall.

If you want to go out in really windy weather you may need to get reef points in your main and a smaller jib. You should also be aware that in really windy weather you are almost certainly going to catch a lot of spray. You may well end up just as wet as if you had capsized the boat.

But the most important thing to know is that capsizing a dinghy is really no big deal at all. Release the sheets, climb up on the centerboard, and voila! The boat comes back upright and away you sail. There is, in fact, a great deal of value in sailing the boat hard enough to capsize it. You will get to know what that feels like, and how a boat behaves when it is being pushed to its limits and past them. This, too, will make you a better sailor overall.

And after you have done it a couple of times you will find it very easy to avoid it in the future when you want to.
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

i have a 16' racing kinda sailboat and ive never came close to capsizing. i don't plan on capsizing my boat. but i do know how to recover the boat if it happens. try capsizing small boat first then work your way up
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

Most dinghys will take on considerable water without capsizing. Don't be afraid to get the rail wet and keep a bailer/bilge pump accessible. Most people are afraid to let a boat heel because they have no idea how far over you can go. If you have a friend with a sunfish or laser let them show you once the water warms up.
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

thanks for the replies so far guys. keep 'em coming but so far it's looking like a good decision to try the dinghy before getting a larger keel boat. (for me anyways)
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by avenger79 View Post
If I were to purchase a 16 to 18 foot dinghy with center board, how do they heel over before capsize? Are they able to sail on days with high winds of 20 mph or so without capsizing? I would love to get a smaller boat to practice on as it is easy to set up and easy to find a place to sail it by myself. However I also want to take the better half with to get her used to sailing as well. This will not happen if the boat is going to capsize on regular basis. I realize some boats are more likely to capsize then others but in general are dingy's able to sail without capsize is the question.

thanks for the advice
To answer your questions in order:

They heel alot before they capsize.

You can sail safely without capsizing in higher winds IF you have a developed skill set. At this point, it sounds like you might set some limits for yourself.

In a dingy, you're the ballast and provide the righting moment. Yes, some are more stable than others. Something like an Oday Widgeon or a Lido 14, etc... will be more stable than a high performance racing dingy, but again, it's your skill set that keeps you dry. Stick to light air with your S.O. until both of you are more comfortable with things.

Be absolutely certain that you can right the boat yourself and re-board before you get in over your head. There's no shortcut. You'll have to get wet and practice. As someone who knows how to help you. There are some tricks that will ensure success. Also remember that righting a boat on a calm practice day is very different than in 15kts in a chop. Again, practice progressively. I'm also assuming the water is warm where you are. If not, you'll need to invest in some proper dingy clothing/wetsuit or the like. In cold water this isn't an option, it's a must.

Most importantly, have fun!
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

I would suggest that if you are taking a timid tenderfoot out in a dinghy, that you go over the capsize first. Do it on purpose, right the boat, do it again a few times. Do it when the winds are light and the weather is warm, so there will be the minimum reasons for fear.

You absolutely *can* sail a dinghy without capsizing it, but if you/she are afraid of it, then you'll be tense the whole time and not having much fun.
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

BTW, you can capsize a Compac 16, 23, or even a large keelboat. Most boats have enough sail area that if you are in big wind and waves, and do something stupid, you may end up looking up at the keel from in the water.
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Old 05-02-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

I'll try to answer your questions from my experience of weekly sailing a 16ft dinghy

Firstly, how much the boat heels & how quickly before capsize is very dependent on the dinghy in question. Some of your dinghy skiffs are very sensitive and take men/women far fitter than me to sail. Other dinghys, like the Corsair 16ft our family takes out on the weekend, are pretty solid and will only capsize if you let them or push them too hard or in too strong a wind.

I am not the world's best dinghy sailor, in fact I'd probably rank around the bottom 20%. That said, I am more than comfortable taking our 16ft dinghy out in 20 knot winds without fear of capsizing her. I'd be avoiding more risky maneuvres and sailing a little less close to the wind on the work, but it's not only possible - guys like me can do it

I've seen more competitive sailors take the same class dinghy out in over thirty knots, but while they finished the race - they did so after being dunked several times and at least one of them came back with a broken boom.

I take my wife out with me whenever I can and she's eager. Neither of us like having to swim when we're supposed to be sailing so we don't capsize. That said, it is not a bad thing to capsize with your partner at least once so she understands it's not a big deal. I know that once I went through that with my wife, she became far more comfortable with heeling as she realised the worst that would happen wasn't really that bad. Getting a dinghy that size back up is a piece of cake with one person, even easier with two.
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Old 05-02-2012
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Re: question about dinghy sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by avenger79 View Post
If I were to purchase a 16 to 18 foot dinghy with center board, how do they heel over before capsize?
It's a rather rubbish answer, but it really does depend on the boat. In older-style boats it is certainly possible to have plenty of water flooding over the leeward side-deck and still be able to save it if the sheets are free and you and the crew are still hiked out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avenger79 View Post
Are they able to sail on days with high winds of 20 mph or so without capsizing?
Yes, but it depends primarily on the skill of the sailor, the boat and whether you're able to reef. For skilled sailors 17kts (as a base figure) would be great racing conditions, although they would probably regard a swim as a possibility. For a beginner, I would say no unless you have the option to reduce sail area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avenger79 View Post
I would love to get a smaller boat to practice on as it is easy to set up and easy to find a place to sail it by myself.
Bear in mind the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by puddinlegs View Post
In a dingy, you're the ballast and provide the righting moment.
Practically, this means that if you're short-handing a dinghy you're depriving it of a significant proportion of the righting moment it is designed to have. Depending upon the boat, it could make it very hard to beat in anything over 7kts (maybe 10kts) as you won't have the righting force to bring the mainsail very far on.

I would probably suggest starting out in F3 winds or less if you're learning to short-hand a dinghy unless you have the option of reefing. And, at least at first, ensure you have sufficient safety gear to cope with the possibility that you might capsize and, once righted, be unable to keep her up (a swamped boat is much harder to keep upright than a dry one).

Having said all that, my perspective on this is of someone who races dinghies where the designs don't really accommodate the level of flexibility you need. It might be rather different in dinghies designed for cruising.

Last edited by Roxy405; 05-02-2012 at 04:25 AM. Reason: Fixed quote tags
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