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Sailing newbie
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So I took my 13' Pirateer out in 12 to 15 knot winds the other day. This would be my 5th time to sail. Was a lot of fun, until I decided that gybing would be an ok thing to do, how bad could it be? Wow, I didn't know a sailboat could get knocked over that quickly, tossed me to the low side of the boat so quickly and then I couldn't try to use my weight to prevent the tip. So over it goes. So I am in the water amongst the lines and boom and look around and see my cellphone in it's nice little waterproof container, I reach for it and then notice that the boat is STILL rolling over. I panic a little and decide that I don't want to end up trapped under it with my legs tangles in the jib lines etc, so I toss the phone into the corner of the boat and turn and swim out from under it all. I swim to the hull side and try to reach up to the dagger board but it is too high and I have to try and leap out of the water to get to it. I manage to and climb onto the by now, 45 degree from fully upside down hull. I quickly try to use my weight to right the boat, lean back as far out on the dagger board as I can get. But it won't budge, not even move. I am in a lake, and then realize that the water might not be that deep there, maybe 10 feet, and the mast is 14 feet tall, so the wind has shoved the hull and mast hard into the muddy bottom. So I sit there like something out of the Posiedon adventure on the overturned hull, wondering what to do next. I then figure out that the wind is still blowing the boat, and it is slowly pivoting around the mast tip underwater, and after it rotates 180 degrees the mast might get dragged out from the mud and be free. So I sit there and rest. Sure enough, it does just that; once I get about 180 around I try to lean back on the dagger board again, and it works. Slowly the boat starts to right itself. I climb over the gunnel as the rig comes out of the water and jump inside. Now the hull has about 8" of water in it, but this is a sealed hull and still has buoyancy, sitting low in the water but floating anyway. I look around for my cellphone and paddle and they were gone, I never checked the nice waterproof box for the phone, that it actually floated with the phone in it. I figure the fish were making calls on it now. SO I sail off towards the boat ramp and then have a tough time loading the boat on the trailer with all this water in it.

So my question. If I were in deeper water than the mast height, over 14', this boat would have turned turtle, and I am no big guy and I don't know that I would have the weight to right it. Shouldn't the mast float the thing or something? When I was in the water I heard the base of the mast hissing air out of it so I knew it was filling with water. I have seen Hobie cats with those mast balls to stop them doing this, but what is to stop this simple 13' sloop from going completely over?
 

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baDumbumbum
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1,142 Posts
what is to stop this simple 13' sloop from going completely over?
Nothing at all.:) And it's no big deal. Multis can be a bugger to right from full inversion -- hence the mast floats on some beach cats. But a dink like the Pirateer? It's not much harder than righting it from 90 degrees.

Try to ensure your mainsheet is floppy, which it ought it to be if you rolled it in a gybe or were in the process of blowing it when you flipped. Jib sheets, not so important. In fact, while you are dog-paddling around the upturned hull, try to snag one of those sheets (doesn't really matter which) and toss it over the hull. Flop your body onto the hull after it, grab the sheet, stand as close to one gunwhale as you dare (I like the leeward side, but things will happen faster when they happen) and lean back against the jib sheet. Wait.

And wait. Wait some more. Like hoisting a windsurfer sail, ya gotta give the rig time to move thru the water. Jerky motions don't help. Straight spine, hips in, lean back. Wait. Eventually, the mast and sails will come up to just below water level. Now is the time to dash for the centerboard. Keeping hold of the sheet, get established on the board, lean back against the sheet, and wait. Once the sail sheds its water, the boat will come upright fast. With practise, you should be able to fling yourself over the gunwhale and into the cockpit w/out going swimming again. Bail like hell, get the boat moving, and open the floor bailers if you got em.

I'm about 140lbs & can right the Pirateer's big brother, the 500# Buccaneer, by myself from full turtle. It's takes longer than a Sunfish or Laser and the big cockpit holds a lot of water, but it's not especially technical.:)
 

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I was in the same situation as a kid. My dad made me capsize to prove I could right the boat and the mast dig in deep. Took both of us to right it. The moral of the story was that if I capsized the boat I had to make sure I turned it around so the the mast was on the windward side before she had a chance to dig in.

Brian
 

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Sailor of Small Waters
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112 Posts
If in doubt, tie an empty milk jug or a 2 liter soda bottle to the top of the mast. Not sexy, but dead cheap and effective.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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Barquito
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3,656 Posts
You could attach floatation to the mast, but, that isn't necessary if you learn how to recover from this situation. First, after you get capsized, make sure everyone is OK if you had passengers. If the mast is still floating on the water, make your way around to the centerboard, and hang from it. Watch that the hull doesn't bang you on the head as it comes upright. If it is turtle, you will need to gather yourself for one good effort to reach the centerboard (if you have a way to keep the centerboard from sliding back into the hull, would be good to rig b/f you capsize). Use the bouyancy of your lifejacket to help shoot yourself out of the water. Go under just a little deeper, then with your legs kick as hard as you can, while reaching for the centerboard. If you don't get it on the first try, REST. Each try will get weaker. After you grab the centerboard and are on top, stand up and lean out from the centerboard, holding the very tip. You don't need to muscle it much at this point. Be patient. It will slowly start to tip. Again, at it comes upright, don't let the hull bang you in the head. Some really agile dinghy sailors, climb over the gunnel as the boat comes up, and never get wet. Anyway, this is all part of the game.
 
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