Capsized stories?

Moderator: GreenLake

Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:29 pm

Wow, that's a dramatic story.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby K.C. Walker » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:44 pm

Yikes, I'm sorry to hear about it. Though, thanks for the rundown. I've been racing Sunfish for the last couple of years. Two weeks ago 20 seconds before the start the guy beside me capsized. I was astonished to see him scrambling over the top side of the boat and onto the centerboard and pulling it back up in time to make the start. He was wet and had a cockpit full of water but he still won the race!!
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby Lil Maggie » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:16 pm

Today as I towed my sick boat home I felt it pretty heavy and lo and behold, all three of my flotation tanks had taken some water, the bow tank had leaked through the plug...took the plug out and out came about ten-fifteen gallons of water (the thing is stuffed full of pool noodles but the plugs aren't worth a piddle)...I recovered the video from the action cam: the blast was so violent that even though the mainsheet was in my hand and both of us were about to tack, i.e, in the middle of the boat, in less than two seconds we went from calm to blast and over we went...I could hear air leaking out (bubbles) as the flotation tanks slowly filled...then the boat rolled turtle and the camera went blank

Took a closer look as I was cleaning the mess...doesn't look too bad (the break)...I should have a plan of attack soon]
cheers
Mike
A crappy day sailing is better than a good one at home...
DS 1 #2313
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:24 am

What kind of plug do you have?

Also, when you put everything together, it would be interesting to know whether the plug holes were the only opening or whether there are cracks etc. somewhere that allow water in (with air then going out the plug).

Theoretically, if there's a closed tank with a single opening it's pretty tough for water to get into it fast because it competes with the outgoing air. However any crack and the situation is very different.
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby Lil Maggie » Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:58 pm

GreenLake wrote:What kind of plug do you have?

Also, when you put everything together, it would be interesting to know whether the plug holes were the only opening or whether there are cracks etc. somewhere that allow water in (with air then going out the plug).

Theoretically, if there's a closed tank with a single opening it's pretty tough for water to get into it fast because it competes with the outgoing air. However any crack and the situation is very different.

Well, obviously the wrong kind...the kind that either gets easily kicked off...There is a small crack on the F/G tape near the location of the plug on the port side tank...coincidentally the one that filled up with water first.

The location of the plugs (vents or drains) only works if the boat is upright, the minute the boat is on its side, the plug hole that was at the bottom of the tank is now at the top; and the longer it takes to recover the boat to an upright position....

The starboard side tank took very little water (that plug hole stayed plugged), but the forward tank plug leaked like a sieve, though i could hear air hissing in as I took the plug off and water rushed out. I guess I need to check the seal on thos inspection port holes too, because they too could be a potential source of water leaking in.

The next question is how to best recover a capsized Daysailer without wrecking it in the process?
A crappy day sailing is better than a good one at home...
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:17 am

When I got my boat it had cork plugs that fit tightly enough so that when you sat down on the seat you could hear a bit of air escaping. Gave me confidence that the rest of the tank was sealed. They have since disintegrated. Time to glass over the opening and replace by an inspection port with positive closure.

I think your question about the best way to recover a DS is an excellent one, and it deserves its own thread. Let's discuss it there.
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby BananaCollision » Thu May 09, 2019 2:13 am

I capsized again a couple weeks ago -- while tacking in a stiff breeze, the jib caught (and started to tear) on some weird hardware the prior owner had installed to the front of my mast. I went forward to free it and left my non-sailor crew on the tiller, and we went over -- man, boy & dog. The water was cold and my son & dog were all tangled up in the mainsheet with dog trying to climb on top of son. Very chaotic. Good thing we all three had our life vests on!

With two people and a dog standing on the centerboard, me way out on the end of it and flexing it alarmingly, the boat righted very easily the first time.

After righting the first time, we were swamped again with the gunwales underwater and couldn't bail. The boat was very unstable this way. A passing motorist towed us into port but first pulled us right back over again & fully turtled us. I had cleated my utility line on the deck cleat, run it through the anchor fairlead, and tossed it to the powerboat. When they tried to tow us they were very careful and gentle taking up tension on the line, but they were pulling off at an angle and the sailboat just went absolutely right over, rather than trail along behind the powerboat as expected. We could only tow stably if I was sitting at the tiller and keeping my boat pointed in the right direction.

Last time I got towed while swamped, they had tied themselves off on my bow eye. That was a lot more stable for towing, but it would mean the powerboaters have to do the tying off.

Meanwhile my boat is out of the water for repairs. I've already got the prior owner's weird doo-dads off the mast, and the mast bent back to straightish (weird doo-dads were holding the bent mast in a straight position). Next is chipping out all my old styrofoam floatation and replacing with pool noodles. Not fun. I've designed a 3-D printed styrofoam destroyer which holds standard utility razorblades and mounts on the end of a broomstick, for chewing up the old floatation foam into pieces small enough for a shop-vac to suck out of the chamber. I'll upload that design and edit this post with a link when I get around to it.




Some things I learned:

Life vests! Wear them all the time! Even if you're a perfectly good swimmer, you might need it anyhow (e.g. tangled in ropes with dog climbing onto you), and you won't know you need it until it's too late to already have it on.

Get up on the centerboard ASAP to keep the boat from turtling. It takes some time to roll over and if you can get there fast it's much easier to right the boat.

When climbing onto the centerboard, you have to do it from directly under. My son was trying to climb up from the bow, a nice shallow angle to climb up onto, with a hand up from me to hold on, but that was not stable and rolled the boat in odd directions. Almost knocked me back in the water.

Once we were all up out of the cold water it was nice to take a rest, sitting on the centerboard. You don't have to rush at that point and taking a breather to get your head together is very helpful.

Keep your bailer tied to something. If it floats away while you're righting yourself and you're standing there knee-deep in a swamped boat with no bailer, you will feel dumb. I was trying to bail with my sail bag which was not efficient. Fortunately, with the gunwales under the water anyhow, no amount of bailing was going to get me anywhere and I didn't have to feel dumb about the lost bailer for very long.
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Thu May 09, 2019 2:54 am

Thanks for sharing. Interesting details. Good lessons.
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby Vanalien » Tue May 14, 2019 11:14 pm

OK, so here's my capsize story:

I bought my DS2 Anniversary Edition in early August 2017. I keep it at a dock on Lake Gervais, a 234 acre lake just 7 miles north of downtown St. Paul, MN. I was still an excited new boat owner on September 30, 2017. Bad conditions and bad decisions led to a capsize.

The winds were very gusty, up to 20+ knots, and extremely changeable. Winds often change direction on a small urban lake, but this was more than usual, shifting from E to SW and back quickly. I should not have gone out that day, at least not single-handed. I headed out, thinking I could handle the wind by keeping either close-hauled or spilling most of the wind out of the sail. By the time I got 150 yards offshore, I realized that plan was bad. I didn't think I'd be able to control the boat to return to the dock with the wind. I wondered whether I might be able to roller-reef the mainsail if I could find some wind shadow off a peninsula in the lake... when I got there, I'd lost hold of the jib sheets and they were whipping wildly in the wind--the knotted ends were up by the cleats, out of reach. I pointed the boat into the wind and waited for a moment of calm to try about a two foot lunge to get a jib sheet back--I did not have a tiller extension (I do now). I didn't bother re-tying the tiller in place, I'd only need a couple of seconds to get back to it.

Well, wouldn't you know, about a half-second after I let go of the tiller, a gust hit the sail, turned the boat enough to catch more wind and pushed the tiller out of reach. By the time I got back to the tiller 2 seconds later, it was too late: not only was the wind now fully in the sail and heeling the boat, but the wind got under the port side of the bow and helped flip it over. I grabbed my seat-cushion PFD as it went over, I wasn't wearing a vest.

Within seconds, the mast was sinking, and in less than a half a minute, she was completely turtled. Really fast. There's no way anyone would have been able to keep that from happening--even a fast swim to the mast without delay would not be enough.

I took a dive under to have a look and found that, unlike a capsized canoe, there was no air trapped in the cockpit. I wrestled a couple of lifejackets out of the cuddy, which was difficult due to their buoyancy--you have to pull them down with some force to get them out of the cuddy opening.

I tried climbing onto the hull, which was slippery. The centerboard had fallen back into the trunk, and was hard to pull back up--by this time, a passing kayaker was helping, and he got the centerboard up. I tied a line around it to keep it from falling back into the trunk. We both tried standing on the centerboard to right the boat, we heard a somewhat loud "crack" and the kayaker left. (I never have figured out what "cracked".)

Soon a fisherman with two young sons stopped to help. I uncleated the main halyard and tied a life vest to the end, so as not to lose it. I asked the fisherman to take the halyard and motor away from the boat with it, but he was too timid/careful about it, and we did not get the boat righted, even with my 200 lbs on the centerboard and him pulling on the halyard. He brought me to shore.

I walked home, put on dry clothes, and called 911 to tell them there is no emergency, everyone is safe, in case they get calls about the capsized boat. They put my call on through to the sheriff's Water Patrol, and in a half hour they arrived, helped me right the boat, and towed me back to the dock.

So what technique righted the boat? The Water Patrol pulled on a dockline tied to the mast, while a neighbor on a pontoon boat 30 feet away pulled up on the main halyard.

No damage to the boat, save for some chipping of the gel coat on the centerboard from the Water Patrol boat's sharp stern edge, but it did take most of an afternoon to get maybe 900 pounds of water out of the boat.
Steve
"Nellie Ruth" - 1985 DS2 Anniversary Edition #12819
Little Canada, MN
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Wed May 15, 2019 8:49 am

Steve, shifty winds can be a challenge. If you have tall structures or bluffs nearby, you can also have falling gusts that then fan out on the water. Those are real fun. When I was new to my boat, I sailed into a few of them and had my boat spun around, luckily without capsizing.

One thing I can't tell from your description is whether you had your main halyard cleated when you went for your jib sheets.
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby Vanalien » Wed May 15, 2019 10:11 am

You mean the main sheet, and I don’t know if I did. In retrospect, it sure seems I must have had it cleated, and that would be the principal cause of going over.
Steve
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Little Canada, MN
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Wed May 15, 2019 4:12 pm

You indicated that you've made some changes after that day.

In your write-up you mention a few things that are different from my setup when I single hand:

One, I tie the ends of my jib sheets together, so as long as I can reach any part of either one, I can regain control. (That only works with open cleats; I know the type your DS2 has wouldn't work that way).

Two, I use a tiller tamer -- just a simple bungee cord strung side to side, with a loop or two of thin bungee lashing the tiller to that cord. While it mutes the tiller response, I can steer without disengaging this, and the lashing will slide along the cord, so at any time, when I let go of the tiller, it's automatically "locked" in that position. No need to engage or set anything.

Three, I use ratchet blocks on all sheets so I can hold sheets in my hand at all times. And generally, I don't cleat anything unless cruising in stable conditions.

I'm sure you do things differently nowadays. What did you change other then getting a tiller extension?
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby tomodda » Wed May 15, 2019 9:03 pm

Folks:

Ditto on the modifications that GreenLake mentions above. It's made all the difference for my security while single handing. Bungee, ratchets, open cleats. Thank you, GL!

Steve: Your capsize story is downright scary - add some hypothermia from a colder day and you wouldn't be with us. Reminder to everyone to wear a PFD. If you find them constrictive, the auto-inflatable ones are pretty cheap. Surprised that your boat turtled so fast, a reminder to me to get some masthead flotation.

Best regards,

Tom
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby spoke36 » Wed Jun 24, 2020 12:42 pm

On my second sail in a friendly open centerboard competition on the Hudson River, I misjudged a gust. I think it was in about 1980. I let go of the main and pushed on the tiller to point up but still had my jib cleated in a jam cleat. My DS1 (#211 "Breeze" from about 1960) turned over and the mast hit the bottom (there was mud on the sail). Fortunately I was in a shallow area --the Hudson has a 40 feet deep channel. The race committee saw my predicament (no radio and no crew on my boat) and dispatched a crash boat to render assistance.

I had un-cleated and lowered the main and the jib so that I could hand the rescuer a line wrapped around the top of the mast. The mast was level or slightly below the water. With me trying to pull on the combing and him pulling up on the mast, we got the mast pointed skyward and I gingerly got in. The boat was very tippy. The deck was barely above water. The pull cord to start the gasoline powered pump broke on the first pull. An electric bilge pump took about 90 minutes to get enough water out to tow my boat to the davit. It took more time to let the water drain out the tiny 1/4 inch drain hole before I could lift the boat and put it back on the trailer.

I only lost two pieces of equipment: a pair of sunglasses and a sail bag. It took a couple of years to regain confidence to sail my boat.
The only upgrade that I accomplished was to cut a brick of closed cell foam to form pieces that have been slid under the combing. I purchased but did not install closed cell foam two-part chemical to fill up the seats. I purchased but did not install a pair of stainless steel flaps to install in the transom. My boat still has the original unfilled seats with 1" air plugs as well as a supposedly air tight container under the shelf in the bow.
I bought a stick bailer and added a jug scoop bailer to the equipment that I keep on board.

After 20 year of not using Breeze, I refurbished it in the summer of 2019 and am now trying to remember the safe things to do. For sure, the boat seems to be quite tippy (it goes from upright to 30 degrees in no time at all). I am not able to sail singlehanded with just the main sail in modest wind-- it will try to head into the wind or tip over in 10 knots when I try to jibe. Sailing single handed with jib alone is possible but a lot of work to go to windward.
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Re: Capsized stories?

Postby GreenLake » Wed Jun 24, 2020 6:12 pm

Interestingly, if a gust hits you unexpected from the wrong direction, and you have the main sheeted in, the DS will often respond by rounding up rather violently while momentarily heeling a lot. While that is scary, it is almost as if the boat "twists" out from under the wind (and you end up pointing into the wind, thus depowered).

Now, if you let go only the main, you remove the force that allows the DS to round up, leaving just the jib that will want to turn the boat further into the wind. At that point, if you push your tiller at too big of an angle, you may stall the rudder and the boat will definitely not head into the wind.

I don't throw my main loose in a gust, but let it out (controlled). I think the effect is that the main, while depowered, still contributes to balancing the boat, and retains some weather helm that assists in steering into the wind (which then depowers the jib). That said, I often hold both main and jib in my hand at the same time, and even if the jib is cleated, I keep the sheet in my lap so if I need to, I can depower both. I've fitted ratchet blocks on both main and jib which makes holding them much easier.

Gusty/shifty conditions at the limit of what I can easily control singlehanded aren't really fun and I tend to avoid them
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