a.k.a. no buoyancy, no self-rescue
5 july 2019
|Up until recently, I
proclaiming far and wide the following fool-proof
self-rescue after a capsize:
1. right boat using the scoop method (one crew member on centreboard, one inside hull as seen below)
2. as soon as the mast is back to vertical, the in-boat crew brings the centreboard up completely. Right after that, (s)he makes sure that main and/or foresail are free to luff, and lowers the spinnaker if necessary.
Here, Uncle Al and Shannon have just capsized because the mainsheet caught on Al's (unwanted!!!) life jacket. At this point, life could have been made simpler if Al had immediately dropped off the boat into tread-water, not-touching-the-boat mode to keep the boat from turning turtle (mast down) while Shannon moved over to stand on the board. Instead, Al panicked and kept clutching the boat until he was forced to let go of the boat anyway once our "Greenlander" (as the Danes call a complete inversion) became complete. More of this tale below.
3. If the centreboard person is young and/or nimble, (s)he usually flops into the boat as the mast nears vertical. For older/weaker crews, boat re-entry may have to happen after the mast is vertical. In that case, the crew hanging onto the outside of the boat near the centre thwart will need help from the inboard person. With the boat now dead in the water and sideways to the wind, Inboard can easily and quite safely heel the boat until the gunwhale where Outboard's hanging on, is level with the water. This permits Outboard to grab a hiking strap or what have you and pull him- or herself back aboard (photo below).4. Bailing can now begin in peace and quiet since the boat is totally stable when there is no motion through the water, no board down and no sails pulling ...
Dave McCreedy slides himself back into the boat. Here, Jamaica Blue has yet to be stabilized in her capisize recovery mode (board fully up, spi down - upper picture, sails totally free to luff) which will be Dave's first order of business once he is inside the boat.
Tony Krauss and Uncle Al in capsize-recovery mode. In this mode, it is perfectly safe to heel the boat to windward or to leeward until the gunwhale is in the water and the crew can slide back aboard, so long as the boat is not moving through the water, unless it turns out that, God forbid, the following should be the situation:
On Conestogo Lake Saturday 8 June 2019, I discovered, to my considerable horror, that my post-capsize cure-all (no forward motion, no board, no wind in sails = total peace as in photo above) is useless if the aft buoyancy tank has filled with water.
And it was all my fault. I had ignored the fact that one of my four snap-fasteners in the aft hatch cover was not catching/closing. Turns out that one screw that needed to be flush to the deck was sticking out a good half-inch. By the time we (mostly Shannon on the board) had recovered from our second turtle, the aft tank was pretty much useless as to buoyancy. That is where the horror came in: I settled back with sails ragging and board full up and got set to help Shannon back aboard only to discover that the boat immediately began yet another turtle. I was stunned enough that poor Shannon was pressed into another turtle recovery - with an even worse result.
(l to r) David von Wahl, David Morgan, Shannon Donkin
Fortunately, we were by this time, only about a hundred yards from shore and were able to get the safety boat to tow us there with the mast in capsize (as opposed to turtle) position since the boat was not stable enough to be towed upright. After righting the boat at the water's edge, we had to back into shore to get the aft tank out of the water (above). At about this time we discovered that my treasured W116 Snoopy bailing bucket from 1964, the last memento from my first Wayfarer had been "lost at sea" because I had not tied it to the boat. Fortunately, the rescue team not only provided a couple of big buckets but also did a large share of the bailing. Once the water was down to floorboard-level, we raised the sailed and arrived at the club just in time for lunch.
Lesson learned: Never, ever leave your buoyancy to chance.
Another, equally important lesson