Jump to content

Recovery after capsize


Recommended Posts

I had an unfortunate capsize during a race last season which may have been more serious if I was out sailing alone.  At the first mark my Windie did a backflip as I turned through the wind onto the opposite tack.  We had gusting winds, in fact a coastal race had been postponed for safety and a local circuit replaced it.  My sloop rigged Windie bottled completely and I had 2 goes at righting it, each time for it to roll over to the leeward side.  I finally got it upright and it started sailing with all sheets off!  At this stage I was still in the water, exhausted.  I didn't have the strength to get back on board and had to wait for the crash boat to pick me up and chase the yacht down after I let it go.

I've been reluctant to get back on the yacht since, although I've had many thrilling rides on it as a lone sailor.  Note that I'm 70yo and 114kg.  (I think I must have been too far astern as I rounded the mark.)

I'm thinking of putting foot holds in my righting ropes in case a similar thing happens, so that I can at least get my chest up to tramp height.  Does anyone have an alternative suggestion on how to get back aboard with minimal effort? 

Maybe it's time to retire to the beach!!??


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best way for fat, old, farts (self included)  to get back on, is to work your way to either bow, push the bow under (it will go easy) and slide half on, facing aft, slide towards the front beam until you can straddle the hull, the rest is a piece of cake.

Very little effort involved, works on all size cats.

Not time to retire yet, maybe pick the weather a bit better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also your boat should round up into the wind, once you let go of the tiller, irrespective of sheeting, so if you fall off it will round up and stop, or when it is righted after a capsize.

You may have lee helm --- when sailing normally if you let go of the tiller does the boat round up or sail straight on ?

I'm not sure about Windies but on a Maricat you cure this by reducing the amount of forward rack on the rudders, just a bit at a time so that you get a touch of weather helm (ie: the boat wants to round up a bit).       You could also rack the mast a bit as this will create some weather helm.                                                                   

When righting a Mari you need to grab the dolphin striker as it comes down or it will flip again - not sure what you do on a Windie.

Lee helm can be very scary especially on a strong wind day on a reach, let go of the tiller for a second and the boat will bear away and go faster and next thing you know a nose dive ......


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys.

I do have a windward helm although just.  The tiller extension always has tension on a reach and the Windie rounds up if I let it go.  However on the day, the gusting wind was moving around and I think my mainsheet may be slightly too short.  Good suggestion Darcy; I'll give it a try on a light breeze day.  My weight on the bow may cause some problems and I'd need to get past the jib sheets but it's worth a try.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

If the boat turns turtle - it's mostly coz the mast filled with water - and/or you were too slow to get out on the righting rope. It must be quick to get to and easy to throw around the hull that's in the air. If you have to spend 30 seconds to untie/deploy the righting rope or other system, it's probably too long.
For that reason, I have 2 pouches at the front of the tramp to stash the righting ropes - so very quick to simply drag them out. The other thing is they have to be thick enough that you don't destroy your hands hanging off them - but many use line that will chew through your gloves very quickly - and makes it doubly hard to get the  puling power you need...
I also put figure 8 knots along the length of them - so that you have something to brace against - which really seems to help...
Brett at Windrush contends that you should immediately hang off the righting rope that's tied to the underside of the boat and lashed to the trampoline tensioning line - although I feel that you don't get as much leverage that way. So maybe a righting rope that's bungeed off that still allows you to get as much leverage as possible...
Having said all that, I haven't capsized my boat in oh - probably 10 years now - coz I know the boat's limits - and my own....
That always helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's  one that helps you  when the boat continually  flipsover while righting on a windy day.

Its a bit of timing , but when you are standing  on the hull just beneath  the forward  crossbeam. as the boat  begins to right itself, the hull is coming  down . slide a leg over the deck and scissor hold with your legs on the hull. when the boat lands on the water  you will be stilling  on top of the hull  and your weight  will stop the boat from going over again , you just slide  straight back on to tramp.

Its a bit like jumping  on a wild pony.

I also  have  a piece of conjuct about  5in long , drilled in the middle  and knotted  at the correct height  in the righting rope.

I have had nerve damaged  in one arm and basically  it work's  for me.

If you are lucky  you can swing the leg over and be up and sailing  in a jiffy. without  the exhaustion.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being another geriatric Windrush sailor I have found the posts here most useful.
My weight of 65 kg is useful on light days but righting a capsize is I imagine much easier with a bit more mass. 
I have a fat rope with lots of knots tied to the mast and kept in a bag just behind the mast to right from a capsize.
Another rope is tied from one front corner of the trampoline to the other and runs astern of the mast. The length of this is adjusted so that when I am in the water hanging on the front beam it has sufficient slack to be pulled into the water either side of the mast and form a rope step enabling me to get my torso out of the water and over the front beam. 
Once my cat is righted it immediately sets sail even with the main totally slack and getting out of the water onto the tramp for me is next to impossible with drag from the water and the rope step is for me essential.
To right the cat with my weight is difficult without passing the righting rope over the hulls to get additional leverage. 
I have rigged two ropes fore and aft from the jib sheet attachment points on the fore beam to the stern beam and these assist me to climb from the water onto the hulls when the cat on its side. They need to be quite tight.
When righting it seems to make a big difference if you stand a little forward of the fore beam. Having the weight here seems to bring the bows into the wind as righting takes place. The wind then gets under the sail and helps lift the mast. 
If I don't grab the fore beam immediately the boat is righted the odds are that it tips onto the other side and I have to do it all again. 
The process of  landing on the hull as the cat is righted, instead of in the drink, as described by Rigidigi, sounds very neat. Not sure if mind and body are quick enough. Worth some planning and a try. The step in a righting rope sounds good too.

This is a rather wordy post I fear. 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

DBM it looks  like  you have a system  that  works for you. I recon if you  had a few practice session  in shallow  water .  You may surprise your self   . Its all in the timing , as the hull goes pass equalibrium let your leg scissor  hold on the deck of the hull. Nice feeling  siting on top of the deck  and not having  to hoist your self out of the water.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that - it's a good idea... It appears that you have the righting rope on an 'endless' system… and that you pull from under the tramp - instead of throwing the line over the hull?
Do you find that gives you enough leverage? Some more close-up pix of the way the system is bungeed/shock-corded off - and the pulley system would be good to see too…
While we're talking about 'systems' for the W14 - I think I'll start a thread about how to stabilise the mast when raising & lowering it - as this is something that causes anxiety too... especially if you're rigging in an area exposed to the wind...
Windrush don't seem to be interested in developing a captive mast pin, or a system for easily & safely raising and securing the mast while attempting to attach the side-stays - which is a challenge for a solo sailor...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a similar system. At 90kg plus you don't need the additional leverage of throwing a rope over the up-side hull.  I simply run a piece of shock cord from one side of back beam to the other with a ring on it.  The righting rope goes from one side of front beam through the ring to other side. The rope then self retracts when not in use.

I also have a piece of rope the is threaded from under one jib eyelet in tramp to the other, knotted at the top and tensioned with a bit of shock cord.  Once boat is righted, I can pull down on this rope (about 60cm) and placing my foot on it, use it as a step back onto the boat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep the boat  comes back up pretty well. It easier when there's a bit of wind to round the hulls  up. The process  is very quickly  done so, the boat  usually  doesn't  go completely  over.

The stablizing the Mast is  big safety  issue  when there is kiddies hanging  around  while solo rigging  up.

Just a quick  answer  to this problem . 

I riveted to saddles  either  side of front  beam that have at 2 long shackles attached . Length  is important . 

Simply lay the mast foward on the ground or back of the trailor.

 Have the base in the tabanacle . I have snap hooks on all stays.

Hook Bridle up and then hook side stays to the saddles  on front cross beam.

Pick the mast up keeping  the pressure back in the tabanacle and walk  towards  the front beam throwing the mast up and making  sure you  step over the bridle.

Basically when  the mast gets past vertical  it will loosely stay up.

Then l grap the helyard walk to the back of the boat and snap the Mainsheet  pulley  block on .

Pull the traveller  cart to one side take some slack up with the main sheet . Now you can safely  release the loose  side stay from the saddle  at the front beam.

Repeat  for the other side. Using  the Mainsheet  on the helyard has been a  great way to adjust  rig tension.

Sorry I answered in this thread . Cheers .

Will  give some pics. Wanted 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I was very lucky; once while rigging solo on the beach at Clontarf at the water's edge, the mast popped out and came down - just missing people playing in the water - it was  a terrible moment. If it had hit someone on the head that would have killed them for sure...
I still 'struggle' to get the side-stays on easily and safely - which defeats the concept of an easy-to-rig single-handed catamaran.

I've considered using the jib sheets to somehow 'anchor' the side-stays temporarily, and I've noticed that some use the trap wires to stabilise the mast on the way up  - but none of these work-arounds is really 'solid' or fool-proof. Not everyone has a jib, and/or trap wires to assist them... and it's particularly problematic if your stays are set up to provide good rig tension - so they only 'just' reach the saddles.  I use a long D-Shackle to temporarily attach one side-stay, and then reach across and snap the other side-stay on... which is a very tricky and anxiety-ridden exercise - particularly when the boat's exposed to a gusty wind...
(generally this wasn't a problem with the older 'floppy' rigs where there was insufficient rig tension or mast rake  - and nobody cared too much - but that was years ago...)

Of course, the other way is to attach all 4 stays and walk the mast up from under the boat until vertical - to a point where you physically lift the mast onto the tabernacle - but who wants to destroy their back, or is even capable of doing it confidently?

Your system requires the addition of extra saddles and fooling around with the mainsail halyard - and while effective - what happens if the halyard snaps, or something else disconnects unexpectedly? Having said that, I guess the pix would be good to see...
It's a real shame that Windrush don't create a system that's simple and safe...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like you pick the mast up and place it on the tabernacle? So, you're taking the weight of the mast vertically down through your spine and onto your lower back - right?
What is the consequence if you just happen to not centre the weight correctly down your body?
Many of us already have back injuries from doing just this kinda thing... we wont risk it.
My thought is to temporarily place 2 small blocks with cleats on the outer corners of the trampoline lacing - and run the line to the side-stays. Run those 2 lines loosely to the front beam - so they're easy to grab...
Brace your body against the mast so it cannot move, after you've walked the mast up in the normal way. Then tension the 2 lines up...
This way, the mast is held at 4 points - and you can then walk around and attach each side-stay without having to hang off trap wires...

Not everyone has a trapeze, or will want to lift a mast vertically up onto the tabernacle. You also have to consider what would happen if you were distracted and fell over or tripped on something - the whole thing would come down in a hurry...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your right about looking  after your back. I have the trailer in front of the boat  at a suitable  distance . The mast sits in the tabanacle by its self, while the top of the mast  is on the trailer.

All stays  are snapped on and I rest the upper part of the mast  on my shoulder ,and begin to walk  towards the  boat as I get near the boat I lift the mast up from  my shoulder ,  usually at around  50 deg , so the lift is not too bad.

Stability  is good because  the side stays are attached  to the saddles  on front  cross beam .  The mast angle  allows  it to stay up with  out holding it , snapping  the halyard  to the Mainsheet ensures stability while I move the side stays . 

I have  the side stay in one hand and pull the main  sheet, to snap on the stay. I have solid halyard  rope for this. and if it ever snapped , I have the side stay an hand anyway . 

I used to do it the old way and  just reached  over and snap a side stay while  holding  the mast,  which others  sailors do and then just pull the opposite  stay around  to snap on, till I let the side stay slip out of my hand . 

Look after your back guys. Cheers . 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...