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Old 19-12-2007, 01:17   #1
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Recovering from a capsize...

Hi all,

I just read on these forums that someone had to recover from a tip over. What are some of the techniques for recovering from a roll over or a capsize?? I don't want to do a simple Google and get a text book step by step.

I would like to hear any real experiences, if any, and how it happened and what you did to get the book back upright.

Thanks for everyone's input and sharing your stories. Cheers!!
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Old 19-12-2007, 03:28   #2
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What are some of the techniques for recovering from a roll over or a capsize?
In a total capsize - None. Being lucky might let you survive.

With something less such a violent motion would probably cause damage to the rigging not to mention other problems including everything else. You would recover by doing what was required. That may include removing the rig from the boat by cutting all the cables securing the mast if it has entangled the boat. You might jury rig a temporary mast / sail and attempt to regain some sail power assuming you also had a rudder or could make one. There are no "steps". You generally have limitations imposed on what is even possible.

You need to save the crew first (that includes you too). You would need to consider any first aid required, drinking water, shelter, food then decide if the life raft is the better option or if the boat can still float. Can you establish communications? Could the engine be powered? Could a jury rig sail and rudder be secured? Can you be rescued by staying put or do you need to move? Do you even know where you are?

No knock down is going to be a business as usual event after it's over. Something will be broken or damaged. Injuries are very likely. You can prepare ahead of time to minimize the event of a knockdown but when it happens it could take any number of twists. You have to start with the people then move on down the list. Knock downs are not common.

We don't have a lot of disaster at sea stories here. For the most part they seem to generate a lot of pointless conjecture given no one has many facts nor the total details that might be of more use to future sailors. A lot of people like to second guess. What may have gone wrong and why gets to be a complicated mess as nothing is ever a one thing caused the disaster. As far as first hand accounts there are none on the forum now.

Preparations OTOH are something useful you can do. That includes a whole host of gear and training. The best approach is to be some place else before it can happen. I'm not sure there is a better plan than that other than being lucky.
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Old 19-12-2007, 03:58   #3
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On the Catalina 30 forum a guy wrote about taking a total knock down, mast in the water, in a burst wind with no damage except all cabin contents became missles bouncing around inside. His main experience he shared is how fast it all happened and that there was no time to react, a point to being prepared before hand with hatch boards in place to prevent/reduce water in the cabin.
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Old 19-12-2007, 04:15   #4
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Friends of mine were rolled in Bass strait. There isn't much you can do to right the boat if it doesn't do it by itself, (unless it has a canting keel) but the stability inverted is usually less than right-way up, so the theory is - if there was a wave big enough to roll you over, there will be another one big enough to roll you back up, sooner or later. (Provided you don't sink first.)

They think they were upside down for maybe 30 seconds - they really aren't sure. They were both below when it happened - it was a complete surprise to them because they weren't in severe weather - around 25 - 30 knots, with gusts to high 30's. They had a double reefed main and partially furled jib up.

When the boat rolled it was chaos below. Ian was quite badly hurt - he broke an arm and his nose, and suffered concussion. Jan was very fortunate - she suffered (some of it severe) bruising only.

When the boat righted, the rig was down, but still attached by the shrouds and stays. There was about 2 feet of water in the boat, but the bilge pumps were still working and eventually pumped it out. They managed to secure the mast to the boat, and were able to start the motor (they had gel cells). They spent a great deal of time ensuring there were no lines or cables trailing in the water before engaging gear, and were able to motor to port.

They both feel very lucky the boat didn't stay inverted for longer - they are sure she would have sunk in a few minutes. They are not at all sure if they would have been able to deploy or even reach the life-raft.
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Old 19-12-2007, 04:28   #5
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I will put my two bobs in here... I lost a boat...one that i had put hours into restoring sure only 18 foot but ... I KNEW that there where areas that when inverted would not be water tight. I f98762394 up the first time I put the boat on the water I got caught out by a southerly buster and that was that. Why I still love boats is beyond me, it cost me so many hours its rediculous. rule number one..if your boat is inverted will it take on water ? forget the stuff about recovering rig for the moment, if your boat is taking on water then you need to address that first. In my first case the boat was not capable of self righting, a scary thing. Now several boats later, look at the Gz curve - seriously- its like looking at a car you are going to buy and deciding what saftey features it will have , except you cant jump off to the side of the road and call "assistance" this is nothing to do with money. There is no possibility of anyone being able to advise you of a right way to do it. Circumstances dictate the situation. A boat that stays afloat is a good start. A boat that dosent throw things all over the place helps. At least tie down the heavy dangerous stuff . Sit in your boat and imagine your biggest battery heading straight at your head. If a boat is trully inverted, there is not a lot you can do to "make it come back up" its up to the design ,the sea state, and the gods.....The recovery after is just as important and there is lots of wise words out there to help. Personally I hope not to get the experience to be able to add to those words.
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Old 19-12-2007, 16:34   #6
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Great reading guys and thanks for sharing your thoughts about it!! Cheers! I was always curious how it happened and what can if anything can be done.
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Old 19-12-2007, 17:43   #7
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Every boat has a heeling angle after which it becomes quite prone to flipping over. Here's some neat stuff and calculators if you want to check it out:

Sailboat Design and Stability

Heeling reduces the leverage that the wind has on the keel. That, coupled with a deep keel, lots of ballast, and a high displacement ratio, can make a boat quite resistant to getting knocked down.

There's more going on than the wind sadly: those damn waves. You can scare the crap out of yourself with this little video of if you like (60' rogue wave):



(also, I'm talking about monohulls)
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Old 19-12-2007, 17:51   #8
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I suffered a complete knockdown without any damage. It happened when we caught a 30 knots gust front when deploying the spinnaker. She laid over until the spreaders for both masts were in the water, stood back up and rounded into the wind on her own. The chute was pinned against the rigging but we started falling back off the wind so I blew the halyard and went shrimping. Other than some serious pucker factor and a very wet chute, there was no issue. We spent 10 min getting the chute out of the water, dropped the main, raised the staysail and blasted home in 40-50 knots of gale in the dark. The forecast was for a max of 25, go figure. BTW, the house (which was open) and the cockpit stayed dry, at least until we fished out the chute.

The boat

The chute

A similar ride

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Old 19-12-2007, 18:10   #9
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Crazy story CC. thanks for sharing! Glad that it really worked out great with no damage or injuries, just a little shock.
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:38   #10
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Yeah, it probably wouldn't have happened with more crew. I was on the foredeck and had just raised the chute when the puff hit. I was reaching for the snuffer line and the gust pulled it loose from the cleat I had it wrapped on. Next thing ya knew, the chute un-snuffed and the snuffer line was about 12' off the boat. I stepped from the deck onto the side of the staysail boom as she laid over. I looked back, grabbed a shroud and watched my helmsman laying on the bottom side of the cockpit trying to get the rudder to do ANYTHING while noticing the house was staying dry as well as the cockpit. Wonderful designs these old S&S's. It was kinda slow motion and I looked at the Mizzen spreader in the water and then the Main spreader as it came out of the water. She was off and rounded up like a shot then so I stepped from the staysail boom back to the deck. I went to the mast as she started falling off and blew the halyard rather than do that broach again. I learned a few things, had a great run back and caught pneumonia because I was soaked and the wind chill dropped to about 10 F in minutes with the gale and cold front. Nothing some penicillin couldn't fix.
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:39   #11
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While visiting with the original owners of our CT54 a few weeks ago I was told a story of our boat having a knockdown on a passage between Washington and Hawaii. It seems everyone except the gentleman on watch was down below asleep. He did not reef the main as was standard practice at night and was hit by a gust (they could not recall how big but did not think it anything extreme). What I found interesting is that when they finally were able to make it up to the cockpit it took two men to pry the skipper off the wheel. I wonder if this is a typical response on a knockdown?
Anyway, according to the story it took quite a while to get the main down but once they were able to do that the boat righted itself. Luckily no injuries were incurred.
My husband has told me that a boat can only have one knockdown in its lifetime so it would be impossible to have another....I think he may be trying to settle my nerves
Jackie
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:43   #12
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Tell your Hubby to try and tell that to the racers. They suffer sometimes several knockdowns in a single race up here in the PNW Fall series. Don't worry about it. If items are secure below and the rigging is sound, a good boat will not suffer from a mere knockdown. Your nerves might but it shouldn't effect the boat.
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:51   #13
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I think this brings me to another question. When there are rough waves and wind, do the people on deck usually strap themselves in with a life line or some type of tether??

I know that a few of these stories consisted of unexpected gusts or waves, but is it common practice to either have a life jacket on at all times and possibly a tether??

Cheers!!
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:59   #14
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I always have my life jacket on when underway; no exceptions unless I'm going to sleep. We're tethered in:

(a) whenever the on watch says so
(b) whenever the captain says so
(c) open water at night

Some people hate tethers because they say "I'm just sitting in the cockpit" or "it gets in the way of what I'm doing". Well, if you're just sitting in the cockpit reading a book on watch, a tether should go unnoticed. And if you're running around doing stuff, it's a great way to get knocked in the drink.

Just watch this video (around 2:00 into it):



And tell me what would have happened if you were on the foredeck messing around with a sail at night when that happened.
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Old 19-12-2007, 19:05   #15
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Up here in the PNW, the water temp is 54 F so you wouldn't last long in it. If sailing in anything over 15 knots or at night, ya wear a PFD on my boat. If ya leave the cockpit, ya wear a PFD. If I was sailing single I would use a tether. I've been on the foredeck in 12' seas and 50 knots when making fast the baby stay and bending on the staysail without too much fuss. It's a much easier ride forward in the slop if ya bear offwind to do the job, much drier too. I don't have tethers for the boat YET. I should have considering how much heavy weather sailing I manage to do. I've been in three gales since Sept 12, when I got the boat. Heck, the delivery was done in what turned out to be a Force 11 storm. Another example of a 35 knots max forecast by NOAA and BIS.
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