Righting boat by dropping mast?

Moderator: GreenLake

Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby Rummel » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:02 pm

Let me preface this by saying I don't have a lot of sailing experience and have never capsized a sailboat.
I can see that under the right conditions it might not be that bad. Other conditions I could see it being a really bad deal.
My wife is like 95 pounds and I'm about 180. I'm wondering if the two of us could get a 59 ds1 back up without help.
I got to thinking about what I would do if we were turtle with no help around and couldn't get the boat back up on our own.
Crazy idea time...I have a hinged mast on my boat, would it be possible to disconnect the forestay and tabernacle pin and pull the mast up to the boat so we aren't trying to overcome such a long lever? ( Think mast right before it is raised only upside down)
Don't know if the halyard or a topping lift could be used to pull the mast up tight to the boat and secure it to make self rescue easier or possible.
It's ok if you laugh, and tell me I'm an idiot... I'm used to it.
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby GreenLake » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:45 am

If you read around in the older posts (some of them are not in this section, but for example in the DS1 section), you'll find a recurring theme: find a way to prevent the boat from turtling in the first place. The mast is 20' or so above the deck, that means, if you are sailing in less than 20' of water, you might end up getting the tip stuck in mud...

Make sure the top of the mast is filled with foam, add foam to your mainsail headboard, add mast top flotation. All of these should help keep the mast horizontal, to where you have the best chance of righting the boat again.

I've never had to do it (and never had a good place to practice it on purpose), but even with keeping the mast flat the DS apparently isn't one of the easier boats to right again. Let's see whether we get input from anybody who has more first-hand experience.

I haven't managed to capsize my DS yet, and am not sure whether I really had any close calls. I've had a close call on another dinghy, so I think I know what it should feel like. That said, I've had two or three occasions where a sudden gust hit (or hit from an unexpected angle) and the DS did not capsize but broached (in a cork screw like motion it "twisted" out from under the wind). That at least felt like having the boat a bit out of control for a moment.

However, sailing upwind and not being able to keep the boat flat by hiking seems a much more controlled process and we've always been able to luff up or let the main out in a controlled fashion.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Righting boat by drooping mast?

Postby jeadstx » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:58 pm

I have a DS2 and have capsized twice. The DS2 is probably easier to right than the DS1. That said, as Greenlake mentioned, get flotation at the masthead. I added 2 feet of foam inside my mast at the top after my first capsize. I also strap a small water bottle up there, but doesn't probably do much. My first one the mast started to fill with water from many old hardware attachment points from previous owners. A passing boat dropped a young man in the water to assist. He then determined he didn't have a clue on what to do. I had him hold up the masthead until I could get flotation out to it. Second capsize, the masthead hit bottom (about 8 feet of water), but came back up due to the flotation in the mast head.

If you have no flotation in the masthead area, the first thing to do after a capsize is to check if everyone is OK, the second thing is to get some flotation (spare life jacket, floatable cushion, etc.) under the masthead to prevent turtling. I would imagine that a DS1 would probably swamp fairly fast and settle on it's side providing the mast head stays afloat. Make sure the sail sheets are not cleated. This will make the boat easier to right by reducing drag caused by resistance on the sail and also prevent the boat taking off once righted. Put your weight on the centerboard to right the boat, getting your body as high as possible. The boat looks bigger when you're alongside of it in the water. Swamped, the boat should be easier to re-board. The flotation tanks should keep it afloat until bailed. Bail and sail. Carry a bailing bucket as well as a bilge pump.

perhaps someone with a DS1 will chime in.

John
1976 Day Sailer II, #8075 - Completed the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Texas 200
1952 Beetle Boat Swan Catboat
Early Rhodes 19
1973 Mariner 2+2, #2607 - Completed 2014, 2015 and 2016 Texas 200
1969 Day Sailer I, #3229
Fleet 135; Canyon Lake, Texas
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:53 pm

I'm going to vote… No way… on the taking the mast down while inverted underwater! First off, it's dangerous to get under the boat while it's inverted. The free-floating lines are possible to get tangled in. Not to mention that being able to pull the pins out while underwater would be quite the task. Also, pulling the mast up from the depths and securing it would be unlikely something feasible.

Fortunately, the boat is fairly difficult to capsize. Aside from the suggestions on mast flotation, capsize prevention goes a long way in this regard. Keeping your sail area small when the conditions warrant… and do not cleat the mainsheet! I highly recommend getting a ratchet block for your mainsheet. This allows you to easily hold the mainsheet without the need of cleating. The split-second that is needed to un-cleat might be just what you need to prevent a capsize.

Practice sailing the boat flat also helps considerably, again, the ratchet block helps in this regard by not cleating and constantly adjusting. If you are sailing heeled over, it's a lot closer to being capsized than if you are sailing flat. If you don't have hiking straps installed this is a another must-have item on my boat. If you have your feet in the straps you can lean way out without worry.

Of the three times that I've swamped my boat, two up to the seats, one up to the gunwales, each time it's been an inexperienced crew member handling the mainsheet and not releasing it instantly. It does take practice. One time the mast and sails hit the water, the inexperienced crew in the foot straps asked, "what do we do" I say, "lean way back". All three of us were leaned out with our heads at the boat's waterline or below. Because the mast and sails had just hit the water we were fortunately able to pull it up from just hiking out.
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Re: Righting boat by drooping mast?

Postby GreenLake » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:58 pm

The voice of experience.

Just a minor observation to add in terms of capsize prevention, not cleating the mainsheet and ratchet blocks.

On ratchet blocks. I went so far as to fit them to my jib tracks as well. I can now hold the jib in my hand in much stronger winds than before. It's nice for trimming in some conditions, but I also can let someone less experienced drive and still depower at least part of the sail plan immediately myself.

On not cleating the mainsheet. There's a mainsheet cleat design where the cleat engages if the sheet is pulled up. I really dislike that because I find that the way I am sitting, the sheet tends to "self-cleat" when I don't want it to. On such boats, I've had to check the sheet and deliberately uncleat it in five second intervals to be sure that it was still uncleated.

If you have that kind of setup, change it to something where that doesn't happen. Nothing is worth then letting go a loaded main sheet thinking it will run out, only to find it's cleated itself, or watch it cleat itself after running out for a few inches only.
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby K.C. Walker » Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:17 am

+1 for what Greenlake said. I hate those down-facing/up-cleating things they had on a lot of Daysailer mainsheets. I think of them as a capsize waiting to happen. It was one of the first things I changed out.
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Re: Righting boat by drooping mast?

Postby TIM WEBB » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:19 pm

<sigh> Here we go again ...

-2 on the above comments re: the downfacing mainsheet cam cleat! I've said it before and I'll say it again: because of the angle of the standup block plus the angle of the cleat to that block, the direction that the sheet is normally pulled in results in *releasing*, NOT *cleating*! I.e. it takes more effort to cleat than to uncleat. I dunno, maybe the style of downfacing cleat you guys have experience with is a totally different design than TRW has?

As far as recleating itself goes, with the downfacing cleat, once the sheet is uncleated, it's own weight keeps it out of the cleat and resting on the saddle, free to run out. Besides, no matter which style you have, once it's uncleated, there is no way the sheet can "recleat itself" once it's running out, unless it's pulled back and up (or down) into the cleat! That's the whole point of cam cleats in the first place ...

I had MANY more "close calls" when I had the upfacing cleat than I've had since switching to the downfacing one, and so far, knock wood, I have yet to capsize or even swamp TRW.

I guess it all boils down to a matter of personal preference, kinda like a lot of things on these boats we all love ... ;-P

Oh, and BTW, Rummel or GL, please fix the title of this thread. Drooping mast just kinda creeps me out a bit ... <grin>
Tim Webb
1979 DS2 10099 The Red Witch
(I used to be Her "staff", in the way dogs have owners and cats have staff, but alas no longer ... <pout>)
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Re: Righting boat by drooping mast?

Postby K.C. Walker » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:08 am

TIM WEBB wrote:<sigh> Here we go again ...

Oh, and BTW, Rummel or GL, please fix the title of this thread. Drooping mast just kinda creeps me out a bit ... <grin>


+1 LOL!
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby GreenLake » Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:43 am

OK, Tim, I did some cleanup.

On the main sheet cleating -- a lot depends on your seating position. Now, on the boat I sailed on that had that design, I was not hiking, but sitting out on the coamings. I found that no matter what I did, the main would cleat itself when I wanted to be able to play it. On my own boat, which uses the original part for a '63 DS, I never have a problem either cleating the main sheet when I want to, or keeping it uncleated.

You might be right, that there could be design variations in the down-facing cleat. The one I used, definitely was a "trap" that made it impossible to work the main while ensuring that it remained uncleated. I guess I'll have to come visit you one of these days and check out your setup on TRW.

K.C. goes for full hiking, so he covers a seating position that might result in pulling on the sheet at a flatter angle (relative to the plane of the boat). Apparently, the way the fitting was originally on his boat did not avoid the issue even then.

The takeaway is: be sure you don't get your main cleated unintentionally. If your current cleat doesn't have the issue, then don't change it.
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby Rummel » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:09 am

Ok I feel better now thanks.
Sometimes my mind wanders during a 5 hour sanding session, and imagining a scenario where I am turtle off cape sable frankly terrifies me. Trust me when I say that is one place you really don't want to be in the water.
Sorry about the misspell in the title.
A drooping mast is a problem I haven't experienced yet, but if it does I won't be asking for help from the likes of you guys.
I will see my doctor about that one.
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby GreenLake » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:34 pm

By all means, if you are worried about capsize, fit flotation inside or outside your mast top. And then practice defensive sailing. Enjoy!
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Re: Righting boat by dropping mast?

Postby Swashbuckley » Sun May 10, 2015 8:50 pm

Interesting topic, especially as the WaterTribe, the group that does the Florida and N. Carolina challenge events, just added this very item to the event qualifier for Class 4 boats (sailboats). I cannot imagine ever going under a turtled boat to release the mast or do anything else. The boat is not worth my life.
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