How to survive 30 knots, or, what to do if you've bitten off more than you can chew

How to Survive 30 knots: class outline (this class was given in CSC Advanced Dinghy several times). The student executes the following nine steps, which are those recommended under the conditions in the title. Under mild conditions, please try to imagine waves over three feet and rain in the face like shotgun pellets.

 

  1. Sail to upwind Junior line.
  2. Capsize
  3. Deploy anchor
  4. Lower mainsail
  5. Right boat
  6. Furl mainsail
  7. Raise anchor
  8. Jibe jib only at least twice (for practice)
  9. Sail back to dock

Notes:

  1. Before launching in exciting conditions, it is wise to carry a radio and to notify the Day Leader they may be needed.
  2. When deploying the anchor, the rode must go out the front of the boat (to keep the bow pointed into the wind) or this maneuver will not work.
  3. Before the drill capsize, please get at least 90% of the way from the rocks to the upwind line. If you capsize too much before you get there, try sailing main only.
  4. It is hard to point very high sailing jib only, and nearly impossible to tack, so to go upwind you need to jibe quickly so as not to lose much ground during the turn. Use this opportunity to practice pointing as high as possible and making quick jibes. Make sure centerboard is fully down, and do not oversheet as this would make it hard to point very high.
  5. If you have an unconscious sailor, particularly one with a head injury, contact the Coast Guard immediately on channel 16.
  6. The Coast Guard will only pick up sailors, not boats. (If you have to go, leave it anchored and maybe the Club can get it back.)
  7. If you need help but can’t reach the Dayleader on 69 (might happen if you’re north of the Berkeley Pier), you might try contacting the Berkeley Marina harbormaster on 68 and asking her to pass a message to the DL.

Supplement: How to survive 40 knots

In an incident in the first half of 2017, on a Thursday race night most of the club’s best sailors were confronted with 40-knot winds. All boats capsized. Most were unable to right their boats even with mainsails down. Only two crews were able to survive with any grace.

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A Couple of Capsize Recovery Tips

Appropriate capsize recovery techniques vary by wind speed, and there are several methods available for righting the boat  in situations where the wind is high and you are unable to keep the boat from re-capsizing. However if you can recover without setting the anchor or having a crew member swim around to the bow to line the boat up into the wind, the recovery will be quicker and easier.

To recover on the first attempt (without re-capsizing) with the least effort in the broadest range of conditions, here are two very useful tips.

First, uncleat the gnav/vang (in addition to the mainsheet & jib), as this will reduce the effect of the wind on the sail when the boat comes back up.

Second, while up on the gunwhale, before stepping onto the centerboard, consider what effect the wind direction will have on the boat once it comes up, and plan the effect the arrangement of your and your crew's weight will have on the boat's balance at that point.

  • If the mast is pointing away from the wind/hull is towards the wind, the crew will be on the downwind side when the boat comes up. Tell the crew to just hang on to the bungees under the gunwhale when the boat comes up, and then come around to the stern to get back in afterwards; when the boat comes up, the person on the centerboard tries their hardest to at least get half way over the gunwhale so as to keep the upwind side weighted down.
  • If the mast is pointed towards the wind (a situation in which a double capsize is very common), the crew will be on the upwind side when the boat comes up. Have them hang onto the hiking straps as the boat comes up so their bodies are draped over the gunwhale. If they  weigh enough--taking the wind's power into account changes the meaning of 'enough'--the person on the centerboard can dry recover, particularly if he/she scrambles quickly across to the upwind side. If the crew is lighter than the person on the centerboard, the person on the centerboard should plan to go down into the water and get back into the boat from the stern (holding on to the boat at all times). 

Under almost all capsize conditions where you're not right by a lee shore or dock, the person on the gunwhale can take as long as they want to consider the situation and to discuss it with the rest of the crew. 

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Recent Comments
Yves Parent
In addition, Seamus's trick to easily board from the stern works very well. In this push yourself down in the water and use the mo... Read More
Monday, 18 August 2014 23:21
Francisco Kattan
Nice post, thank you. What is the ideal position of the outhaul during capsize recovery? Tight or loose? and why?
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 09:30
Michael Sherrell
Francisco, never gave the outhaul any thought. It is only tensioned under full sail, of course. If blowing the gnav/vang helps, I ... Read More
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 10:28
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