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B&B's first annual "Capsize Camp" July, 20-22

Alan Stewart

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Fellow Sailors!

In the aftermath of this years Everglades Challenge Race there was a lot of discussion on capsize recovery specifically in Class 4 (meaning small sailboats). A few sailors had to be rescued when they weren't able to recover their boats from a capsize. A series of unfortunate events can and will eventually happen to anyone in any boat at any time on the water. What can make the difference is how prepared you are and specifically how much you have practiced for various situations. This can mean many things in many situations but the big one is capsize recovery and what will you do to self-rescue. The goal of the gathering will be to disseminate as much knowledge and information related to capsize recovery and self rescue as possible. All boats of any make or model are welcome to participate. The format will be informal there is no sign up. What we are offering is the chance to discuss methods and skills and practice in a controlled (just off the dock) environment. If you can't attend this year we hope to make it an annual event. 


Some topics and skills practice will include things such as:
-Securing gear and Stowage, how does my system stack up?
-Reefing on the water, can I improve my system? hint the answer is always yes.
-Capsize recovery. Do it now!
-Re-boarding your boat, I hope I can!
-Will my boat go turtle? A great time to try it with a full load. 
-What does it take for me personally to self-rescue? and CAN I DO IT?  
-What makes a boat "ship shape" and why does it matter?
-Sailing Tactics
-Shallow water sailing

-Knots, when and how to tie them.
-Proper securing of boats at the dock
-Sailing into a dock (who doesn't need practice with that?)


We'd like folks to bring their boats (Class 4 boats particularly) and full EC expedition load or whatever you normally take on the water for a weekend of camping at our shop with day sailing in the Bay River and focus on the stuff that you don't usually get to focus on when you take time out of your busy schedule to go out for a sail. We want this to be the time where you WANT to capsize your boat and self-rescue. Kayaks have the advantage of being able to do it dozens of times in a paddling session using an Eskimo roll but sailors typically try to avoid capsize and anytime you don't practice something you forget how it works. This is also a perfect opportunity for anyone who is not sure of themselves on a sailboat to practice capsize in small boats in controlled conditions. Bring the little ones and get them comfortable on the boat KNOWING you are going to capsize and it will be OK. The water is warm, best time to do it. 

We have lots of grassy land for comfortable tent camping, a 100' dock and boat ramp in a normally sheltered cove on the Bay River at our workshop. Dogs are welcome but they'll have to pass the "sniff test" with the ones who own the place (our dogs). 

Here is a picture of Graham back in the day doing some capsize testing of his Core Sound 17 off the bank at the shop around the time he first entered the Everglades Challenge. We want to see everyone doing this close to shore and getting to know their boats better and getting WET! JOIN US. 



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To start off some discussion, here is a video Joe made showing how it's done on a Spindrift 10. Well done Joe!


That is a bit easier than a Core Sound 17 but the principal is the same. We're hoping to get some Core Sound 17s and 20s out at the shop and see some capsize recovery practice. There have been some recent experiences by some CS17 sailors where the boat wanted to turn turtle and it caused the masts to stick in the mud and it was downhill from there. The Core Sound boats are very stable which means they don't capsize very often which just means it's even more important that we should all practice. Any dinghy can capsize and the Core Sound 17 and 20 are no different.  


I had my CS-17 sailing out at the shop Thursday evening and did a capsize just for fun. My dog Dejah didn't much care for it and abandoned ship (swam back to the dock) but we were only a hundred feet from our dock. 


The boat capsizes! oh no what do i do? Here are some quick thoughts. Lots to unpack and that is what we want to do at "capsize camp".

-Stay with the boat! in strong winds the boat can sometimes blow downwind faster than you can swim!

-Remember to un-cleat the sheets so you're not scooping up water. 

-Don't try to swim the boat "into the wind" it isn't necessary. 

-Make sure the centerboard is down, if it wasn't, put it down. 

-Swim around to the bottom and grab the centerboard.

-Climb ontop of it if you can

-Pull down until the boat rights.

-Climb back aboard, heave to and bail out the water. Hope you carry a bucket. 


Sounds easy right! Well everyone will need something a little different to be successful. You may not need a boarding ladder but others might. You may not be able to climb up onto the centerboard, we're not all as fit as Joe :). Will you need to have a righting line at the ready to throw over the hull instead? it would be good to know that before you capsize in a "real" situation. Do you have things in the boat that are not secured? What is going to float away. Hint, everything loose should be tied to the boat all the time! Cushions, buckets, floorboards, gps, vhf, it's all gonna go flying. What about your hatches, are they secured? How about that anchor is it going to punch a hole in the boat when it rolls around in the locker?


I learned that my hatches are not as watertight as I though so i'll be working on my gaskets and latches. 





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GREAT idea! Many---maybe even most---don't know if they can recover from a capsize. They find out when it happens. If they survive. Often there is not even a way to re board their boat if they fall out. I found out the hard way a LONG time ago that the boat at the time would totally fill with water when capsized! Fortunately, a power boat was near by and towed me to shore. Ask Miss Debbie about that experience. Really quite funny---now. If we'd been away from shore and help, it would have been BAD!


I wish I could be at your event. Even with the new "stinkpot". How about something like this at the messabout?

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Thank you for this opportunity.  Although our 2019 Everglades Challenge boat is in the boat barn being built, co-captains Bones and Bumpkin are traveling from West Tennessee to attend this unique event.  We understand the message of skilled safety Chief and B&B are underlining by promoting this Capsize Class.  We look forward to learning new or confirming existing skill sets. 

Yes, we both have pushed boats around here and there and our experiences have taught us two things:  The more we learn the less we know, and that perfect practice makes perfect. 

We believe this is important training for all boaters and especially for those involved in adventure challenges and look forward to learning more about those issues Alan has detailed

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I wish I lived closer. My current ride falls in the "It hurts when I poke my self in the eye" camp, but sometimes you don't poke yourself on purpose and even safety glasses (sailing conservatively) can't always help. It's one of the reasons I selected a CS20.3. Kudos to the B & B crew to haul Doug Cameron's boat onto it's side. I'll be doing the same come launch of my boat. 


I hope anything learned will be shared as I'm a bit far away in NY to attend this year.

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Hi, Planning to come with our CS15 #153, and shared info with a really nice, new to them, CS17 owners/neighbors on the Pamlico so hope they'll join us too. Rick n MickZ


Leaving the boat home but coming Sat to watch and learn and see new stuff.  R

Ooops, family stuff now overrides our coming to the camp. Have safe fun. R

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  • 2 weeks later...


We are excited for this upcoming weekend. Scattered thunderstorms forecast for Fri-Sun but we'll all be wet anyway! 


Remember to bring life-jackets. All will be required to wear (as you should do anyway!)


Remind to check your cockpit hatches. They should be gasketed with neoprene or foam. Leaking hatches have plagued us all. Graham's hatch design doesn't leak when it rains but when the boat is on it's side the gasket is what keeps the water out. 

I've had good luck with this product for gasket tape which is currently my favorite. I ordered extra for the shop if anyone needs to purchase. 


The bungee hatch hold down works ok but I've been seeking a more positive solution and the bungee doesn't have enough force to really close down on the gasket tape. I've ordered these to try out. Graham and I chose them because the latch stays on the bottom half (cockpit side) instead of the hatch side so when you close the hatch the latch isn't flopping around and wedging itself into the mechanism like other boat locker latches. 



I've started a picture album that I'll update during the event. We've been working on some prototype mast head floats that will be ready to test out. They will be free rotating and provide about 20lbs of bouancy at the top of the masts. We hope to discover how much flotation is enough to prevent a CS-17 from going turtle if left to fend for itself after a capsize. 




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North Carolina is a ways from me, but I posted a video of my own capsize test. My main concern was getting back in the boat. I need to remember to release the sheets (because the wind would probably be blowing much stronger), but hopefully this will be the only time I swamp.



This is Lake Erie, but the water is really cold on Lake Superior (it was 40 degree where we were last week), so you'd have to be quick getting back into the boat.


I decided I don't need a ladder and my hatch seals are not bad (only 2 of the 5 hatches had foam - I'll fix all of them eventually).

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Great video thanks for posting. I like to see that even if you'd had your outboard installed it would not have gotten wet. Maybe splashed a bit in rougher water but not dunked. I think i'd still want a ladder to make boarding easier for any passengers or folks who can't pull themselves up but my boat doesn't have a ladder right now either. 


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I am looking forward to this!  Thanks to B&B for hosting this valuable event!


I expect to arrive on sight around 2:00 on Friday with my CS17 MK1 loaded to the gills.  Anyone attending without a boat is welcome to catch a ride as I will be singlehanded.

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   Alan, I agree that a ladder is a good idea but don't put too much stock in the motor staying dry.  When I barrel-rolled Southbound everything happened quite fast and the boat went 180 degrees.  That put the motor under water.  If events had evolved more gradually as in the video I would have eased the mast into the water slowly and stopped at 90 degrees, thereby keeping the motor dry, but accidental capsizes by definition aren't controlled events.  The boat went turtle as I was catapulted through the air (comically apologizing to my crew before hitting the water :) ).  I was unable to start the motor afterwards and we had to sort things out without it.  everything was fine, but we were in protected waters and in reasonably close proximity to a beach.

   I was (and still am) amazed at the stability of the CS17 Mk1 (it seems to hit a wall and stop rolling just before the coaming goes under) and it remains my favorite design ever, but I did a number of things wrong all at the same time in a stiff breeze and the motor ended up inverted in the lake.  So yes - It's good that the motor will stay dry in a 90 degree roll but don't forget the possibility of a 180.  It doesn't really matter all that much, though because a CS17 can be sailed out of trouble without having to resort to the motor anyway.

   I miss that boat :)

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We were able to get in the boat without much fuss. If there were swells, I think it'd be easier. Rather than a ladder, I think I'll leave dock lines with loops attached to both midship cleats (to get a foot in the loop).


I decided I need oarlocks and (2-piece) oars for safety. If a motor quit, and there's no wind or too much wind, I would need a way to get ashore.

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Day 1 of capsize camp is complete. We had a successful test of the new mast float on Matt's CS-17. Thank you Matt!

Here is a video of the two capsize events (both intentional). The mast float worked very well at keeping the tops of the mast at the surface. Matt's had some leaks in his hatches but the boat was successfully recovered both times by the crew alone in shallow water. 




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