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

Alan Stewart

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All good thoughts and thanks for them.


I haven’t seen hysteria in the discussion. Just attempts to get information about the effectiveness of masthead floats. I haven’t capsized my 20 and I hope not to. I intend not to. But I want to be prepared for sailing on the Great Lakes.


My questions have been, Will a float work on a CS 20 Mk 1? How big?


Graham answered the first by saying he would definitely have one on a Mark 1 for sailing distances solo. Thanks. As for size, I guess that is still being kicked around.


I will admit that my preparation has consisted primarily of paying attention to conditions and sailing tactics. Keeping the mainsheet at hand, reefing, watching the gybes, managing weight placement, etc. I could do more with equipment hold downs, attaching righting lines, making sure the masts are sealed, and doing a test capsize. I’ve been negligent in all of that. I do have a boarding ladder.


The mast float is new to me after 45 years of sailing. Never used one. That’s why I appreciate this discussion.

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Good evening, 

Alan mentioned this thread to me the other day and have just had a chance to take a quick look.  A couple of details caught my attention. 

1) Had the centerboard not slid into the well, the boat could have been righted.  Alan's line attached to the board is one way to retrieve the board if it slides in.  Another way to prevent this mishap is to use a preventer line to hold the board down. It is separate line that works opposite the lifting line to hold the board in position. This can be found on Lightnings and flying Scotts that have weighted centerboards.  To do this would take some redesign and probably removal of the cover/ top from the centerboard well.  In general my preference would be a non-weighted centerboard and a way to positively hold it in place. Having capsized lightnings, I am not a fan of weighted centerboards.  In  our boats the  additional ballast does not add a lot of righting moment.  In summary  once a board has slid in, it is difficult, even if not weighted to get it out.  Better to keep the board locked down.

2) I have had at least two friends capsize with inflatable vests, and they could not get back in the boat with the vest on.  They are fine if you don't have to climb back in the boat.  A proper life vest is better. 

3) Jibing.  When it is time to jibe, turn the rudder only 5 degrees.  Pull sails in half way.  The jibe is slow ark.  When the sails get light pull them across the boat. Jibing like capsize recovery, needs practice.  Sometimes they go hand in hand.  Also, death rolling is the result of a vacuum forming behind the sails.  You  can reduce the vacuum by allowing the sails to go forward or to bring  sails in some.  The idea is to let air get behind the sail. 


Finally, our Cs17mk3   is a great boat.  We are fortunate as a group to have designers who are willing to go back to the design board to be sure we can all sail better and safer. 


Best Regards to all. 

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There was talk about heavier ballasted CBs. My Diabolo("Muckla") has such a thing and I have experience with it.

Originally it had 50 kgs of lead in the lower half, some time ago, I put in another  lump of 10 kgs in so the whole thing weighs 75 kgs on land: 60 kgs of lead + 15of plywood and glassfibre. It is raised and lowered by a simple trailer-winch, that sits under the bridge-deck which is also the cockpit locker. It takes one hand and about 15 secs to get it completely up or down.  So no great chore. Furthermore it has a downhaul (which I sometimes forget to uncleat.....), that prevents the CB from falling into the trunk, should she ever go turtle.

The boat has some internal ballast too, about another 60 kgs, including ground tackle, battery and toolbox.

Recently I have done a heeling test. I hauled her over to about 90 deg. It was really hard to get her on her to something like 60 deg., the rest was easier. When the mast was horizontal, I tied a bucket full of water to the top. It just held the mast down. The bucket contained 12 liters of water, so I guess, the righting force at the mast top was about 10 kgs. I had hoisted the furled Code0 to simulate the weight of the mainsail in addition to the furled jib. This made the test as realistic as it can be single handed. I assume, that, should she ever go close to 90 deg, I would lay on- or straddle the side and thus be somewhere close to the pivoting point. 

All in all, I am very happy with the ballasted CB - unless I have to take it out - or even worse: install it back again.

2019-08-20 14.35.06.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not sure whether I should post this here or on Docpal's recent post, but since I've contributed to this thread, figured I'd post here to continue that conversation. Here's what I've come up with for a masthead float. It's 3 24" lengths of  2.75" D pool noodle held in place with a nylon strap, and covered in a dacron sailcloth shroud that mounts to the sail track, in an effort to improve air flow around it (for whatever that's worth).  Had I not miscalculated the volume, I'd have made these 6" longer - or 30" each. By my calculation though, each float currently provides ~16 pounds of flotation, or in the vicinity of 31 pounds total in seawater (I'm Way less bothered about turtling in a lake). Shroud, strap, ledgers, screws and noodles combined for one float weigh a little less than 10 oz.


I haven't yet sail tested the final version, but did sail with a prototype that lacked the shroud around to the mast track. If I had finely tuned racing skills I could offer a more critical review. Lacking that, I couldn't tell any difference in how the boat handled, and it didn't appear to have any effect on the telltales that I could discern. My plan is to simply leave them in place, and not give them much thought again.






This shows fir ledger strips, but I'm replacing them with 1/8" alum strips.




You may notice I'm missing my 3rd batten which is why the sail looks a bit frumpy there.

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  • 7 months later...


You caught us, we prototyped the new version but then dropped the ball a bit on it and I haven't got the final version in kit form. We have a few big jobs on the list this month but its on our short list along with finishing those windvane plans. 

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  • 1 year later...

Adding to an old discussion here about masthead floats.  I was reading up on the Wayfarer and came across the concept of "sail patch" to add flotation, which lead me to this site: http://www.wayfarer-international.org/WIT/useful_skills_of_all_kinds/masthead.buoyancy/RR_Masthead_Buoyancy.html


It's certainly the best-looking of all masthead flotation (no offense to B&B's fish).  I suppose the enlarged area might affect some sail performance, but then again anything affixed at the top of a mast is also going to draw some windage. 


I don't have the math skills to work out the bouyancy, or whether the reduced angle of the flotation caused when the sails are reefed would have a deleterious effect.

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I still use ol' "Moby Turtle," which I got from B&B a few years back.  You can just see it at the top of the mizzen in this photo.  I know it adds some wind resistance, since I can feel it when I put up the mizzen.  It makes a pretty good wind vane, tho.  Whatever, it's there to stay.  Fortunately I have not had to deploy it in anger.  I.e., no capsizes since installed.





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We've improved the float considerably since our first version. Currently we have a 20lb float and a 30lb float. 

Here are some pictures of one of the first 20lb floats. 



The 20lb would be suitable for the CS-17. 

The 30lb would be suitable for the 20 Mark 3. 


Both are assembled from 4 layers of CNC cut blue foam and "speared" with a piece of pvc pipe which makes for a quick and easy assembly that is perfectly aligned. Glass with 4oz cloth. The rotate very nicely on an aluminum "mast" which sticks up from the actual mast. Could also be side mounted on a mast that is not a B&B kit mast. Removes quickly with a cotter pin. I hope to have a few cut out at the mess about. A few have asked for these and it's just another thing on our list of things waiting to be added to the website. 


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