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Ambler

Knockdown recovery - Spindrift 12

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I have a self-built, much-modified (or sacreligiously butchered – sorry, Graham) Spindrift 12.

 

With my friend Peter I have belatedly and not very successfully been experimenting with knockdown recovery. I'd be glad to hear of others' experience with righting and re-boarding this or any other small boat.

 

For the record I'm 76, a bit overweight, never did have any muscle to speak of and am subject to various pains & stiffnesses. Friend Peter Ferguson is skinnier and a bit younger and that's all I'll say about him in public; but you can discount athleticism or youthful vigour for both of us.

 

The boat is cat-rigged and departs from Graham's design, but only in 4 relevant ways:

- “Lee” board on one side (bilge board? sideboard? :)) instead of a centre/dagger board.

- Lowest mast section is smaller OD but thicker than design spec., therefore a bit heavier.

- Top (wood) section is a bit heavier, includes 2 sheaves (plastic pulleys on SS bolts)

- Sail is laced and hoisted on a halyard rather than sleeved. There is also a topping lift.

 

The first trial involved both myself and Peter. We deliberately capsized the boat onto its side in chest-deep water – deep enough for swimming but where we could stand on the bottom if necessary. We mostly swam but despite much effort were unable to right the boat without a footing. It lay over more than 90 degrees, floating high but with the tip of the mast resting on the bottom! It's an aluminum tube and I assume it had filled with water. I wonder if the boat would have turned right over in deeper water. We eventually “cheated” by standing on the bottom to push it upright.

 

When we did get it righted neither of us was able to re-enter from the water, even with piggy-back or bum-shoving assistance from the other. The whole exercise involved much struggle and we were very tired.

 

Following this experience I plugged each mast section at both ends with spray foam and confirmed that they would float. Also cut a toe-hole near the bottom of the rudder to help with re-entry.

 

On the next opportunity for play :) I went solo in the same shallows as before. This test was more successful but still exhaustingly strenuous, with several failed attempts at both righting and re-entry. I confess that I was more often standing then swimming. I did eventually succeed – only just - in righting while swimming, and with the boat knocked down on either side (once with leeboard on the high side and once on the low) and in re-entering over the stern. But I was totally thrashed and I wouldn't fancy my chances in rougher wind & water, alone and swimming,

 

All in all I was in the water almost 2 hours, determined to learn as much as I could – and to succeed if at all possible. Here are some observations after this second experience:

 

Knocked down, the boat still lay over past 90 degrees, putting the mast tip maybe 18 inches below the surface; but it did not sink to the bottom.

 

There can be way too much loose line trailing dangerously in the water. Whatever isn't already secured aboard, (or should have been) has to be gathered and stashed somehow. Items normally aboard should be secured or captive before leaving the dock (Oars! Oarlocks! - lost one, bronze :( )

 

Depending on your rig, the boom may “rise” to float parallel to the mast, with the sail bellying down into, and full of, the water. I had to pull in & secure the mainsheet to bring the boom back down to deck level. I then threw the free end of the sheet over the hull as I'd need something to hang onto when I would go round to the other (keel) side. I had learned this on the previous trial, with Peter. The sail now lay flat but still below the surface.

 

I'd theorised that I could maybe right the boat by pulling down on the up-in-the-air rudder. But that was useless. Even if the rudder fittings could have stood the strain, it didn't provide anywhere near enough leverage.

 

Back round on the keel side, after several failed attempts to right the boat using the leeboard as leverage, I realised that:

 

1) the mainsheet I'd thrown over – or some other rope - was absolutely essential. Depending whether the (slippery!) leeboard was on the high or low side, I could neither reach up to it nor climb onto it without assistance from the rope. Even then it was quite difficult & strenuous.

 

2) The hull is too slippery to brace your feet against when pulling on a rope.

 

3) I didn't have enough weight to counteract the waterlogged sail on the other side. We had recognised this problem in the previous trial but I guess I was hoping it would have just gone away!

 

4) Everything could be much easier with 2 people, given a well-rehearsed plan

 

5) I should always wear my lifejacket. (Halfway through, with a mouth and nose full of water I realised it was on the dock.)

 

So back round the boat I went and manhandled the sail down the mast (lacing is not the best rigging arrangement for this) then bundled as much sail as I could out of the water and over the boom – which had to be held close to the centre of the hull by keeping the mainsheet taut. Back round on the keel side, this eventually let me bring the boat upright by hanging onto the rope & either leaning back while sitting on the submerged board, or reaching up to grab & hang from it, depending on which side the boat was capsized.

 

Getting back aboard over the stern was made possible but not easy by the toe-hole in the rudder. A second hole higher up would be useful. As it was, and tired as I was, I had to get my free leg up over the transom/gunwale (fighting cramp!) and pull myself up by hanging onto the outboard bracket and/or the end of the boom (held up by the toplift). I don't remember what worked best.

 

Apart from the details of how I “survived,” the main things I learned are that it's essential to develop a plan and practice it – reading how-tos won't cut it - and that the whole thing can be a fiercely exhausting struggle. I need to find ways to make it simpler and less effort-full. A better plan in fact.

 

I wonder what would change with a sleeved, “always-up” sail. How to get it out of the water?

 

Would a temporary masthead float be some help? (tie on a couple of fenders?)

 

AND I'm wondering how I could deal with a knockdown if the board was not only uppermost but retracted and therefore unreachable from the water. Ouch!!

 

Lots of questions!

I'd love to hear others' thoughts & experiences on the subject .....

 

Alexander Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I used to have an 11N, righting it when on its side was easy enough to do with the dagger board, just grabbing on to it from the water and putting my then 230 lbs on it was more than enough to right it. getting aboard was a different story either, my arms are not strong enough to lift up all of me and board from the transom, so what I found that worked was to board from the side, leg first. sure it wasn't pretty but it worked for me.   :P the boat and water in it is usually heavy enough so it doesn't capsize again when I board from the side.

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Here is a kayak remount video using a technique similar to Pinoy's above that may work for you depending on the handholds you can reach or rig inside you dingy. Kind of rolling in from the side.  If two aboard one could steady the off-side for the first remount.

http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?show=730

Just thoughts. R

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Hi Alex,

 

I am glad that you are testing this out and learning what you can and cannot do in controlled conditions. I have capsized Spindrifts a number of times, S10's and an S12 once and found them very easy to right. I doubt that it ever took longer than 1 minute to complete.

 

You are at a disadvantage with a leeboard, I have never had that handicap.

 

My procedure after a capsize is to make sure that the board is down and the mainsheet is free before I leave the cockpit. I swim around to the bottom side and reach up to the board and immediately pull it down. It takes very little force to right the boat, I watch as the windward bottom comes down to make sure that I don't get hit on the head. I then work my way hand over hand to the windward side of the transom. I give a heave and a kick with my legs and I slide head first along the cockpit seats. It does not require great strength as the boat heels down to you as you climb aboard.

 

If you are sailing a nesting version you will have a lot more difficulty as the boat will take on a lot of water, this makes the boat very unstable after righting. The standard layout floats a lot higher and fairly level fore and aft when on it's side. The daggerboard on the S10 and S11 is forward of the capsized center of buoyancy and will trim the bow down when you pull down on the board. This dumps another 5-10 gallons on board. I found that if I twist the board so that it lifts the bow up as I pull it down, I can right the boat with very little water on board.

 

I have seen people try to get on board by lifting the leg over the side, it will not work.

 

The standard Spindrift is very easy to get under way after righting. I just open the Anderson bailer and sail away and what little water that came on board gets sucked out. If you do get a lot of water on board, the standard boat is quite stable and will lay comfortably beam to the wind and sea while you catch your breath and bail out the water.

 

I once saw a S12 owner invert his boat and had to get help after the mast stuck in the mud. He informed me that while he was swimming the bow into the wind, the boat slowly inverted. I had capsized that very boat on an earlier occasion and had no trouble. Some of the text books suggest swimming the bow into the wind. This is absurd, I have righted dinghy's with the wind dead astern and the boat rapidly weathercocks into the wind as it is coming up. Most boats will slowly invert when on their side, the lighter the mast and the better they are sealed, the longer you have. This is why you need to get to the daggerboard as soon as you can.

 

If you just cannot master pulling yourself head first over the transom, then I suggest that you make up a rope ladder like I have on my EC22. Her freeboard is much higher an she does not heel down so easily. I have PVC pipe rungs spliced into the two main ropes. This ladder can be reached from the water and has two rungs below the waterline. While it pushes forward as I climb up, it is better than no ladder and it is light and cheap.

 

If you look at the several posts on this forum of a CS17 capsize test, you will get an idea of how a  Spindrift looks on it's side, only smaller.

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Thanks Graham and others who took the time to read & respond to my lengthy post. The disadvantage of lee- as opposed to centre-board when recovering, as pointed out by Graham, has certainly made itself obvious. Apart from that I'm puzzled as to why I found recovery so difficult compared with the experience of others. I could ascribe some of it to a combination of physical decrepitude and lack of confidence/experience; but it doesn't seem as if those would be enough to account for my difficulties.I will be practicing again but not immediately - I've temporarily lost access to the dock and shallow area I was using. The boat's parked at home for a while.The CS17 knockdown posts were instructive but I'm disappointed there seems to be little discussion on the forum about Spindrift recovery. (Mine is 12' non-nesting.) Is the over-90 degree knocked-down position typical, with most of the mast & all of the sail fully submerged? And if so do folks not find it helpful or necessary to bring down the sail before trying to right the boat?I'll post back here eventually, once I've had another go at this.

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Ambler....I have capsized a lot of different boats. I haven't knocked my 11N down on purpose yet, but I did do a controlled test like you. It's a bit lacking in buoyancy and yet I could right it using the usual "stand on the dagger board and rock it up" technique they teach in every sailing school. I watched my under two 100 pound kids right 420s at sailing camp this summer to the point they would crash on purpose just to cool off.

 

Once up the gunnels stay high enough to bail, but in a nested version you have two empty two bilges.

 

I have a Sea Pearl 21, and while I love the boat more than any boat I have ever owned by quite a margin, its Achilles heel is that it can't be recovered in a knockdown. I believe part of the reason is that it has leeboards and you can't use them for leverage like you would a centerboard. Now there are other reasons a SP can't be righted, so installing a CB wouldn't fix it and leeboards have some great advantages, so I still love the boat. But I think you will continue to struggle righting your boat without the leverage a dagger board provides.

 

As for the sail....I think that depends on the wind conditions. Light wind.....swim boat so the mast is upwind and as the sail clears the water, the wind will help you. Just make sure the sheets are un-cleated.

 

With stronger winds, make sure the bow is forward, and bring it up head to wind. Otherwise if you pull that light wind helper trick described above, you might have it come right over on the other side.

 

Take Care,

Steve

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Ambler....I have capsized a lot of different boats. I haven't knocked my 11N down on purpose yet, but I did do a controlled test like you. It's a bit lacking in buoyancy and yet I could right it using the usual "stand on the dagger board and rock it up" technique they teach in every sailing school. I watched my under two 100 pound kids right 420s at sailing camp this summer to the point they would crash on purpose just to cool off.

 

Once up the gunnels stay high enough to bail, but in a nested version you have two empty two bilges.

 

I have a Sea Pearl 21, and while I love the boat more than any boat I have ever owned by quite a margin, its Achilles heel is that it can't be recovered in a knockdown. I believe part of the reason is that it has leeboards and you can't use them for leverage like you would a centerboard. Now there are other reasons a SP can't be righted, so installing a CB wouldn't fix it and leeboards have some great advantages, so I still love the boat. But I think you will continue to struggle righting your boat without the leverage a dagger board provides.

 

As for the sail....I think that depends on the wind conditions. Light wind.....swim boat so the mast is upwind and as the sail clears the water, the wind will help you. Just make sure the sheets are un-cleated.

 

With stronger winds, make sure the bow is forward, and bring it up head to wind. Otherwise if you pull that light wind helper trick described above, you might have it come right over on the other side.

 

Take Care,

Steve

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Well the local water got cold and I'm not into more recovery experimenting till it warms again in spring, but meantime the boat is hanging quite high in my workshop (so that I can play with the leeboard controls.) Trying to figure out how I can right the boat if knocked down with the board retracted and on the high side, I've concluded that the best plan would be to never retract the board except in shallow water. Yes I'll have more drag than necessary going downwind but so what? I'm not that interested in absolute max performance anyway.

 

Any comments?

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Apart from that I'm puzzled as to why I found recovery so difficult compared with the experience of others.

I think one of the key things (others have mentioned it but I want to emphasize it) is that you were holding the water in the sail by using the sheet to try to haul the boat up. if you find another line to haul on (halyard?) the sail will spill the water off as the boat comes up. It's also possible that you got a bit worn out struggling with the sheet before you removed the sail (it would have worn me out) and everything's more difficult when you're already tired.I think it's a good thing you're practicing - Until the water warms up again you might want to search youtube for videos of the righting process. Not just with a spindrift, but with any boat about that size.

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I think one of the key things (others have mentioned it but I want to emphasize it) is that you were holding the water in the sail by using the sheet to try to haul the boat up. if you find another line to haul on (halyard?) the sail will spill the water off as the boat comes up. It's also possible that you got a bit worn out struggling with the sheet before you removed the sail (it would have worn me out) and everything's more difficult when you're already tired. I think it's a good thing you're practicing - Until the water warms up again you might want to search youtube for videos of the righting process. Not just with a spindrift, but with any boat about that size.

 

Thanks for your input, Ken. The water is now warmer but newer issues prevent me sail-rigging the boat for some time - maybe till next year. (I dropped & damaged the mast.) Meantime I'll use it for a little outboarding & try some fishing. The suggestion that by hauling on the mainsheet I was holding water in the sail seems very probably correct. I still pormise to update this thread as soon as I can get back to recovery experiments.

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Why do people insist on changing excellent proven designs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? and then wonder why they do not work!!!!!!!!!!

dale

I suppose people who adapt designs generally do it for their own reasons, but this is off topic (knockdown recovery.)

You could start a separate thread, which might be quite interesting.

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Why do people insist on changing excellent proven designs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? and then wonder why they do not work!!!!!!!!!!

dale

 

There's a quote that goes something like "the midget standing on the giant's shoulders sees farther than the giant himself". It's about taking other peoples ideas and innovating to develop them further. From what I've seen on this forum, Graham encourages innovation and supports those that want to try new ideas. 

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Why do people insist on changing excellent proven designs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? and then wonder why they do not work!!!!!!!!!!

dale

I will never understand this either Dale.  I think we all like to personalize our boats.  I don't like double ended sheets and prefer swivel blocks w/cam cleats.   This does not change the design, just the detail of the controls.  Others like to add dodgers, wishbooms, fancy oar storage, etc..   We have one member who added a raised berth board under a dodger so his young daughter could nap while he sailed.  It made the boat fun for his whole family and changed nothing about how the boat sailed.   But when someone with no real understanding of design changes a well thought out and proven detail of a boat that effects how it sails for no real reason but personal amusement and then wonders why it doesn't work so well it totally baffles me.  It is just a guessing game, not a hypothesis based sound sailboat engineering procedure that now goes to the testing phase.  It isn't science.

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I started this thread so that we could share information on a specific issue. I ask that people stick to the subject which is knockdown recovery. Please do not sidetrack this discussion. However interesting they may be to you and others, different issues deserve, and belong in, their own threads.

 

Here; I've started one:

http://messing-about.com/forums/topic/9205-design-modifications/

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I just launched my Spindrift 10. I have posted some video of my capsize recovery practice. These are my first videos and I am unable to get the hyperlink to work but here are the urls. I click on the link symbol and a box opens but I am unable to progress beyond that. Any tips? There are three videos but only one appears with a thumbnail.

 

http://youtu.be/m9bsr7RT_H4

 

  I was very pleased with how high the boat floated on its side and how little water was in the boat when righted. The mast floated quite high and did not seem inclined to sink but I did not wait around long. My mast top section is very light and sealed.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks,

 

Joe

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That is interesting I typed in the url by hand and that produced a link to the video, but I am sure there is an easier way.

 

 

http://youtu.be/ah3HCGJfb4U

 

 

I will do some more recovery practice later including trying to recover without the board.

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You made it look easy.

 

The other thing I noticed is that once the boat was upright and you were back in the boat, it started moving again, even with the sail luffing and you not doing anything to cause it.

 

The point being, once you get her righted, get busy and get back in or find a way to hang on.......or else she may take off and leave you bobbing around watching her go.

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Good work Joe, thanks for posting. Alan and I had making a capsize video on our to do list, now you saved us the time.

 

I am glad that you was able to prove me wrong. The people that I have seen attempt to climb in over the side were probably not as strong and heavier than you. I still think that over the stern is probably the best reentry for most people.

 

Everyone who sails a small boat should be doing exactly what you are doing so that they will know immediately what to do if ever a capsize occurs.

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