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In the past three years I have dug (almost) whole Internet on subject of Wayfarering, read two books by Frank and Margaret Dye, read the UKWA official “The Wayfarer Book” and talked to some very experienced Wayfarer sailors at the UKWA Tidal Training event last November – nowhere have I found a single mention of some extraordinary difficulties with righting a wooden Wayfarer. Also, I was told that in 50 years of boat’s history, there wasn’t a case of fatality although some people endeavored extremely dangerous voyages, while some other classes experienced fatalities even in well controlled and supervised racing events.

It seems that difficulties with inversion recovery are only related to the World version of the Wayfarer (Hartley boat has been capsized by Charles F., but I don’t recall if they’ve done full inversion experiment, so it yet remains to be tested). Furthermore I would like to push a theory that it is related more specifically to the World version with rear storage box installed but the box not heavily loaded.

To prove or deny this theory, we (World owners) would need to systematically perform a series of tests, or we need to accumulate substantial number of thorough reports like Adrian has kindly provided (including crew weight, amount of gear and where in the boat was it stored, was there the rear box or not… assessment of difficulty with righting from inversion, all other relevant details…).


Thank you for reply and a thorough report. I would love to read a log of you cruise and see any photos if you took them. Back to inversion recovery – I think the outboard and fuel in the rear box might have been in fact helpful to you.

Let me explain my theory:

I was told that the World version was designed without the rear box in mind. The box was designed later by Ralph Roberts, and in his original idea it was much smaller/narrower as to provide easier access to transom and the outboard (I think there is an illustration showing the original narrow box in one of old Practical Boat Owner issues). The wider version of the box was designed by Porters and it is in a slightly modified version added to Hartley boats. The important thing is that the buoyancy and weight of the box are not integral part of the boat design as opposed to rear storage compartment on woodies or other pre-Hartley GRP marks. And this might be the cause of troubles.

When you attempt righting the boat from full inversion, you have to sink one side of the boat by exerting your (and crew’s ?) body weight onto the edge of the inverted hull. Also, together with the boat, a portion of that optional rear storage box needs to be sinked.

As I don’t have access to my boat at this moment, I have to estimate the volume of the box. Let me guess it is about 160 litres (I’ve deduced very roughly the dimensions from photos I have at hand). Half of the box would be then 80 litres.

It is a considerable volume, 80 litres of volume makes approximately 80kg of weight float, in other words resist sinking. Now let’s say that not exactly half of the box needs to be sinked during righting, let’s estimate that only half of the half of box = one quarter of the box needs to go down. It is still 40 Litres fighting against your 75kg of body weight.

But if you’ve got 20kg of equipment in that box, then we could subtract that from those 40 Litres and ratio would not be any more 40:75 but rather 20:75. Which is difference in your favor.

Now, all these numbers are rough estimates and I am not an engineer so the theory might have some serious holes. Why I feel it might generally be ok:

– The World version (without the box) was designed by professional(s), they wouldn’t make a principal error rendering the boat unsafe.
– When the World was released, testing didn’t indicate any problems with righting (the box didn’t exist yet).
– I had difficulties righting the empty World with the empty box installed and combined crew weight of cca 150kg.
– I have experienced very easy World inversion recovery with empty boat with empty box installed but combined crew weight of cca. 220kg (three people).
– Adrian has easily righted his World with the box installed but loaded with heavy items.

Furthermore, if smarter people don’t deny this theory, we might conclude:

– Sailing the World version with the rear box empty (or only lightly loaded), and with light combined crew weight (less than 150kg ?) is dangerous.
– Sailing the World with rear box loaded with at least 20kg (?) of equipment is ok.
– Hartley owners who plan to use their boxes, should be equally careful and perform some tests… post reports.
– Keeping light buoyant items like fenders, firmly attached close to the sides of the boat, might result with more difficult initial stage of righting from full inversion and greater tendency of the boat to go from capsize into inversion.
– If someone attempts another Wayfarer redesign in future, this is where some creativity could be well used. They should try achieving the inversion recovery characteristics of the wooden boats, but try to include at the same time the possibility of rear storage, possibility of greater leg room for sleeping (storage removable? thwart removable?), keep transom cockpit draining (for happier life immediately after capsize recovery) – can’t resist noting that many of these wishes were mentioned long ago on this excellent forum.

Critique is more than welcome.
Thank you for patience, I’ll try to resist spreading my stupid thoughts for some time at least on this subject.

Best regards,