Thanks for the advice.
Andrew (crew) and I (helm) did two capsize tests today in light conditions, our findings were similar to Roger’s.
On the first test, our aim was to prevent the boat from inverting, which we did (it’s easy when you’re expecting it to happen). I climbed over the gunwale as she went over and could reach the Genoa sheet once I was on the centreboard. The boat was righted easily from the capsize, Andrew was scooped into the boat as she came up, and I then swam around and climbed aboard over the stern.
On the second test, we deliberately allowed the boat to invert. It didn’t need any encouragement, and quickly went over whilst we swam out to the rear. Andrew passed me the Genoa sheet (not so easy to find under an upturned boat), but I was unable to get her up from the inversion alone (she came up about 30deg, but no further). We then tried a different approach, with the Andrew standing on the gunwale, holding the sheet whilst I stood on the bottom and hung on the centreboard (not pulling, just leaning back). She came up on her side more easily, and I stayed on the CB to prevent a re-inversion whilst he swam around and once he was ready, I completed the righting and again climbed into the boat over the transom.
We’ve learned the following:-
• Do everything you can to prevent the inversion.
• It’s easier to right from inversion if both crew and helm work together to get the boat on its side – maybe impossible alone?
• Once on its side, pause to properly prepare for righting.
• Communicate to each other throughout
• Mark the hull with tape so you know where to look for the Genoa sheets or righting lines
We considered furling the Genoa, but realised the sheet would then be too short to be useful (but righting lines described in other threads, and by Adrian and Bigal are a sensible alternative – I did consider having a suitable line in my buoyancy vest that could be used if necessary, but attaching to the shroud even in today’s’ mild conditions would have been difficult).
I’m going to get sail-head buoyancy put into our cruising main. Whilst sailing with the family I sail much more cautiously (reefing early/staying ashore) so I don’t think the Secumar-type solution is for us, I just need something that would give us more time to prevent the inversion in the unlikely event that we did capsize.
I was quite un-nerved by our experiences a couple of weeks ago, but we learned a lot today, and are now more comfortable.
I now plan to practice with my 7yr old daughter in a couple of weeks – she’s keen!