Well I finally did a test with two reefs in today. I will admit I took everything out of the boat that was not vital to sailing out and coming back in. Wind was strong (jib and two reefs) but water was sheltered and sea state low.
She stayed on her side for some time – I was able to swim around and even take a photo. The in sail buoyancy held her neutral in the water although with not too much positive buoyancy. With two deep reefs she only inverted when I tried (as part of the test) to apply weight to the mast and climb up the inside. I would have had plenty of time to get to the CB if I had not wanted a picture and swam around to get it!
My righting lines helped bring her back but it was still hard work and I was not best pleased when my crew was too eager to get back in as she righted and pulled her over again! This time for some reason she inverted again.
1. In sail bouyancy works with no reefs (see posts above) and I would be confident with one reef (although I may try more trials in ullswater if the weather is good). With two deep reefs it does work in sea water but is not perhaps as 100% as a masthead system.
2. When on her side it is hard to reach the righting lines; whether they lie along the gunwhale or are taped to the shroud. Oddly, inversion makes it easier!
3. It does take two to right her from inversion (but righting lines make it much easier). It takes time. If you can avoid the inversion do!
4. A footloop on the end of the righting line may make it easier to climb up the hull onto the CB when she is back on her side.
5. She remains unstable when full of water and the transom flaps will drain her very quickly but if they are sealed then you much prolong the period of critical instability; as the self bailers require more forward movement to work or you have to move about to break the seal on the flaps. A tense moment.
6. It is still tiring to recover from inversion – so don’t do it twice.
I did not test the closed cell foam mat that the sailmaker gave me when I had the pocket put in but instinctively I feel this would give less buoyancy than my inflated pillow.
I may look at a small masthead system to complement the (preferred by me) in sail buoyancy for some conditions.