Latest News: Forums Cruising Mentioning the C – word

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • #4589


    I have never managed to capsize a WF in a cruising situation (closest was last month when a wave broke over the boat in open water between Lundy and Bideford). So a few weeks ago myself and crew took boat into deep-water basin at Bristol harbour on a calm day and did some capsize drills. Here is what we learned

    a) it is quite easy to CZ by holding onto shroud and leaning out
    b) the boat very readily turned upside down
    c) with a 5litre empty water container at top of mast the boat very readily turned upside down
    d) it was quite easy to get the boat back up again from inversion using my custom righting lines
    e) loops in righting lines made is reasonably easy to get back into the boat over the beam
    f) when the boat comes up it is virtually full of water
    g) using two buckets it took two of us about 12m to empty down to board level
    h) when full of water the boat felt unstable

    Conclusions? Using masthead buoyancy to prevent inversion may be less important than some say – unless of course you are in shallow water when getting mast stuck would be a disaster – because the boat came up from inversion quite easily. If we want to stop inversion, 5 litres of buoyancy is not nearly enough. If the boat CZs in strong winds/waves, and comes up full of water, it is hard to imagine how to stop it being swamped again and/or blown over (though one could at least get the benefit of the self-bailers).

    Main impression is that a capsize would be very difficult to manage in rough seas. Any comments and has anyone had the experience of a CZ in anger?



    What Mk Wayfarer were you in & using for the C practice ❓

    I’m sure I’ve read somewhere about different Mk’s tendency for inversion and subsequent ease of recovery.

    Dave Bevan

    Hi Trevor.

    We Have capsized both our previous MK2 and current Mk4 several times, but never in cruising mode, only racing, or deliberately on deep inland waters.

    What MK are you sailing, as some are more prone to inversion than others.

    I would say that masthead buoyancy will delay inversion, rather than prevent it but would have expected it to be difficult to invert with 5lt at the top of the mast in benign conditions.

    When we first owned our MK2 it didn’t have self-bailers but after our first capsize, we quickly fitted them.


    Hi – should have said – W9002 is a Mk 2. My point though was not about preventing inversion or getting it up – which seemed easy enough – but imagining how to keep it up in rough conditions when full of water, especially, perish the thought, when sailing single-handed……………


    Colin Parkstone

    Sails down is important id say, stop the wind from pushing the boat over again or from side to side which sets the water in the boat rolling about and tipping you over again.
    With the main down but maybe the jib still up your have some kind of movement for the boat but reduced windage to knock the boat over again.


    Yes – and what about keeping the boat head to wind to mitigate the effects of waves? How does a laden WF sit to the wind when the sails are down?

    Dave Barker

    A lot depends upon circumstances – there’s not much point in taking the sails down if you need to sail the water out of the boat through the self-bailers, and to be honest they (the sails) are out of your way in their normal position. To my mind the single most important thing to stop you from capsizing again is to raise the centreboard most but not quite all of the way. This stops the boat from “tripping over” the c-b, instead harmlessly side-slipping to leeward, whilst giving you something to get hold of in the event of another capsize. Always pause before righting the boat completely and consider which way you’re facing relative to the wind. If you go straight back over you will quickly become tired, and probably cold. Your upper body strength then rapidly vanishes.

    Going back a few steps, the best thing is obviously to avoid a capsize in the first place, and in this sense a safe boat is one that can be sailed effectively and efficiently. Sheets that run out freely, toe-straps that are well-positioned (and secure!) and the best reefing set-up you can afford are my idea of primary safety equipment.



    Sounds like a fun evening at Baltic Wharf!!

    I’ve improvised a masthead bouyancy from a foam “pool noodle” which (when I’ve experimented in calm water) prevents inversion until the masthead (of a woodie) is pushed 4 ft below the surface. Deeper than that and it starts to roll over though beleive the lore is that the woodie is harder to invert.

    bailling out – after our first experience of trying the “empty the bath” I have always kept two large SQUARE buckets aboard (the type sold to use with a floor mop) – they are more efficient especially after the first few inches of water are out. It takes a lot less than 12 minutes to get to the point where you can reasonably start to sail the boat dry through bailers (or pump if that’s your option). They also fit snugly in the space in front of the boards on a woodie.

    Delphy’s previous owner breifed me in no uncertain terms not to sail the boat full of water to avoid overstressing the rig and hull by pushing it heaviliy laden through a sea.

    Despite lots of deliberate and some not deliberate capsize practice with our boat I have healthy fear of it happening whilst cruising at sea and feel that prevention definitely the best cure! Perhaps the answer to some of these questions (and the fear?) is to practice somewhere safely in the sea with friends nearby and a short distance to travel to your next hot cuppa.

    cheers the noo

    Colin Parkstone

    Have a look at the Secumar 40lt, Masthead Anti Inversion Cushion.
    One used on a Wayfarer that races at our club with no problems, you should see his score sheet so it has no effect on his speed.
    ps, forget his last race which was 13th, he got lost!! 🙄


    I am the person that Colin Parkstone mentioned. I didn’t get lost. We’re just rubbish – the good results were just to confuse you.

    We’ve used a Secumar masthead buoyancy every time we’ve raced for the last three years. We started to use it after a few inversions in our first season racing a Mk4. We discovered that we could not right the boat, no matter what combination of standing in various positions, using righting lines, etc were used.

    Was this due to poor technique and lack of experience? Well, we’ve enjoyed thirteen years racing with many capsizes in two +Ss and two Mk4s over more than 32yrs of sailing, mostly in various types of dinghy but also small keelboats and a cruiser, so if that’s not sufficient experience, I’m surprised.

    Providing the mast didn’t stick in the bottom, we never had any problem whatever righting our old +Ss from inversion. Recently we inverted a friend’s borrowed +S with the kite up – again, we had no trouble quickly righting it with the kite still hoisted. We have never managed that with either or our two Mk4s, kite up or down.

    Maybe it’s our age and weight – we’re both mid-sixties and weigh a moderate 140kg – but we had no trouble with our recent +S inversion and righting, so that’s probably not the answer, either.

    Anecdotally, we know that others heavier and younger than us have capsized their Mk4s and have very mixed fortunes righting and re-boarding from an inversion – sometimes easy, sometimes not. Could the difference be to do with sea state or the amount of air trapped under the boat? I don’t know.

    If a completely different righting technique is required for the MK4, then what is it?

    We find the masthead buoyancy is essential to prevent or to right us from an inversion. We use it every trip, blowing or not, as it make no perceptible difference to performance at any time. It enables us to self-rescue and we believe that in about six capsizes over the last three years it’s probably saved us at least a couple of broken masts for the cost of two CO2 cylinders (ca. £22 each).

    Hartley’s recommended at least 40L of masthead buoyancy, so that’s what we use. It’s hoisted to the masthead on a dedicated halyard. We chose the Secumar unit as it is relatively inconspicuous until deployed. When we’ve capsized with the unit hoisted it’s mostly been with the kite up and we’ve been well on our way to an irretrievable inversion until the unit deployed and brought the boat back to horizontal. Our experience suggests that any less than 40L would not be sufficient to do this effectively.

    The unit weighs under a kilo and uses a 70g CO2 cylinder to inflate it when the masthead contacts the water. Inflation takes about 2-3 sec from immersion – the boat may sometimes be at an angle of up to around 135deg to vertical by then, depending on speed of capsize.

    With masthead buoyancy deployed and the boat back to horizontal after a capsize, it lies stably on its side, enabling the kite and pole to be stowed, cleats to be released and lines to be tidied before righting. Crew that are in the water can climb from the water up and over the hull onto the centerboard using the kingpost as a step without the risk of inverting the boat. From there, righting can commence.

    However, masthead buoyancy is not a panacea – it introduces problems as well as advantages.

    A capsize usually occurs when it’s windy. The Mk4 floats very high when on its side. With the buoyancy and the masthead floating on the surface, the rig acts as a sea anchor and the hull is rapidly blown downwind with rig upwind. Both crew must stay in contact with the boat because if contact is lost the speed that the boat is blown down wind on it side is too fast for any swimmer in sailing gear to catch it: this is dangerous.

    The high windage is so high that the drag of the crew in the water holding the bow is not sufficient to bring the boat head to wind and so righting is inevitably attempted with the rig upwind with all the problems that entails. The crew must be scooped up by the boat so that their weight helps counter flip-over on righting.

    If the boat rights with neither of the crew aboard, very good upper body strength is needed to get into the boat before it self-drains and tries to sail away dragging you with it – dangerous again.

    In view of the above, it seems to us that obsolete versions of the boat, such as the Mk2 and +S, are inherently safer in an inversion than the Mk4, at least for geriatric lightweights, in that first two can be relatively easily righted from inversion but the Mk 4 cannot.

    I believe that this is because the design of the MK4, although great when the boat is upright, is flawed when capsized because excess buoyancy in its side decks leads to the safety-related hazards above.

    There is prima facie anecdotal evidence that the Mk4 has introduced inversion-related safety hazards not present in earlier Marks. I believe that, in view of the increasing numbers of Mk4, the UKWA technical committee should evaluate whether this is objectively the case and whether the hazards occur frequently enough and are serious enough to present a material increase in risk, and if so, how that additional risk should be mitigated.

    Dave Barker

    It’s really useful to have such detailed input and description, and clearly there seems to be a particular set of difficulties associated with the Mk4.

    One thing that jumps out to me though is the implication that with any Mk of Wayfarer it would be viable to have the crew attempt to hold (or pull) the bow head to wind. Personally I don’t think this is ever viable, desirable, or necessary. Once the rig has broken the surface (on the way back up) the person on the centreboard should be able to control the righting of the boat sufficiently to be able to let the rig blow at least partially downwind. It’s worth spending that little extra time – an opportunity to take a few deep breaths and assess the bigger picture – and avoid an immediate re-capsize (although admittedly with scooped crew and nimble helm it’s sometimes OK to lift the rig directly into the wind).

    I know from experience that it’s possible to lift the mast just clear of the water and lower it back again as necessary, likely having to try to explain to any rescue boats nearby what’s going on, if in a racing situation! I want to know that my crew is ready to be scooped into the boat ready to raise the centreboard (most of the way) and assist me back into the boat if I miss my footing, and in any case most people don’t like having to swim through a mess of trailing sheets and sails to get to and from the bow of the boat.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.