Welcome to the UKWA Home Page Forums Cruising Wayfarer versions and inversion

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    Some very good points there – I agree wholeheartedly that going under the boat is not a good idea, so keep important things with you. However with the crew in the water (if not wearing a drysuit) I would want to get them out asap. Also I am a little sceptical of in sail buoyancy.
    Last weekend there was a capsize at Brancaster (in shallow water) and the secumar worked a treat. It had to remain at the top of the mast for the rest of the sail, but because it is secured at one end didn’t seem to be too much of a nuisance.



    could you please give some more detail about what you had in the boat when it inverted – approximate amount of gear, did you have the rear storage box, outboard…




    On a very similar subject:

    I have been regularly sailing our wooden wayfarer, often with several days worth of equipment, for three years but have yet to capsize. As an RYA dinghy instructor, I have capsized and righted many other boats such as GP14s, Lasers, Laser 2000s, National 12, among others, but have no experience of righting a wayfarer.

    This discussion has got me wondering how difficult my wayfarer would be to right after a capsize.

    Does anyone have any experience of righting a capsized wooden wayfarer with wooden mast and lots of equipment in it? Will it lie on it’s side, or is it inclined to invert?

    Thanks in advance,




    I did have the rear storage box, with an outboard inside it (plus fuel and a few tools). There was little other kit stowed around the boat, except for the anchor under the port seat, and both of us were wearing wetsuits.

    I think the weight of the outboard inside the stowage box did have an effect on righting – I believe it made it harder as it was weight that had to be lifted around the CofG before it helped pull the boat upright at the end, and it was the same detail for the anchor and chain). Incidentally after a period of inversion the box proved not to be watertight so it was a quick trip to the local outboard shop to have the sea water cleaned out of the engine. This is a serious point, as an inversion with the outboard will normally render the outboard unserviceable until it has been cleaned out and overhauled. The other point worth noting is that after a while inverted the asymmetric tried escaping from through the chute. It was another factor to deal with – I just stuffed it back in as I realized I was not going to be using it again that day.

    As an aside I no longer use the box. I found it restrictive when sailing more than two up and for cruising should I choose to sleep aboard I need the legroom. I now strap a large water-proof bag to the transom; I am unsure how that will behave in a capsize – I have avoided them since!

    Because we were in wetsuits (something I normally do when sailing in scotland in summer) time in the water was less of an issue. However my earlier point was it is better to spend an extra five minutes in the water getting sorted so the first attempt at righting is successful than to have several abortive attempts and then take 20-30 minutes to right. Also if sailing away from the normal sailing areas a radio, flares and mobile are essential. We vaguely saw one ship and it certainly did not see us; thus we had to get ourselves back upright to get home. That focussed the mind a bit!

    Michael – having survived two capsizes by my father when younger I can say that woodies do not invert in the same manner, you certainly have more time. When my world went over (and it was very gusty that day so the mast went to leeward) as soon as we hit the water between boat and boom I realized she was going to invert and we made our way out pronto.

    After all this it did not put me off and I am now better prepared. Indeed this year I did a circumnavigation (same crew – brave soul) around the island of Lismore, between Oban and Mull, from Port Appin; 26 Nm in the one day, with a speed of 7.5 knots (by GPS) past the Lismore lighthouse under reefed main. I can highly recommend this as a fun cruising area, although the entrance to the Sound of Mull is certainly interesting sailing!



    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,



    I have capsized my woodie in controlled conditions at the Ullswater Gathering along with several other Marks of Wayfarer. Mine had no tendency to invert, in fact I had to stand on the horizontal mast to get the boat to turtle. It came up fairly easily with weight on the gunwales, albeit with a fair amount of water aboard.
    I have also capsized and righted the boat single handed and again no problems – the trick being of course to get out on the centreboard quickly. In fact I managed a beautiful run from one side of the board across the boat and onto the other side in one fluid (excuse the pun) movement.
    I have capsized Mark 2 boats and they have a decided tendency to invert. My theory is that the bouyancy under the side decks is effective enough that it holds the hull higher in the water than the woodie and as soon as the deck passes beyond he vertical the bouyabcy acts to induce an inversion – IE it is centreboard side of the point of balance when the boat is on it’s side. The woodies bouyancy is centreline.
    It would be prudent of you to do a capsize as this is the best way to test the watertightness of your hatches. I am pleased to say that every time I have capsized there has been only tiny amounts of water in the compartments. I wonder how many other cruisers can say the same!


    Thanks everyone. It’s reassuring to know that I shouldn’t have a problem getting the boat up if we capsize.

    I do quite like the idea of a practice capsize, just to see what happens, but I think I’ll wait untill it’s a bit warmer. I expect the wooden mast should help the boat to lie on it’s side, as I would think it would be fairly buoyant.




    Your theory sounds interesting, but I am not sure if the facts are correct.

    I would have righted more easily if I had stopped to think first and had more recent experience; it being some 15 years since I had last done the drill. So I think practice is the main factor.

    Secondly my box filled with water: this and the engine weight was more mass/inertia to move around the CofG, but it does lie close to centre of turning/righting. However (using my basic maths about forces, levers and distance of the moments) the greatest effect on righting the boat is the weight of the mast at a distance from the centre of bouyancy. I am quite clear in my mind that a World inverts because there is a down force, the weight of the mast, on one side of the centre of bouyancy and an up force, the under floor chamber, on the other side once she has gone over.

    The difficulty I had when righting was to get the boat back to the horizontal. Once there, my crew was able to hold it level, for a while, until I had sorted the sheets and sails correctly to bring her all the way up. Thus the question is why was the first half so difficult? When I did get her level I found that the boom was ‘stuck’ to the port side and coming out of the water ahead of the mast being level and I was therefore trying to bring her level against that extra weight. Once freed, with the boom free swinging, she righted much more easily. Thus the greatest problem I had was moving an expanse of sail under water and its associated drag, compounded by the weight of the boom above it. Once the sails were free it became simple.

    Hence my comment about taking time to ensure you are righting the boat the correct way for the sail and boom weight, and then pausing at the horizontal to free everything off when the boat is balanced by the crew. We inverted because when deposited in the water (we were knocked down rapidly) there was not time to balance the boat before she inverted. With the crew organized, even a light crewman of <60kg could hold her level to allow me time to work the sheets etc safely. I will never countenance going under the boat.

    Thus to me the under floor buoyancy, which is of far greater volume than the rear box, and the resistance of the sails in the water have a much larger effect then whether the box is full or buoyant. After the delays mine had filled quite considerably.

    Lastly once upright it is essential to get moving (in a world) to allow the water to flow out of the transom flap and self bailers to get stability back. Taping up the flaps ( top prevent leaks when cruising) is fine but it must allow for the flaps to be opened quickly when required. Within a few boat lengths we were back to normal.

    Thus the lessons are:

    1. Know your boat and practice the drills in safe conditions.
    2. Ensure the crew know what to do, and if possible practice with them.
    3. Secure all kit, as loose items can move and hinder recovery.
    4. Reef in time – try to prevent the capsize. At a later time when trying to learn the limits of my world (in safer conditions) I have recovered the boat from having green water over the gunwales without going over.
    5. I still believe the World is a stable boat, and excellent fun to cruise.

    The outstanding question i have is whether it is better to right with the mast coming up from leeward – which is slower but is against the force of the wind thus requiring more weight to to provide the righting moment. Or with the mast to windward which uses the wind force under the sail to help lift the sail and mast. It is less controlled and could result in a straight flip over but needs less weight to bring her up. Any views?

    Will try to write a log for last summer – however currently racing on the Telemark Skiing World Cup so time is tight!

    Dave Barker

    Hi Adrian,

    On the last point – which way to right the boat – I would say from experience definitely with the mast to leeward or with the boat head to wind. If it’s windy enough to capsize you in the first place then the chances of a successful (i.e. lasting) recovery with mast to windward are low.

    I remember reading somewhere a description of a mast to windward technique involving crew member(s) “riding” the centreboard underwater as the sails caught the wind, and re-surfacing on the other side of the boat, now correctly aligned with mast downwind. I’m not sure if this really happened, but I am sure that I won’t be adding this method to my repertoire any time soon.

    P.S. Good luck with the skiing.


    Just one thing to add on the righting methods….

    Get the kicking strap un-done. It helps if it is led to the side and can be un-done while you are on the centreboard leaning over the top.

    A) it helps the sail and boom to travel through the water when upside down.
    B) It helps the sail break the seal with the water when moving from horizontal upwards.
    C) It means the boat is less likely to take off or do rolling things just after coming upright.


    Hi folks. Can’t resist this subject, very much from an armchair perspective.
    Adrian, coming from a windsurfing perpective I would imagine there is quite a merit in getting wind under the sails to right the boat from capsize…….continuing to try to right the boat with the mast to leeward and with the force of wind pushing the hull along the sails must act like loading a shovel……(I take Chris J’s point about releasing the kicker if possible). My brother has used this windsurfing waterstart technique with a hobie cat. I am not sure about its merits in a Wayfarer capsize and intend to remain a long way off finding out.

    However the one useful idea that has not been mentioned here is using a drogue as a way of increasing the weight of the person righting the boat….(again this is what my brother does with his cat)….obviously very portable…..any comments??
    PS With the regard to the Secumar I would recommend it as a streamline piece of kit that properly looked after is a very sensible and hopefully reliable piece of kit. Once inflated I would imagine most cruisers priorities might have changed to safety at any cost so the increased windage is counteracted by further reefing and a downwind destination.
    cheers Dave


    This was prompted by your comment about a drogue…

    I haven’t yet capsized my Wayfarer, I have had a couple of near capsizes with water clear over the side. I have a MkII, and think that bouyancy under the gunnels helps in a near capsize since it seems to slow the process at just the right moment. I don’t know about the increased chance of inversion.

    However, I spent a considerable time with a tutled boat last autumn (nice warm sea, slight water, but force 6) and my experience might be relevant to the last post.

    All my problems were related to windage on the hull – it was very difficult to get her horizontal, and even then my weight on the centerboard would not right the boat. Essentially, I would get to a position where the centerboard dipped into the water, creaing a sea-anchor that caused the boat to weathercock with the hull across the wind.

    We tried righting from the ‘wrong side’ – ie sails to windward. The result was not that the boat righted then capsized, but when the wind caught the sail it weathercocked rapidly – ie span on its axis to put the sails to lee.

    Putting my crew at the bow as a drogue improved matters – the boat stayed head to wind, was relatively easy to right and could be managed when she came upright. When I’m single-handing my wayfarer I carry a drogue, and I’ve been wondering since if a good plan in the event of a capsize would be to put the drogue over the bow.


    Hi Howard
    sounds to me like a drogue is a multipurpose good idea from what you have said!

    2 points to clarify my brothers hobie cat experiences……..firstly he used the drogue somehow as a way of increasing his weight (tied round his waist, or over his shoulder,I’m not sure)…….conditions would have been similar to your inversion……..secondly (on a different occasion )with the mast to windward he would have been working from in the water lifting from the tip of the mast down (I think he had crew on that occasion)

    finally can anyone point to a detailed description of “righting lines”….they don’t seem to get much attention

    and PS a further virtue of the secumar (or other flotation) as Q pointed out in an earlier thread, obviously an inversion in the shallower water could easily lead to a costly snapped mast.


    On the question of the stability of a fully loaded cruising boat I make the following observation. After a weeks cruise on the Norkolk Broads we unloaded the boat (mark 2) onto the shore and noted , first what a lot of equipment there seemed to be and second how much tippier the boat was. When loaded you could step on the thwart next to the side and climb out no problem but once unloaded the old boat did move arround a lot. Does this mean that a loaded boat is much more stable?

    I have capsized both my World and my Woody. There is so much side buoyancy in the World that when capsized it floats with the centre board very high up. This means that when the mast head touches the water the boat is well past 90 degrees and on the way down. With a thirty litre container fastened to the hounds and a practice capsize with three on board the boat showed no sign of going turtle. With 9 stone climbing onto the mast and then onto the centreboard the World came upright very easily. So I fixed a 40 litre secumar just above the hounds and never used it. There again I have very big reefs in my sail and use them at the least provocation. If the thought comes onto my head “shall I put a reef in?” It goes in.


    Hi Dave!

    I’m glad there is another windsurfer among Wayfarers besides me! But someone must clearly warn you that with capsized or inverted dinghies, the boat should be righted with the rig rising on the leeward side. That is what they instruct at sailing courses, “Dinghy Cruising” by Margaret Dye states this on page 111, and our Canadian W authority Uncle Al warns you explicitly on his Wayfarer Institute of Technology web site:

    “NEVER right the boat with the mast and mainsail pointing towards the wind!”

    For further Al’s tips on righting visit:



    Waterstart as a windsurfing technique works only because windsurfing board is light and gets onto a plane in a couple of seconds. Catching the speed greatly reduces forces in the rig and thus the windsurfer isn’t thrown over to the other side (if he/she has mastered the technique properly of course, in the beginning everyone gets thrown many times).



    You could take a look at basic forces, levers and momentums by imagining the boat hanging in the air upside down. If a pigeon came and sat onto the side of the boat – it would heel / start righting 🙂 This shows that in the initial stage of righting from full inversion, weight of the rig has negligible effect. It’s greatest effect is when the boat is on it’s side, heeled by 90 degrees. But even then it’s not such a problem as we know that once the boat is on it’s side, it is relatively easy to get it upright. So our greatest problem is getting from 180 degrees to 90 degrees and during this stage our greatest enemies are buoyancy close to the sides of the boat and resistance and friction of the sails in the water.


    Hi John,

    I’m glad you mentioned how the boat is more stable when loaded for cruising. I noticed this as well this summer on my first W cruise with Ralph. It’s a known fact among boat-designers that the heavier the boat, and the narrower the hull, the more seaworthy it is. Take a look at:


    But how does this weight influence the righting when the boat is turtled? I’m convinced it would be best if majority of weight could be kept as close to the bottom of the boat and as close to the centerline as possible. I would be very interested to hear why our redesigners don’t make storage compartments in the floor. Probably only because it is complicated and expensive for manufacturing. Of course woody owners can stuff things under the floorboards… The more I get into this matter the more I envy them 🙂


    Another yet untested idea:

    Another not yet tested idea of mine for easier righting is to make a small hole in the centerplate and to keep a piece of rope in the buoyancy aid pocket. If the boat is inverted, pass the line thru the hole and use it to push your center of mass farther from the centerline and thus gain a better leverage…


    Best regards to all,


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