Capsize Test

Before building and sailing Ugo Igo Too I had never sailed before. People that learn to sail in sailing clubs on small dinghies soon learn about capsizing and righting their boats after a capsize. My main experience on the water previous to now was sea kayaking in BC. I learned most of my paddling skills and knowledge from an exceptional woman named Mercia Sixta. For Mercia, the place to learn self-rescue skills was not in a warm, heated, calm indoor swimming pool…it was out on the rough, cold, windy salt chuck. Learning what it was like to be swimming around in water just a few degrees above freezing during Mercia’s classes gave me a profound respect for the ocean and cold water. I have messed around a little with self-rescue devices to make getting back into Ugo Igo Too easier. What I have not done is capsize the boat to see how easy it is to right, how much water it takes on, how long it takes to bail, etc.

So, on August 10th I decided to find out about these things. I tied a line to the transom, paddled the boat out a way from shore, dropped the anchor and then tied off the anchor so that the boat was in water about chest high. I left the mainsail on the boat and, with Cameron holding the line at the stern and Hunter in the boat I pulled on the mainsheet until the boat came over. It was a pretty hard pull for a while but once it got to 45 degrees it got easier until it came over onto its side.

I was glad to see that the wooden mast and spars stayed on the surface, preventing the boat from turning turtle. It was also good to see that the hatch openings were never in the water and stayed several inches above the surface. In fact, not a drop of water made its way inside the bulkheads. I moved over to the leeboard which was under water as we had capsized towards it. I grabbed the keel strip and pulled myself onto the leeboard. As I stood on it I was somewhat worried that something might break which would be quite a repair job but it was good and solid. I held onto the gunwale and pulled….nothing. I climbed up and stood on the keel strip, grabbed the gunwale and leaned back….UP she came! No trouble at all really.


We then capsized it the other way so that the leeboard was up in the air. Both boys were in the boat and it was very difficult to get the boat over with them hanging onto the top gunwale. I had to get them to move down to make it easier. I told Hunter to see if he could right the boat by himself. He walked down the keel strip while holding the gunwale, grabbed the leeboard, laid on top of it and the boat came right up. He weighs 80 pounds so that was reassuring to see. The cockpit filled to the bottom of the seat supports but had lots of buoyancy left as all three of us were in it bailing and we still had quite a bit of freeboard. It did take longer to bail using my milk jug bailer than I expected. I am going to investigate bailers that move more water. I had a kayak pump as well and tried it…without a hose to get the water out of the cockpit it is useless.

I feel much better about righting the boat in the event of an unintentional capsize. Nothing like trying things out so that when reality arrives you aren’t figuring things out for the first time.

I have 32 photos on my Flickr account. You can view them in original resolution if you want to see more detail than there is in the photos above.


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One response to “Capsize Test

  1. Pingback: Capsize Test « Building Jim Michalak’s Ladybug

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