Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Friday, 13 April 2012

righting lines on dinghies?

On the openboat forum recently, a contributor commenting about another topic made fleeting reference to the need for righting lines. Um thought I. Righting lines? What are they? How are they installed; why are they needed; do they help? Questions, questions, questions and so I asked forum members to elaborate further!

Oliver (thanks by the way Oliver, much appreciated) gave this general description:

“The system shown to me by Rob and that I have fitted on my boat is a long line (one each side of the boat) of diameter large enough to be able to pull in comfort, with one end permanently secured inside the boat. I use old mainsheets for the purpose. Each line has an overhand knot every foot (approx.) of its length, and terminates in a monkey's fist. Each is stowed in a plastic bag in a convenient location; I have mine beneath the side benches near the shrouds”.

Oliver went on to explain how he had seen Rob using his righting lines after a capsize inversion. Rob reached under the upturned hull, pulled out one of the righting lines, held onto it at all times, swam around to the far side of the boat flicking the line over the hull as he went [perhaps a little more difficult for Arwen given she has a mizzen mast – my thought]. With feet braced against the gunwale and legs straight, from lying full length in the water, Rob hauled in the line a knot at a time until the boat gradually came up to the horizontal. He moved his feet as the boat rotated. Oliver also noted that the knots would be vitally important, as in the worst case scenario one may be close to the end of ones strength. He also noted that the righting line served as a tether after the capsize whilst eliminating the need for a life line and the associated problems of entanglement whilst sailing. Finally, he duly noted that once the boat reached horizontal people have a choice of continuing to use the righting line or alternatively getting onto the centreboard and righting the boat in the conventional manner.

Oliver being a very kind gent then passed on a description of another method of righting lines as follows:
“There is an entirely different system used by some owners with the righting lines fitted externally just below the gunwale. The fixed end is secured near the shrouds, and the line is led aft to the stern and part way across the transom. It is held taut with a short length of shock cord, and I presume that there would also need to be occasional hooks attached to the hull along the length of the line to keep it up when stowed. In use the shock cord is disengaged, and the line used as already described.

I have no first-hand experience of this external system. The advantages would seem to be ease of access with the boat inverted, but one would need to verify that the available hull length is going to permit a line of sufficient length to be stowed in this way. There is also a question mark over whether this is viable for a line of suitable thickness for ease and comfort of pull when it also has the vitally important knots in it; that makes the knots moderately bulky, and so the line will not lie close against the hull”.

This elicited a flurry of email responses from other forum members. I am always amazed by the depth of experience and kindness shown by forum members who are quick to share their views and levels of expertise. If you are a dinghy sailor and are thinking of extended coastal passages; dinghy camping or just wanting to up your dinghy sailing skill level, then you really should consider joining the Dinghy Cruising Association. For £22 per year, there are several rallies around the UK, a website, a quarterly journal which is excellent and the openboat forum. I don’t mind sharing the odd view or clip of advice from the forum because it is open to all after the moderator has agreed your membership, and I don’t think sharing the odd snippet or two contravenes their rules. I draw the line at sharing anything from the DCA website or the journal. People pay for that and rightly so.

And so it was David made a comment about the external righting lines:

“I have the external lines, as you describe. They were described in the DCA Bulletin some years ago. It is important to make them as long as possible. It might be an option to double them up for part of the length to make them longer. I have never had to use them".

JW himself had this comment for me........

“Righting lines. I use a 12mm braided polyproplene line, it floats so is more easily to hand should the boat invert, it also has a foot stirrup loop about a metre from the point where it crosses the gunwale so serves to assist boarding as well as righting the boat”.

Um! Arwen is a pretty big, heavyweight dinghy. I want to avoid capsizing her at all costs. My experience level is, well frankly, still superficial. I rarely sail in anything above force 4. But one day I may get caught out and although I can practise capsize drill in the sheltered confines of Cawsand Bay or perhaps Sound Sands beach at Salcombe.......I do want to know that I can right her fully laden and anything that may aid that must be a sensible righting I attach some to Arwen?

Something to ponder on!


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