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".

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

capsizing a welsford navigator

see this YouTube. Start it at around 35 minutes in......i guess to stop the centreboard doing this on Arwen some form of downhaul on the centreboard top casing would hold it in the down position. Interesting how high the boat floats!


Paul Mullings said...

Hi Steve, I'm not too sure how your centreboard downhaul is set up?
Usually and depending on its weight, it will be a pulley system, more to raise it as obviously it's own weight will lower it.....unless of course it is purely wood?
It's always a good idea where depth allows to have some kind of mechanism to lock it down, especially in fresh conditions where you will normally have it lowered for stability reasons.
Years ago when I raced Trailer Sailers I believe it was a requirement to have some method of locking down, often a 6" galvanised nail passed through a hole on the centreboard capping at the rear of the board when fully down. The nail could easily be yanked out with the attached cord.
The absolute worst thing would be to capsize with no board protruding , making it almost impossible to self rescue!
I would suggest it a great idea to have a practice capsize or two come summer just to know how you would handle the situation!!

steve said...

I have a cleat and rope which lock the centreboard in place when sailing. It holds the board down. The only time it isn't used is when creek crawling in very shallow waters. I'm also fitting some grab ropes which can be thrown over the sides during a capsize. Joel fitted them on Ellie. Arwen has been capsized deliberately once. She floated very high. I didn't have sails or equipment interesting experience I must say. However, this summer, over at Salcombe, the intention is to capsize her with sails on and gear in place on a shallow sheltered beach. I'll let you know how it goes

frank said...

Very worrying!
TWO fit strong blokes couldn't right the boat in millpond conditions!
Odd that the boat didn't fully invert since most of the mast and rig was already underwater.
Back to the drawing board for a redesign of the flotation arrangements i think ....

Joel Bergen said...

They would have been able to right the boat much easier if they hadn't left the mainsail up and sheeted in. Simply releasing the mainsheet would have made a world of difference. Better yet would be to release the clew. That also helps keep the boat from sailing off without you once you've got it upright. It's a bit odd that the centerboard was retracted. Should not happen unless the boat goes turtle. I wonder if they had the board up and cleated when they capsized the boat. A centerboard downhaul is a good idea, or another good idea is a lanyard (like many SCAMP sailors use) or some other sort of hand grip on the end of the centerboard to allow one to grab hold of it and pull it out of the case.

steve said...

Hey Joel! Happy new year belated.......just in case I haven't said that to you. How are you?
I agree, all perceptive observations as always. I think they must have had centreboard up and I was surprised that they didn't extend it at some stage. I must fit some form of lanyards this year and righting lines. Some work to do over next few months along with swapping some hatches around so that they don't keep filling with water
Looking forward to getting out inthe water as well.

Roger's videos are good aren't they. He wrote an outstanding book, the DinghyCruising companion. I've read it several times and learn something new each time. He is incredibly knowledgeable and I think rightly regarded as one of the foremost knowledgeable small boat sailors in the UK, hence he is president of the dinghy crushing association I guess.

WoodnMetalGuy said...

When I turtled my SCAMP late last fall the centerboard retracted into the slot, and it has no lanyard attached.

However, it was not an issue, as it came sliding out again as we rolled the boat up, using the finger grips on the skegs to hold on to.

-- Dave

steve said...

Yeah, Arwen's is weighted with lead inside it and tends to to that. The difficulty is getting it to just roll enough back so that the centreboard slides back out. Arwen floated really high in the water

502Juno said...

There is a world of difference between capsizing in sheltered water "practice" conditions and accidental capsize. In the latter case, the wind will be blowing, the sea will be running, the water will be cold, and crew will become exhausted very quickly. I capsized a Navigator, in about 25 knots, and two of us could not right her; we were fortunate in having a rescue crew on hand to take us to shore, and recover from hypothermia before recovering the boat.

There are two issues. First the leverage required to right any large dinghy is substantial, all the more so if the centreboard has disappeared into the slot. Even if the boat stays at 90 degrees, the windage will make righting almost impossible without aid from another boat.
Second, even when the boat is righted, you will find it very difficult to climb on board, particularly if the water is cold, and you are wearing heavy, sodden clothing. I cannot haul myself over the transom even in calm conditions ... and I think I am fairly fit for my age.

There are four important steps to minimise the risk.
1. Always check sea and weather forecast before leaving shore.
2. Have a reefing system in place, and use it. De power the rig before you get into trouble. Install a roller furler and jiffy reefing.
3. Ensure that the centreboard can be locked down, and other righting aids, such as mast flotation, flotation under the seats, are built into the boat and used.
4. Make sure you have a rigid ladder to re-board (I made one that can be stored within reach and hooks onto the transom; rope ladders are difficult to use, particularly in rough conditions. Try it in full clothing on a calm day, you will be surprised at how much energy it takes to climb across a 300 mm transom.
Oh yes, and have your emergency equipment (flare and radio, within reach of the transom from in the water:)

Nigel McCarter (NZ) (I built and capsized Meniscus, a Navigator). I now sail a Hartley 16 - to which many of the same comments apply).

steve said...

Nigel thanks
That is really useful stuff. Most of what you said I already have in place and adhere to
Sea conditions and forecasts
Flares etc
Roller furling jib
Slab reefing system
Centreboard lock down
Step on back of transom but only one note to self on that one and actually a fixed ladder would be a better prospect
Thanks for the tips
Very useful

Gernot Hirsinger said...

From my dinghy experience, keeping the sails set on boats that don't turtle (as most boats with wooden spars do), keeping the sails up usually helps you to right it, if there is any wind to speak of. The mainsheet should not be cleated in, though.
The wind will tend to turn many boats floating on their sides head-on (stern being wider than the bow). Then, as soon as the mast begins to lift out of the water, the wind gets under the sails and actually helps to right the boat. If the sheets are cleated, a capsize to the other side may ensue, so it's important to check that before righting the boat. Keeping hold of a line while righting the boat is of vital importance too. Even a swamped boat with flapping sails may drift faster than a human wearig clothes and a buoyancy aid or PFD can swim!
I agree that a boarding aid is also needed. It will have to be designed to suit the boat. I sail a Mirror and use my stern mooring lines which are tied to the transom by the drain holes as "stirrups" to give me a leg aboard. One should practice boarding the boat both in a swamped and in a dry condition as well, less stability in one case and more freeboard to overcome in the other!
Hope you have a great season 2016

steve said...

Useful commentary Gernot. Thanks for the additional observations