This page covers the single handed dinghy sailboat capsize and recovering a person overboard boat position. How to right a capsized sailboat and capsize recovery.
The correct emergency procedures when the sailing dinghy capsizes, or man overboard requires a complete understanding of the sailboat, its equipment and the way it sails. Both dinghy sailing capsize recovery and man over board drills, are exercises designed to improve boat handling skills and taught as a sequence. When learning how to right a capsized sailboat, each exercise should be practised and perfected to where it becomes a reflex action.
The stability of a sailing dinghy depends on crew weight, meaning that a there is a high possibility of capsize. Being a common mishap, it is wise to practice dinghy capsize recovery until competent. When failing to right a capsized sailing dinghy, climb onto the hull and wait for rescue. Never try to swim to shore as a capsized sailboat is easier to recognize than a swimmers head.
The common type of sailing capsize is when the sailing dinghy rolls over to leeward. This happens as the power of the wind strengthens, overpowering the righting effect of the crew's weight causing the sailboat to heel, with water flooding in over the leeward gunwale. This type of dinghy capsize occurs when the sailing dinghy is gybing and the crew do not quickly react and move their weight to the new windward side, or when the helmsman fails to stop the boat turning further. Once it is inevitable a capsize will result, the helmsman and crew slip into the water between the boom and hull.
A less common dinghy capsize is when the sailing dinghy capsizes to windward and usually occurring on a run and rolling heavily towards the wind. When rolling, the section of the hull that is in the water becomes unbalanced making the sailboat turn further away from wind. The sail boat continues to roll tipping over towards the crew. This capsize is quicker and violent than a leeward capsize with the crew unable to react. It occurs just prior to a gybe in strong winds and with the sailing dinghy capsizing on top of them, the crew usually falls backwards into the water.
Right the sailing dinghy with the mast coming up against the wind avoiding another capsize. If you capsized to windward, assist the sailing dinghy to swing around with the mast downwind and keep calm . Becoming trapped under the sail or hull, escape by:
Many single-handers have a tendency to float quite high when capsized making it difficult to climb onto the daggerboard. Wrap the arms over the daggerboard or centreboard and hang your weight on it making the sailboat come slowly upright or alternatively, push the bow deeply into the water, making the boat rotate into its upright position.
Capsize recovery drill in a leeward capsize
The standard capsize recovery for a two-man sailing dinghy is the scoop method, where the crew is scooped aboard with the helmsman pulling the sailboat upright. Lowering the sails is unnecessary before righting the boat using this method. The crew's weight in the sailboat prevents a capsize counterbalancing the force of the wind once it is righted. Be aware of not putting weight on the sailing dinghy which may lead to it inverting. During this capsize recovery method, the helmsman and crew are out of sight of each other and must keep talking to one another, communicating what is happening.
Modern dinghies have a tendency to quickly turn upside down when capsizing because of a lot of built-in buoyancy distributed along the bottom and sides of the hull. They float high on their sides and easily tip to the inverted position with their decks forming a seal with the water making it difficult to bring them upright.
Righting procedures differ how they are righted with some being pulled upright by both crew standing on a gunwale or kneeling on the hull, or one crew member pushing down on a corner of the transom to break the seal with the other crew member pulling the sailboat upright.
Inversion brings the risk of the mast hitting the bottom. Do not to put any weight on the boat when the mast is touching the bottom as the mast will break. Lying in the water with feet against the hull and pulling on the jib sheet avoids damage, or request a safety boat to tow the sailboat into a normal position.
The capsize recovery technique is to bring the sailing dinghy up to the normal capsized position, lying on its side, before proceeding
with the scoop method recovery making the mast come up against the wind. If the centreboard is retracted when the sailing dinghy turns upside down, stand on the lip of the gunwale instead of the centreboard and pull on the sheet.
When capsizing in shallow water the possibility of the mast catching on the [ bottom in mud ] is high. There will be problems pulling it upright using only body weight and a tow from the [ safety boat ] may be necessary.
It is rare for someone to fall overboard from a sailing dinghy but,when it does happen, the person on board needs to know how to sail it alone how to recover the person. A toestrap breaking or coming undone is the common reason for falling into the water so a check should be done each time going afloat. During a trapezing operation there may be complications with the trapezing harness or wire resulting in a man overboard. The boat position for recovering a person overboard is detailed below:
In a two-person sailing dinghy, the remaining crew needs to act quickly and bring the sailboat under control swinging immediately into a well-rehearsed man overboard recovery procedure. The dinghy pick-up sequence entails sailing away and returning on a reach, turning on to a broad reach just prior to turning into the wind to stop alongside the person. This [ manoeuvre ] in practice, can cause considerable difficulty to all but the most experienced sailor.
Practice the man overboard recovery techniques regularly. Make a substitute using a fender or a large water container or several smaller ones tied together and fill them almost full with water so they have the drift characteristics to a person. Throw the containers overboard on each of the points of sailing and return, bringing the sailboat to a complete stop, with the bottles alongside the windward shroud on every attempt.