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Knocked Down

Copy Write 4/1/2000 ©   Updated  2/13/2006

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Many long moons ago in a land further south of Pensacola lived a younger me who owned an Wellcraft Marinebuilt Starwind 18' a Bucaneer Class day sailor or dingy depending upon how you apply the terms. Narrow beam with a swing un-balasted keel they are real fun to sail. One breezy day was spent scooting all over Sarasota Bay in about 15 mph winds. Late in the afternoon I was down to a reefed main and jib. Central Florida summer weather is dominated by late afternoon thunder boomers rolling in off the Gulf, normally these storms are relatively small often you can track them as they cross the bay. Things were getting real windy rounding up into the wind to roller furl the jib not real sure what happened but over the boat went.

At that time I had some experience on several Sunfish type boats and a few Hobbie Cats. Never dumped a Hobbie Cat, Sunfish dumping is part of the fun of sailing them. I had completed a Coast Guard Safe Boating class and had a few sailing books. All of the above provided a base of experience and technical knowledge, yet did little to prevent the comedy of errors that followed.
I fortunately remembered a few rules for righting a knockdown.
1. Don't let yourself get tangled in the rigging, sheets and what ever else is floating around.
2. Very important regardless of the type of sailboat let off on the main sheets and jib sheets. When you bring the boat back up you don't want the wind knocking the boat back over, nor do you want it to sail off without you.

One trick dingy sailors use is floatation in the mast or some kind of float attached to the main sail headboard. Hopefully this will keep the mast from sinking. Unfortunately I had not followed this piece of advise, just one of those "round to it" things.
Had I done this, the following would have never happened

Once over the mast stuck in the bottom and the exposed hull facing windward, effectively pinning the boat. Sarasota Bay like most of the Florida Gulf Coast is relatively shallow unless you are in the dredged ICW channel. I did try standing on the keel, due to the wind pushing on the hull and the mast end buried no such luck as breaking free.

What to do next, hmmmm I am by myself, due to ducking work to go sailing nobody around to signal for help. What I should have done was grab the anchor, swim it out past the hull. Use the anchor to pull the boat to weather freeing the stuck mast, righting the boat in the process. Did anyone ever mention hindsight is always 20/20.

What I actually did was loosen the forestay carefully allow the mast to pivot, once the boat was totally turtle the windage on the hull was much less and I could maneuver the boat. I also found out the water depth was just a bit over 6' as I am 6'6" walking on the bottom was possible sort of. Walking the anchor out to the south as the wind was still from that direction I was able to pull the rode forcing the hull over then stand on the keel and eventually right the boat.

Once righted it was no problem to haul the mast aboard. I also pulled the main sail off the mast to keep it from going everywhere. The anchor rode was cleated and life was almost good again.

The Buccaneer is advertised "positive floatation" for this particular boat that means it won't sink. What nobody tells you is, the cockpit is full of water and the top of the gunnels is almost at water level. With any kind of wave action it is hard to bail the boat fast enough to keep more water from swamping in as fast as you get it bailed. It took some doing but eventually the gunnels were high enough to keep more water from coming aboard.

The Buccaneer is built in two halves, the hull and the cockpit liner; the section under the foredeck is sealed off. There are two storage lockers bolted in. I previously unbolted them so they could be removed and stuff stored in the "V" section. By doing this a lot of water was between the hull and liner, due to a hull drain plug it is easy to let water out on the trailer. Floating around on Sarasota Bay it was difficult & time consuming using my 1-gallon bailing jug to reach in the hole of the storage locker.

Eventually the boat was floating much higher the mast back up. I felt the trip home was possible. Looking around for the main sheet I discover with the main sail off the mast the main halyard is at the top of the mast. When I pulled the mainsail I forgot to cleat the halyard. I am tired and more than a bit aggravated, after recovering the anchor sailing around some to recover wayward stuff that floated off it was time to go home.

It was late in the afternoon the winds were falling off what originally started as a good wind day ended up a light air trip home under jib alone. With the weight of remaining water the boat was a dog to sail factor in light wind it took absolutely forever, I won't mention who was standing on the dock waiting for me nor the words that were passed, I did not have a radio nor cell phone back then.



The information on this page is not intended as a "definitive" guide to sailing .
Rather it is a collection of things that work for me also ideas I have learned from other sources.
The information is specific to myStarwind 18'a 18' Buccaneer Class Sailboat.
The sailing area was the Sarasota Bay Area
Use at your own risk
Any good sailing resource book should provide a comprehensive review of sailing theory.

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