Since there is all the talk about capsizing in the "Prospective buyer" thread and having capsized myself at the Midwest Regatta this year I'm putting out the question of how to recover from a capsize if:
- the centerboard is up
- no other boat is around to help
- you have a crew of one
- you don't have a mast flotation
Of course the best tip is not to get into a situation like this.
My capsize experience was at a regatta so that a boat could help me. During the broad reach, while flying the spinnaker, the wind overpowered us. Instead of turning leeward I turned windward. I'm wondering myself what I was thinking at that time. I realized that the situation was getting worse and we would capsize. Going downwind nor lowering the centerboard came to my mind. So I jumped into the water to hold the mast top in order to prevent turtling.
Once the boat was on it's side I tried lowering the centerboard but with the weight and the slope upward I wasn't able to do so. We waited till a boat would notice that we could use some assistance. After a failed try of the guy on the boat lifting and trowing the mast into the wind, I lowered the spinnaker (uncleating it) but leaving the main and jib in raised position. I stepped aboard and the mast was thrown into the wind again. The boat very slowly rightened itself.
BTW holding the mast is not an easy task and without a life vest it is impossible. The pull down is just to much. Also the boat drifts quite well in the wind so that it was hard to keep up swimming along with it. I lost my crew that way and had to sail the boat singlehanded back which isn't great having a bumper as a mast flotation and all the lines and sails tangled up. But it all was a good learning experience and I probably won't forget to turn downwind and lower the center board next time I'm in such a situation. Still I wonder how we could have recovered if we hadn't had any help.
Claus FS5074 Ames, IA