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Hugh's capsizing insights
Mike Barnett
Hi all,

I hijacked Lon's email list because I have been wanting to start a discussion on this for two years now. I have heard some scary stories about recent E scow capsizes and want to tell everybody the way I think you should recover from a capsize. My perspective comes from being a crew, a skipper, and working at UW Rescue. My purpose is to generate a lively discussion but very friendly discussion. Please excuse errors/punctuation etc as it is late and I am writing fast.

I believe:

It is the skippers responsibility to decide to sail or not. The crew should be involved with this decision but the skipper ultimately has to make decisions.

Everybody on the boat has something they can do to try to stop a capsize.
-call in wind
-ease vang
-ease sheets
- ease spin halyard

Immediately try to get up and over the high side. First or second crew should try to get weather board down immediately. ONLY ONE person should be doing this. Everybody else should be on the low board. If the upper board is out when you are trying to get up and over then try to stay on the upper board.

First person up and over should shut the bailers.

Take as many lines over the side with you as you can. You can decide which ones are ok to pull on to right the boat later.

If somebody cannot get up and over they should NOT stand on the gunnel. They are stopping you from righting the boat and are lowering the gunnel lower into the water increasing the chance of swamping. They get one chance to get up and over and if they don't make it they need to swim around the back immediately. If they wait even a moment the boat will start to drift through the water and will be moving to fast to swim from the rudders to the leeward board. If this has happened to you do not let go off the rudders without a line to pull you to the board.

Things that stop the quick recovery.
-vang on
-jib in
- chute full of water
-main in

Seriously consider NOT righting the boat if the mast is pointed into the wind. In my experience this is how people end up under sails or boat.

When the boat rights, try to recover crew and luff sails. If you take a brief moment to turn the boat into the wind then it is much easier to pull crew back on board.

Do not forget to deploy floatation to any MOB even if they look fine at the time they become a MOB. MOB is NEVER OK.

In the event of a swamping -- are your really going to sail it dry and continue racing? . REALLY REALLY REALLY consider whether it is worth righting the boat if the mast is into the wind. Odds are if you can sail it dry you will be DFL anyway.

If you have swamped I recommend that two crew keep it on its side and one or two crew take the main down, jib down and try to stow the chute. No you cannot swim and collect the chute at the same time - this is not even worth trying. Yes if you unhook all three corners you will lose the chute.

If you go turtle then rest for a bit. Somebody swims underneath and sends up the weather board and leeward boad. Also send up as many lines as you can. Use the weather board to pull up to its side and see the above discussion. The lightest person needs to be pulling on the board that will be the high board as it comes up. Start climbing to the high board as the boat rights using your lines. If you dont have a high board you will all eventually be floating with the low board and lose righting power. If you dont have a light person to spare to pull on the high board then pass a line behind it so it cannot retract and will be there when you need it.

HARVEY, motorboat rescue etc.

First a couple of points about Harvey.
-they are there mainly for the UW sailors but are happy to help.
-if you are OK they may have to leave at any time to help a different craft if the person in the tower thinks somebody else may be in more trouble. Remember you are in an E scow and hopefully know some sailing skills. They maybe just going to a tech dingy but that person is alone and may have little to no skill.
-the reason they use the cheap rope that breaks is because the props can break it, it will often break before ripping your bow eye out, it can be cut in a second with the touch of a knife, it is cheap, and it does not recoil when it snaps. Harvey really does not want to use your ropes because your ropes are too strong.
-at any point when you are being towed by harvey the rope can break. Be ready for this as when it happens the water will rush to the front of your boat and you will nosedive and tip again.
-remember at any point they may intentionally cut you free. This is why they like to keep both ends of the rope. Also, this way you don't have to tie knots if you just pass it through your bow eye and throw it back.
-please make sure the skipper of Harvey is looking before you throw a line near the props.
- they will take tired crew members from the water.
- Harvey hates working upwind of you. They drift faster than you. All of your sails, lines, etc are upwind and the prop wash easily goes thirty feet.

Most important to remember when you are working with Harvey is to remember if everybody is ok then it is not an emergency. The driver of that boat can bring the stern close enough to you that the skipper of Harvey and the skipper of the scow can discuss a plan. Remember that once they start those engines and are trying to help right your boat they cannot hear you. Also, Harvey cannot take responsibility for damage to your equipment if they help you. Yes there are different experience levels working on that boat and few have been in a scow.

My advice with motorboat assists including Harvey is if possible do not use them until the end of the rescue. Right it on your own, fully stow sails and lines. Open bailors and turtle holes and then accept a tow. If you do not stow the lines and somebody falls off of the back of your boat the odds of getting dragged by the ankle or neck are high. Put things away and do not accept the tow until you are ready. Start the tow with both boards half down but make sure to pull them all of the way up as soon as the scow is going forward. Somebody should keep driving. Do not rest or let down your guard until most of the water is out of the scow. If you have not tied your jib to the deck and are now getting towed into the 20mph wind your jib will start to ride up the forestay. It is dangerous to go and get the jib Tie it to the bow or stow it before you accept the tow.

If you cannot right the boat from a turtle then you can tie a line from a motorboat on to the chain plate or better yet the lifting bridle ring. If the lines rides up the sidestay you can ruin the sidestay. Once up on your side consider cutting free until you have taken sails down, partially stowed them and then finished righting the boat -see the above discussion. Once fully cleaned up then accept the tow.

Thanks for reading. For those of you that have been through all of the above please submit comments and list some better ideas for getting out of trouble.