skerry boat building

Skerry Capsize Recovery Experiment

OK here goes. I just tipped my Skerry on purpose and here is my experience.

First it took a bit of doing to get it over but I have the mass and know how to use it!

After righting the boat it is just about impossible to keep it upright with the mast up. Tried twice and it just flipped back in the water. Rights easily enough but just rolls over again. Too top heavy. It is dead easy to remove the mast when the boat is on its side so that is what I did and the boat practically righted itself with no help from me. I have bump pads made from kids noodles and I guess this helped right the side that was underwater. Anyway I didn't have to do anything, the boat just went upright once the mast was removed. Essentially self righting without the mast. Standard instructions tell you to go stand on the daggerboard but I had no time to do this.

You can see my noodles hanging over the boat. Sort of ugly when they hang out but useful eh!

Some people have suggested pushing the bow or stern underwater and letting it go suddenly to empty it like it is done for canoes. This allows a whole lot of the water to drain out of a canoe. NOT a Skerry. I simply could not get an end under at all to get the draining thing going. I am no lightweight and the boat is just too buoyant for that. This is a good thing.

I had no trouble getting into the swamped boat. Just climbed in from the sides and there I was. The boat had several inches of freeboard even with me laying low in it. I bailed quickly using my bucket and the boat was steady and emptied gradually. It is a big boat to empty and this took a bit of time. It was not tippy and I soon sat in the middle seat and finished bailing. I had heard that the water came back in through the daggerboard well and I had a little rubber mat ready to stuff into the hole but the daggerboard prevented water from coming in mostly and I bailed fast enough that it was NOT a problem. After a few minutes I was essentially dry and ready to get the mast and get underway.

The mast assembly was sort of floppy and difficult to control since I had just pulled out the mast with the sail set, but I did not have any real trouble getting it in. Water came in with the sail and I bailed out about a gallon. I think that in real life it would be useful to bundle up the spars and sail and tie it up before bringing it in the boat.

Conditions were good but I felt my margins were large. I had a lot of buoyancy. The boat was easy to right. It was easy to re-enter. I had no trouble de-masting it and recovering the mast. I did not try to replace the mast underway. I have replaced the mast while underway before when I was becalmed in a bumpy but no wind situation and it can be done. Even if there is quite a lot of wind and waves it is not that hard. So I did not need to prove this again. So take heart and accept that without extra support your Skerry will need to have the mast slipped off but once that is done it will right easily.

I have a sprit rig so there is quite a lot of weight higher up. I don't know how a balanced lug or gunter would work. Probably better.

My little bump pads certainly had an unexpected beneficial effect in righting the boat. I suppose I could tie them so that they help support the boat instead of just flopping. Oh well next time I will try. I could also tie them under the seat before I start bailing just to increase the buoyancy. I did not need it but I had them if I needed them. It might be useful to actually run a line under the boat between the bumper pads and this would help support the boat and thus avoid having to demast.

For now I am satisfied that WHEN I accidentally go over I will not have any trouble recovering. It was hanging over me but now I know. The good guys are winning again!

Read about the boat being constructed

Links to the [hull part 1] [hull part 2] [mast] [rudder and centreboard] [sail] [oars]
[cleats] [ daggerboard well and mast step ] [ sailing ]


emails: Christine

SMALL PRINT: This web site reflects my personal ideas and doesn't represent anyone else's point of view. I did my test in calm, warm (...ish) water. It would be harder to recover in nasty conditions. I also had a spotter just in case. Be safe.