Sailboat Righting

It’s a fact of life that catamarans flip over. That’s why sailors should be prepared to get a little wet if they are going to sail at challenging points of sail or in heavier winds. Righting the boat is easy and, once you have mastered the art of it (a half hour of practice should do it), you will not be afraid to take your boat and yourself to the limit. That’s yet another joy of sailing small cats. The only penalty for going past the limit is getting wet.

Here’s how to right your boat once it has turned over:

  1. Be sure that the sheets are not cleated. If they are, uncleat them. Cleated sheets will cause the sails to hold water and make righting nearly impossible.
  2. If the top side of the boat is not facing the wind, shift the boat around so that the top side of the trampoline is into the wind.
  3. Untie the knot in the righting line and tie one end to the shroud of the hull that’s out of the water, then toss the other end over that same hull.
  4. Swim around to the bottom side of the boat.
  5. Stand on the hull that is not out of the water, being sure to position yourself in the center. Grab the righting line you strung over the other hull, and lean back.

The boat should begin to slowly come up. The Wind hitting the trampoline will help push the boat and your weight will make use of gravity to help the hull down.

Notes: When the boat begins to come back over, be sure it doesnt land on you. Just position yourself between the hulls and when the boat is stable, olimb aboard from the aft portion of the trampoline. If the boat has “turtled,” that is, completely flipped so that the mast is pointing directly down to the bottom of the water, the first step is to maneuver the boat onto its side. This is accomplished by placing all available weight on the stern of the hull you want to remain in the water when the boat is on its side. This will take awhile, so be patient. Once the boat is on its side, just follow the procedures above. If you chose to make use of powerboat assistance, be sure the powerboat moves slowly and carefully so as not to damage the catamaran. It is rare that such assistance is needed.

Caution: Never strike out for shore on your own if you should fail to right the boat unless you can wade in safely. Hobie Cats have positive flotation and are unsinkable so staying with the boat is much safer than attempting to reach shore. Remember, it is much easier to see a boat than a person. Plus, the boat can drift away quickly if you should leave it.

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