A team from across the RYA, trainers and safety boat drivers gathered at Carsington Water to spend two days revisiting the best techniques to right an inverted keelboat, video the results and produce some useful resources for anyone involved in safety at clubs and centres up and down the country.
We took a RS Venture Connect (thank you very much RS Sailing), some rescue craft and some mast head floats; we set out across Carsington Water (thank you to Carsington Sports and Leisure and Carsington Sailing Club for their support) and inverted the boat numerous times, practicing the techniques that we thought would work.
Each time we varied something:
And we filmed everything. We are currently pouring over the footage with the aim of putting together a guide to the techniques that were most successful. But while we are doing that there is still lots we can share.
Self-righting boats can get knocked down and capsize, otherwise they wouldn’t have to be ‘self-righting’, and if they can get knocked down and capsize there is a risk of inversion. Even a boat that has been knocked down but doesn’t capsize increases the risk of entrapment – so it is worth spending the time thinking through what you would do and how, if any of the vessels you use are knocked down, capsize or invert.
It is worth reflecting that if you are in the unenviable position of needing to right an inverted boat, with someone trapped underneath, the biggest thing you are up against is time. You need to get the boat to at least 90 degrees, or upright as quickly as you can so you can attend to the person trapped.
Three things became our friends as far as time was concerned.
The measures you have in place to prevent a knockdown and the subsequent risk of inversion or entrapment remain vital - amongst other things these are likely to include a consideration of:
The video and guidance on recovery techniques will be available in the next few months, but the two days at Carsington confirmed the techniques described in the safety boat handbook were successful - namely attaching a tow rope to the opposite shroud of an upturned boat, taking it across the upturned hull, and towing at 90degress. The RS Venture Connect has a bulb on the end of keel, and we found a slightly quicker method is to loop the tow rope over the keel, attach the loose end to the safety boat and drive away. The looped tow rope will catch on the bulb (both with the keel in the correct position and retracted). You will need to consider the length of the tow rope, as by creating the loop you are halving the effective length of the tow.
It is always important to make sure the safety craft you have are capable of recovering the boats you sail. At Carsington, the 15hp Jaffa was successful in recovering the upturned boat in every scenario, bar one. It wasn't able to right the boat with no mast head flotation when it was towing backwards, but it was successful with a longer tow rope, the Jaffa orientated forwards and towing from a bridle at the back of the boat.
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