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Thread: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

  1. #1
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    Default Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    What a day. We sailed the boat for the second time today. We did many improvements from last time and it was fun sailing it. The event of that day was an unplanned capsize. First time capsizing with a new boat was stressing and we learned a lot of things.


    Wat was good:
    1. We knew what we need to do and the boat was straight again in a very short time
    2. We had a bucket. That was a saver. I am not sure if we could save the boat without it.
    3. Almost everything was tide to the boat and we didn't end up losing anything
    4. We had a manual pump so at some point we could use it in addition to the bucket
    5. The mast was tied correctly and it stays in place


    What didn't work as expected:
    1. The boat was filled with water very fast. By the time it was standing straight, it was full of watebr />
    2. When the boat was straight again, the water level in the boat was above the CB trunk and the tiller open. So there was no way to take the water out. New water poured in for each bucket of water we took out.
    3. It's clear that the boat doesn't have enough buoyancy. I am not sure if it a design flaw or not. When it is on the correct side, it is floating right on the designed waterline.


    We were lucky today. We capsized close to the shore and we were able to drag the boat toward the shore and at some point, the tiller opening was above water and the CB trunk was laying on the mud and we could start taking the water out. Once the CB trunk was above the water, it was easy to get the water out and get back.


    Before taking it out next time I need to figure out how to solve the buoyancy issue. Another thinking is to add One-Way Scupper Valve. My thinking is that for the buoyancy to be effective, water needs to be able to escape as the boa is floating.


    Let me know what you think, I am sailing dinghies for a long time, capsizing happens and you need to be able to survive it. My feeling is that I could have lost the boat today. Any suggestions?


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    That's looks like quite a large boat to capsize. Well done in successfully retrieving it!
    What got you to the point of capsizing it?
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Stiletto View Post
    That's looks like quite a large boat to capsize. Well done in successfully retrieving it!
    What got you to the point of capsizing it?
    Unexpected jibing when both of us on the wrong side. I found this video on youtube with a cat boat doing exactly the same error we did - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGClOhyXd_w
    I don't have a lot of experience with cat boats, I didn't expect it to be so sensitive on down wind.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Lots of options for adding flotation from expensive float bags to trash bags filed with 2 liter bottles. What you do not want to do is install some kind of permanent foam type flotation and create something that'll trap moisture against the hull. If the seats are sturdy enough I'd start with the inelegant but functional option of bags of pop bottles under them, well tied in while you consider other options.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh MacD View Post
    Lots of options for adding flotation from expensive float bags to trash bags filed with 2 liter bottles. What you do not want to do is install some kind of permanent foam type flotation and create something that'll trap moisture against the hull. If the seats are sturdy enough I'd start with the inelegant but functional option of bags of pop bottles under them, well tied in while you consider other options.
    Thanks for the ideas.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    The comments on the capsize video miss the point. The main sheet during any catboat jibe should be let out immediately as much as possible to avoid what happened and then pulled back into correct trim for the wind once the boat and crew are stable and settled. Even letting it out too much the worst that will happen is the boom end drags in the water if heeling to leeward. Once the boat heels as much as it did in the video the shallow rudder is useless, so it's beyond being a steering problem. All crew to leeward is always a potential capsize/loss of control problem in almost any centerboard sailboat.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    The comments on the capsize video miss the point. The main sheet during any catboat jibe should be let out immediately as much as possible to avoid what happened and then pulled back into correct trim for the wind once the boat and crew are stable and settled. Even letting it out too much the worst that will happen is the boom end drags in the water if heeling to leeward. Once the boat heels as much as it did in the video the shallow rudder is useless, so it's beyond being a steering problem. All crew to leeward is always a potential capsize/loss of control problem in almost any centerboard sailboat.
    A lot to practice... it just happened too fast, we pulled that sail in for a controlled jibing and next thing, the boat was out of control.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    A bit tricky with the coaming in the way but removable bulkheads with access hatches below the decks fore and aft and fill the compartments with 2 or 3 trailer truck inner tubes each then loosely inflate so as to completely fill the space. You can inflate and deflate them thru the hatch.

    You could substitute webbing for the bulkheads but then you'd see the inner tubes. Not too salty looking.

    Hidden air bags under the decks that you could inflate after the fact would work too, but recovery would take much longer.
    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 04-28-2019 at 11:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Some find that these beach rollers work well for both flotation and getting the boat up on the beach, if you should ever need to do that. You'd want to strap them under the seats so the boat will float high when it's on its side. That way, when righted, it won't have near so much water in it.

    -Dave

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    rbgarr's remarks [#6] are most significant. High aspect short boomed sails as found on so many small dinks, racing sloops, and hot 'catboats' like Lasers all behave very differently than a long footed traditional catboat sail. In just a hair more wind than the video, they would not have been able to bare off because the tightly sheeted sail would induce weather helm that over powers the rudder.

    The modern boat bit about hauling the sail in and letting it out on the other side is awkward unless the crew is highly skilled. Most do as in the video, haul in but not let out as the jibe happens. Often it's as simple as the person on the main sheet just doesn't let the line run. Maybe has soft hands and no gloves.

    Besides, with a catboat, the sheet is way too long to haul in briskly.

    I like the "air gybe". With the sail well out, a catboat will sail up to three points by the lee. That's the wind coming over the nominally leeward quarter, the side the boom is still on, almost 34 degrees past dead astern. (8 points = 90 degrees, 1 point = 11.25 degrees) I mean it about sail well out. Like boom almost 90 degrees off the centerline.

    Many cats in light air will sail faster by the lee than with the boom on the "correct" side. This can lead to fascinating issues of right-of-way in catboat races. Get "The Competitive Cat" by Bill Welch for this and so much more - really the best primer on how to sail your boat.

    Anyway, back to the gybe. You're by the lee. Make sure any crew are well forward and ready to change sides. Put the helm up good and hard and as the sheets go slack use your forearm to guide them flying to the other side of the boat. The boat will turn another point or so beyond the course when you were by the lee and thus the sail will simply get to the other side and start luffing. Bear off a hair and or trim the sail a bit before you lose any momentum.

    Obviously practice in light air so you can discover hang-ups. Like you sail with the outboard raised and the sheet will wrap around it. Or our stern cleats will catch the slack sheet. And you need to get the hang of hurling the slack sheets across.

    Sometimes if there's a great deal of twist in the sail, the boom will want to gybe well before the gaff, leading to a Chinese gybe and often a torn sail. This can be avoided by a downward yank on all parts of the sheet just as the boom is thinking of going slack. That'll pull the twist out enough to get the gaff following the boom.

    Anyway, "The Competitive Cat" by Bill Welch. Not just about racing. It is the best compendium of how to sail a traditional catboat.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    About floatation: Tough to do in a traditional boat. Your bilge is below the waterline so a one way valve won't do jack. Light fast boats use an Elfstrom or other Venturi type gizmo to pull water out. Your boat's too deep and slow for that to work.

    Some racing dinks use transom flaps. Usually these have foam or at least sealed air to bring the cockpit sole up high enough. These boats can actually sail out of a capsize.

    A major problem in self-rescue is the weight of anything in the air. In the video we see the crew sitting up with about half their weight driving the boat down. And of course that nice bib mast pushes her right under.

    So, as you look at floatation, look at what can be lashed under the seats, wash deck, bow and stern decks. Anywhere. The goal is to get the boat able to float with the top of the centerboard and the tiller port above water.

    Some traditional boats have leather or plastic flaps at the top and bottom of the centerboard trunk. The board pushes through and past the flaps. The bottom flaps give a smoother bottom run and when you're aground keep small stones from jamming the board. The upper flaps will, when the boat's upright and the board is pulled up, help seal against too much water intrusion through the trunk.

    But it's really hard to beat a cap on the centerboard trunk.

    Recovery will always be slow. Bucket and pump. You might consider a permanently mounted diaphragm pump with a twenty gallon per minute capacity.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Was the sheet cleated?

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    For buoyancy in my sailing canoe I use inflatable seats from an inflatable row boat. They are tough and cheap. In my dory I use fenders lashed under the thwarts. I have not tested the dory set up, I do have concerns that the fenders might pull out the thwarts, which were designed for downward pressure.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Is that the William Garden Tom Cat design but without the cuddy? Got pix of the lay-out?

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Yes Ian thanks, here are pictures of my build of Gardens Tom Cat for layout



    seating installed:


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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Y'all could have reefed and shook em out as confidence in the boat grew.

    "when in doubt let out!" never tie, secure, or cleat a main sheet on doubtful conditions or ability

    Open boat on open water = trouble = extra precautions and equipment (float bags or other devices)
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    See posts 3208 AND #235 of this thread: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...-Tom-Cat/page6
    Steamboat

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Welcome to Spring and Summer sailing on SF Bay! When testing a new boat or sailing rig I'll admit I tend to stick close to sheltered waters like the Richmond Inner Harbor, Napa and Petaluma rivers, and upper parts of the Delta. You probably wouldn't have lost the boat unless you capsized right in front of a freighter or ferry, but I'll recommend having BOAT US insurance plus towing, and carrying a waterproof VHS radio on board.

    First I'll recommend doing some events with the local Traditional Small Craft Association (Sacramento Chapter TSCA), as there are centuries of sailing experience at every event - https://www.facebook.com/pg/TscaSacr...=page_internal

    The next one is this weekend down near Monterey. I won't be there due to a conflicting event, here's pics from ones in the past - https://www.facebook.com/david.luckh...0193646&type=3

    Second, I'd make a cap for that CB case, probably edged with dense foam that will allow you to push it firmly into place and hold against a bit of water pressure. If you don't mind putting small stainless steel or nylon pad eyes near the base of the CB case you could have the cap capable of being bungied down to hold even better. Have the bungies lashed to the cap so installing it is a one-step process -- and nothing floats away.

    Third, ditto for the tiller opening in the transom -- some sort of collar.

    Fourth, consider dinghy flotation bags for under the seats. They are designed for exactly this function, can be lashed into place and will take a certain amount of wear. You may need to sand any rough spots under your benches and thwarts. I have some Holt bags you can look at if you wish, and I'm in Richmond North & East off McBryde.



    http://www.apsltd.com/catalogsearch/...xoCkdYQAvD_BwE

    Last edited by Thorne; 04-29-2019 at 01:33 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Hope you had your PFD's on.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    If your Tom Cat layout is like the one in the thread above, it is going to be hard to conceal buoyancy in the bow. That said if you can, a big triangular bag would work. I think Holt may have one, or you can get one from a white water canoe company. Aft, no problem with the seats you have. A quick and dirty cap for a trunk we used to use on the log canoes was a towel or several T shirts. That would likely work for the aft opening as well, but with floatation you may well find that the boat floats with trunk and stern opening out of the water. Depending on the depth you have under the floor boards, you may be able to get some small bags underneath them or shaped foam slabs.
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    To clarify the internal setup of his TomCat, here's some pics from his previous threads -






    There is certainly room for a triangular flotation bag in the bow and the "pillow" bags under the side benches / sternsheets.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Is that the William Garden Tom Cat design but without the cuddy? Got pix of the lay-out?
    Hi Ian, thanks for all the advise, Yes it is the Garden Tom Cat design. I do have the The Competitive Cat, I probably need to read it again and get more practice. There is no replacement for what you are learning from capsizing. Next time I will be more prepared if it happens but I need to solve the floatation. Without the CB being above the water, the buckets and pumps are useless water are coming in faster than you can pump. I am thinking of installing an outboard, if I had an outboard yesterday, the boat would have beed on the ground.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Thad View Post
    Was the sheet cleated?
    Unfortunately, yes. I sheeted in thinking of having smooth jibing. That clearly was a mistake. Another learning is that my main sheet is not long enough. Right now I cannot get to 90 degree from the CL when sheeted out. Thats need to be fixed also.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    Welcome to Spring and Summer sailing on SF Bay! When testing a new boat or sailing rig I'll admit I tend to stick close to sheltered waters like the Richmond Inner Harbor, Napa and Petaluma rivers, and upper parts of the Delta. You probably wouldn't have lost the boat unless you capsized right in front of a freighter or ferry, but I'll recommend having BOAT US insurance plus towing, and carrying a waterproof VHS radio on board.

    First I'll recommend doing some events with the local Traditional Small Craft Association (Sacramento Chapter TSCA), as there are centuries of sailing experience at every event - https://www.facebook.com/pg/TscaSacr...=page_internal

    The next one is this weekend down near Monterey. I won't be there due to a conflicting event, here's pics from ones in the past - https://www.facebook.com/david.luckh...0193646&type=3

    Second, I'd make a cap for that CB case, probably edged with dense foam that will allow you to push it firmly into place and hold against a bit of water pressure. If you don't mind putting small stainless steel or nylon pad eyes near the base of the CB case you could have the cap capable of being bungied down to hold even better. Have the bungies lashed to the cap so installing it is a one-step process -- and nothing floats away.

    Third, ditto for the tiller opening in the transom -- some sort of collar.

    Fourth, consider dinghy flotation bags for under the seats. They are designed for exactly this function, can be lashed into place and will take a certain amount of wear. You may need to sand any rough spots under your benches and thwarts. I have some Holt bags you can look at if you wish, and I'm in Richmond North & East off McBryde.



    http://www.apsltd.com/catalogsearch/...xoCkdYQAvD_BwE
    Thanks Thorne. Yes it will be great to join some of these events. We definitely looking to learn more from experience sailers and also be a part of the community. Fanny, it all happened in the Richmond Inner Harbor. It actually happened on the shore of Brooks Island, so it was a protected area with shallow water, which helped us recover.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Schooner36 View Post
    Hope you had your PFD's on.
    We actually did and it was helping.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by oferraz View Post
    Thanks Thorne. Yes it will be great to join some of these events. We definitely looking to learn more from experience sailers and also be a part of the community. Fanny, it all happened in the Richmond Inner Harbor. It actually happened on the shore of Brooks Island, so it was a protected area with shallow water, which helped us recover.
    If you have to broach and swamp (not capsize, as the mast didn't go past horizontal down into the water, right?) then shallow water is the place to do it! Don't ask me how I know this...


    As for the CB case cap, I'd make it to fit when the board is up. Unlike a racing dinghy you won't be climbing onto the CB to right the boat, so you can put the board up after you swamp the boat and then attach the cap. That will also be handy if you ever get a tow from a powerboat, as otherwise you can get a lot of water coming up through the slot even with the board up.

    Were the other launch photos taken at Tomales Bay?
    Last edited by Thorne; 04-29-2019 at 02:33 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by gregleetaylor View Post
    Yes Ian thanks, here are pictures of my build of Gardens Tom Cat for layout



    seating installed:
    Hi Greg, I am so happy you are reading it. Probably we need to incorporate more flotation into the build early on. I almost lost the boat and all the smart solutions you incorporated into your build could work in my case. The key is more floatation as a starting point.

    Ofer

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I wouldn't put any flotation under the floorboards, as it is ESSENTIAL that the bilge drain easily and dry completely -- otherwise you may get rot or damage that is hidden by sheets of foam or whatever. I added two SB drain plugs to the bottom of my Caledonia Yawl, and even then not all water will drain out without pulling up the floorboards and wiping it dry.

    Once you get used to the boat, and learn to be pessimistic about the wind and start adding reefs at launch, swamping the boat will be very rare if it happens at all. My Caledonia Yawl is regarded as being over-canvassed for a 19' unballasted boat, and some owners never launch without at least one reef in place. I haven't taken water over the rail....yet....but I'm sure that time will come at some point.

    Make all your flotation removable or accessible in the case of sealed boxes with screw-in hatch covers. This is critical for your ability to store the boat without damaging it, and to clean it after use. Trust me: when sailing anywhere other than from dock to dock, sand, seaweed and seagrass will get **everywhere**, as well as small dropped tools, bottle caps, fasteners, etc. You want the ability to easily wash out all this debris when you get back from boat camping or a beach picnic.

    I've seen more small open wooden boats ruined from improper winter storage than were ever lost on the water.
    Last edited by Thorne; 04-29-2019 at 03:38 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    It looks like a good candidate for buoyancy bags.Just keep in mind that the force they exert can be considerable and the parts of the boat that they are attached to need to be fairly substantial.The other great advantage will be that the volume they occupy won't be available for water and consequently there will be less water to remove.

    Ian probably has more catboat sailing experience than any other poster here and his advice should be heeded.I doubt that we need to labour the point about not cleating the mainsheet in an unballasted boat in gusty conditions.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I admire the Tom Cat but would do the centerboard differently. Rather than that lever arm sticking up through a slot, I'd have a board shaped to fit under the cap on the trunk. The pennant would lead out through a small hole at the forward end of the trunk to a 2:1 or 3:1 tackle. Much less leakage.

    I'd start with buoyancy bags under the bow, perhaps held down by a lowish canvass strapped such that they fit on either side of the mast and come about half way up to the coaming and held down by lashing to eyes in the frames. Then a buoyancy bag under the stern sheets. See if that's enough. Shame to do in the utility of those nicely hinged seats.

    G'luck

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    Default

    Forget the one way valve idea.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    With my Bobcat, I reefed early and often. With a gaff rig, the center of effort does not change much when you reef. And the boat sailed better when she was not overpowered
    Elect a clown expect a circus

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Ofer, i have been reading and thinking about this all day! Thanks for sharing it. It must have taken a large amount of energy to recover the boat and empty her. I'm fairly certain I couldn't have done that. Even with a good amount of flotation well executed, a swamping is a hard thing to manage. I have quite a bit of catboat experience so I know pretty much how to control the jibe. I'm moving from a very stable 18' catboat to a dinghy that has been described as "a little tender"

    I will probably get air bags for under the stern seat and two low, forward at the bow as Ian suggests. Depending upon my experience and feel for the boat i may carry them all the time or only on occasion. I can't imagine trying to self rescue in cold water from a total swamping.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I screw 2" pink hard foam to the undersides of the seats in my 10 ft dinghy. It works, but it's better to focus on not swamping the boat.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I agree with Ian McColgin's input about the difficulty of safely gybing low-aspect-ratio traditional sails. I sail a 12' Stevenson Triad with a balanced lug, and if there is much wind gybing can be really scary.

    If you are in a situation where you need to change tacks and gybing seems dangerous, come around to upwind, tack, and come around to downwind again. Not the fastest way to get it done, but it beats righting and bailing.
    I will beg you for advice, your reply will be concise, and I will listen very nicely and then go out and do exactly what I want! (Apologies to Lerner and Lowe.)

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