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Thread: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    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
    Thanks for the comment. The boat was reefed. The mistake was to sheet in instead of letting go.

  2. #37
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    The old TSCA sailors often describe tricks for dealing with the infamous "Downwind Death Roll" that small boats experience. From what I recall, you should pull the CB **all the way up** and sit as far aft as possible, as part of the death roll is the boat tripping over the dagger/centerboard. Also never ever let the boom get forward of the mast when sailing dead downwind!
    "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 alkorn View Post
    ...

    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...
    AKA "Chicken Gybe". As the man says, it is often the smartest move in high winds and big swells.

    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  4. #39
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    The aerodynamic induced death roll is one of the coolest dynamic phenomena. This form of self-excitation happens most often with spinnakers (wobble) and four sided sails when both the luff and the leech act alternatively as leech and luff. You get net Bernoulli & wedge effects alternating from one side of the sail to the other creating wondrous instability.

    Lifting the board is good for speed down wind but does nothing to alleviate self-excitation. In fact, on small boats like a Force 5 on a plane, putting a little board down can bring things back to an arm's length of control.

    Not a worry in the Tom Cat.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I never liked sailing dead down wind in my Bobcat. I would "tack" downwind in the stead from one broad reach to another
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  6. #41
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    "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"

    Apparently gybing didn't seem like It was a dangerous manouver which is the root cause of the swamping. In addition to inexperience. Hopefully your wife or someone thoroughly chastised you for your recklessness. This is in fact how people become a statistic.
    Last edited by navydog; 04-30-2019 at 07:15 AM.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    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.
    Floation for this boat is really simple with the side benches and foredeck. It can even be done without hardware. On RAN TAN I laced a line behind the seat riser, alternating up and down at the frames. Float bags come with provision for webbing straps and with clip buckles you can strap them under the seat to the lace line. Finicky to work out but totally removable and worth while. A straight pillow bag aft; dimensions of the Holt bags are all on the Annapolis Performance Sailcraft site. The best forward bag I found was a massive triangular one from I think NRS or one of the other canoe outfitters. I don't know if the boat lives with its mast up normally or how much space there is ahead of the mast. On RAN TAN where the mast comes up and down, sometimes when underway, I built a mast box and the bag wraps around it. If there is no room ahead of the mast for a bag, a lashing eye on the keel ahead of the floor board and some up under the deck would allow a net to be strung or some light lines to be laced to hold it in.

    CB slot here can't be capped and may not need to be once the boat has bags. A good candidate for something like a T shirt or towel stuffed into it like we used to do on the log canoes.

    I've sailed racing dinghies on SF bay and capsized plenty, water is cold and those were self rescue. Places like the Berkley circuit and up towards Alcatraz are especially amusing. Plenty of places to go for a swim. So I'd take the boat once it was bagged out to some nearby warm lake and capsize it.

    Couple of dinghy sailing bits that should get added to the mix. Downwind if the head of the sail goes beyond 90 degrees, ahead of the mast, you set up conditions for a death roll. Elvstrom sorted this out years ago in the Finn. On jibing, there is merit to the S turn, steering back down wind as the sail comes over. Counteracts the tendency of the boat to spin out up wind.
    Ben Fuller
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  8. #43
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I don't know if anyone has tried this before, but would it be possible or practical to fasten inflatable PFD's low on each end of a boat and use those to provide positive flotation in case of a capsize. They wouldn't take up much room - of course they would need room to inflate.

  9. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schooner36 View Post
    I don't know if anyone has tried this before, but would it be possible or practical to fasten inflatable PFD's low on each end of a boat and use those to provide positive flotation in case of a capsize. They wouldn't take up much room - of course they would need room to inflate.
    That begs for the question; do you save the boat, or people? 😱 . It's not likely there would be spare inflatable pfds, they're expensive.

    Sent from my LG-M430 using Tapatalk
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  10. #45
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I should have said extra PFD's - first wear them -
    I am not sure what flotation bags cost.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Pool noodles work pretty well. They are a closed cell foam. One small diameter 2" noodle has enough buoyancy to keep a 230 lb adult afloat. There are 4" diameter noodles. They are super cheap compared to most of the suggestions.
    Last edited by navydog; 04-30-2019 at 04:21 PM.

  12. #47
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    So as I see it and based on the comments there are two main options for adding flotation:

    1. Buying different sizes of buoyancy bag and fit them under the seats and decks. Find a way to tie it to the boat and verify that they are inflated before sailing
    2. Cut blocks foam into the right size and shape and fit them under the seat and decks. Maybe even fit them into hatches created for that. Keep them out of the boat when storing the boat so the boat can dry

    The buoyancy bags is easier way to go and can be done fast. The foam if done correctly can look better, and for the long time, you done need to worry about loosing air or sharp objects.

    Any thought? or ideas which to way to go?

  13. #48
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    There's a reason why nobody has suggested the foam blocks -- because it won't work. Flotation has to be tied or strapped to the boat, otherwise it just floats out from under whatever it has been shoved under and drifts free. You can make or buy heavy nylon bags to enclose the foam and attach it to the boat, but that's an expensive solution.

    Some people build sealed attached flotation boxes and fill them with foam, empty soda bottles, etc === but these take up space permanently and can be serious vectors for moisture and rot. That's why an easily-removable buoyancy / flotation bag with loops for straps is the best option for your lovely catboat. Just install some nylon or SS pad eyes for the straps, make sure there aren't any rough edges or sharp angles in contact with the bags, and you're good to go.

    If you don't have decent large fenders there's another more expensive option -- buy big fenders that will fit under the seats / thwarts and lash those into place. That way you can always untie them and use them for docking or rafting up with larger or smaller boats where regular-size fenders aren't effective. That's how my Caledonia Yawl came when I bought her -- the only flotation was 4 large fenders under the side benches. The big beach rollers are another option, but may be harder to fit into the space and lack the strap-holders that the Holt buoyancy bags have.

    Remember, just because you dumped the boat while learning how to handle it doesn't mean it will continue to happen. Racers will push sailboats to the edge and beyond -- that's how they win races. But day sailors and pleasure craft aren't sailed that way very often, and in many years of sailing in groups in varying conditions all over the Left Coast and mountain lakes I've only seen a few broaches, never with injuries or loss of the boat.
    Last edited by Thorne; 04-30-2019 at 04:28 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_.

  14. #49
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    I would suggest also, think about what you built a boat for, what it can actually handle and where you plan to take it. I could be wrong, but I've always thought of cat boats as needing very protected Waters

    Sent from my LG-M430 using Tapatalk
    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

    Judging by the number of replies in a short period of time, your post oferraz definitely resonated with folks... probably because we've all swamped at some point and if we were smart it caused us to think hard about potential consequences and lessons learned.

    In my case I did it most recently in my Calendar Islands Yawl, which is only traditional-ish and has plenty of flotation in the form of sealed compartments in bow and stern. But it would have done much better if it were actually laden with drybags full of gear, which I strap in low and tight underneath the thwarts when camp-cruising. A drybag full of clothes and gear is actually quite effective flotation. As are big fenders when strapped in low and tight.

    A somewhat tongue-in-cheek recounting of my own capsize experience is in my blog:

    https://greyfoxboat.blog/2018/11/23/...ore-than-once/

    https://greyfoxboat.blog/2019/01/16/...-an-open-boat/

    The biggest lesson, DONT CLEAT THE MAINSHEET, wasn't the cause of your issue!

  16. #51
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Pool noodles are not so good. If you had a noodle 2" in diameter by 5' long that was not hollow (but they are all hollow) you'd have a buoyancy of a whopping 6.8#. The noodles are great for many things but, like filling a space with ping pong balls, not an especially efficient way to install floatation.

  17. #52
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Larchmont Jim View Post
    Judging by the number of replies in a short period of time, your post oferraz definitely resonated with folks... probably because we've all swamped at some point and if we were smart it caused us to think hard about potential consequences and lessons learned.

    In my case I did it most recently in my Calendar Islands Yawl, which is only traditional-ish and has plenty of flotation in the form of sealed compartments in bow and stern. But it would have done much better if it were actually laden with drybags full of gear, which I strap in low and tight underneath the thwarts when camp-cruising. A drybag full of clothes and gear is actually quite effective flotation. As are big fenders when strapped in low and tight.

    A somewhat tongue-in-cheek recounting of my own capsize experience is in my blog:

    https://greyfoxboat.blog/2018/11/23/...ore-than-once/

    https://greyfoxboat.blog/2019/01/16/...-an-open-boat/

    The biggest lesson, DONT CLEAT THE MAINSHEET, wasn't the cause of your issue!

    Thanks for sharing. I like your blog and I agree with you. It's not about the mainsheet. It's about being prepared for the worse. You don't sailing a dinghy with the thinking that you will never capsize. But you need to be able to trust your preparation and practice, knowing that you can safely get out of troubles when it happened.

  18. #53
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Pool noodles are not so good. If you had a noodle 2" in diameter by 5' long that was not hollow (but they are all hollow) you'd have a buoyancy of a whopping 6.8#. The noodles are great for many things but, like filling a space with ping pong balls, not an especially efficient way to install floatation.
    Hmm well this isn't accurate. There are lots of solid noodles. A 5"x6' noodle has about 70# of capacity and costs $30. The advantage of a solid product is that they can't be punctured or lose air.

  19. #54
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    "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"

    Apparently gybing didn't seem like It was a dangerous manouver which is the root cause of the swamping. In addition to inexperience. Hopefully your wife or someone thoroughly chastised you for your recklessness. This is in fact how people become a statistic.
    Just a thought: it's possible to make mistakes without being reckless. The OP is here asking for advice, so I doubt your charge of "recklessness" applies. Inexperience with catboats? Sure. But I wasn't aware that was a crime.

    Maybe a little less judgment and a little more constructive critiquing?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I don't share your sentiments or perspective. Life threatening events should not be downplayed as simple mistakes. There is much for him to learn in this thread, the most important aspect is understanding the potential severity of making poor decisions.
    Last edited by navydog; 05-01-2019 at 02:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    The crew in that video moved across while the boat was still heeled and before the heavy wooden boom had crossed the centreline. It reminds me of my father's first rule of sailing "get the boom across and if in doubt let go".

    Anyway, the buoyancy. Flotation under thwarts is much more effective than bow or stern. When a boat is capsized the bow/stern buoyancy isn't doing much because it is on the centreline of the hull which for a wooden boat is going to be on the waterline. So half the buoyancy is in the air.

    In contrast the thwart buoyancy will be fully underwater. It also lifts the thwart up so when you right the boat the hull will scoop less water. Furthermore when you are pulling on the high side to right the boat the thwart buoyancy provides a complimentary lever arm, a bit like an mini outrigger.

    Finally, you mention water coming in at the transom, so make sure the buoyancy is balanced to lift the stern, too much at the front will lift your bow and push the stern down.

    Second finally, flotation under the floor will hinder righting a capsized boat because your effort to right the boat will be trying to push the below-floor flotation down into the water.

  22. #57
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    I don't share your sentiments or perspective. Life threatening events should not be downplayed as simple mistakes. There is much for him to learn in this thread, the most important aspect is the potential severity of making poor decisions.
    I agree with Wi-Tom -- there is no need to be so judgemental, particularly when you don't know the waters, the boat, the helmsman, or his experience. They were wearing their PFDs and were able to move the boat to the nearby shallows on the Brooks Island sandbar / breakwater. What the heck more do you want? A chase boat? A Coast Guard cutter?? Helicopter following them around??? Neither the accidental broach or the recovery process put anyone's life in danger -- that is crystal clear. San Francisco Bay is known for its tricky currents, gusty winds and challenging sailing, and even in sheltered waters like the Richmond Inner Harbor the gusts can be surprisingly strong.

    I don't know where you live or how you learned to sail, but I certainly learned by being cautious but also by making mistakes -- and that's probably the process that 90% of the other Forumites went through as well. I've taken risks by singlehanding in the San Juans and the Sound, but take care not to put my crew or other boats at risk if at all possible.

    "A ship is safe in the harbor but that’s not what ships are for" - William G.T. Shedd
    Last edited by Thorne; 05-01-2019 at 12:03 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Thorne,

    You are welcome to your own views, however I don't share them. As to what I want, I want him to live through his next sailing adventure without a self inflicted mishap.

  24. #59
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    I don't share your sentiments or perspective. Life threatening events should not be downplayed as simple mistakes. There is much for him to learn in this thread, the most important aspect is understanding the potential severity of making poor decisions.
    I have to agree with this. My older brother has a fifteen foot catboat and capsized it last summer. I believe he would have been pretty much lost unless a friend in a powerboat on the same patch of ocean hadn't seen and saved him. The boat turned all the way over and when it was righted the mast had levered it's way out of the step, breaking the deck partners. So even if he had righted the boat by himself and bailed it out he would been up a creek.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    I have to agree with this. My older brother has a fifteen foot catboat and capsized it last summer. I believe he would have been pretty much lost unless a friend in a powerboat on the same patch of ocean hadn't seen and saved him. The boat turned all the way over and when it was righted the mast had levered it's way out of the step, breaking the deck partners. So even if he had righted the boat by himself and bailed it out he would been up a creek.
    That is a problem that probably isn't emphasized enough - Restrain the mast so it stays in the step. Even Optimist dinghies require this (modern ones use a clamp under the thwart).
    Small boats do fall over - prepare accordingly.

  26. #61
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Thanks everyone for the concerns. I want to be clear we were not under any risk. We had our PFDs on, we had a radio to get help if needed. We both had experience sailing in the bay area. I am sailing keelboats and dinghies for many years. Including teaching dinghies sailing with a lot of capsizing practice. capsizing is a basic practice anyone sailing dinghy needs to know and we are practicing it. We did all the steps without being in a panic. Even the mast was restrained and stayed in the step when coming up. No damage to the boat in any way. We didn't lose any equipment (everything was tied to the boat) I do have a lot of mud cleaning to do this weekend.


    The boat is new to us. I just finished to build it, and I don't have experience with catboats and gaff rigging. We will be back on the water in a few weeks after fixing a few things and adding flotation bags.


    I love this building community, I was getting so much help during the building and it continues now with so many people contributing knowledge but also care about us.

  27. #62

    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Flotation for self rescue is a balancing act. Not enough and it's difficult or impossible to bail the boat out. Too much and it's difficult to right and reboard. It can also cause a tendency for the boat to either turtle or be blown out of reach. There is simply no substitute for capsize testing. Your boat, and your self.

    Safe jibing requires focused practice as well. Anything that interferes with the free swing of the boom must be avoided. The boat should not be allowed to heel so much at the end of the jibe that the boom catches water. That's more likely to happen if you have a long boom and it doesn't end well. Crew movements must be timed to continuously keep the boat level. Keep an eye on that as you go into your turn. It's also important that the mainsheet doesn't catch on anything as the boom flies across. If sheeting out is required it must run out smoothly.

    Ben Fuller's comment above: "On jibing, there is merit to the S turn, steering back down wind as the sail comes over. Counteracts the tendency of the boat to spin out up wind." Great advice in general but in iffy conditions spinning out intentionally to a beam reach, sails luffing, can be the safer maneuver before bearing off. I think Maynard Bray calls that his "Hudson River Jibe".
    Last edited by Anders Bjorklund; 05-04-2019 at 12:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Anders Bjorklund View Post
    Flotation for self rescue is a balancing act. Not enough and it's difficult or impossible to bail the boat out. Too much and it's difficult to right and reboard. It can also cause a tendency for the boat to either turtle or be blown out of reach. There is simply no substitute for capsize testing. Your boat, and your self.

    Safe jibing requires focused practice as well. Anything that interferes with the free swing of the boom must be avoided. The boat should not be allowed to heel so much at the end of the jibe that the boom catches water. That's more likely to happen if you have a long boom and it doesn't end well. Crew movements must be timed to continuously keep the boat level. Keep an eye on that as you go into your turn. It's also important that the mainsheet doesn't catch on anything as the boom flies across. If sheeting out is required it must run out smoothly.

    Ben Fuller's comment above: "On jibing, there is merit to the S turn, steering back down wind as the sail comes over. Counteracts the tendency of the boat to spin out up wind." Great advice in general, but in iffy conditions spinning out intentionally to a beam reach, with the sails luffing, can be the safer maneuver, before bearing off. I think Maynard Bray calls that his "Hudson River Jibe".
    Hi Anders, thanks for the input. I agree, after reading more and few long threads about it, I believe that it will take experimenting to figure out the right amount and location of flotation I need to add. I will need to find a place I can practice and test my capsizing and flotation. I am going to order few sizes of flotation bags and test it in the water in a protected area.

  29. #64
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Anders Bjorklund View Post
    oferraz: "I will need to find a place I can practice and test my capsizing and flotation."

    Best to avoid worried bystanders dialing 911
    Good point

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Anders Bjorklund View Post
    oferraz: "I will need to find a place I can practice and test my capsizing and flotation."

    Best to avoid worried bystanders dialing 911
    NB There might be a time in your practicing that you might actually need somebody to call 911.

    What then?
    I live and drink rum where other people vacation.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Anders Bjorklund View Post
    oferraz: "I will need to find a place I can practice and test my capsizing and flotation."

    Best to avoid worried bystanders dialing 911
    Happens more often than you might think. We have a lady who calls 911 when she "thinks" someone is in trouble. Trouble for her is SUP'ers out further than she thinks is safe, or it is too windy or some kayaker's stroke isn't smooth enough for her discerning taste. The local constabulary has had more than a few discussions with her.

    People are very quick to call 911 whenever they see a boat capsize, most non-sailors don't understand that it happens with small boats sometimes and jump straight to worst-case scenario. I'm not suggesting that anybody skip capsize drills, just try to pick your potential audience.
    Steve

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by Rum_Pirate View Post
    NB There might be a time in your practicing that you might actually need somebody to call 911.

    What then?
    Flares

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I've just read through this thread, and it has given me some serious food for thought. I have a similar boat - Joel White Marsh Cat - built with an open cockpit. I'm now thinking I should take some measurements and see if floatation bags will fit under the side decks.

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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    Quote Originally Posted by pandelume View Post
    I've just read through this thread, and it has given me some serious food for thought. I have a similar boat - Joel White Marsh Cat - built with an open cockpit. I'm now thinking I should take some measurements and see if floatation bags will fit under the side decks.
    Yes, the boats are very similar and probably behave in a similar way after capsizing. I think that we need to take a look into flotation and be sure we can self-rescue after a capsize. And most importantly, we should practice it. Be sure that we have the right amount of flotation in the right place.

  35. #70
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    Default Re: Capsized Tom Cat, need buoyancy help

    I don't have benches, so at first blush the only places I have to secure flotation are under the side decks, under the floorboards, and under the foredeck. I've been thinking about fitting some benches, but I was going to have them be removable. I suppose I could install some folding pad-eyes and secure flotation bags to the floor under the removable benches.

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