Make your Wayfarer easier to self-rescue

After the very sobering experience of needing motor boat assistance to right a Wayfarer at the 2002 TARTS Regatta, your Uncle Al got on the blower to Bill Abbott to get some answers and suggestions. Bill was most helpful, as was Scott Town, and the recommendations we came up with are given below. While this particular W was a Mark 3, the problems and possible solutions suggested below would apply almost equally well to the other Marks of Wayfarers.

Problem Suggestion
1. capsize AL: While a capsize on a small lake in warm water or in a racing situation with rescue boats at hand is no big deal, it can become a life threatening/ending experience if you are out alone on open water and/or the water is very cold.
I would suggest that anyone contemplating sailing under the latter conditions above, be extremely cautious. If in doubt, don't go out!
2. boat inverts (turtles) BILL: An inflated bicycle inner tube attached to the upper leading edge of the mast between the tip and the hounds (forestay attachment point on mast), will keep the mast tip at or near the surface of the water. Attach a small eye strap near the mast tip and another just above the spi halyard entry point, and tie the inner tube to these eye straps by means of thin line.

AL: I asked Bill if this wouldn't make a horrible flapping noise but Bill assures us it does not. 

3. centreboard completely retracted into its box such that finger power at its tip cannot haul it out of the box AL: What we ended up doing was using a multi-tool to wedge some whipping thread around the CB tip and hauled it out that way.

BILL: Two possibilities:

  • One sailor goes under the inverted boat and pushes the board down (up???) for his mate to grab. 
  • Prevention: Rig a preventer that keeps the board from easily coming to the fully up position. (Bill and Joanne Abbott used to stretch a shock cord between the front seats which would catch the board on its way up.) 
AL: Another way might be to wedge a sponge into the front upper edge of the box to keep the board from coming full up. Remember to remove this before hauling out onto your trailer!!
4. boat hard to right from the mast horizontal position even with crew weight on the centreboard BILL: Release the boom vang to allow water to run off the mainsail as you start to bring the boat up.

AL: With the boat we were in being so full of water in buoyancy compartments, the centreboard was barely above the water and a lot of the righting moment may have been lost once the board began to go under water. Usually, the board is almost a foot above water level when the mast is horizontal, and you can get the boat almost righted before much of the board hits the water. It follows that functional, well tested buoyancy compartments are a must!!

5. water getting into buoyancy compartments BILL: Unless the boat has been structurally damaged, or the centreboard bolt assembly causes a leak, the under the floor buoyancy compartment of a Mark 3 should remain water-free. It is wise to check this prior to going sailing for the day!
People who are willing to replace hatch gaskets on a more frequent basis than they need to do now, can get an even more watertight seal by using the soft rubber material used around the edges of car doors.
6. boat is tender (= tippy) once righted SCOTT: If you immediately sit well aft (on the front edge of the aft tank), the bow angles up so far that a lot of the water flows out of the cockpit as you pull in your sails and start to sail off on a (broad) reach.

AL: Keep the board full up and the sails free to luff until you are ready to start sailing the boat dry. This does two things

  • removes a fulcrum for the boat to tip over 
  • keeps the water from gushing up the CB box as fast as you can bail it out
As you start to try to sail the boat dry (on a nice, safe broad reach!), put the board halfway down and keep your weight well aft until most of the water has gone out through the bailers or over the transom. 
7. it's hard to climb back into the boat AL: Try going in over the transom which can be submerged without starting another capsize!
8. open bailers gash sailors' legs AL: This has not - to our knowledge - happened here in North America, but happens regularly in the UK with Mark IISD's which have a similar design to the Mark III in that their bailers are out near a chine. The hull of a glass boat is very slippery, and it might be well worth taking a couple of seconds to close the bailers (pushing them shut from the outside) on a capsized or - especially - an inverted boat. They won't be doing anything until the boat has been re-righted so I would suggest leaving them closed until both sailors are back aboard.