Subject: new W1321 owner baptized but survives fairly swimmingly
From: Chip Cunningham W1321
To: Gary Hirsch ; Al Schonborn
Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2011 10:36 PM
Subject: News of Solje

Greetings you two,

I just got back from a great day of sailing. I have been planning to do a capsize drill with Solje just for the experience, but capsizing took care of itself today. I was sailing with the main uncleated and let it go as she started over. I think it would have saved things to let the genoa go, too. Winds at a nearby Pontiac airport were 16 kts gusting to 22 kts, but I don't think they were that strong here on Lakeville Lake.

Anyhow, Solje just kind of laid over on her lee side. I thought, "OK, now I've got a minute to get this boat back up." I scrambled up over the side and onto the centerboard. I thought to take a jib sheet with me, but I didn't use it. Holding onto the rail and standing near the hull was enough leverage to get her coming back up. But when the lee side was almost out of the water she would lay back over. I was being reminded again to uncleat the jib sheet.

Back up and over I pulled the jib sheet free of the cleat. By now I was thinking better and let the vang off, too. Then back up and over onto the centerboard and she came right up. Like I've read though, there was a lot of water in her.

Now, just as an aside, the beauty of Uncle Al's instructions for self-righting is that if you neglect to right to windward, the inevitable recapsize to the lee will put you in proper position for a successful self-rescue. I learned that at least a couple of times with the Laser. In fact, I think this double-capsize-followed-by-successful-self- rescue is faster than swimming the boat around.

Solje, with her wooden mast, came up much easier than the Laser I sailed last year. The real difference is the issue of being upright but still nearly swamped in the Wayfarer. I remembered to get the centerboard all the way up and started bailing like crazy with a 5 gallon bucket. It was blowing pretty good for my skill level but it was not a problem keeping the boat level. You know those little clips that hold the floor boards down? They're a good idea because the floorboards float.

Even if you manage to pull off a dry rescue, as I was lucky enough to do, you get pretty wet bailing. When I was unable to scoop a good bucket-load anymore -- maybe three inches of water over the non-floating floorboard I was kneeling on -- I got underweigh with a half of the board down and opened the bailers. Piece of cake.

I anchored behind a windward shore and changed to what I thought was a smaller foresail. It might be a little smaller, but not much. The interesting thing you (ed. note: Gary and Al) might want to know, now that you don't have your hands full on Lake Huron or Michigan, is that the floatation compartments took on a lot of water. I doubt I was capsized for much more than a minute and I had her mostly bailed out probably almost that fast. The hatches were in correctly and the plugs were tight. I'm guessing there were five gallons of water in the forward compartment (a drywall bucket full) and at least half that much in the rear.

Having gotten the bugaboo of capsizing out of the way, it was great sailing the rest of the day. I moved to the forward bench on a downwind run and that big wave that was following my transom disappeared! S-gybes really work!  Everything Al says checks out! I keep waiting for her to get up on a plane a whoosh away like the Laser, but that hasn't happened yet. For now I'm content that where the waves off each side come together--that V wave that closes behind the transom--keeps moving farther and farther away from the boat as I get the hang of things.

Sky is relieved that she missed the capsize but glad it happened.  While we were talking, Sky and I puzzled that to match the horsepower of some of the boats on the lake, Solje would have to have 75 of her motors mounted.

Because it's getting late in the season we might just float down the St Clair River for this year. It sounds like we missed a great rally in the Apostle Islands. I bet it really was lovely.

Onward, Chip

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2011 7:46 PM

Hi, Chip:
Hope all continues to go well. Great story, Chip, one which I am at last posting to the WIT and in today's season-opening Weekly Whiffle. One thing to stress though is that adequate buoyancy is a must!! So I hope you have getting better hatch seals as a very high priority item!!