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Thread: Capsize recovery with a sailing canoe

  1. #1

    Default Capsize recovery with a sailing canoe

    In my sailing canoe I have now tried three systems of floatation. And after many capsizes (and filming a few to see what happens), I now changed back to the system as originally specified by the designer, Axel Schmid. This is a post to share experiences.

    System 1:

    Airbags in the bow and stern, pool noodles on the sides. It works, but I wanted the boat to have less water in after a capsize. (my background is in sailing the foiling international moth, where you can recover from a capsize in a few seconds, without water in the boat, that is, if you weren't thrown out and landed 5 metres off your boat ))

    2. Big airbags on the side
    It worked, but they reduced space in the cockpit, and I didn't like the idea of getting punctures in them. Also, when you capsize, one of the airbags is under water and since they are flexible part of it floats up, reducing their use. What was really nice was that you can store long mast parts in the bow and under the aft deck.

    3. After doing a few more capsizes, and looking where the water comes in, I spent a few days to tailor-make floatation, out of closed cell foam, made to fill as much area on the sides of the boat. I glued them together with epoxy, then covered them with some cloth to make it look nicer.
    It broke! Plus, there was still coming in quite some water, after a capsize, the boat floated nearly level with the water surface. That means you have to be aggressive with the first bailing out to make the boat floats a bit higher (waves!) and you are winning in the water ingress. In an emergency you can always drop the rig, which stabilizes the boat, and gets some weight out. But I'm a racer, so for me this would cost too much time. Axel seems to like it though see under "safety"
    Here's a capsize video with this system:

    All three systems worked, in that i could capsize and right the boat, while keeping the rig up, but I'm fussy when it comes to capsizes. So, after this trip I'm back at system 1. There is quite some water in the boat, but it is a reliable system, and within 4 minutes I bailed out the boat and am sailing again (my estimate is four capsizes in waves including bailing out in a row would be physically exhausting, I'm a fairly fit 46 year old). The bailer I use is from an Optimist sailboat, it contains 4 litres.
    With wider side decks and a bigger boat (think: solway dory size) you may be able to get less water in after a capsize. Different technique for climbing in may help too (climbing in from the back of the boat).

    Any thoughts, ideas, different techniques for different boats? Maybe we should discuss capsize technique as well?


    Canoe sailing trips:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    Thank you for posting a

    How did you find the pool noodles

    Did they give you enough support to climb in again when the boat was full of water?



    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010


    Thanks for posting, Koos, that's interesting. In my sea kayak I have an electric pump that runs from a sealed lead-acid battery (150 20 89 mm, 700g) operated by a foot switch. It has the capacity to empty the cockpit, following a re-entry, about ten times before the battery is flat. Something of that kind might avoid the risk of becoming tired by bailing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Nr Hampton Court, West London


    My OC1s had a pump with a battery in a pelicase. My latest has one with a float switch but not yet connected.

    I'm all for broad based experience, mine ranges from 12 meters to Topper sailing boat through trapezing asymetric skiffs and low rider moths, but yours from foiling to sailing opens seems about as wide as it can go. (you might have to go to marathon C1s, or single sculling to make it even broader.)

    Anyway, 10 / 10 for effort and skill.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Deepest darkest Wales


    This is worth watching - the capsize recovery starts about eight and a half minutes in.

    This post may vanish at any moment.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Eastern England


    I'm dying to have the time to make one of those, Doug.

    Good area for discussion, Koos. Not sure I have too much to add, except to remember that last time I capsized my Apache while sailing I found I couldn't bail fast enough to stop water coming in over the sides. Fortunately it did float and was paddleable to the nearest sandbar where I emptied it out, lowered the sail and paddled back to shore.

  7. #7


    Hey, suddenly this discussion takes off i guess it is time for spring!
    The pool noodles (your local toy store has them) were not enough to float the boat, front and back airbags were needed too.
    Yes, battery operated bilge pumps. Over here, the germans from Kayaksegeln 3.0 use them, very efficient. But I'm trying to keep the batteries onboard to a minimum.
    A friend visiting this weekend had a serious dislike to discuss capsizes (he's a bit a paddling guru here I'm starting to think) as, you shouldn't capsize your boat. Hum, not for me
    The other boat is an 11 tonne (11.000 kg) steel sailing barge
    Bring on spring!
    Canoe sailing trips:

  8. #8


    Another capsize video
    Canoe sailing trips:

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