Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

Well, it finally happened.  Last night, after work, I rolled down to Green Lake to do a bit of sailing to wind down from the week.  It was blowing 10 knots with some gusts.  About an hour in, I was reaching for a granola bar in my duffel bag, with the mainsheet cleated and got hit by a puff.  Before I could blow the main, the gunwale dipped below the water and over she went.  It took about three seconds.

The water was refreshing, I untangled myself from the lines, uncleated the mainsheet and swam around to the daggerboard.  Using that and grabbing the dry gunwale, I was able to pull her up pretty easily.  Then I was able to pull myself into the boat.  She floated with about 3 inches of freeboard left.  Both fore and aft buoyancy tanks were airtight.  I was able to start bailing and sail around to pick up my jetsam.  Once I cleaned up my mess, I was pretty chilled, so sailed straight back to the launch site.  It took about 20 minutes of constant bailing to empty the boat with that poly bailer WM sells.

Lessons learned:  My Eastport pram was not recoverable, as it would not float with me in it above the water, so required additional buoyancy.  The Passagemaker does, but it would be considerably more risky in any kind of seaway.  I have two Holt Opti bags that fit perfectly under the center thwart, so will use them from now on.  I obviously will be more careful when cleating the mainsheet and letting myself get distracted.

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RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

My own Passagemaker capsize recovery experience was similar.  Capsize itself was the result of losing control of the tiller, which then went hard over, causing her to spin on a dime, tack herself, and get the sail aback before I could move my weight (sitting on the bottom) away from what had suddenly become the lee side before that was rendered impossible by my feet being higher than my hips.  Water started coming in down my back, and she spat me out into the drink like a bad oyster.

The large compartments kept her floating high and on her side, with no inclination to turtle, which was comforting.  I guess that's one advantage of having a boat with this much rocker.  She came right back up with little pressure on the daggerboard, which was a relief, because I'd been sailing  with the "shorty" board in on account of the extensive shoals on either side of a narrow place I was working through upwind.  Swam back in over the rail and sorted out from there.

Lessons learned: (1) Don't let go of the tiller.  (2) Don't sit on the bottom.  Have since fashioned some "portable side seats" to bridge the gap between the thwart and sternsheets like a regular sailing dinghy cockpit so I don't have to sit on the floor.  Be ready to shift weight before initiating tack.  (3)  All gear secured with carabiners to transverse jacklines under the lips of the forward and aft seats, small items in small mesh bags.  (4) BlueTooth earpiece is water resistant if not deeply immersed.

Lessons reinforced: (1) Cell phone and wallet in Pelican case works.  BlueTooth reconnected as soon as Pelican case came to the surface.  (2) Wear life jacket.  Just swimming is tiring; swimming to recover gear and to right boat are exhausting.


RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

As I am about to start my Eastport Pram build, this makes me wonder: what is its capsize story? When you say it was not recoverable, what would you do then if it capsized?

RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

Similar stories recently related from a couple of Waterlust canoe-builders over Across the Pond. One in the UK, another in Norway posting to CLC's sister company's builders' forum about their experiences with capsizes they've either done in testing or endured as a rude surprise:

and -

This thread's a long one, longest by far of any posted to the FyneBoats forum. May be longer than any posted here as well!

Early on with my interest in this Waterlust design I opened a dialogue with Dillon about the potential for adding amas to this watercraft as an accessory. As designed I think it's supposed to be used with some additional ballast in the way of either expedition gear (appropriate to its being tagged as an 'expedition canoe' in the first place) or suitable ballast to roughly equal that kind of poundage.

Or a passenger.

Otherwise, with a design load rating of 400 pounds, a single sailor may not bring its LWL down to where it's more stable in the water than when lightly loaded.  

These posts caught my eye, caused me to renew the discussion with Dillon. Also to look on my own for what I could find on the 'web about amas and their design & construction.

Which led to me contacting the designer of the W-17 trimaran that CLC happens to sell kits for, Mike Waters.

It's been over two weeks that our three-way conversation's been taking place. I'm glad to say there may soon be more than one solution to this end. CLC is behind Dillon's endeavor to develop his thoughts to a practical conclusion (though as he's on maternity leave now it may be awhile yet in coming!) and Mike has a viable plan he's sketched out and passed along to me. 

RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

Hey Andrew,

This was just my experience, not dunking on the EP.  This is why I bought the Holt buoyancy bags.  They fit perfectly in the circular cutouts below the center thwart.  I was doing the Duck Dodge race on Lake Union a few years ago.  Had a similar thing happen to me as described above and the boat capsized.  I was able to right it and get back inside, but it floated with me in in with the lowest point of the gunwales 2 inches below the water, so there was no way to bail it out.  I even tried bailing it before I got in, but that lets in a bunch more water and you're right back where you started.  Eventually a large sailboat came up and pulled the boat out of the water with a halyard and gave me a ride back to the ramp.

RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery


Interesting, thank you! When I actually build my EP, I'll need to research adding more flotation to it. Most of my sailing experience is with large cruising sailboats; the idea if capsizing scares me more than it probably should.


RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

Hey Andrew,

It may have just been my build.  To confront your concerns, I would just take it in some hip deep water, capsize it on purpose and try to recover it.  When I had Hobie cats, we'd do righting practice at the beginning of each season.  It can actually be fun with the right attitude.

Regardless, I loved my EP, just needed to eventually move up to the PM.

This is similar to what I got at West Marine.

RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

   Has anyone installed an Anderson automatic bailer in the Passagemaker?  I raced Lightnings years ago.  Capsize was not a problem (except you lost the race).  We would right the boat, open the bailer and sail it out of the water and the water would flow out of the boat.

RE: Passagemaker Capsize Recovery

 Hey Nutt,

Those  bailers are designed for boats like lasers with very little cockpit volume.  They require considerable speed to start drainging.  While my PM was full of water, I could barely get enough speed to tack to pick up my flotsam.  A bailer would just be a hole in the bottom of the boat to let water in.

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