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Knockdown in a C22

Sep 15, 2016
606
Catalina 22 Minnesota
From time to time people ask on these forums how far a Catalina can heal, will it tip, sink, etc. The answer to all of this is yes it can sink (it’s a boat) and yes it can be knocked down but I can now speak from experience that it is very gentle. I was racing my wing keel this year at the Nationals and while flying the 150 genoa and the main rounding the weather mark we were hit by a gust well over 25 kts. The crew was all on the high side and the boat laid completely over. According to the committee boat at the mark the entire wing keel and rudder were out of the water. The Genoa was in the water, and there was water coming over the coming into the seating area. The boat stayed on its side until the main was released and immediately stood back up. No crew (yes 3 were children) were injured or hurt and the boat performed perfectly. The cockpit drains but its not instantaneous. After finishing the race (not last!) we were reflecting on the event and talking with other experts. Here are some lessons learned.
  • Knockdowns happen, relax, you are not going to die and the boat will right itself. The boat will easily heal until water is just starting over the rail with no issues. Your keel is just about out as water reaches the wench on the coaming and completely out when it flows into the cockpit.
  • All cockpit lockers must be latched. The number 1 way to see our little boats sink is for that lazaret lid to open quickly filling the cockpit and cabin with water.
  • Swing keels rarely fall back into the trunk even in a knock down(according to those who have done it more than a few times)
  • During a knock down think like a dingy. Get to the high side, release the main and let the jib sheet go to spill any water it may collect in the sail. I have inner tracks and the genoa was sheeted tight and did not collect water but it can be an issue.
  • Once the boat is up check all crew. Remain calm and talk through how even though it was scary it’s not the end of the world. After all that’s what life jacks are for and in the end it’s just a boat. We can always get a new one.
My only regret is that no one had a camera going when we went bottoms up as I sure would have liked to see it from the outside. In the end I am glad it happened as it taught all of us to trust the boat and the equipment. Really it could not have happened in better conditions with a rescue boat within about 50 feet of us. I can now say that although it happens fast the boat is really gentle as it rolls so there is time to stand on the coaming and free any sheets that may be stuck. I don’t know if this information will help others much but I thought I would share.

Oh yeah one more note. The cockpit coaming holes are great for your phone until they fill with water! Fair winds my fellow sailors!
 
Sep 30, 2013
3,279
1988 Catalina 22 central Florida
We got knocked down by a SMALL thunderstorm very early on in our learning curve. "Blow the mainsheet" was not reflexive for us yet, not by a long shot.

No pics here either. I have a mental one: green water pouring over the coaming, submerging the jib winch. We were standing on what was normally the vertical part of the cockpit bench. By NOW I had blown the sheet, but didn't have the presence of mind to do anything else but stand there in a surreal sort of calm, wondering if she would pop back up or not.

My buddy on the bow managed to stand on the edge of the deck, and never spilled a drop of his beer.
 
Jul 20, 2019
7
Catalina 22 Sport Indianapolis, IN
From time to time people ask on these forums how far a Catalina can heal, will it tip, sink, etc. The answer to all of this is yes it can sink (it’s a boat) and yes it can be knocked down but I can now speak from experience that it is very gentle. I was racing my wing keel this year at the Nationals and while flying the 150 genoa and the main rounding the weather mark we were hit by a gust well over 25 kts. The crew was all on the high side and the boat laid completely over. According to the committee boat at the mark the entire wing keel and rudder were out of the water. The Genoa was in the water, and there was water coming over the coming into the seating area. The boat stayed on its side until the main was released and immediately stood back up. No crew (yes 3 were children) were injured or hurt and the boat performed perfectly. The cockpit drains but its not instantaneous. After finishing the race (not last!) we were reflecting on the event and talking with other experts. Here are some lessons learned.
  • Knockdowns happen, relax, you are not going to die and the boat will right itself. The boat will easily heal until water is just starting over the rail with no issues. Your keel is just about out as water reaches the wench on the coaming and completely out when it flows into the cockpit.
  • All cockpit lockers must be latched. The number 1 way to see our little boats sink is for that lazaret lid to open quickly filling the cockpit and cabin with water.
  • Swing keels rarely fall back into the trunk even in a knock down(according to those who have done it more than a few times)
  • During a knock down think like a dingy. Get to the high side, release the main and let the jib sheet go to spill any water it may collect in the sail. I have inner tracks and the genoa was sheeted tight and did not collect water but it can be an issue.
  • Once the boat is up check all crew. Remain calm and talk through how even though it was scary it’s not the end of the world. After all that’s what life jacks are for and in the end it’s just a boat. We can always get a new one.
My only regret is that no one had a camera going when we went bottoms up as I sure would have liked to see it from the outside. In the end I am glad it happened as it taught all of us to trust the boat and the equipment. Really it could not have happened in better conditions with a rescue boat within about 50 feet of us. I can now say that although it happens fast the boat is really gentle as it rolls so there is time to stand on the coaming and free any sheets that may be stuck. I don’t know if this information will help others much but I thought I would share.

Oh yeah one more note. The cockpit coaming holes are great for your phone until they fill with water! Fair winds my fellow sailors!
Stuart-

First, glad you/your family are safe!

Second, could I get your permission to include this in the September MainBrace? It is very nicely done!

-Rich
 
May 20, 2016
2,989
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
Never a knockdown but my 1983 pop top swingkeel. I’ve buried the spreaders.
 
Sep 15, 2016
606
Catalina 22 Minnesota
Stuart-

First, glad you/your family are safe!

Second, could I get your permission to include this in the September MainBrace? It is very nicely done!

-Rich
Sure though you may want top correct some of the spelling. I am trying to find the time to do a more complete article for Nations this week from the "new guy" and family perspective. If you want it in word or something with a picture or 2 just let me know.
 
Jul 20, 2019
7
Catalina 22 Sport Indianapolis, IN
Sure though you may want top correct some of the spelling. I am trying to find the time to do a more complete article for Nations this week from the "new guy" and family perspective. If you want it in word or something with a picture or 2 just let me know.
Stuart-

WORD format would be great. Thank you.
Fixing spelling is no issue...have to do it on reports and articles all the time.

Thanks,

-Rich
 

greg_m

.
May 23, 2017
692
Catalina Jaguar 22 Simons Town
Wow... lucky escape. Unlike that C22, not so long ago, whose cockpit locker fell open and water flooded in and sank the boat in seconds!

Good to know there is a good chance of recovery and survival but one must not become complacent in that knowledge.
 
Apr 11, 2017
564
Catalina C22 Solomon's Island, MD
When I was growing up - my family had a 19 foot racing catamaran called a Nacra. It would easily sail at 20 knots, and fly a hull. We went over a few times - and the net effect was from screaming along busting through waves at 30 degrees heel, to just very gently and slowly going over - the boat coming to a calm standstill on its side, and everything becoming suddenly peaceful. Time seems to slow down when it's happening - or it's just slower than you expect.

What would seem like a scary experience in contemplation, was actually always very calm, slower than you would expect, and basically, quieter than what you were just doing. I'd think it would be the same on a C22. Those unlocked cockpit lazarettes and companionway bin boards are what you need to watch out for though.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,851
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I have never flipped a boat. Not my Opti, nor a Sunfish, not my Hobi 18, nor been aboard a keel boat that got knocked down. However, I can see where a knock down in a catamaran would not be the same experience as one aboard a keel boat.
A catamaran is most likely to get knocked down from over sailing in high winds and pushing too hard, but a keel boat, I suspect, gets knocked down, most often, from a combination of hard, gusty winds combined with a bad angle to a large wave, add a jibe in there as your boat tips over the wave crest and you've got a very sudden event that doesn't give you time to prepare.
Complacency is your enemy. I've sailed a lot in my youth, but I've never experienced a knockdown, I could easily start thinking that is unlikely to ever happen to me and, consequently, be totally unprepared.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Sep 15, 2016
606
Catalina 22 Minnesota
When I was growing up - my family had a 19 foot racing catamaran called a Nacra. It would easily sail at 20 knots, and fly a hull. We went over a few times - and the net effect was from screaming along busting through waves at 30 degrees heel, to just very gently and slowly going over - the boat coming to a calm standstill on its side, and everything becoming suddenly peaceful. Time seems to slow down when it's happening - or it's just slower than you expect.

What would seem like a scary experience in contemplation, was actually always very calm, slower than you would expect, and basically, quieter than what you were just doing. I'd think it would be the same on a C22. Those unlocked cockpit lazarettes and companionway bin boards are what you need to watch out for though.
I too have sailed Hobie's and they also go over slow. Really it's the same for capri's Lasers, etc... On a C22 though it's easy to get comfortable as it's a bit bigger than a dingy. The lazeretts are the main issue in sinking. I used to think the companion way would be in issue as well but being it is so high off the cockpit floor you would be 1/2 submerged before it took in water there anyway.
 
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Likes: Gene Neill
Jul 13, 2015
767
Catalina 22 #2552 2252 Kennewick, WA
to @Gene Neill 's point-- look at that main sheet: physics is your friend-- you can't be rolled if you dump the main in real time. When and if I find myself pushing it, the main-sheet is in my hand ready to ease up to and including release.

Two cheap SS carabiners on each laz are mandatory before we launch regardless of weather.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,851
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
to @Gene Neill 's point-- look at that main sheet:
Ha ha ha, look at the position of the rudder. Normally, my first reaction to a sudden gust threatening to knock me over is to bring her up, then it occurs to me to tend the sheet. However, the fact that the rudder is so easy to see shows how ineffective that strategy would be, just as it is proving to be for the sailor in Gene's picture, who is trying to gall off? The only option here is to dump the sheet. I hope he dumps the jib sheet first so he can come upwind when he rights. I can't tell from the picture, but can that captain even reach his sheet from where he's standing? At some point, that sail just isn't going to have enough lift to prevent the keel from bringing her back up, unless he picks up a lot of water with his sails. The frozen time shot doesn't allow us to know if he's on his way over, on his way back up, or somehow sailing along steady as she goes.

-Will (Dragonfly)