WindCheck Magazine

How to Keep a Small Sailboat from Capsizing…and what to do if it does

By John McCabe

small sailboats can easily capsize

Keeping weight to windward and the centerboard (or daggerboard) fully lowered will reduce the boat’s tendency to capsize in a breeze. Photo courtesy of Rick Bannerot/

On my second date with a young lady in the early 1960s, she and I were sailing on a 19-foot Lightning on the Navesink River in New Jersey. The weather was picture-perfect, and my date was all dressed up for a day on the water. I was at the tiller. At some point I had to announce calmly that we were going to capsize. Reflecting back on what she heard, she recalls that she had a couple of seconds to think about what that meant, then, suddenly, she was up to her neck in the water. It all worked out OK though – we’ll soon be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary! I have had the opportunity to be on a number of boats since then and have learned some important lessons on how to keep a small sailboat from capsizing and what to do if it does.

Have in mind that any sailboat can capsize, but let’s describe what “capsize” means. The mainsail prevents most boats from going over more than 90 degrees – at least for a short time. The mast, if made of metal, is hollow, and the air in the mast will keep it afloat, at least until it fills with water. With a sailboat with a fixed keel, the weight of the keel will right the boat more or less fairly soon. While sailing with a centerboard, the board will inhibit the boat from capsizing and like a keel, will push the boat forward when the wind hits the boat at an angle, rather than moving the boat directly sideways. When a sailboat has its centerboard down, the boat will be less likely to capsize, but if it does, the centerboard will help. With a little effort the centerboard will indeed help right the boat as discussed below.

What causes a small sailboat to capsize? It is often the misalignment of weight, not just the wind. Indeed, even in light wind, if the weight is misaligned, the boat can tip over. Weight sources are people and importantly the boom! When the weight of people is on one side, the tipping of the boat will cause the boom to move to that side by the force of gravity, not necessarily the wind. Indeed, in light winds the force of gravity on the boom can have a greater effect on the position of the boom than the force of the wind! Thus, in light air there is still the potential of capsizing if both the weight of people and boom are on one side. This brings us to the first rule that must be followed:

Rule 1: The centerboard must be fully down at all times when a sail is up.

Now, there may be times with the boat goes aground. For a keelboat, you can put the motor in reverse as strong as possible to see if the boat can be backed out of the mud or sand. At the same time you can try to rock the boat. For a small sailboat with the centerboard down, you can try to use the motor. Preferably, however, you should use an oar to push off from the bottom or oars to row off the bottom. The outboard motor propeller, if made of plastic, is meant to break if it hits a rock or a hard bottom. At this point, it is very tempting to raise the centerboard a few inches to loosen the boat from the bottom. But do not do this – you risk capsizing! First, take the sail down. Then maneuver the boat off the bottom using the oars, motor or other method. Again, fully lower the sail before raising the centerboard even an inch. Note Rule 1, above.

Rule 2: Don’t stand up in a small sailboat when underway.

This rule helps in weight distribution in as least three ways. First, because of the boom, it may be harder to move your body to the correct location on the boat, and second, if the boom, because of gravity or the wind, hits your body (hopefully not your head), it reinforces the force to capsize the boat at a higher center of gravity. Third, if your body or head is at or above the level of the boom, the boom cannot move to let the air out of the mainsail. This exacerbates the force that will tip the boat. Note that standing up is not the sole factor that can cause a boat to capsize, but it can be a contributing factor. At all times, keep low and be prepared to uncleat the mainsheet and let the sail out. Be prepared to shift weight rapidly if necessary, but otherwise keep a low profile and move slowly. In summary, don’t stand up in a small sailboat, except perhaps while boarding.

small sailboats can easily capsize

If you’ve capsized, climb onto the centerboard, grab the rail and use your weight to lever the boat upright. Note the empty 1-gallon bottle tied to the masthead, which helps prevent the boat from turning turtle. Photo courtesy of Rick Bannerot/

Rule 3: Be prepared at all times to let out the mainsheet or turn into the wind, or both, in moderate or heavy winds.

The recommendation here is the sailors should at all times know where the wind is coming from, its force, and where your boat is in relation to the wind. Keep your hand on the mainsheet so that it can be loosened and readjusted easily at any time. Also, keep your hand on the tiller so that the direction of the boat can be adjusted promptly. At all times be prepared to unclog the main sheet and let the sail out. Also, when do you reef the main sail? As soon as you think of it! – old sailor wisdom. Note that the farther the boom and sail are let out the more weight is put toward the side where the boom is located. But, ironically, you should let the sail out because it will catch less wind! Let it out a little or a lot, in your judgment. Alternatively, turn the boat into the wind. The preferred approach is to choose your direction, and then adjust the sails to achieve that direction, if possible.

Once you are on a tack in a small boat, do not jibe (change direction by turning in the direction the wind is blowing towards) except in light winds because you risk capsizing. Always “come about” (turn in the direction the wind is coming from) and call out in a strong enough voice “COMING ABOUT!” so all on board know what is happening and can change their position to be on the windward side of the boat. You can also say, “hard to lee” meaning the tiller is moved quickly and fully to the leeward side of the boat (in the direction the wind is blowing toward) forcing the boat to turn into the wind. Always have the mainsheet in hand, and I would suggest wearing gloves. Gloves also keep the sailor’s hands from getting sunburned, an added benefit. In summary, when at risk for capsize, let out the mainsheet and/or turn into wind. Preferably, let out the mainsheet.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Climb back aboard from the bow or stern. Attempting to board from the side may cause the boat to flip again. Photo courtesy of Rick Bannerot/

Rule 4: On a small sailboat, do not use the motor when the sail is up.

This rule may surprise some sailors. In a larger boat with a keel, you need to turn the motor on before bringing down the main sail because you will have no control over the boat direction when there are no sails up. On the other hand, in a small centerboard sailboat, if the motor is on and the crew is in the process of taking down the sails there is a risk of capsizing while the motor is in gear. This is dangerous because the prop will continue to turn even with the boat turned over 90 degrees. That presents a risk to those who may at that point be in the water. Understand that the motor can keep running if the boat capsizes unless it is shut off either by twisting the handle or using a magnetic disk release (See Rule 5). On a small sailboat, the motor must be off when taking the sails down. The boat will naturally head into the wind if the tiller is let go.

Rule 5: Use a magnetic disk engine shutoff and wristband when two or more people are on the boat.

Some electric outboard motors have a magnetic disk and a pad that will shut the motor off when and if the magnetic disk is separated from the pad. The magnetic disk has a wristband that may be used by the operator holding the tiller on the outboard. It is a good idea to use this wristband when underway with the outboard in gear. This is particularly true when there are two or more individuals on board a small boat. Again, if the boat capsizes or there is a man overboard, the motor will continue to run and the propeller turn unless the motor is shut off. This may be hard to do in an urgent situation or if a sudden, unexpected event occurs.

What to do if the small sailboat capsizes

A small sailboat may capsize, but it can be expected to turn over initially not more than about 90 degrees. This is enough to fill the boat with water and if left in that position, the mast may go down further in the water making the challenge of righting the boat more difficult. Accordingly, if the boat capsizes, take the following steps as quickly as possible:

  • Account for all who were on board. Grab the lifejackets and put them on. Of course, make sure the life jackets are easily accessible before departure. [Better still, put them on before leaving the dock – Ed.] For inexperienced passengers, make sure their lifejackets are on before putting on your lifejacket. Of course, children 12 and under must wear lifejackets at all times. Always have lifejackets on board for all persons on board. An extra lifejacket can be tied to or placed on the top of the mast, which will keep the mast from sinking further into the water.
  • Swim to the bottom side of the boat and stand on the centerboard, grabbing the rail until the boat rights itself. The boat will still be full of water, but it’s unlikely to sink. The water may even be at a level that is slightly below the edges of the coamings. However, water may be sloshing in and out of the boat at this time.
  • Then enter the boat from either the bow or the stern – not the side. The bow will usually be better as the weight on the bow will not result in lowering the cockpit below the waterline and the motor in the back represents weight there. Hopefully, if there is a hole in the stern for the tiller, that hole will be moved above the waterline. The boat will float but it can still take on water. If’t is easier to board the boat from the stern, that’s OK too.
  • Once in the cockpit, grab a bucket placed in the boat earlier (note boat inventory list below). Then, move to the forward side of cockpit to sit and bail. Why? The hole in the stern for the rudder will let in water and you may prevent this by being in the forward end of the cockpit. The tiller should be free, and the boat will normally point into the wind. Next, lower the sails if you can in this timeframe.
  • The best position to sit when bailing out the boat is the forward portion of the cockpit, i.e., towards the bow. The crew member in the cockpit should place his or her back against the front of the cockpit (bow end of the coaming). If a second person is present, he or she should be in water at the bow to hold down the bow. Positioning the boat like a banana will aid in the bailout. Using the bucket, the crew member in the cockpit should bail the water out of the cockpit furiously in the beginning, until the water in the boat is at a level that he or she can bail at a more comfortable pace. It is quite feasible to remove 100% of the water from the boat using a combination of the bucket, a hand bilge pump and a sponge. When most of the water is out of the boat, a crew member in the water can enter the boat from the stern (not the side), being careful not to tip the boat over again.
  • Wave for help if necessary. Also, if possible, a “Mayday” can be sent on VHF channel 16, monitored by the U.S. Coast Guard, or call 911 on your cell phone. Hopefully, the sail can be hoisted again and the boat can proceed to its destination.

Small Boat Inventory Checklist

Small Boat Inventory Checklist

John McCabe is a professional artist with a focus on portraiture ( He has studios in Milford, CT and Great Falls, VA. He and his wife, Peggy, have four children and seven grandchildren. They all sail out of Milford Harbor.

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1. Understanding Sailboat Stability

Before we dive into the topic of sailboat capsizing, it’s essential to grasp the concept of sailboat stability. Sailboats rely on a delicate balance between buoyancy, the shape of their hulls, and the distribution of weight. This equilibrium ensures that the boat remains upright and maintains its stability while maneuvering through water.

2. Factors Contributing to Sailboat Capsizing

Several factors can contribute to sailboat capsizing. Understanding these factors will help sailors make informed decisions to minimize the risk of capsizing incidents.

Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds, high waves, and sudden storms, pose a significant risk to sailboats. Powerful gusts can exert excessive force on the sails, causing the boat to tip over or capsize. It’s crucial for sailors to monitor weather forecasts and avoid venturing into hazardous conditions.

Design and Stability Characteristics

The design and stability characteristics of a sailboat play a crucial role in its resistance to capsizing. Factors such as hull shape, keel design, and ballast contribute to a boat’s stability. Sailboats with deep keels and a low center of gravity are generally more stable and less prone to capsizing.

Improper Handling and Operator Error

Inexperienced sailors or those who fail to adhere to proper handling techniques are at a higher risk of capsizing their sailboats. Incorrect sail trim, excessive heeling, abrupt maneuvers, or overloading the boat can destabilize the vessel, leading to a capsize. It is essential for sailors to receive proper training and practice good seamanship.

3. Statistics on Sailboat Capsizing

To gain a better understanding of the frequency of sailboat capsizing, let’s explore some relevant statistics.

Global Incident Rates

Accurate global incident rates for sailboat capsizing are challenging to determine due to underreporting and varying definitions of “capsizing.” However, it is evident that capsizing incidents occur across different bodies of water worldwide.

Types of Sailboats Most Prone to Capsizing

Certain types of sailboats are more susceptible to capsizing than others. Small, lightweight dinghies and high-performance racing sailboats are more likely to capsize due to their design and the nature of their intended use. Larger cruising sailboats with keels and more stability tend to have a lower risk of capsizing.

Capsizing Incidents and Fatalities

While the majority of sailboat capsizing incidents do not result in fatalities, it is crucial to prioritize safety and minimize the risks involved. Fatalities can occur in extreme weather conditions or when proper safety measures are not followed.

4. Preventive Measures and Safety Tips

To reduce the likelihood of sailboat capsizing and ensure a safe sailing experience, consider the following preventive measures and safety tips:

Checking Weather Conditions

Always check weather forecasts before setting sail. Avoid venturing into adverse weather conditions, such as high winds or storms. Stay informed and have a backup plan if conditions worsen unexpectedly.

Proper Boat Maintenance and Rigging

Regular maintenance of your sailboat is essential for its seaworthiness. Inspect the rigging, sails, and hull for any signs of wear or damage. Ensure that all components are properly rigged and in good working condition.

Adequate Training and Experience

Obtain adequate training and gain experience before setting out on the open water. Learn the basics of sailing, including boat handling, navigation, and understanding weather patterns. Consider taking sailing courses or joining a sailing club to enhance your skills.

Safety Equipment and Emergency Preparedness

Equip your sailboat with essential safety equipment, including life jackets, flares, a first aid kit, and a functioning VHF radio. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and ensure that everyone on board knows how to use the safety equipment.

Understanding Sailboat Limits and Operating within Them

Every sailboat has its limits. Understand the capabilities and limitations of your boat, especially regarding wind conditions and weight capacity. Avoid overloading the boat and be mindful of the sailboat’s stability characteristics.

5. Conclusion

Sailboat capsizing is a concern for sailors worldwide. However, with proper knowledge, preparation, and adherence to safety guidelines, the risk of capsizing incidents can be significantly reduced. Understanding sailboat stability, recognizing contributing factors, and implementing preventive measures will ensure a safer and more enjoyable sailing experience for all enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. is capsizing a common occurrence for sailboats.

Capsizing incidents are relatively rare, especially when considering the vast number of sailboats worldwide. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety and take measures to minimize the risk of capsizing.

2. Are smaller sailboats more likely to capsize?

Yes, smaller sailboats, such as dinghies, tend to be more prone to capsizing due to their lightweight construction and design characteristics. However, proper handling and adherence to safety guidelines can mitigate the risk.

3. Can a sailboat capsize in calm weather conditions?

While capsizing is more commonly associated with adverse weather conditions, it is possible for a sailboat to capsize even in calm weather. Improper handling or operator error can destabilize the boat, leading to a capsize.

4. What should I do if my sailboat capsizes?

If your sailboat capsizes, remain calm and follow proper safety procedures. Stay with the boat, as it provides flotation. Signal for help if needed and follow appropriate rescue techniques.

5. Are there any specialized courses for learning how to prevent sailboat capsizing?

Yes, there are various sailing courses available that focus on safety and preventing capsizing incidents. These courses cover topics such as seamanship, boat handling techniques, and understanding weather conditions.

In conclusion, understanding the factors contributing to sailboat capsizing, maintaining proper sailboat stability, and following preventive measures are key to enjoying a safe and adventurous sailing experience. While sailboat capsizing incidents may occur, they can be minimized through knowledge, experience, and preparedness. By checking weather conditions, maintaining the sailboat, receiving adequate training, equipping with safety gear, and understanding the boat’s limits, sailors can navigate the waters with confidence. Remember, safety should always be a top priority to ensure a memorable and incident-free sailing journey.

Mark Alexander Thompson

Mark Alexander Thompson is a seasoned sailor with over five years of experience in the boating and yachting industry. He is passionate about sailing and shares his knowledge and expertise through his articles on the sailing blog In his free time, Mark enjoys exploring new waters and testing the limits of his sailing skills. With his in-depth understanding of the sport and commitment to improving the sailing experience for others, Mark is a valuable contributor to the sailing community.

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11 Best Small Sailboat Brands: How to Choose Your Next Daysailer or Pocket Cruiser

12th oct 2023 by samantha wilson.

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Sailing is a relaxing, invigorating pastime that allows you to harness wind and waves in a unique and historic way without requiring a 50-foot yacht to enjoy what’s special about the experience. In fact, small sailboats allow a delightful back-to-basics experience that often gets lost on larger, systems-heavy sailboats.

On a small sailboat you can connect with the sea, feeling the boat move beneath you. The boat is typically easy to rig, simple to sail, and can even be sailed solo. Small sailboats give you the freedom to trailer your or car-top your boat and go anywhere, and they’re perfect for learning the nuances of sailing. There are many excellent brands and models of small sailboat, each with their own appeal, and here we narrow down some of our favorite in the daysailer and pocket cruiser categories under 30 feet. 

Difference Between a Daysailer and a Pocket Cruiser

While there are many different types of sailboat on the market and there is no single definition of either a daysailer or a pocket cruiser, they are used in a particular way, as the names imply. The term daysailer covers a huge array of sailboats, smaller and sometimes larger, and is generally defined as any day boat used for local sailing, with a simple rig, and easy to get underway. A pocket cruiser typically offers a cabin and head, and adequate accommodations for an overnight stay and sometimes longer cruises. Having said that, there is a large overlap between the two in many instances, so the lines may become blurred. 

What Size is a Small Sailboat?

Small is a relative term of course, but in general—and for the purposes of this article—a small sailboat is one that could be sailed by a small crew, often with one or two people aboard. It will have a simple rig and be trailerable, and it might be either a daysailer or pocket-cruiser style vessel as above. Within those categories, there are many models and styles, but when it comes to length we consider a sailboat as small when it’s under 30 feet in overall length. 

The Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Pocket cruiser: Beneteau First 27.  The Beneteau First 27 is a modern example of a pocket cruiser, earning Cruising World ’s Boat of the Year award in the Pocket Cruiser category in 2022. With space for up to six people accommodated in a separated bow-cabin and open saloon, it offers families the chance to go farther, explore more, and cruise in comfort. There is a galley with freshwater and a head, adding to the interior home comforts. The sailboat itself is modern, fast, and stable, designed by Sam Manuard, and has been designed to be incredibly safe and almost unsinkable thanks to its three watertight chambers. The handling is also refreshingly intuitive, with a well-designed cockpit, simple deck controls, and double winches allowing it to be sailed solo, by two people, or a small crew. 

Beneteau First 27

Photo credit: Beneteau

Daysailer: Alerion 28.  You’ll certainly turn heads cruising along in an Alerion 28, a daysailer whose forerunner by the same name was designed by Nathanael Herreshoff in 1912 and then updated with a modern underbody for fiberglass production by Carl Schumacher in the late 1980s. This pretty daysailer manages to combine a traditional silhouette and classic feel, with very modern engineering creating an excellent package. Over 470 of these sailboats were built and sold in the past 30 years, making it one of the most popular modern daysailers on the water. With a small cabin and saloon, complete with miniature galley area, it offers respite from the sun or wind and the option for a night aboard. The cockpit offers a beautiful sailing experience, with plenty of space for the whole family. 


Photo credit: Alerion Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 25 Feet

Pocket cruiser: Cornish Crabber 24.  British manufacturer Cornish Crabber has been producing beautiful, traditional style small sailboats for decades, ensuring they honor their heritage both in the construction style and appearance of their boats. The Cornish Crabber 24 is the most iconic of their range and dates back to the 1980s. It offers a simple yet surprisingly spacious interior layout with cabin, galley, and head, and a good sized cockpit, as well as seating for up to six people. It’s the perfect family sailboat, with clever use of storage as well as just under 5000 pounds of displacement providing stability and easy tacking. Aesthetically the 24 is simply beautiful, with a traditional silhouette (combined with modern engineering), finished in hardwood trims. 

Cornish Crabber 24

Photo credit: Cornish Crabber

Daysailer: Catalina 22 Capri.  Catalina sailboats need little introduction, and are one of the world’s best-known, most-respected brands building small sailboats. The Catalina 22 Capri (also available in a sport model) is a great example of what Catalina does so well. While we’ve classified it as a daysailer, it could easily cross into the pocket cruiser category, as it offers excellent sailing performance in almost all conditions as well as having a small cabin, galley, and head. Loved for its safety, stability, ease of handling and simple maintenance, it makes for a good first family boat for getting out onto the bay or lake. 

Catalina 22 Capri

Photo credit: Catalina

The Best Sailboats Under 20 Feet

Pocket cruiser: CapeCutter 19.  This is another model that combines the beauty of the traditional silhouettes with modern-day advancements. The design originates from the classic gaff cutter work boats, but today offers excellent performance—in fact it’s one of the fastest small gaffers in the world. The interior is cleverly spacious, with four berths, two of which convert into a saloon, as well as a simple galley area. With quick rigging, it can be sailed solo, but is also able to accommodate small groups, making it a capable and hugely versatile pocket cruiser. 

CapeCutter 19

Photo credit: Cape Cutter 19

Daysailer: Swallow Yachts’ BayRaider 20.  Classic looks with modern performance are combined in Swallow Yachts’ beautiful BayRaider 20. This is one of the most capable and safest daysailers we’ve seen, but also incredibly versatile thanks to the choices of ballast. Keep the ballast tank empty and it’s light and fast. Fill the tank up and you’ve got a stable and safe boat perfect for beginners and families. While it’s got an eye-catching traditional style, the engineering is modern, with a strong carbon mast and construction. While this is a true daysailer, you can use the optional spray hood and camping accessories to create an overnight adventure. 

Swallow Yachts BayRaider 20

Photo credit: Swallow Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 15 Feet

Pocket Cruiser: NorseBoat 12.5.  Can we truly call the NorseBoat 12.5 a pocket cruiser? Yes we can! The sheer versatility of this excellent little sailboat has convinced us. These beautiful hand-crafted sailboats offer exceptional performance and are described by the manufacturer as ‘the Swiss Army Knives of sailboats’. The traditionally styled 12.5 can be sailed, rowed, and motored. It can be trailered, easily beached, and even used as a camp cruiser, allowing for overnight adventures. There is no end to the fun that can be had with this easy-to-sail and easy-to-handle boat, which makes it a dream to learn in. With positive flotation, lots of clever storage, and a full-size double berth for camp cruising, it really is the perfect mini pocket cruiser. 

NorseBoat 12.5

Photo credit: NorseBoats

Daysailer: Original Beetle Cat Boat 12: All across the bays of the US east coast cat boats have long been part of the ocean landscape. Able to access shallow rocky coves yet also withstand the strong coastal winds, these traditional New England fishing boats have an iconic shape and gaff-rigged mainsails. Beetle Cat have been producing elegant wooden cat boats for over 100 years – in fact they’ve made and sold over 4,000 boats to date. Their 12 foot Cat Boat 12 is one of their finest models, offering lovely daysailing opportunities. It has a wide beam and centerboard that lifts up, allowing it to access shallow waters, as well as a forward mast and single sail gaff rig in keeping with the traditional cat boats. To sail one of these is to be part of the heritage of New England and Cape Cod, and to honor the ancient art of hand-made boat building. 

Beetle Cat official website

Beetle Cat Boat 12

Photo credit: Beetle Cat

The Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

When it comes to learning to sail, it’s important to have a boat that is easy to handle. There’s no quicker way to put yourself or your family off sailing than to start off with a boat that is either too big or too complicated. When choosing your first boat we recommend the following characteristics:

  • Small: The benefits of starting off with a small boat are many, as we’ve seen above. They’re easier to control as well as to moor, and they react more quickly to steering and sails. They can be trailered and launched easily, and the loads generated are much lower than on bigger, heavier boats.
  • Easy to sail: You want a boat that is stable and forgiving of mistakes, doesn’t capsize easily, and isn’t too overpowered in a stronger breeze. Keep things simple and learn as you go.
  • Simple sail configuration: Choosing a boat that can be rigged by one person in a few minutes, and easily sailed solo, makes it easier to take along inexperienced crews. With regards to the rig, all you need are a halyard to hoist the mainsail and a sheet to control the mainsail.
  • Tiller steering: We recommend boats with tiller steering over wheel steering when starting out. The tiller allows you to get a real feel for the boat and how the rudder works as it moves through the water. 

For more information on choosing the best beginner sailboat check out our full guide. There are many popular brands of beginner boats including Sunfish, Laser, and Hunter Marlow. Some of our favorites include;

Hobie 16: The classic Hobie catamaran has been a well-loved beginner sailboat for years, and the Hobie 16 started life back in 1969. Since then they’ve made and sold over a staggering 100,000 of the 16s. It has twin fiberglass and foam hulls, a large trampoline, and a pull-up rudder so it can be sailed straight onto the beach. The basic package comes with an easy to handle main and jib with plenty of extras available too such as a spinnaker and trailer. The Hobie 16 promises a great learning experience and lots of fun in a very nifty and inexpensive package. 

Hobie 16

Photo credit: Hobie

Paine 14: You’ll immediately fall in love with sailing when you step into a beautiful Paine 14. Made from seamless epoxy cold-molded wood, the P-14 is simply beautiful and offers the classic sailing experience with the design and innovation of a more modern hull and rig. Two people will be able to enjoy getting out on the water together and learning the ropes. The Paine 14 has a lead ballast keel that accounts for nearly half her weight, giving her the feel of a much larger boat, but is still trailerable and easy to manage offering the best of both worlds.

Paine 14

Photo credit: Chuck Paine

High-Performance Small Sailboats

Small sailboats generally become high performers if they are light, have a lot of sail area, or they have more than one hull. More recently, some of have been designed with foiling surfaces, as well. For the purposes of this article, we’d like to close by pointing out one model that is super fast and has versatile pocket-cruising capabilities.

Corsair 880 trimaran : The Corsair 880 trimaran is the grandchild of the company’s F27, a model that launched the popularity of trailerable leisure trimarans about 40 years ago. The 880 has taken the model to new heights and exemplifies the incredible space benefits you can achieve in a 29-foot sailboat. We’re talking an aft cabin, room to sleep 5 people, an enclosed head, and standing headroom in the galley and main saloon. It brings many of the opportunities that a much larger yacht plus the ability to cruise in extremely shallow water. Whether you want to cruise to the Bahamas or enjoy a high-adrenaline race, the Corsair 880 offers incredible performance and unlimited adventures in a truly pocket size. 

Corsair 880

Photo credit: Corsair

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.


More from: Samantha Wilson

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small sailboats can easily capsize

What Causes a Sailboat to Capsize or Tip Over?

What Causes a Sailboat to Capsize or Tip Over

Are you new to sailing and are worried about your boat tipping over? Do you constantly ask yourself what may cause it and if there’s a way to prevent it from happening? The idea of capsizing can be frightening and both experienced and new sailors worry about it.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What Causes A Boat To Capsize?
  • 2 Can a Sailboat Tip Over?
  • 3 Reasons for Capsizing
  • 4 Dangers of Capsized Boat
  • 5 How to Prevent a Boat from Capsizing
  • 6 What to Do When Sailboat Tips Over
  • 7 Frequently Asked Questions
  • 8 Conclusion

What Causes A Boat To Capsize ?

A boat can capsize due to various reasons such as rough weather conditions, overloading, improper distribution of weight, sudden shifts in weight, or hitting submerged objects. Understanding these causes and taking necessary precautions like maintaining balance and avoiding hazardous conditions can help prevent boat capsizing accidents.

There’s always a possibility that this can happen. However, knowing why it happens, what can cause it and what to do in case this happens will make it less terrifying. Besides, you’re cruising to have fun and being worried all the time will keep you from enjoying your sailing adventures. To keep your mind at ease, there are ways to prevent that from happening. This article will tackle all your concerns about your sailboat tipping over.

Can a Sailboat Tip Over?

Can a Sailboat Tip Over?

This is the question every sailor has in mind. While it would be nice to hear the words “no, don’t worry about it, there’s no way your boat will tip over”, that’s just not the case all the time. However, don’t let this discourage you from sailing because it doesn’t always happen. In fact, the chances of this happening are very slim.

If you are an inexperienced sailor, you may experience this more but rest assured that’s all part of the learning process. Once you gain more experience you’ll be able to lessen the chance of your sailboat tipping over.

Reasons for Capsizing

Reasons for Capsizing

According to the Coast Guard , the number one cause of boat accidents and deaths is sailboat capsizing. This is why it is very important to understand why this happens to avoid injuries and worst death. So, if you’re wondering why boats capsize, here are the top reasons why.

Operational Miscalculations

Most new sailors get too excited when driving their boat and often miscalculate when turning or changing directions. This usually causes the boat to lose balance and tip over. Many inexperienced sailors also make the mistake of securing the anchor line to the stern when it should be to the bow.

Boat Modification

If you want to do some modifications to your boat, make sure it will not affect the boat’s stability. Some modifications like a small tuna tower will make the boat unstable because it shifts the center of gravity. So before you make any changes to your boat, find out how it will affect your boat’s performance and natural vertical position.

Uneven Weight Distribution

The main reason why sailboats capsize is because of instability and this normally happens when weight is unevenly distributed and the center of gravity is moved higher. Lightweight boats have a light keel and not a heavy keel, making the vessel unstable. To keep the craft from tipping over, make sure everything in the boat is in its proper place, including the people on board.

Another thing to consider is the cargo weight. Most sailors often forget that the cargo on their boat can affect weight distribution when not properly placed and secured. The cargo can roll over and cause vessel capsizing due to uneven weight distribution. To avoid this, secure your cargo properly and place them where they should be.

Inclement Weather

Strong wind and storm can cause capsized vessel. It is recommended not to sail during bad weather for your own safety. But if you have to or you experienced sudden heavy rain, always make sure your drain holes are not blocked with any debris. You must keep them clear so water can be drained properly.

Weather conditions can be unpredictable. When you’re faced with a sudden squall and its wind fills the sails abruptly, your vessel could flip upside down, so it’s best to be prepared all the time and to check the weather forecast regularly.

Flooding is another reason why sailboats tip over. This is caused by water ingress onboard and can influence watertight integrity also the vessel’s stability. Flooding can be caused by several reasons, they can be internal and external.

Some causes of flooding can be due to contact, clogged drain plug, crashing with other sailboats, or grounding that may damage the boat’s hull. Hurricanes, typhoons, and ballast tank leakage for water ballast style sailboat are just some of the reasons why flooding can happen.

Can a sailboat tip over because of speed? Yes, there’s a real possibility. While it is fun to drive a sailboat at top speed, it is not always recommended, especially if you’re new to it. Whether you are operating a large boat or not, too much speed will make it hard for you to control the boat. When you lose control of the ship, there’s a big possibility for the boat to capsize.

Dangers of Capsized Boat

Dangers of Capsized Boat

What can potentially happen to you when your boat capsizes? The worst thing that can happen is death which we would all like to prevent from happening. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to survive death, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll go scot-free. Here are some of the dangers of a capsized boat.

  • Once your boat capsizes, and you decide to stay on it you won’t be able to control the ship. There is no way you can steer and control your speed and the direction you want to go to.
  • Another danger is the falling debris from your boat. You’ll never know what will get broken or fall off from it that can hurt you. Ropes can accidentally strangle you and any sharp objects from your boat’s accessories or broken pieces of the boat may cut and hurt you.
  • If you have electronic devices, you can get electrocuted as your boat tips over.
  • Sinking with your boat is another danger of capsizing. If you are driving a large boat and you get stuck inside it, water will drag you down together with your boat. Bigger boats are more dangerous as they can eventually sink very quickly.
  • Getting stuck inside the boat is another possibility. It can be because a big part of the boat had caught you or debris had fallen over you which prevent you from moving or swimming away from the boat. The last thing you’d want is to get stuck inside a capsized sailboat.
  • As sailboats tip over, it would be harder for the driver and passengers to free a lifeboat. So, even if you have a lifeboat or a small dinghy, there is never an assurance that you’d be able to release them on time. But this doesn’t mean they’re useless, it is advisable and a must to always have a lifeboat or any flotation device on a boat.

How to Prevent a Boat from Capsizing

How to Prevent a Boat from Capsizing

After learning the possible dangers of sailboats capsizing, you would want to know everything on how you can prevent it.

Manage weight distribution

Proper placement of weight is very important to your sailboat’s stability. Where you place cargo and where passengers sit are the main consideration in managing weight distribution. Don’t put all the weight on one side of the boat if you don’t want your sailboat to flip over. Where your passengers are sitting is also important. Don’t let your passengers sit too close to each other on any part of the boat, may it be on the back or both sides of the boat.

Take it slow

We’ve learned earlier that too much speed may cause a boat to flip over, so take it to slow especially when changing direction. You can easily lose control of the boat when you sail too fast , so just enjoy the view and take your sailing slow.

Some boat operators, especially the new ones get too excited when turning. They either maintain their speed or go even faster. However, the right thing to do is to reduce the speed when taking a bend because sharp turns can cause your boat to tip over. The smaller the boat is, the slower you need to drive and turn.

Don’t go beyond your boat’s weight capacity

All boat has a maximum carrying weight and you must know how much weight your boat can carry. If you have a smaller boat, you can’t expect to bring a lot of people with you or load it with heavy cargo. Too much weight will cause the boat to sink.

When managing weight, be sure to consider the number of passengers, their weight and any load they’ll be carrying with them, cargo weight, and any accessories that you already have on your boat. Remember that a boat can only stay afloat if its weight is equivalent to the amount of water displaced.

Don’t drink and drive

This rule doesn’t just apply when driving cars but also when sailing. If you get drunk or are intoxicated, your reaction time slows down and it is also harder to make the right decision. You need to have a clear head when sailing so you can react fast in case accidents happen or if there’s an emergency.

If you have an impairment whether temporary or permanent, you shouldn’t be driving a sailboat as well. Unless you have someone with you who also knows how to sail, never drive when intoxicated. This way you can say you sailed responsibly.

Don’t sail in bad weather

Whether you have a big or small boat, sailing in bad weather is the worst decision you’ll ever make. Although bigger boats have a better chance of managing through harsh weather conditions, sailing during hurricanes can still be dangerous.

Strong wind pressure can easily flip over a small boat and big waves can also fill the boat with water easily making your sailboat capsize. If you ever find yourself in this situation, try your best to get back to the shore or land.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your boat is, riding in bad weather is never a good idea. You should, however, understand that a bigger boat has the power to handle inclement weather when compared to a small boat.

Bad weather is a bad idea for boating because big waves and strong winds are dangerous to your boat and can easily flip it over or fill it with water, causing your vessel to capsize. If you do find yourself in a situation where the weather is terrible, try to get yourself back to land.

What to Do When Sailboat Tips Over

What to Do When Sailboat Tips Over

You’ll never know exactly what will happen when you go sailing. There is never an assurance that you will not encounter any mishaps. In the event your boat flips over, here are the things you need to do.

  • Remain calm. Now this may be hard to do especially when in the situation, but believe me, this will save your life. Instead of panicking, try to preserve your energy, you’ll need it.
  • At this moment, you should be wearing a life jacket already. But if not, search the area and look for anything that will keep you afloat.
  • Do a headcount and make sure everyone in the boat is present and have something to hold onto or to keep them floating.
  • Assess the condition of the boat whether it is sinking or it will right itself. There is a chance that the boat rights itself. If that is the case, you can continue to set sail.
  • Ask for help from the other passengers to try and roll the boat back. Most of the time, especially for smaller vessels, they can easily bring the boat upright. If you fail to do so, try to stay with the boat unless the boat is headed for a waterfall or any other hazards.
  • If you can, try to get out of the water and stay on top of the boat. This will delay hypothermia and will help you save energy.
  • If your boat is sinking, let go of the boat and move away from it. You wouldn’t want to go sinking with your boat.
  • Try to signal for help. Look out for the presence of other boat operators.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes a Sailboat to Capsize or Tip Over Frequently Asked Questions

What keeps sailboat from tipping over?

A sailboat’s stability is maintained by several factors to prevent it from tipping over. The keel and ballast design provide counterweight and lower the center of gravity. Additionally, the sail’s shape can be adjusted, and crew positioning can be optimized to balance the forces of wind and water, ensuring the boat stays upright.

Daggerboard, heavy keel, or centerboard also help keep a sailboat from flipping over. They serve as a ballast to counteract the wind.

What makes a boat tip over?

There are several reasons why a boat will tip over, some of them are strong wind force, too much sail, uneven weight distribution, intoxication, and speed.

Can sailing boats tip over?

Yes, almost any kind of boat can tip over. The boat leans over strong winds, failure to use a weighted keel can also cause a boat to tip over.

How do I keep my sailboat from capsizing?

A few things can be done to avoid this such as not setting too much sail, checking the bilge pump for any damage or clogs, higher center of gravity, managing weight distribution and not going beyond the boat’s weight capacity. And always ensure you have a watertight cabin.

Is keeling over and capsizing the same?

Keeling over is also sometimes called capsizing.

What is the most stable sailboat?

The catamaran is one of the most stable sailboats. Unlike a monohull boat, it does not have a weighted keel. Instead, they are two hulled boats and have great advantages compared to traditional sailboats.

Are there sailboats designed for shallow water sailing?

Yes, the catamaran can sail in shallow water because it has no hull. Monohull sailboats are prevented from sailing shallow water because of their keels.

What causes boat heels?

Boats are designed in such a way so they can heel to prevent them from capsizing. As a boat heels, it reduces the pressure of the wind power.

Can a speed boat tip over?

Yes, speed boats can tip over if not operated correctly or in rough waters. To prevent tipping, it’s important to ensure proper weight distribution, maintain a low centre of gravity, and follow safe boating practices.

Did this article help ease your worries about your sailboat tipping over? Remember that this can be prevented and most sailboats are designed to reduce the chances of tipping over so sailors can sail without worrying too much. Keep in mind that small boats are easier to flip over, so if you are to sail a smaller sailboat, be extra cautious.

Large sailboats will be a bit harder to tip over but it doesn’t mean that larger boats are exempted from capsizing. A large sailboat has more tendency of the boat sinking so you still need to be careful.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews


  • August 20, 2023
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Small Sailboat Tactics

Published by admin on may 27, 2019 may 27, 2019.

Larger, more stable boats that have a keel tend to keep you fairly dry under most conditions. If you should choose to sail on smaller boats from time to time for practice or the occasional thrill, there are a few special tactics that you’ll need to know.

For our purposes, a small sailboat is defined as one without a keel such as a racing dingy, or a small catamaran. Basically, a boat that will fit one to two people and will get you wet, whether you fall into the water or not. Side note: be sure to always wear a life jacket aboard a small sailboat.

As we’ve discussed previously, the side forces created when sailing at angle to the wind are offset primarily by the keel, if the boat has one. On smaller boats without a keel, you have to be much more proactive to limit the two effects of side forces: heeling and leeway.

Using the Centerboard and Rudder

The primary means of limiting leeway on a smaller boat is using the centerboard. As we’ve alluded to earlier, the centerboard can be dropped partially or fully, depending on the point of sail.

Some boats have a centerboard that drops straight down through a slit in the bottom of the boat, while others have a centerboard that is permanently attached but rotates at an angle from fully up (parallel to the bottom of the boat) to fully down (perpendicular). Either way, the concept is the same.

The rudder also resists leeway, and some boats have a rotating rudder, much like the latter centerboard configuration just described. However, the main purpose of this type of rudder is to prevent it from getting stuck in the sand when launching from a beach. So don’t worry about fidgeting with the rudder depth while sailing. Just drop it all the way down once you leave the beach and leave it there until you’re going back ashore.

As you might expect, the centerboard should be dropped progressively further as the side forces increase, i.e., as you sail closer to the wind. Notice in the points of sail chart that the centerboard is fully dropped on a close hauled tack, halfway down on a beam reach, and completely raised on a broad reach.

That said, it’s usually better for the centerboard to be too low than too high. Controlling the boat while sailing into the wind will be more difficult with the centerboard up. When sailing downwind however, the only real consequence of dropping the centerboard further than necessary is the added drag. Unless you’re racing, or the winds are very light, this additional centerboard drag probably won’t bother you too much. If you’ve got plenty of wind and aren’t trying to set any speed records, you can just drop the centerboard down all the way and forget about it.

Trapezing or Hiking Out

The other effect of side forces, heeling, is controlled on small boats primarily by shifting the weight of the crew. Since there is no keel, and the boat is lighter overall, the boat is highly sensitive to the location of the crew. You will immediately notice the boat rocking if you move from one side to the other. On smaller boats, you will constantly have to shift sides and body position.

To limit heeling and prevent the boat from capsizing, the first step is to shift all crew topside, i.e. the windward side of the boat that is lifting out of the water. Leaning backwards partially over the side of the boat will further increase righting forces.

In heavier winds the weight of the crew needs to be shifted out past the edges of the boat to limit heeling. In this process, known as trapezing or hiking out , the crew hang over the edge of the boat. While strapped to a line connecting them to the mast to prevent them from falling into the water, the crew basically stand on the edge of the boat and lean backwards to maximize righting forces.

Trapezing is a fairly advanced skill, and beginner sailors should avoid going out when winds are strong enough to make trapezing necessary. However, but if you have the necessary equipment (straps, lines, and harnesses) and don’t mind getting wet, it is quite exhilarating.

Launch and Recovery Under Sail

Launch and recovery of small boats are different from cruisers in two important ways:

  • There is no motor power.
  • The sails – or at least the mainsail – is up before you leave.

Accordingly, you need to use sail power to guide you away from land, and you need to be aware of sail forces even when you are stationary. The sail – or sails – will initially be free when you’re stationary, and you’ll need to set them at a carefully chosen sheeting angle to start sailing.

When raising sails while ashore, use the same general procedure, but make sure the sheets are somewhat loose (but not completely free) and the sails are pointed into the wind. You don’t want the sails full until you’re out on the water.

If you’re familiar with the sailing concepts and maneuvers we’ve discussed so far, you can probably piece together the methods of launch and recovery without a motor. But we’ll walk through them just to be clear.

If you’re launching from a beach, there should be either an onshore or offshore wind (see the section on coastal wind patterns).

small sailboats can easily capsize

Launching into the Wind from Shore

Notice that you’ll always start with the bow pointed into the wind. The idea is to start with the boat in irons with the sails luffing so you can control the boat when walking it out into the water.

When you’re launching into the wind, you simply turn the boat a bit as you walk it out, jump in, and start sailing on a close-hauled tack. Dropping the centerboard as soon as possible improves control.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Launching with the Wind from Shore

You may notice that launching against the wind is very similar to the procedure for getting out of irons. You manually hold the jib into the wind to push the boat backward and rotate around. When you’re about perpendicular to the wind, you can set the sails on a reach and head up quickly to get away from shore.

The launching procedures from a are basically the same as from shore, but you have the added benefit of a fixed object (the dock) to push off of. Start by walking the boat out to the end of the dock using a dock line . Then follow the same procedure as when launching from shore.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Launching into the Wind from a Dock

Recovery under sail can be a bit more difficult simply because you can’t always finish with the boat facing into the wind. For example, when sailing into the shore with the wind at your back, you will go ashore with full sails. For this reason, it’s best to drop the mainsail while you’re still on the water. That way you don’t have to worry about an accidental gybe. You can heave to and drop the mainsail, or if you have enough hands on deck, just follow the normal procedure for dropping the main. Once the mainsail is down, you can sail to shore on a broad reach, ending on a run. As soon as you reach the shore, drop the jib.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Launching with the Wind from a Dock

Recovering against the wind is nearly identical to the end of the MOB procedure. Simply turn up into the wind from a reach and use your momentum to reach shore while the sails luff. If the wind is very strong, you can let the jib run free to slow down, just as in the MOB procedure.

Docking with an onshore wind is a bit trickier. Since you want to end up pointed into the wind, you may have to sail very close to the dock on a beam reach and head up at the last minute.

Another alternative is to simply follow the same process as for going ashore, i.e. approach on a run. However, if you choose the latter option, dropping the mainsail away from the docks is a must, and you need to be very careful not to ram the dock. Whenever you are recovering with strong winds, be sure to let the sheets out a little further than normal, to dump some wind power.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Recovering with an Onshore Wind

The process for docking into the wind is exactly the same as sailing ashore into the wind. The only difference is the harsher consequence of coming in too fast. Sand is soft and forgiving, while docks are not. Be very careful that you don’t have too much momentum coming into the dock.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Recovering into an Offshore Wind

There is also one possibility we haven’t discussed. The wind will usually be coming from either onshore or offshore when you are launching and recovering from a beach. However, docks are not always aligned with the shore. You may encounter a situation where you must dock with the wind coming perpendicular to the dock. In that case, you’ll need to sail on a beam reach close to the dock and then head up into the wind when you get close to the spot you want to dock. At that point you can backwind the jib and drift slowly backwards into the dock.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Docking with an Onshore Wind

small sailboats can easily capsize

Docking into an Offshore Wind

Capsize Recovery

Since they lack the righting force of a keel, small boats are much more easily capsized. You can reduce the likelihood of capsizing by only sailing in light winds and learning to hike out in stronger winds. Even so, capsizing is inevitable if you sail smaller boats often. Fortunately, unlike keelboats, which are virtually impossible to right after being capsized, small boats, can be recovered readily.

To recover a small dinghy, take the following steps:

  • Let all sheets run free. This will prevent the boat from sailing away with you still in the water once it is righted. Keep track of the mainsheet however. You’ll need it immediately after righting the boat.
  • Grab any cargo that fell overboard – such as spare life jackets – and put it in the cockpit. On some small boats, the rudder can come loose easily, so be sure that it is secure before proceeding.
  • Move to the bottom side of the boat. Pull down on the centerboard, and if necessary climb onto it and grab the beam. Use your weight to pull the boat upright.
  • When the boat is upright and you are still in the water, pull in the mainsheet (ever so slightly) as you lift yourself into the boat over the beam. This will give the boat a bit of headway and prevent you from pulling it over on top of yourself when you get in.

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Capsize Causes and Solutions – Part 1

As promised in our post on major mistakes, here’s our cut at a definitive list of capsize causes and solutions for small boat sailors. Capsizing is a fertile topic: there are dozens of ways to pitchpole , broach , death roll , or just plain tip over.  

We compiled this list from our scow sailing friends, internet sources, and my own admittedly vast experience with capsizing. I’m sure there are more, so please share your insights – login and comment below or email us at [email protected].

It made sense to group the list into categories. We chose five main causes and listed the physical errors and tips associated with each.

  • Too much heeling force
  • Not enough righting moment
  • Off-wind balance issues
  • Avoiding other boats

In this installment we’ll cover too much heeling force and not enough righting moment. In Part 2 , we address off-wind balance issues. We finish with Part 3 on waves and avoiding other  boats.

Too Much Heeling Force

To stay upright, you have to balance the wind’s heeling force with righting moment (i.e., hiking). You can only hike so hard, so you must reduce the heeling force when overpowered. This sounds simple, but in the heat of battle, sailors typically make either or both of the following mistakes. 

Failure to ease

As the saying goes, “Ease, Hike, and Trim” is a lot better than “Hike, Hike, and Swim.” The fastest (and driest) sailors ease the mainsheet aggressively in puffs. Here are the typical causes of failure to ease.

  • Head in boat. Anticipating the puff and easing as it hits gives you more margin to capsize. As a bonus, it also makes you faster.
  • Cleated. Simple solution – don’t cleat it. I tape my mainsheet cleat shut to prevent accidental cleating.
  • Knotted. One tip is to tie the free end to an eye in the boat to prevent a real knot from forming. 
  • Block twisted. If the mainsheet blocks aren’t parallel to the boom, the mainsheet can get bound up when you try to ease. This happened to one of our MC Scow  national champions. The Harken standard blocks have a lever or set screw to lock the blocks parallel to the boom.
  • Tangled around foot. This is a tough one. Practice keeping your mainsheet off your feet as you trim in. Wear shoes that don’t catch the sheet.
  • Too thick to run through blocks. Thick mainsheets are easy on the hands, but they don’t run through the ratchet blocks easily. Toughen up your hands and use a narrow mainsheet. 
  • Improper grip. Hold the mainsheet in your fist with the thumb side toward your chest. To ease rapidly, just release your grip.
  • Too much purchase. If you have too much purchase on your mainsheet, you won’t be able to ease rapidly. Anything more than 5:1 on an MC Scow is probably too much.
  • Boom not free to move to leeward. C Scow sailors know that boats with running backstays will capsize if the leeward backstay is cleated. Some C Scow sailors remove their backstays in light to medium air.

Unforgiving setup

You can’t always ease rapidly enough, so you should also avoid unforgiving situations, such as the following.

  • Over-heeled. Sail the boat flat to maximize margin.
  • Traveler on center. Having the traveler on center is unforgiving in breeze. Sail with your traveler down to reduce the side force of puffs. As a bonus, sailing with traveler down and the main sheeted hard is faster than traveler up and sails eased.  
  • Be ready to dump the vang in the biggest gusts
  • Ease your vang before tacking, in case you bear off too far after the tack
  • Ease your vang before ducking another boat
  • Over-sheeted for the point of sail. If you start sheeting before rounding the leeward mark, you’re a sitting duck for a puff when you’re broadside to the wind. Instead of sheeting in early, learn how to coordinate sheeting with your turn.
  • While tacking or gybing. Don’t let go of the tiller extension when you tack or gybe. Learn how to switch hands. Otherwise, you may bear off too far, or collide with another boat.
  • While standing or resting. If you need to let go of the extension, make sure it doesn’t get caught under the deck. If it does, the boat will be headed for trouble before you know it.  

Not Enough Righting Moment

You and your crew have direct control over righting moment. To keep the boat upright and moving fast, you need to manage it precisely and smoothly. Here are the capsize causes we found related to righting moment: 

  • Inactive sitting position. Ever rolled to windward hard in a lull, or tipped over to leeward in a puff? Maybe you were sitting too passively. Sit so you can react: feet planted, quad muscles engaged, upper body ready to move in or out. There’s a nice clip in the Steve Cockerill video at  07:45 on this.  
  • Out of position. Bad things can happen when the skipper or crew is out of position. It might be fun to collect a list of examples, but I ran out of time and didn’t want to embarrass myself. Think ahead before you get too far out of position.
  • Too much weight in one place. A heavy skipper-crew combination sitting on the rail can be a problem, especially when sailing downwind. We’ll cover more about downwind dynamics in Part 2.
  • Falling in the boat. Falling in the boat changes the righting moment instantly and causes lots of capsizes. Every sailor needs to work on balance and combatting clumsiness.  
  • Loose shackles
  • Worn straps
  • Straps not elevated
  • Cords keeping the straps elevated break
  • Water in the boat. Water in the boat always goes where you don’t want it: to the low side if you heel up, forward if you plow into a wave, etc. Don’t tolerate water in your boat. Sail with your bailers open while racing and especially between races.

To be continued ….

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Capsize – how it happens

Posted by John Vigor | Sailing Tips

Planning for an unplanned inversion

Capsize: how it happens, and what you can do to survive it.

When Isabelle Autissier’s 60-foot racer capsized in the Southern Ocean, it sent a chill of fear through the sailing community. Sailors don’t like to think of capsize. But here was a big, well-found boat, a Finot-designed Open 60 Class flier, wallowing upside down in huge frigid swells, with her long thin keel jutting toward heaven. It was a bizarre and frightening sight.

Autissier was lucky. She was taking part in the Around Alone race, so her million-dollar boat was equipped with emergency satellite transmitters, position recorders, and lots of other equipment that no normal cruiser is likely to be able to afford or fit on board. She was eventually rescued in a wonderful feat of seamanship by Giovanni Soldini, a fellow competitor.

So what went wrong? And could it happen to you? It depends where you sail, but if you sail out of sight of land, whether at sea or on a lake, the answer is yes, it could. And you should always be prepared for it to happen. The good news is that most yachts of classic proportions will survive a capsize. Unlike Autissier’s extreme design, they will right themselves, although some might take longer than others.

You can form a crude idea of what went wrong with Autissier’s boat by imagining a long plank floating in the water. It doesn’t care which side is up. It’s happy floating either way up. That’s Autissier’s boat. Now imagine a plank with a heavy weight attached along one side, so the plank floats on edge. If you turn it upside down, the ballast quickly pulls it back again. That’s your normal yacht design. Autissier’s racer was shaped too much like a wide plank – too beamy and too light to recover from an inverted position, despite the long heavy keel. It’s one of the paradoxes of naval architecture that an excessively beamy boat, while hard to capsize in the first place, is unseaworthy if she is inverted.

Furthermore, a light, shallow, beamy boat capsizes more easily than a narrow, deep, heavy boat because she offers the seas more leverage to do their work, and because she is quicker to respond to the upward surge of a large swell.

Planing hulls

Designers create racing boats like Autissier’s because that shape gives them the ability to plane at high speeds. In other words, they deliberately sacrifice seaworthiness on the altar of speed, and the boats rely on the skill of their crews to keep them upright. Unfortunately, singlehanders have to sleep now and then, so they can’t be on watch all the time.

While it’s true that a good big boat is less likely to capsize than a good small boat, there is no guarantee that even the largest yachts are immune from capsize. It’s not the wind that’s the problem. It’s the waves.

Tests carried out at Southampton University in England have shown that almost any boat can be turned turtle by a breaking wave with a height equal to 55 percent of the boat’s overall length. Even if you don’t like to think about it, you know in your heart that it’s a reasonable finding. It means your 35-footer could be capsized through 180 degrees by a 20-foot wave. Even a 12-foot breaking wave would roll her 130 degrees from upright – from which position she may turn turtle anyhow.

And if you imagine you’re never going to encounter a 20-foot wave, think again. Waves of that size can be generated in open water by a 40-knot wind blowing for 40 hours. And a 12-foot wave is the result of a 24-knot wind blowing for 24 hours. Plenty of those around.

Large waves are formed in other ways, too. A current flowing against the wind will create seas that are much larger and steeper than normal. And the old stories about every seventh wave being bigger than the rest have a basis of truth, although it’s not necessarily the seventh wave. It could be the fifth or the ninth. The point is that wave trains occasionally fall in step with each other at random intervals, literally riding on one another’s backs, to form an exceptionally high wave. We call that a freak wave, but it’s actually more normal than we care to admit.

Bigger waves

Scientists calculate that one wave in every 23 is more than twice as high as the average. One in 1,175 is three times bigger. And one in 300,000 is four times the average height. They may be far apart, but they’re out there, and many big ships have been lost to them.

John Lacey, a British naval architect, put forward an interesting proposition after the 1979 Fastnet Race, in which 63 yachts experienced at least one knock-down that went farther than 90 degrees and remained upside down for significant periods.

He explained that the old International Offshore Rule for racers had radically changed the shape of yacht hulls by greatly increasing the proportion of beam to length, which gave them more power to carry sail without the need for additional ballast. It also gave them more room below, of course.

But the flatiron shape of the hull made it very stable when it was inverted. To bring the boat upright again would require about half the energy needed to capsize the yacht in the first place, Lacey calculated.

“Since the initial capsize may have been caused by a once-in-a-lifetime freak wave, one could be waiting a long time for a wave big enough to overcome this inverted stability,” he commented. Autissier’s experience bore out that prophetic statement. Her boat was still upside down when she abandoned it.

Lacey did some more sums and figured that a narrower cruising hull with a lower center of gravity than a typical IOR boat would require only one-tenth of the capsize energy to recover from a 180-degree capsize.

“It therefore seems, in my opinion, that we should tackle the problem from the other end, and design yachts for minimum stability when upside down,” he concluded.

Deep-vee cabin

His recommendation is not likely to be taken too seriously, but he certainly does have a point. You could make an inverted yacht unstable with narrow beam, a very deep keel with a lot of weight at the very end of it for righting leverage, and a deep-vee cabintop, or at least one that was narrow on top and broad at deck level. For the same reason, flush-decked yachts should be avoided, because they’re likely to be much more stable upside down.

But as in everything to do with sailboats, there are compromises to be made. Deep narrow hulls might recover quickly from inversion, but as sailors discovered a century ago when they were all the rage, they’re lacking in buoyancy. They’re also wet, and they have very little accommodation.

Two basic design features probably govern the probability of capsize more than any others. The first is inertia and the second is the shape of the keel.

Inertia is not generally well understood, but it’s the first line of defense against a wave impact. In simple terms, inertia is resistance to change. The inertia of a moving boat works to keep her moving on course, even though other forces are trying to halt or divert her. The inertia of a boat at rest resists any sudden attempt to start her moving.

Obviously, because inertia varies with mass, a heavy boat has more inertia than a light boat, so a wave hitting her from the side is going to get a slower response. Light-displacement boats are more likely than heavy boats to be picked up and hurled over by a plunging breaker.

Narrow beam is a help, too, because the force of a breaking wave is concentrated nearer the centerline of the yacht, where it has less overturning leverage.

Spreading weight

The way weight is distributed on a boat also affects its inertia. A wide boat with a light mast and a shallow keel will respond very quickly to every wave with a lively, jerky motion. A boat with a heavier mast and a deeper keel has its weight spread out over a greater span, and it’s more difficult to change its speed or direction, so the force of a breaking wave may be dissipated before it has a chance to overturn the boat. Inertia, incidentally, is what keeps a tightrope walker aloft. It’s contained in that long stick. If you push down on one side of it suddenly to regain your balance, it almost bounces back at you. It will subsequently move slowly away, but you can recover it with a long gentle pull as you lean the other way.

A long, old-fashioned keel resists sudden rolling simply because it’s difficult to move anything that big sideways through the water. A fin keel, with its meager surface area, is much more easily moved when it’s stalled; thus, the boat to which it’s attached is more easily overturned. But a fin keel that’s moving through the water acquires much more stability, which is why fin keelers should be kept moving in heavy weather.

Capsize screening formula

The maximum beam divided by the cube root of the displacement in cubic feet, or Maximum beam (feet) = less than 2 3÷Displ/64 The displacement in cubic feet can be found by dividing the displacement in pounds by 64. The boat is suitable for offshore passages if the result of the calculation is 2.0 or less, but the lower the better.

Although there are design factors that improve seaworthiness (usually at the expense of speed and accommodation), and although there are tactics you can use in a storm to minimize the chances of overturning, no boat is totally capsize-proof. That is not to say that every boat is going to capsize, of course, even the ones most likely to. After all, hundreds of yachts cross oceans every year without mishap. But prudent sailors keep the possibility in mind and do what they can to forestall any problems and to lessen any damage resulting from an inversion.

Large forces

If you have never given any thought to inversion, the results of a capsize can be devastating, not only on deck but down below as well. Not many people realize what large forces are involved in a capsize, especially the head-over-heels capsize called a pitchpole. It’s not just a gentle rolling motion. The contents of lockers and drawers can be flung long distances in the saloon, and you could easily find yourself standing in a state of disorientation on the overhead in a seething mess of battery acid, salt water, clothing, ketchup, mayonnaise, diesel fuel, paint thinner, knives, forks, and shards of broken glass. There will be no fresh air entering the cabin to dissipate the fumes. And it will be dark because your ports will be under water.

So, first things first: presuming you haven’t been injured by flying objects, can you lay hands on flashlights? Were they stored safely in a special place that you can reach without having to shift a wodge of soaked bunk mattresses? Is there one for every member of the crew? Are the batteries fresh? You may not stay upside down for long. But if you’re unlucky, like Isabelle Autissier, you will find you need a flashlight more than anything else on earth.

There are some other things you should think about before you ever set sail. And there are some precautions you can take.

Avoiding capsize

  • Avoid heavy weather. “The most dangerous thing on a boat is an inflexible schedule.” Thanks to Tony Ouwehand for this observation.
  • Avoid taking large waves abeam, particularly breaking waves.
Heave to. Run (down wave) using a drogue to keep speed down to 3 to 5 knots. Use a sea anchor from the bow or a series drogue from the stern. (Practice rigging and deploying these in moderate conditions.)
  • Is your rig as strong as possible? Will it withstand the tremendous forces of a capsize?
  • Do you have a plan to free a toppled mast from alongside, where it can batter holes in your hull? Have you ever thought how difficult it would be to cut the rigging, even with a decent pair of bolt cutters, on a slippery deck that’s suddenly rolling viciously?
  • Do you have material on board for a jury rig? Have you thought about how you would use it?
  • Will your radio transmitter’s antenna come down with the rig? Do you have a spare?
  • Will your EPIRB start working automatically because it’s been under water – whether you want it to or not?

The cockpit

  • Are your cockpit lockers waterproof? Can you imagine how quickly you’d sink if one of them was open at the time of capsize?
  • Do your companionway hatchboards lock in position? Have you ever thought how much water would get below if one or more fell out as you turned over?
  • What have you done about waterproofing the cowl vents for the engine? Those are huge holes in what would become the bottom of the boat. (The same goes for Dorade boxes, incidentally. Each one is a potential three- or four-inch hole in the bottom. Fit them with deck plates for sea work, on deck and down below.)
  • If you’re in the cockpit when the boat capsizes, will you be attached by a harness? Will you be able to free yourself if you’re trapped under water and the boat stays inverted for some time?

The anchor locker

  • If the anchors and chain are not fastened down securely they could bash their way through the locker lid and cause all kinds of havoc.
  • Is your self-draining deck anchor locker waterproof? Many aren’t completely sealed at the top, where wires for pulpit-mounted running lights come though, and would let in water.

The engine room

  • Is your engine mounted securely enough to withstand a capsize? I know of one boat in which the engine was hurled from its mounts during a pitchpole, causing great destruction.
  • What if the engine’s running during a capsize? Could you switch it off quickly, with everything upside down? Would the oil run out? Would the fuel drip out of the tanks? Are your breathers inside or outside?
  • Are the batteries fastened down firmly enough? Can you imagine what damage they could do if they got loose? And will they drip acid if they’re upside down? (Newer batteries – gel cells and AGMs will not spill acid when inverted. -Ed.)
  • Can you turn the stove off? If there’s a smell of gas, can you deal with it? Have you made sure the galley cupboards can’t fly open during a capsize and turn the saloon into a sea of broken glass and chip dip?
  • Can you lay hands on a fire extinguisher quickly? It could save your life.
  • Have you figured out a way to keep all those loose tops in place in the saloon – the boards that cover access to storage under bunks, the bilge boards, and so on? Some boats have inside ballast, and many have heavy objects, such as storm anchors, stowed in the bilges. Make sure they stay there, because if they get loose they can come crashing through the overhead (your new “floor”) and sink the boat very quickly.
  • Make sure your bunk mattresses will stay in place, too, otherwise they will greatly hamper your attempts to get around.
  • Have you figured out a way to pump bilge water out of an inverted boat? Think about it. It’s not easy.
  • Most books could escape from their racks during a capsize and become potentially harmful flying objects. Have you solved that problem?

Important documents

  • The ship’s papers and your own personal documents should be in a watertight container in a secure locker, one that is not too high up in the boat because that’s where the water will be when you capsize.

There are many other systems and pieces of gear on a boat that could be affected by a capsize. When you use them, think inverted. Imagine what would happen if they got loose. Invent ways to keep things in their places during an unplanned inversion. Don’t ever imagine it’s wasted work. It’s one of the unspoken rules of the sea that if you’re prepared, the worst is not likely to happen. If you’re not, you’re bound to attract trouble.

More on the subject

Tami Ashcraft wrote a compelling story of the realities of inversion and its aftermath in her book, Red Sky in Mourning: The True Story of a Woman’s Courage and Survival at Sea , reviewed in our May 2000 issue. John Vigor goes into more depth about preparation for capsize in his book, The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat .

Article from Good Old Boat magazine, November/December 2000.

About The Author

John Vigor

John Vigor is a retired journalist and the author of 12 books about small boats, among them Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing, which won the prestigious John Southam Award, and Small Boat to Freedom. A former editorial writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, he’s also the former editor of Sea magazine and a former copy editor of Good Old Boat. A national sailing dinghy champion in South Africa’s International Mirror Class, he now lives in Bellingham, Washington. Find him at

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  • Safety Tips

The Only Priority If You Capsize: Survive

  • By Mike Baron, U.S. Coast Guard, Boating Safety Division
  • Updated: December 8, 2011

sinking boat

Many of us still remember this tragedy: in March 2009, a 21-ft. powerboat carrying four friends, two of them NFL professional football players, capsized in a storm off the Florida Gulf Coast while being buffeted by 10 ft. waves and winds up to 45 miles per hour. Only one of the four survived. He was found wearing a life jacket and sitting on top of the hull of the overturned boat. These two actions saved his life.

Capsizing is a leading cause of recreational boating deaths and injuries, and weather is often a contributing factor. But overloading and inexperience at the helm can also put a vessel in danger of overturning, especially in smaller craft that can be adversely affected by load, wind and water conditions.

Nick Schuyler

You can reduce your risk of capsizing by practicing good seamanship. That means don’t overload the boat, learn to distribute gear and passengers evenly for greater stability, turn the boat at controlled speed(s), never anchor from the stern, and be alert for the wake and waves of other boats. If you encounter a large wave slow down and try to take it head on or at a slight angle. Don’t try to power through.

Safe boating on any body of water means having the proper safety equipment and staying alert to changes in the weather. Make extra life jackets, signaling devices and other emergency equipment part of a “ditch bag” that you keep on board. Be sure that you and your passengers wear a life jacket at all times. If you boat far from shore, consider getting an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). These devices – many of them equipped with automatic releases and an internal GPS – can alert rescue personnel to your emergency and provide your precise location.

If your vessel does capsize, make sure everyone is accounted for and stays with the boat. Don’t panic and try to swim for shore. A capsized vessel may recover on its own and most trailer-sized vessels will remain afloat, even when flooded or over-turned.

If you don’t have an EPIRB on board, staying with the boat can help the Coast Guard find you using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS), advanced computer technology that takes into account weather conditions, patterns of currents, your vessel’s departure point (assuming you’ve left a float plan with someone ashore – as you should) and other available information to identify locations where you are most likely to be. This is especially important at the beginning of a search in those critical first few hours.

Coast Guard Station Washington, DC

If your boat is small, try to turn it upright and bail it out. Small sailboats, like the Sunfish, may capsize many times due to wind gusts or operator error, but by standing on the centerboard they can be brought upright – one of the many important skills taught in sailing classes. If you can’t right your vessel, you and your passengers should try to get as much of yourselves as possible onto the hull. Never swim away from a capsized boat unless it is drifting directly toward a hazard. It’s the largest and most visible object in the water; that’s what you stick with.

In 2009, capsizings resulted in 180 boating deaths and 220 injuries. Practice good seamanship to reduce your risk. But if it happens, know what to do to ensure that you and your passengers get back safely.

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency’s Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to “Boat Responsibly!” For more tips on boating safety, visit .

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small sailboats can easily capsize

How Often Do Sailboats Capsize? (Explained For Beginners)

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When you go out sailing, your boat will heel to one side, or sometimes back and forth to both sides if you are running downwind.

The more wind, the more you will heel.

So how often does a sailboat actually capsize?

Here’s how often sailboats capsize:

In dinghy sailing, it is not uncommon to capsize. It is far less common for larger keelboats which can be very difficult or impossible to recover from. A capsize in a keelboat is almost always a serious issue and may require outside assistance.

Table of Contents

small sailboats can easily capsize

Different Types of Capsizing:

For sailboats, there are two kinds of capsizes:

The Knockdown:

The first is a knockdown, often called a flip in dinghies.

A knockdown is when your boat is knocked over 90 degrees, to where the mast and sails are touching the water.

Dinghies can recover from a knockdown fairly easily. One (sometimes more) of the crew stands on the centerboard, and their weight levers the boat back into an upright position.

Recovering a small catamaran is done similarly, though it often requires a line from the upper hull to get proper leverage.

For keelboats, the situation is much different in a knockdown. Most will start to the right themselves when the crew gets to the high side, but if water gets into the interior and continues to pour in, the boat may not right by itself and require outside assistance.

The Turtle:

The other kind of capsize is called a turtle, where the boat is complete upside down.

A dinghy (and small catamaran) can still recover from this under most circumstances, again by leveraging against the centerboard until 90 degrees and then until upright.

A keelboat that turtles will require outside assistance to right itself.

You may need outside assistance with large multi-hulls as well.

Can All Sailboats Capsize in a Strong Wind?

The simple truth here is yes.

No matter its size and design, any sailboat is susceptible to capsizing if the wind gets strong enough.

Every boat that has ever been manufactured can capsize in certain conditions, such as hurricane-force winds. Still, sailboats are particularly susceptible to capsizing in strong winds by their very nature.

This is why sailors will reef their sails in higher winds. Reefing sails reduce the sail area to slow you down and prevent being pulled by the wind.

There are usually two places of reinforcement (sometimes three or even four on certain distance cruising boats) that may be lowered to create a smaller sail on the mainsails. This reduced sail area decreases the pressure on the sails and makes the boat easier to handle and more upright in higher winds.

In the worst weather, sailors will usually lower their sails completely and throw out a sea anchor. This device is deployed off the bow and keeps the boat pointing into the wind and waves to not get spun sideways to the waves and capsize.

What Types of Sailboats Capsize the Most?

Dinghies are the smallest sailboats and are more susceptible to capsizing than other kinds of sailboats, like yachts or catamarans.

It is almost expected that you will flip your dinghy at some point during a sail, and it is not particularly difficult to recover from. The main problems would be if the crew is exhausted, as climbing up on the centerboard requires some strength and damage to the sails or rigging.

For example, in collegiate sailing races can be run in high winds, and many races are packed into a single day. A crew that flips late in the day may be too exhausted to the right their boat, which is why many powerboats are usually on standby to help.

Damage to the rigging may prevent a boat from righting, for example, if the mast is bent or, in more extreme circumstances, the boat is dismasted.

A damaged sail may also wrap around the rigging and remain filled with water, making a recovery more difficult.

Are Sailboats More Likely to Capsize than other Boats?

Because sailboats heel to one side as the wind moves them, they are always closer to being capsized than any other kind of boat.

However, most sailboats are designed with ultimate stability in mind. The more they heel, the more stable they actually become because of the designed shape and displacement of the hull.

Catamarans are the opposite here.

They have great initial stability because they are on such a wide plain. Even when they fly a hull (one hull out of the water), they are still pretty stable.

Catamarans have poor ultimate stability. The angle of heel they cannot recover from is not as favorable as monohulls, even if it takes them longer to get there because of their initial stability.

Other boats do not heel as a normal part of their operation, so they are less likely in general to capsize than sailboats. That being said, some hull designs have been poor on larger merchant ships, and they lack ultimate stability.

The history of the sea has demonstrated that many vessels have had a point of no return that they could not recover from.

How Do you Prevent Your Boat from Capsizing?

There are several ways to prevent capsizing.

The first is to let out your sails, dumping all the power. Letting out your sails is a standard thing to do when sailing in heavy air.

The power generated by the trimmed-in sails causes the boat to heel, so dumping the power will almost always cause the boat to the right itself if you are heeling too far.

If you are sailing in heavy air, you may find yourself doing this over and over, but it is often a necessary and prudent thing to do.

You can also sail under a reduced sail area.

We already mentioned reefing your sails. When they see bad weather on the horizon, most sailors will reef their sails before the heavier winds reach them, as it is best to be prepared rather than acting when it is already upon you.

You can also put up a smaller headsail. Most boats carry a jib (a small area, usually less than the area of the boat’s foretriangle) or even a storm jib (a much smaller sail, usually with enough area for directional stability but not enough to generate power).

The final option, as mentioned earlier, is to take down all of your sails and throw out a sea anchor if you are offshore or a regular anchor with a lot of lines if you are along the coast or in a bay.

Taking down your sails keeps your bow pointed into the wind. Otherwise, your boat may be buffeted sideways to the large waves, and capsizing becomes a higher probability.

Should I be Worried About Capsizing With my Sailboat?

If you are inexperienced, it is absolutely an issue, especially in a dinghy, where capsizing is easy.

But capsizing in a dinghy is the best way to build experience and confidence to handle it when it occurs.

Capsizing a keelboat is far less common, but it is still something you should be concerned with for the beginner. The first time you have your keelboat out in heavy air, and she starts to heel over. This can induce a little panic.

Knowing how to deal with the rough weather will enable you to keep a cooler head and stay focused, and with experience, you will lose any unreasonable worries about capsizing.

Most experienced sailors will tell you that it is better to prepare as if you are worried. Overconfidence can lead to being unprepared when foul weather hits your boat.

Final Thoughts

Capsizing is a part of sailing in the smaller dinghies and an ever-present possibility in keelboats.

Preventing it is usually within most sailors’ ability, but when it happens, knowing how to deal with it is paramount.

Experience is the best teacher here, in dinghies and yachts, but educating yourself with articles and videos can prepare you to a large degree, as well.

Capsizing – Wikipedia

Heavy Weather Sailing – Yachting Monthly

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Best Small Sailboats For Beginners

Best Small Sailboats for Beginners: Discover My Three Favorites and Set Sail with Confidence

igor desperatesailors

Sailing is a fun and enjoyable activity for everyone, no matter the experience level.

Mastering how to sail a primary boat is effortless. I encourage beginners to practice in the right environment as they can gain considerable experience with time.

Since most beginners make the mistake of picking the wrong boat to start with, they get frustrated and quit before they can sail by themselves.

In this blog, I will cover the  best small sailboats for beginners  to help mitigate this problem.

Read on to learn more…

  • Catalina 16.5

So, What’s the Best Small Sailing Boat For Beginners?

The three best small sailboats for beginners.

Sunfish is a personalized boat for beginners to sail with. Its ease of use makes sailing enjoyable for both beginners and experienced sailors.

Key Specifications

  • Sail Area: 75 Square Feet
  • Hull Weight: 120 Pounds
  • Capacity: 1-2 people
  • Optimal Weight: up to 190 pounds

Key Features

  • Sunfish has a patented kick-up rudder that makes beach launches, landings, and shallow-water sailing effortless.
  • It has a self-bailing cockpit.
  • It has a stainless steel bow handle that enables carrying, docking, and holding the boat into the wind while launching or loading.

Sunfish Rigged For Sailing

  • Easy to sail and rig using a single control line
  • Fast planning sailboat in good wind
  • It is cheap
  • Daggerboard and kick-up rudder enable easy beaching.
  • Little freeboard and small cockpit
  • A beginner can easily capsize

Why I Have Included Sunfish Sailboat in My List

I have included this sailboat in my list because it combines performance, durability, and stability suitable for beginners and experts.

With this boat, you can quickly learn how to sail, and you can’t go wrong with it.

More Info International Sunfish Class Association

Hunter 15 is a safe and versatile boat for both beginners and masters in sailing.

  • Passenger capacity: 4
  • Length overall: 4.4 m (14′6″)
  • Draft – Board Up: (6″)0.15 m
  • Draft – Board Down: (3’0″)0.92 m
  • Material: fiberglass
  • Appendages: lifting keel
  • Intended use: daysailer

Hunter 15 Small Sailboats For Beginners

  • Stainless steel arch
  • Spacious cockpit area
  • Easy to balance
  • It doesn’t sail well in downwind
  • No separate starting battery

Why I Have Included the Hunter 15 Sailboat in My List

I have included this boat in my list because it has a comfortable wide beam, a contoured self-bailing cockpit and fiberglass construction.

Additionally, it is designed to allow beginners to sail around with ease, and it is a safe boat giving sailors a confident feeling and peace of mind as they sail.

More Info

Catalina 16.5 is a small, powerful recreational sailing boat constructed predominantly of fiberglass.

  • LOA: 16.33 ft. / 4.98 m
  • Approximate Base Wt.: 430lb.
  • Draft Board up: 5″
  • Draft Board down: 4’5″
  • Fiberglass composite Kick-up rudder
  • Stainless steel standing rigging
  • Adjustable hiking straps
  • Self-bailing cockpit

Catalina 16.5 Sailboat For Beginners

  • Fast sailboat
  • Easy to sail and rig around
  • Difficult to balance

Why I Have Included Catalina 16.5 Sailboat in My List

I have included Catalina 16.5 boat in the list because of its fantastic design, is versatile, and you can get them in two designs: the keel model and the centreboard model.

More Info

Here are my top three picks of  best small sailboat for beginners :

If I had to pick one, I would go for Hunter 15 sailboat because it has the the best safety features. The Hunter 15 sailboat is also easy to operate, plus you can dock with no problem. The boat is easy to maintain, and it’s not complicated for a beginner.

What is your choice?


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What is a Sailboat Capsize Ratio and how to measure it

Aug 05, 2020

less than a min

What is a Sailboat Capsize Ratio and how to measure it

As a boat owner, there are many formulas and ratios that you should know about. Do not worry if you are new to the whole marine and naval realm, however. There is always time to learn more if you are willing to. Here is a summary of what a sailboat capsize ratio is. 

A sailboat capsizes ratio is a parameter used to show whether a boat can recover from an inverted, capsized position or not. This term was mainly developed after the Fastnet race disaster . This was a 1979 race where a storm destroyed several yachts during the last day of the race, also causing 19 victims. Since then, tank tests have been developed to offer a prediction on how likely is a boat to recover after capsizing. 

The capsize ratio is a good indicator of what the boat is designed for. For example, if a boat has been designed to be used at sea, then it will have been equipped with features to make it more stable and prevent it from flipping over or capsizing. The capsize screen in this case can have a value below 2. 

A capsize of over 2 does not necessarily mean a bad thing. Boats with such a capsize value are better for coastal cruising as they offer higher form stability and a larger interior. In addition, these boats sail closer to the shore which allows them to return to safety in no time in case of a disaster.

How to measure the sailboat capsize ratio

There are several online calculators that can help you figure out your sailboat’s capsize ratio . These calculators are based on the capsize screening formula defined as below:

Capsize Screening Formula = Beam / ((Displacement/64.2)1/3)

The displacement in this formula is measured in pounds . This formula does not take into consideration the location of the ballast or the shape of the hull. In terms of understanding the value here’s the gist. The lower the value, the less likely is the sailboat considered to capsize. If the value is 2, then the boat is still accepted to take part in races, although this might depend on the race committee. 

The sailboat capsize ratio is also related to the displacement and beam. Therefore, two sailboats can have the same value if they also have the same displacement and beam. Their stability however could differ although they have the same capsize value. 

All in all, the sailboat capsize ratio is more important when related to racing sailboats used further from the shore. This parameter is not a crucial one to take into consideration when analyzing a chartered yacht or any sailboat intended for pleasure. 

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Better Sailing

How to Right a Capsized Sailboat

How to Right a Capsized Sailboat

Capsize is the term used when a Sailboat is tilted at a 90º angle or turned over in the water. It has something to do with the movement of the crew weight or excess weight concentrated on the wrong side of the boat. It can also be due to too much power in the Sail.

In this section, learn how to avoid capsizing or deal with a small capsized sailing Dinghy :

How to Avoid Capsizing

  • Familiarize yourself. Keep in mind that Capsizing is very common when sailing a small boat. This fact can make you prepared. Know the different situations where Capsizing becomes inevitable. Getting familiar with the causes can help you in avoiding them as you go afloat. It is wise to know the things you need to do if the boat capsizes. In protected waters with good conditions, practice dealing with a capsized boat. Get familiar with the steps to do to make the boat upright again. Make sure that you wear a Life Jacket. It will be better if you have someone on another boat to give assistance when necessary.
  • Know your limitations. Sail within the limits of your skills and ability to respond to situations. Knowing how to make the boat upright when sailing a Dinghy or small boat is very crucial. If you do not know how to deal with a capsized boat, sail on a more stable one. Small Keelboats and other types of Dinghies are more stable and less likely to capsize. For obvious reasons, do not go afloat if the conditions are not favorable for Dinghy Sailing.
  • Know how to reef a Dinghy. A Dinghy becomes easier to handle in strong Winds if it is reefed. Reefing, or reducing the Sail Area, is an important skill to learn. Knowing how to properly adjust the Sail area of a Dinghy while on the water can help you in keeping it upright.
  • When Sailing Downwind Place crew weight astern and keep the boom down.
  • When Sailing Upwind Place crew weight to windward. Slightly raise the Centerboard or Daggerboard to decrease the Heeling effect. Take control of the speed of the boat. It is more likely to capsize if it heels and slows down.

Knowing the causes of Capsizing will help you in avoiding it. In the event that your boat capsizes, do not get embarrassed. Having a capsized boat is not something to be ashamed of. Many sailors have their own share of experiences in getting their Dinghy capsized. The important thing is that you learn from the experience.

Methods of Righting a Capsized Boat

Dealing with a Capsized boat generally depends on the size of the Sailboat and on what circumstances you are sailing in. Wind and wave conditions at that particular time should be taken into consideration.

Here are some Techniques in Righting a Capsized Boat:

  • Release the mainsheet and tiller and climb towards the opposite side.
  • Climb over the top gunwale (top edge of the side of the Hull). Step over the sidedeck to reach the Daggerboard.
  • Stand on the part of the Daggerboard nearest to the Hull and hold the gunwale.
  • Pull the boat upright. Climb back to the boat as soon as it is upright again.
  • Scoop Method The heavier person rights the boat by standing on the part of the Centerboard nearest to the Hull to pull the boat upright. The other person is scooped aboard. His weight will prevent the boat from another Capsizing once it is upright. In this method, release the mainsheet and jib sheets in order for the Mainsail to wave loosely when the boat is upright again.
  • Walkover Method As the boat capsizes, you and your crew member should climb over the opposite side of the boat to reach the Centerboard. Climb back into the boat as soon as it is righted.
  • Traditional Method Turn the boat in such a way that the Mast is downwind or the bow is pointed into the Wind. The first person should stand on the Centerboard, while the second crew member keeps the boat into the Wind. From the Stern, the first person boards the boat and helps the other crew member onboard.
  • Righting an Inverted Boat The buoyancy distributed on the bottom and sides of the Hull makes a lot of Dinghies more at risk to turtle (turn completely upside down). In this situation, the Centerboard will likely to slip back into its case. When this happens, stand on the opposite gunwale and pull on a jib sheet or fixed righting line and lean out. Bring the boat to its horizontal or capsized position. Do the suitable Righting Technique to make the boat upright.

In recovering a Capsized boat, ensure that you and your crew (if you are sailing with another person) are safe at all times. Wear a Life Jacket afloat and remember to stay with or near the boat when it capsizes.

How to Right a Capsized Sailboat – Conclusion

Do not be embarrassed if your boat capsizes. In general, getting wet because your boat capsized is both a learning and fun experience. This is actually a good way to teach you several important skills in boat handling and techniques on how to deal with different situations.


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Can a Catamaran Capsize? The Surprising Answer

Capsizing often happens with small boats like canoes, kayaks, and sailboats. But even for bigger boats like catamarans, which have an established reputation for stability and safety, it's still normal to wonder if they can capsize too. To give you peace of mind and prepare you for the worst, let's answer that question in this article.

A catamaran can capsize under extreme conditions, just like any other boat. Even the most stable catamaran can capsize if it's hit by a large wave, caught in a sudden gust of wind, or if the rotational force has overcome the stability of the boat. However, it's not something that happens frequently.

It can be a scary experience if a catamaran capsized, but you have to stay calm and know that most modern catamarans are designed to self-right. This means that they can turn themselves back over after capsizing. Let's continue reading to know what else can we do to recover from a catamaran capsize.

  • A catamaran's stability is attributed to its center of gravity, its freeboard, and its pendulum-like behavior. However, despite its stability and speed, a catamaran can still capsize due to strong winds and capsizing waves.
  • There are factors that can contribute to the likelihood of a capsize happening, such as wind speed, wave height, weather conditions, breaking waves, and the overall sailing conditions.
  • The best thing to do to quickly recover from a capsize is to stay calm and position the boat to make it self-right quickly.

small sailboats can easily capsize

On this page:

A catamaran can capsize despite its stability, factors influencing catamaran capsizing, safety measures to prevent capsizing, recovering from a capsized catamaran.

A catamaran can capsize. However, it's not very common, and most catamarans are designed to be stable and safe in a variety of conditions.

Despite their stability and speed, catamarans can still capsize under certain conditions. Strong winds, large waves, and imbalance can all cause a catamaran to capsize. When a catamaran is caught in a gust of wind, the increased wind pressure on one side of the catamaran can cause it to lean to one side, which can lead to a capsize if not corrected.

Any boat can technically capsize , but there are specific factors that can contribute to a catamaran capsizing. One of the main reasons for catamaran capsizing is the effect of rotational forces. When these forces overcome the stability of the boat, it can lead to capsizing.

A catamaran is a type of multihull boat that has two parallel hulls connected by a deck or bridge. They are well known for their stability and speed, making them a popular choice for sailors and boaters.

One of the key advantages of their twin hulls is that it gives them a larger base and makes them less likely to tip over . It also helps to distribute the weight of the boat more evenly, providing greater stability. This is especially helpful in rough seas , where the catamaran's stability can help keep you safe and comfortable. Below are factors that contribute to the stability of catamarans:

Their center of gravity makes them stable

In a catamaran, the center of gravity is typically lower than in a monohull, which helps reduce the likelihood of capsizing. This is because the lower the center of gravity, the more stable the boat will be.

The freeboard also adds up to their stability

Their freeboard of a catamaran is typically lower than a monohull's, which helps to reduce the windage and the chances of the boat being pushed over by strong winds.

Their pendulum-like behavior helps them to be stabilized

When they encounter waves, the two hulls move independently of each other, which helps to reduce the rolling motion of the boat. This is because the weight of the boat is distributed between the two hulls, which act like pendulums, swinging in opposite directions to counterbalance the motion of the waves.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Aside from stability, another advantage of a catamaran is its speed. Because they have two hulls, they create less drag than a single hull and can move through the water more quickly and efficiently. This can be especially useful if you're trying to get somewhere quickly or if you're racing.

The height of the wave can affect the chance of capsizing

Wave height is a significant factor when it comes to catamaran capsizing. The higher the waves, the greater the risk of capsizing. This is because the waves can exert a significant amount of force on the boat, causing it to tip over.

Wave capsize occurs when a boat overtakes a wave and sinks its bow into the next one, causing it to capsize. However, this is also not very common and can usually be avoided by keeping an eye on the waves and adjusting your speed and course accordingly.

Wind speed is another important factor to consider

The stronger the wind, the more likely it is that a catamaran will capsize. The wind can create a lot of pressure on the sails, which can cause the boat to lean to one side and potentially capsize. To know more about the ideal wind speed in sailing, read this article.

small sailboats can easily capsize

Weather conditions can also play a role in catamaran capsizing

If there is a storm or other severe weather conditions, the risk of capsizing is much higher. Perhaps consider checking the weather forecast before setting out on a catamaran to ensure that conditions are safe. You may also try reading this article on the possible danger of sailing through thunderstorms.

Breaking waves can cause a catamaran to capsize

When waves break, they release a significant amount of energy, which can cause the boat to capsize. Try to keep an eye out for breaking waves and avoid them if possible.

The overall sailing condition can increase the likelihood of capsizing

You may need to be aware of the conditions and take appropriate precautions to ensure that you stay safe while on the water.

1. Ensure proper weight distribution

To prevent capsizing, you could check if the weight on your catamaran is evenly distributed, with heavier items stored low and towards the center of the boat. Try to avoid overloading your catamaran with too much weight.

2. Learn the right way of reefing

Reefing is the process of reducing the size of your sails to adjust to changing wind conditions. When the wind starts to pick up, you will need to reef your sails to prevent your catamaran from heeling over too much. You must learn how to reef your sails properly before you set out on your journey.

3. Know how to properly anchor and use the right anchor

An anchor can help keep your catamaran in place and prevent it from drifting in strong currents or winds. You need to know how to properly anchor your catamaran and always use an anchor that is appropriate for the size of your boat. Learn different anchoring techniques in tough conditions through this article: Boat Anchoring Techniques Explained (Illustrated Guide)

small sailboats can easily capsize

4. Utilize your catamaran's engine

Your engine can be a valuable tool for preventing capsizing. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, such as strong winds or currents, you can use your engine to help keep your catamaran stable and prevent it from capsizing.

5. Use your boat tools to prevent it from capsizing

Keels, daggerboards, and centerboards all help stabilize your catamaran and prevent capsizing. You may need to check if these are properly installed and maintained.

6. Use the drogue to slow down the boat

A drogue is a device that can help slow down your catamaran and prevent it from capsizing in heavy seas. You can check if you have a drogue on board and learn how to properly use it in case you need to.

7. Make sure to have safety equipment onboard

Always make sure you have the proper safety equipment on board, including life jackets, flares, and a first aid kit. Everyone on board must also know where the safety equipment is located and how to use it.

8. Use an autopilot

Autopilot can help keep your catamaran stable and prevent it from heeling over too much. Consider learning how to properly use your autopilot before you set out on your journey.

Capsizing a catamaran can be a scary experience, but with proper preparation and practice, you can easily handle it. When the boat flips upside down, all the loose gear in the boat floats away (or sinks), and you are left with a capsized boat. Here are some steps that can help you recover from a catamaran capsize:

The first thing to do when your catamaran capsizes is to remain calm. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Check if everyone on board is safe and accounted for.

Position the catamaran to self-right

Catamarans are designed to self-right, which means that they can turn themselves back over after capsizing. To self-right, the boat needs to be positioned in a certain way, usually with the mast pointing downwind.

Help the catamaran to self-right using the righting lines

If your catamaran doesn't self-right, you can help it by using the righting lines. These lines are attached to the bottom of the hulls, and they can be used to pull the boat back upright.

The buoyancy of the catamaran can help you recover

Catamarans are designed to be buoyant , which means that they can float even when they are upside down. This makes it easier to recover from a capsize.

Be prepared

The best way to prepare for a capsize is to practice recovering from one. Set aside some time to practice capsizing your catamaran in a controlled environment, like a calm lake. This will help you build confidence and prepare you for the real thing.

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1. Small sailboats can easily capsize ______ they are not handled carefully.

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5. ________ towards shore, its shape is changed by its collision with the shallow sea bottom.

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How Often Do Sailboats Capsize & Sink?

How Often Do Sailboats Capsize & Sink? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

May 12, 2023

‍ Key Takeaways

  • Try to stay in the boat’s center for the best stability while sailing on smaller boats
  • Make sure you have a working bilge pump before heading out to sea
  • Many boats sink at the boat ramp due to collisions or other pilot errors
  • A sunken boat cannot be saved without additional assistance
  • Breaking waves could be dangerous in rough conditions that help capsize boats

‍ Sailboats are designed to float but there are times when disasters happen that could change that. So how often do sailboats sink?

Each year on average, roughly 200 sailboats capsize and sink, which is less than you would imagine for the amount of boats on the water. If you are dinghy sailing, these typically capsize but do not sink. According to US Coast Guard reports in 2020, there were 211 boats that capsized and sank.

After careful analysis, boat sinking is a lot less common compared to a hundred years ago. Thanks to proper education and technology, sailors have adapted to safer sailing experiences.

Table of contents

‍ What is the Likelihood of a Boat Capsizing and Sinking?

Boats capsize and sink for a variety of different reasons. If you know how to avoid those situations, you will likely be much safer and still have a working boat. Boats can capsize and only a select few are able to keep the boat from sinking.

US Coast Guard Statistics

The US Coast Guard reported 211 sinking boats in the year 2020. These numbers help shape an average for the number of sinking boats within a year.

Most of these accidents were user error, while a handful happened at the dock. The point is, no boat is safe from capsizing and sinking.

Type of Boat

When looking at ships, these are much higher sinking occurrences at two a week. There are a lot of vessels that go missing, so it is believed that many are sunk. It is estimated that thousands of boats sink each year but the type of boat matters in those statistics.

Understanding the Types of Capsizing That Leads to Sinking

There are two types of capsizing that boaters need to know. These are referred to as a knockdown or a turtle.

Knockdowns are also called flips in dinghy sailing. This is when the sails and mast are touching the water and the boat rests at a 90 degree angle.

Dinghies and catamarans can recover fairly easy from this situation. On a dinghy, the crew members should stand on the centerboard to help balance the weight of the boat. For a small catamaran, you would need a line on the upper hull to help pull.

Boats with keels will act a bit different depending on the situation in a knockdown. The crew can often add their weight to the side needed, but water pouring in certain spots may be too much to overcome.

A turtle is when a boat completely turns upside down and is likely going to sink. Dinghies and small catamarans can still turn things around from this situation, provided the crew is able to move the boat to a 90 degree angle from the added weight to the centerboard.

If you have a boat with a keel, this will need further assistance from a professional to help right the boat. Some boats are self-righting, but it varies on the type of keel and boat design. With any other type of vessel that turtles, you will likely need further assistance.

What Causes a Capsized Boat?

Many factors influence a boat to capsize and sink. Most of these should be common knowledge, but it is important to point out these situations so that sailors are better informed.

Flooding is the number one cause for ships to sink. As more water enters the boat, the more weight it adds.

Depending on where the water is coming in at will affect the weight distribution of the vessel. This causes the boat to lean or dive down quickly.

Collisions with an object or the ground can cause water to flood the boat. Depending on how bad boat hits something makes a difference on how fast the boat will take on water. This also affects the weight distribution, making the boat less stable and to potentially flip.

Larger boats are more susceptible to collisions since they require more time to safely come to a stop. Keep in mind that you can still do the same in a smaller boat.

Stability has Suffered

Multihull sailboats have much better stability than monohull boats. Sailboats with keels are also more stable.

If your boat is neither of those, you likely have less stability and could potentially capsize. With dinghy sailing, these are designed to move back and forth in the wind. This causes the boat to flip since it has less stability than others boats.

Bad Weather

Poor weather is the main cause of a sailboat or any vessel to capsize and sink. Since the ocean can be unpredictable in combination with weather, it creates a scary situation if the weather happens to be bad the day of sailing.

Pilot Error

A lot of times people make mistakes whether they are influenced by alcohol or something else. This is no different for operating a sailboat and the pilot makes a mistake.

Sometimes a pilot misreads the current situation on how rough the waves are and continues to sail when near a port. Other times it means failure to respond to dangerous situations due to lack of experience on the water.

Avoiding Preventative Maintenance

Sailboat owners need to routinely make adjustments and make sure the boat is working properly. Skipping out on maintenance could mean your boat does not function the correct way and you could capsize during unplanned conditions.

How to Prevent Capsizing and Sinking

A boat capsized is not a pretty sight while sailing and hopefully you never have to experience it. A lot of people believe that proper care can make sailboats unsinkable.

However, that is simply not true. Here are some tips to stay afloat in your sailboat and how to mitigate the risk.

Leave the Centerboard Alone

In boats that have a retractable centerboard you should always leave it all the way down while the sails are up. In the event you have run aground do not raise the centerboard. If you need to move the centerboard at all you must lower the sail to help lower your risk of capsizing.

Stay Seated

You should try your best to stay seated in smaller boats that tend to have a lot of influence in weight shifts. The weight shift messes with the boom or other parts of the boat needed to navigate safely.

Be Aware of the Wind

You should always keep your head on swivel for the latest wind changes. Sailors that can effectively monitor the wind and how it affects your boat will be one step ahead of any potential capsizing danger.

What to Do if Sailboats Tip Over?

No matter if you are a yacht owner or pilot on a sailboat, there are ways to help prepare for when a boat is tipping over. If your sailboat were to tip over, you should:

  • Try to account for everyone that was on board
  • Grab life jackets if you are already not wearing them
  • Enter sailboat from bow or stern and never the sides
  • Sit at bow and help bail water if you can (if applicable)
  • Call for help

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Sunday 1 March 2020

Lesson 15 adverb clauses (peterson’s toefl success).

consists of a connecting word, called an (or subordinate conjunction), and at least a subject and a verb. For example: . ) and a verb ( ). , the demand for economical cars increases.
the speaker was sick, the program was canceled.
credit cards are so convenient, many people use them.
he earns a good salary, he never saves any money.
she was tired, she stayed up late.
others took the subway.
the automobile had not been invented, what would people use for basic transportation?
you do.
you exercise.
they are studying.
another was departing.
she returned from her trip.
you have a problem.
the dean arrives, the meeting can begin.
he left the country, he bought some traveler’s checks.
she is presented with the award.
you can find room for it.
they’re in Boston.
you solve the problem, you’ll get thesame answer.
its fine reputation.
mechanical failure.
air pollution.
the danger.
its loss, the team is still in first place.
the war.
Choice (A) is incorrect; can only be used before nouns or pronouns. In choice (B), is unnecessary. In choice (C), the phrase is used unnecessarily. Choice (A) creates two clauses, but there is no connecting word to join them. Choice (C) creates a sentence with a main clause and an adjective clause, but the main clause has two subjects ( ). Choice (D) creates a noun clause. In a correct sentence, when a noun clause begins a sentence, the clause itself is the subject of the verb in the main clause, but this sentence already has a subject (volcano). cannot be used with an adjective (only with a noun phrase or pronoun). Choice (C) does not supply a verb for the adverb clause and is not a correct reduction because it contains a subject. . In choice (D), because of is followed by an adjective; to be correct, it must be followed by a noun phrase or pronoun.
: For Sentence Completion items, mark the answer choice—(A), (B), (C), or (D)—that correctly completes the sentence. For Error Identification items, circle the underlined portion of the sentence that would not be considered correct.
(A) cats cannot see in complete darkness, (B) are (C) sensitive (D) than humans’ eyes.
(A) cheese is (B) a (C) form of milk, it contains (D) nutrients as milk.
(A) (B) (C) appearance, the squid is shy and completely (D).
(A) their name because (B) eat snakes, (C) (D) their long, slender necks resemble snakes.
A) sixteenth century, B) that a compass needle C) north D) some mysterious influence of the stars.
(A) lava cools (B) fast, (C) a natural glass (D) obsidian.
(A) Adlai Stevenson was (B) elected president, he was one of the preeminent American (C) of the mid-twentieth (D).
(A) its acute sense of (B), (C) bloodhound is often (D) tracking.

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Do small sailboats tend to capsize and swamp?

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A small sailboat can capsize and swamp pretty easy. A small sailboat does not have a centerboard. This makes the sailboat hard to keep in an upright position.

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What statement about sailboats are true?

small sailboats tend to swamp and capsize more often

Do coral snakes prefer the swamp or desert?

They tend to prefer the desert. The swamp is too wet and musky

Is a swamp cooler a better price than central air conditioners?

Central air conditioners tend to be more expensive than swamp coolers. This is usually because people prefer to pay more for the comfort of central air.

What is the scientific name for shrub swamp plants?

Circumneutral and palustrine scrub swamp shrubbery are scientific names for shrub swamp plants.Specifically, shrub swamp plants generally can be identified as alders, elderberries, highbush blueberries, and willows. The list of genera respectively includes the following:Alnus, with about 20-30 species;Sambucus, with 5-30 species (including herbaceous perennials deciduous trees, and small shrubs);Vaccinium corymbosum;Salix, with about 400 species (including deciduous shrubs and trees).Shrub swamps tend to be populated by vegetation which is tolerant of highly organic soils and meadow-tolerant woody plants.

What is the Dutch 'Zeilboot' in English?

"Sailboat" is an English equivalent of "Zeilboot."Sailboating is a popular activitiy worldwide. People start early on in life in regard to sailboating. Anyone who starts out life with early exposure to sailboats tends to want to have the toy-sized equivalents. Toy sailboats range from homemade simple to elegant. People also tend to be most enthusiastic about their first experiences as passengers and then as actual sailboat navigators. It can be a lifetime love.

Are wallabies camouflaged?

Wallabies have colouring that enables them to camouflage naturally within their habitat. Whether they are rock wallabies, swamp wallabies or brush wallabies, they tend to blend in with their environment.

Do snails eat lily pads?

No Snails tend to eat small leaves and sometimes small animals!

In traditional farming communities families tend to be?


Can smoking while pregnant make your belly small?

Not really. The babies tend to weigh less and the mother's tend to gain MORE weight.

How do under armour womens uniforms fit?

the tend to run a little small.

Why do dogs look like they have a hair in their mouth and looks like they keep trying to get it out?

because they have small brains and are very hairy so they tend to be slobs. because they have small brains and are very hairy so they tend to be slobs.

What is a pheasant haitat?

A pheasant's habitat is (we get plenty in our yard in Boise, Idaho) are the foothills or a partly-marshy area. They tend to dwell in grassy areas with sagebrush and rabbitbrush, as well as areas with cattails and swamp grass.


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Watch: Whale of New Hampshire slams into fishing boat, hurling men into the Atlantic

A whale was mid-breach when it hit a small boat off New Hampshire, causing the vessel to capsize and hurl two fishermen overboard in a matter of seconds.

Colin and Wyatt Yager, two teenage brothers from Maine on a neighboring vessel, took to social media Tuesday to share the footage, which has been reposted multiple times in the past few hours, according to reporting by Seacoastonline, part of the USA TODAY Network.

One video in particular has garnered over 4 million views and hundreds of comments since it was posted, with a caption that warns area residents to beware of a “pissed off whale” patrolling the waters of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“Head on swivel if you’re out there,” the caption says.

The teens "swiftly rescued" both fishermen after their boat capsized off Odiorne Point in Rye, New Hampshire, U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Diolanda Caballero told Seacoastonline.

Wyatt Yager wasn't initially worried about the whale, telling Seacoastonline that all of the boats stayed along the edge of the school of fish so the whale could feed. But it got a little too close to the vessel, causing it to tip over.

"I was just in shock. Everyone else had the same reaction and tried to get over to those people," he said. "It was like, 'Oh shoot,' and then, 'We’ve got to go help these people.' All the boats dropped what they were doing to go over to help them."

Neither the men thrown into the ocean, nor the whale, were injured, Caballero said.

USA TODAY has reached out to the Coast Guard for comment.

There is a pissed off whale patrolling the waters of Portsmouth NH today. Head on swivel if you’re out there — Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) July 23, 2024

'It's been an emotional day,' fisherman says

The Coast Guard caught wind of the capsized vessel Tuesday morning, which had been tipped over in Rye, a few miles northeast of Portsmouth, Seacoastonline reported. The teens were fishing for menhaden, also known as "pogies" a little after 7 a.m.

The whale crashed into Greg Paquette and Ryland Kenney's boat about an hour later after they spotted the aquatic mammal, immediately launching both men into "fight or flight mode" after they were thrown into the water, Seacoastonline reported.

“I heard a big crackle,” Kenney told the newspaper. "When that happened … the bow tipped up and I went to the left and as (the boat) was rolling over I kind of jumped off horizontally to avoid the whale and the boat.”

The last thing Paquette remembers seeing before being thrown into the water was the whale's head, which slammed down on the engine of the boat.

“Then I saw the whole stern become inundated with water and I thought, ‘Oh no. We’re going down. We’re going to sink now," Paquette told Seacoastonline. They managed to swim away from the swamped boat in a matter of seconds and became very tired after the initial "energy and adrenaline" wore off.

"It's been an emotional day," Paquette said.

The men stayed in the Yagers' boat for about 15 minutes, then the brothers dropped them off at a nearby friend's vessel before the Coast Guard arrived, according to Wyatt Yager. Paquette and Kenney were transported to Great Cove Boat Club in Eliot, Maine, after the breach, the two fishermen said.

Both men were in the water for less than two minutes before they were rescued, with 19-year-old Wyatt and 16-year-old Colin stepping in to help.

"We’re glad they took such quick action," Paquette said. "They didn’t even think about it. We’re really grateful to both of them."

Internet reacts, exchanges memes

Mood — JunKnee Harris (@Jay_FnHarris) July 23, 2024

While the whale seemed to have made a pretty big splash, Colin Yager’s reaction to the “breach” has inadvertently caused the most attention.

Multiple people have commented on Colin’s reaction, pointing out how quickly his instincts kicked in.

“Kid's like ‘I want to go home now,’" one user wrote. Another said, “That kid had the right idea lol turned around and was ready to book it.”

A user named Daisy Evans wrote that the “incredible scene” was the result of “unfortunate timing,” pointing to the way the whale was breaching under a school of baitfish next to the boat.

“You can actually see dozens of fish pouring out of its mouth as it impacts the boat. The whale was not attacking,” she wrote.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Watch: Whale off New Hampshire capsizes boat, men thrown to sea

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  1. How to sail

    small sailboats can easily capsize

  2. How To Right A Capsized Sailboat

    small sailboats can easily capsize

  3. How to Sail

    small sailboats can easily capsize

  4. How to Sail

    small sailboats can easily capsize

  5. Capsize & Recovery of Small Sailboats

    small sailboats can easily capsize

  6. Capsize small 13ft sailboat

    small sailboats can easily capsize


  1. Capsize Recovery

  2. What Size Boat Can 1 or 2 People Handle Comfortably?

  3. Why are they doing this?! 🤨

  4. How to right a capsized boat ⛵️🔁

  5. Hunter Strength Testing

  6. Small catamaran sailboat against the Atlantic


  1. Small Sailboat Sizes: A Complete Guide

    Small sailboats are generally under 20 feet in length, come in a variety of designs, and have different hulls. These include monohulls, catamarans, and trimarans. As long as they have a mast, rudder, sail, and are under 20 feet, it is considered a small sailboat. According to experienced sailors that use a smaller boat, it is best to have one ...

  2. How to Keep a Small Sailboat from Capsizing…and what to do if it does

    A small sailboat may capsize, but it can be expected to turn over initially not more than about 90 degrees. This is enough to fill the boat with water and if left in that position, the mast may go down further in the water making the challenge of righting the boat more difficult. ... 1976 Bayfield 30/32 for sale. A classic sea kindly cutter rig ...

  3. How Often Do Sailboats Capsize: A Comprehensive Guide

    Small, lightweight dinghies and high-performance racing sailboats are more likely to capsize due to their design and the nature of their intended use. Larger cruising sailboats with keels and more stability tend to have a lower risk of capsizing. ... Can a sailboat capsize in calm weather conditions? While capsizing is more commonly associated ...

  4. 11 Best Small Sailboat Brands: How to Choose Your Next Daysailer or

    The Best Sailboats Under 25 Feet. Pocket cruiser: Cornish Crabber 24. British manufacturer Cornish Crabber has been producing beautiful, traditional style small sailboats for decades, ensuring they honor their heritage both in the construction style and appearance of their boats. The Cornish Crabber 24 is the most iconic of their range and ...

  5. What Causes A Sailboat To Capsize Or Tip Over?

    A boat can capsize due to various reasons such as rough weather conditions, overloading, improper distribution of weight, sudden shifts in weight, or hitting submerged objects. ... Strong wind pressure can easily flip over a small boat and big waves can also fill the boat with water easily making your sailboat capsize. If you ever find yourself ...

  6. 10 Best Small Sailboats (Under 20 Feet)

    Catalina 16.5. jlodrummer. Catalina Yachts are synonymous with bigger boats but they have some great and smaller boats too such as Catalina 16.5. This is one of the best small sailboats that are ideal for family outings given that it has a big and roomy cockpit, as well as a large storage locker.

  7. How to CAPSIZE and STAY DRY on Your Small Sailboat

    Sunfish Sailor, Lee Montes, shows how to Dry Step a Small Sailboat, Like Sunfish, Lasers, Optimists, RS Aeros and other sailboats. He Shows in detail how to...

  8. Small Sailboat Tactics

    Capsize Recovery. Since they lack the righting force of a keel, small boats are much more easily capsized. You can reduce the likelihood of capsizing by only sailing in light winds and learning to hike out in stronger winds. Even so, capsizing is inevitable if you sail smaller boats often.

  9. Capsize Causes and Solutions

    Failure to ease. As the saying goes, "Ease, Hike, and Trim" is a lot better than "Hike, Hike, and Swim.". The fastest (and driest) sailors ease the mainsheet aggressively in puffs. Here are the typical causes of failure to ease. Head in boat. Anticipating the puff and easing as it hits gives you more margin to capsize.

  10. Capsize

    Capsize screening formula. The maximum beam divided by the cube root of the displacement in cubic feet, or Maximum beam (feet) = less than 2 3÷Displ/64 The displacement in cubic feet can be found by dividing the displacement in pounds by 64.

  11. The Only Priority If You Capsize: Survive

    Never swim away from a capsized boat unless it is drifting directly toward a hazard. It's the largest and most visible object in the water; that's what you stick with. In 2009, capsizings resulted in 180 boating deaths and 220 injuries. Practice good seamanship to reduce your risk.

  12. How Often Do Sailboats Capsize? (Explained For Beginners)

    The simple truth here is yes. No matter its size and design, any sailboat is susceptible to capsizing if the wind gets strong enough. Every boat that has ever been manufactured can capsize in certain conditions, such as hurricane-force winds. Still, sailboats are particularly susceptible to capsizing in strong winds by their very nature.

  13. Best Small Sailboats for Beginners: Discover My Three Favorites and Set

    Here are my top three picks of best small sailboat for beginners: Sunfish. Hunter 15. Catalina 16.5. If I had to pick one, I would go for Hunter 15 sailboat because it has the the best safety features. The Hunter 15 sailboat is also easy to operate, plus you can dock with no problem.

  14. What is a Sailboat Capsize Ratio and how to measure it

    Here is a summary of what a sailboat capsize ratio is. A sailboat capsizes ratio is a parameter used to show whether a boat can recover from an inverted, capsized position or not. This term was mainly developed after the Fastnet race disaster. This was a 1979 race where a storm destroyed several yachts during the last day of the race, also ...

  15. How to Right a Capsized Sailboat

    Capsize is the term used when a Sailboat is tilted at a 90º angle or turned over in the water. It has something to do with the movement of the crew weight or excess weight concentrated on the wrong side of the boat. It can also be due to too much power in the Sail. In this section, learn how to avoid capsizing or deal with a small capsized sailing Dinghy: How to Avoid Capsizing Familiarize ...

  16. Easy to capsize?

    The P165 is impressively stable for what it is, but keep in mind that a 16ft boat can only be so stable. I can confidently say first hand that the Precision 18 is much much more stable than the Precision 165. Just know that the P18 has a backstay and it can take a bit longer to setup at a boat launch. The cabin in a P165 is small as well.

  17. Can a Catamaran Capsize? The Surprising Answer

    Capsizing often happens with small boats like canoes, kayaks, and sailboats. But even for bigger boats like catamarans, which have an established reputation for stability and safety, it's still normal to wonder if they can capsize too. To give you peace of mind and prepare you for the worst, let's answer that question in this article.

  18. Adverb Clause

    Multiple Choice. 1. Small sailboats can easily capsize ______ they are not handled carefully. 2. Multiple Choice. 2. ___________ they are tropical birds, parrots can live in temperate or even cold climates. 3. Multiple Choice. 3. ________ added to a liquid, antifreeze lowers the freezing temperature of that liquid.

  19. How Often Do Sailboats Capsize & Sink?

    Each year on average, roughly 200 sailboats capsize and sink, which is less than you would imagine for the amount of boats on the water. ... Dinghies and catamarans can recover fairly easy from this situation. On a dinghy, the crew members should stand on the centerboard to help balance the weight of the boat. For a small catamaran, you would ...

  20. A PSA about capsized sailboats based on some recent experiences

    Now the PSA part: if you see a small sailboat capsize, do not approach it unless they are requesting you to. Approaching a small sailboat can be dangerous for a few reasons: it's distracting to the sailors during a time when they need to focus. Hovering around and asking if I need help while I'm in the process of righting the boat makes it ...


    An adverb clause can precede the main clause or follow it. When the adverb clause comes first, it is separated from the main clause by a comma: ... Because _____, alabaster can be easily carved. (A) is soft (B) softness (C) of its softness (D) of soft. ... Small sailboats can easily capsize _____ they are not handled carefully. (A) but (B ...

  22. Do small sailboats tend to capsize and swamp?

    A small sailboat can capsize and swamp pretty easy. A small sailboat does not have a centerboard. This makes the sailboat hard to keep in an upright position.

  23. Watch: Whale of New Hampshire slams into fishing boat, hurling ...

    A whale was mid-breach when it hit a small boat off New Hampshire, causing the vessel to capsize and hurl two fishermen overboard in a matter of seconds. Colin and Wyatt Yager, two teenage ...