RL24, RL28, and RL34 Trailable Yachts
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What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
Hi there, the specification of the RL24 say that it's self righting bouyant.. I'm just wondering if anyone has capsized or seen it happen? I'm not a very experienced RL owner yet and we have a 2 year old boy, I'm wondering if I should be anchoring him somewhere in the cockpit by a harness or just a lifevest? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Kelly Philip 18-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
We found that a harness was the most suitable when we sailed with our son of a similar age to yours. We made our own which is quite simple to do.

It was made of webbing that is available from any chandlery. It consisted of a wide (2") waist strap with approriate buckles sewn on. Two narrow straps (1") with loops sewn at each end go over each shoulder and the wide waist band goes through the loops. To prevent the shoulder straps from falling down, two cross straps are sewn across the front and back. Another strap with loops at each end goes from the waist band, between the legs, and up to the waist band. The only adjustment is the buckle on the waist band so it is simple and light, but you will need to remake the shoulder and crotch parts as he grows.

I think the most important thing is that it is comfortable so is more likely to be worn. The safest and strongest vest or harness is no use if left in the locker. And as he gets older it has to look "cool" too. Show him that the Hobart sailors wear harnesses and you won't be able to get it off him.

The attachment rope needs to be short. Kids seem to find it essential to be able to lean over the gunwale and watch the water gurgle by, but the rope should be adjusted so that their torso remains inside the boat. Tying the other end inside the boat lets them move around anywhere inside the cabin and out into the front of the cockpit without restriction.

A bouyancy vest is also essential - required by law - but we kept it for tough conditions only. It is also needed if ever in a dinghy.

Any trailer sailer can capsize but if conditions are rough perhaps it is best to not be out with a small child anyway. Be prepared to return home or find shelter if conditions deteriorate. And don't be hesitant to cancel a sail at the last minute if the forecast changes or condition don't feel right, even if guests are invited. Give your son a fright and it will be that much harder to get him on the boat next time.

For the younger kids we found that a car seat was the ideal place for sleep time. I fitted a car seat mounting point in the cabin so the seat could be quickly transferred from the car to the boat. It gives them a familiar place to safely sleep.

We only ever had one "moment" in our RL24 when, in 25 knots with an RL28 spinnaker up, I wanted to see how high we could point and hold the spinnaker. We broached and lay the boat flat. Releasing the spinnaker immediately brought the boat up. Definately self inflicted!

Hopefully your son will grow to be another dedicated sailor.

Keith Merkley 18-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
I fully agree with every thing that Keith has mentioned, and in addition would advise you to check on the the condition of the bouyancy compartments in your boat. It is now some 20 to 35 years since your boat would have been built, and some boats have had, what used to be water tight compartments opened up and used for additional stowage space, also it is likely that others may have developed leaks and may be no longer be water tight If in doubt add more floatation.
For more imformation on self righting ability see Episode 9 of the RL story.
Rob Legg 18-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
Funny you should ask. I capsized mine today. It sank. I failed to secure the drop keel so it didn't help and the boat rolled right over. Seems that, in fresh water at least, the flotation is marginal. A couple hours later, with the aid of club members and the water police, we had the boat pumped out and on the trailer. The club awarded me a bottle of wine for "services to entertainment in sailing". Apparently that is what may happen when one capsizes an RL24.
I'm going to take Rob's advice and check my flotation.
Matthew Francis 22-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
I find your report rather disturbing, could you please confirm that yours is a standard boat with an original keel, and a non-modified interior. Also do you know where the boat originated and what model it is?
Your assistance would be appreciated.
Rob Legg 23-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
Thanks for your responses to my query, Rob I thought that the pics of the RL being pulled over were helpful..I had had nervous mum visions about strapping a harness on and boat flipping like a dingy. My husband is a boat builder/shipwright so when we bought our boat a few months ago we pulled every bit of hardware off the roof and replaced and resealed all bolts and cut out the windows and recessed and sealed and checked the bouyancy 'lockers' - all seemed to be fine until the weekend I was sailing after I wrote original email and I asked husband if the bung in aft starboard cockpit hatch lead to out and could I pour water in to clean it? Husband misinterpreted and thought I meant actual drainage holes that I didn't notice. I think I managed to drain at least 4 litres of water into floatation - dummy. Any ideas how to get the water back out besides turning upside down or drilling and patching? I don't imagine it would be enough to create an issue - still it irks me! Matthew did the wine help? It doesn't sound like much of a consolation but perhaps if I endeavour to drink at least a couple of glasses each time I go out on the boat it will soften the splashing noises...? Please let us know how you go with your floatation investigation.

Kelly Philp 26-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
Hi Rob
Sorry to report the sinking. We did just about everything wrong leading up to the event. We did not have the keel secured down, we still had a lot of vang on from the upwind leg, we were flying a spinnaker in puffy conditions and I was a bit aggressive in the gybe. Added to that, I had my crew up at the mast as I steered into the gybe and, when the boat broached and flattened, he instinctively clung to the mast waiting for the boat to straighten, ironically helping to ensure it wouldn't.
As to your questions, the hull is a MK II that has had the swing keel swapped out for a drop keel that may be on the light side. Otherwise, the interior appears to be standard. Flotation under the cockpit coaming is intact as is the bow compartment apart from a small leak at the base into the cabin (will patch). I've not seen a drawing of a MK II hull so I don't know where else to look for flotation. Any ideas?
Damage from the incident was minimal. The worst was a flooded motor and mobile phone. The hull has a bit of cosmetic damage. I didn't even rip the spinnaker.
Kelly. Yes the wine did help. If one is to entertain the fleet, then the punters should acknowledge the effort. Applause just doesn't cut it.
I will be giving the boat a good inspection tomorrow ahead of Sunday's racing.

Matthew Francis 27-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
I have only personally observed two RL24 rollovers, one in the eighties and one last year.

The first one was a standard mark 2 when we were all racing in really strong winds on Lake Illawarra. She popped the kite at the weather mark (we didn’t) and a few miles on she broached when they had a heavy bloke on the foredeck when either dropping or gybing the spinnaker. She was lying high up on her side with no keel showing and with the top of the mast in the water when we passed her (she had buoyancy foam in her mast). Later on I saw her being towed home in an upright, flooded and floating condition with the deck being about 2 “ above the waterline. The water in Lake Illawarra is brackish being a mixture of salt and fresh, so the boat would be floating lower than normal. I remember doing something on Archimedes’s Principle way back in the dark ages (imperial measurement) and I can remember the numbers being 65 for seawater and 62.5 for fresh. I am not sure but this could have been pounds per cubic foot ( memory!!!).

The second Rl24 I sighted rolling was Simon Walsh’s boat at the National titles here in Paynesville last year. Again they were racing downwind with spinnaker up in strong winds and she rolled over straight away. His boat had a spinnaker tube and I never saw any keel showing. At all times during this incident Simon’s boat floated well with plenty of reserve buoyancy.

I have heard that an RL24 broached and rolled during a down wind stiff breeze race to Metung a few years ago but I think she may have been using an oversized spinnaker at the time but I was told that she was towed in afloat. Another Rl 24 got into trouble behind Raymond Island during a Marley Point race recently but I do not know the details, it may have been just a knockdown but she was also towed home afloat.

With regard to Matthew’s RL24 mentioned above there is a strong possibility that she could be Big Deal which was owned by Dick Voller. If so, she is a Western Australian built mark 2 swing keeler that was converted to a drop keeler. Her drop keel was a short 120 kg Holm Bros laminar flow wood/lead fibreglass one. Apparently then the rule was that you were not allowed to have the keel go through the cabin top, so this meant she draws less water than a swing keeler or a mark 3 and 4 when the keels are all fully down. I believe she was the second RL24 to be fitted with a drop keel.

During a classic Marley point overnight race in the eighties we were belting down wind in the full moonlight at full displacement speed. It was a wonderful experience but I was concerned about sending someone onto the foredeck of our RL24 to bring the spinnaker down if the wind increased in strength (no spinnaker tube). I was aware then of the possible broaching problems and I had fitted a new rudder with a longer rudder blade. Anyway, we had a discussion in the cockpit and we worked a system out were we could bring the spinnaker down from the cockpit without even going up on the cabin top. Our plan was as follows:

• Remove figure of eight knot from the spinnaker sheet and let it go completely through the block.

• When the spinnaker is streaming down wind, pull the spinnaker guy in fully until the pole is hard on the shroud.

• Using a boathook (and torch) trip the guy from the spinnaker pole and then pull the spinnaker back by the guy at the same time releasing the halyard.

• Push both the spinnaker and sheets down into cabin through the sliding hatch. Note: The storm boards should be fitted to the cabin access door when racing in heavy winds.

• Hoist jib and stow spinnaker pole when safe to do so.

Hope all this helps and remember that the real reason RL 24s rollover is that they can be pushed harder than other boats in heavy weather because every one knows, they are able to keep them in control. If by chance they overdo do it a wee bit too much and roll, they also know that their RL 24 will float and keep them safe and that they can then be towed back to the boat ramp. The short overcanvased, floating caravan type TYs' can’t be pushed like an rl24, as they sink!!.

Alastair Russell 27-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
Hi Alastair
It is indeed Big Deal. I'm trying to be kind to her. Honestly.
Thanks for the info about her. That will save me a lot of guessing.
Matthew Francis 28-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?

How was she in the water when the boat was towed back to shore? Did she actual sink to the bottom of Lake Burley Griffin as you did say the floatation was marginal? Did she trim by the stern?

If you are going to add buoyancy foam to her, I suggest you have to ensure that it is put in a position that gives the boat flooded boat stability with the keel down. You also have got to watch out for the free surface effect when the boat is in a partially flooded condition (boat swamped and floppy). I think the best way is to place the buoyancy foam high up under the deck near the gunnels above say the quarter berths. It’s as if you are installing a catamaran in your cabin!!! If you want to carry out a flotation test make sure it is carried out in fresh water.

Everyone should be aware that since the RL 24 was designed many moons ago there has been many YA RRS changes along with heaps of new safety regulations. The main ones affecting the RL24 were the changes to the outboard motor position when racing and also the introduction of the trailer yacht pull down test. I am sure some versions of the RL 24 would fail this test so if they do, they are required by the regulations to have sufficient flotation installed.

I see that they have brought out some more changes this year which means that everyone racing in a Category 5 night race has to have an approved flashing light or strobe light attached to their buoyancy jacket. I think the Marley Point Race is 5N?

By the way Matthew, congratulations on being so close to winning the biggest and hardest trailer yacht division in Canberra last season! It is quite obvious that Lake Burley Griffin is where the best and hottest CBH racing in going on at the moment! I looked at your Royal Canberra Yacht club web site and I am amazed at the number of flying fifteens, sports boats, Trailer yachts and dinghies racing there in your lake at the same time!

Alastair 29-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?

She never sank completely (mast and all) but it was hard to tell whether she would. While she was fully inverted with the keel retracted, she lost her air up through the keel slot. We used a rescue boat to help her upright then the keel fell back out. As we still had sails up, the rig kept the hull moving around: bow down with the transom out then fully submerged with the mast still half out of water. The hull did go fully under for a while but that may have been the rig pushing it down. Once we got it shallow enough that the keel sat on the bottom, we got the sails down and she sat upright while we pumped her out.
I noticed she has bouyancy tanks under the side berths. I'll have to check those as well as the bow tank this winter.
Meanwhile, I was back on the water yesterday and she performed as well as ever.
Thanks for the congrats. CYC puts on a good race day. Plenty of trailables and up to 85-90 boats of all types on the water. Makes finding clear air and water tricky some times.
Matthew Francis 30-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?

Thank you for all the info on your wee disaster! You were right in saying she was marginal but I think ‘Titanically’ speaking your incident should not be recorded as a sinking.

I myself would not delay in increasing the buoyancy foam. I suggest you buy one of these small round sailing dinghy inspection hatches (they are in the Whitworths catalogue page 116) and fit it near the top of your forward collision bulkhead below the anchor well level. You will then be able inspect this area as it is supposed to be filled with high expansion foam. In the mean time I would be jamming and securing polystyrene blocks under the forward bunks temporally for the season. It’s a pity you did not have the chance to remove the sails before they righted her.

Bloody hell! 90 boats racing are they all on the same course?

Alastair Russell 30-Nov-2009    Edit    Delete 
Re: What happens if an RL24 capsizes?
Up to 90. Yes but they are in about 7 divisions [EDIT: including dingys, cats etc.] starting at 3 minute intervals on two concentric courses. It's crowded some days. Bouy room gets to be important.
Matthew Francis 1-Dec-2009    Edit    Delete 

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