GP14 Sailing Forums Forum Righting lines

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    • #24519

      Could someone please point me to any info on this forum with regard to Righting lines having had a look but not succeeding in finding any.

      I have looked at various sites with different dinghy models and all the different ideas from helpful persons, but I thought best to check for info on the GP14 forum as this should be more specific to my needs.

      Full reefing systems have been fitted but just in case I get caught out in one of those “BBC forecast 12 knots all day” which turn into a ” with 30+ knot gusts ”

      My intention is of course never to capsize !!!!!!!




    • #24520
      Oliver Shaw

      I first met the concept of righting lines in summer of 2009,  when the GP14 cruising fleet was caught out in an unforecast force 7/8 off a major Anglesey headland,  and with overfalls.   The forecast had been a benign force 3.

      The one single-hander in the fleet capsized and inverted;   and then,  in conditions when I would have been struggling to cope with that situation,  and which I doubted was recoverable without outside assistance,  he righted the boat and resumed sailing.

      His two righting lines (one each side) were knotted every foot or so of their length,  and terminated in a turk’s head knot (giving a substantial ball at the end of the line).   As he described it afterwards,  he picked up the nearest righting line,  by reaching underneath the capsized hull,  then flicked the line over the hull,  and holding onto the end  –  it is important never to let go of it   –  he swam round to the far side of the boat.   Then he lay flat in the water,  with feet on the gunwale and legs braced,  and hauled in one knot at a time.   The boat simply has to come up.    And it did.

      Use a type and diameter of rope which you would consider for a mainsheet or jibsheet.

      Three seem to be two different concepts of righting lines.  His ones,  which I immediately replicated in my own boat (but,  thankfully,  have never had occasion to use),  were each secured to an internal strongpoint  –  in my case I used the forward seat knee  –  one each side of the boat,   and were then each stuffed into a polythene bag and stowed under the forward end of the side benches.   That should be reachable (under the inverted hull) in the event of an inversion.   One advantage of this system,  as compared with the following alternative,  is that the length is not critical.   It needs to be sufficient,  and it may be helpful if it is generous,  but provided the length is not unreasonable there is no absolute maximum length.   However accessing the line by reaching under the inverted hull may possibly be difficult in practice.

      The alternative,  which I have seen on a number of boats but have never seen in use,  is an external line,  one each side,  again strongly secured to the hull,  and led aft along the hull just below the gunwale,  from somewhere near the shrouds and round the transom to the opposite quarter.    If it ends with a length of shockcord this will keep it under tension,  and thus keep it in place,  and it can be simply hooked onto any suitable fitting (such as a lacing hook) at the far quarter;   the lines from either side will cross at the transom.    It may be helpful to have one or two other lacing hooks along the length of the line to keep it up close to the gunwale.   It seems to me,  without having actually tried this system,  that the crunch point is whether this permits sufficient length of line to flip over the inverted hull and also stretch out far enough to use the recovery method described above.     A second potential issue is pulling the line out from behind the rudder of the inverted boat.

      So you have a choice of two systems,  each with is limitations.

      Of course you could consider installing both systems,  they do not obstruct or interfere with each other.

      Essentially the righting lines,  in either case,  are doing what you would otherwise use the jibsheets to do.   But using righting lines rather than a jibsheet enables to you right the boat without at the same time sheeting in the jib tight (or,  worse,  the genoa);   and that may well be sufficient sail area to capsize you again immediately the boat is righted.

      Hope this helps;   and hope you never need to use either of them  –  but it is an important safety provision just in case!



    • #24525

      Thank you Oliver for your explanations.  I have mast head buoyancy so won’t be inverting ( as long as I remember to blow the thing up )

      Don’t forget Iv’e not sail her yet so I take it that I climb from inside up over the gunwale and pick up the righting line on the way over.

      I like the idea of the external line, one each side and I once saw a video on youtube by Matt Sharman showing this type of line on a Wayfarer so will try to find again.

      Once again Thank you.

    • #24526
      Oliver Shaw

      I have mast head buoyancy so won’t be inverting

      That depends on how much masthead buoyancy.    The popular 9-litre float (which is the size that I choose) is not sufficient to prevent inversion;   its purpose is to delay the process,  thus buying time,  during which a competent helmsman can take the necessary action to right the boat.   The 40-litre size intended for training establishments,  which many private owners feel is unacceptably cumbersome,  may (or possibly may not) be sufficient to actually prevent inversion.


      I climb from inside up over the gunwale and pick up the righting line on the way over.

      As I understand it,  the purpose of the righting line is primarily to assist in righting after inversion.   In a simple horizontal capsize,  if you are able to climb over the gunwale as the boat goes over you are unlikely to need a righting line.    When I was still a young man,  or possibly even a teenager,  my father told me that by the time the mast hits the water you should be already standing on the centreboard;  and on my very infrequent capsizes I have normally managed to do so,  right up to the last one,  in 2009,  at age 66.   However I am not sure that at age 80 next month I am still sufficiently agile to do that now;   like you,  I try very hard to ensure that the situation is not allowed to arise.

      However once capsized,  horizontally,  and with yourself standing on the centreboard,  a righting line would enable you to lean further out,  and so at that point it might make recovery easier.   But accessing a righting line while standing on the centreboard would be monumentally difficult,  and the jib/genoa sheet may be your best tool then.     I don’t see how you can possibly access either type of righting line while also climbing over the side of the boat as she capsizes;   the process of capsize is rapid,  and there just isn’t time to access the internal type;   and you need to be able to reach the transom to unclip the external type.

      So for a horizontal capsize,  I feel that the preferred method for any competent and normally agile helmsman  is the “dry capsize”;   as the boat goes over you step out over the side of the boat and onto the centreboard,  and then you step back in again as she comes upright,  without ever getting your body in the water.   Alright,  that may not be a fully dry capsize;  you may well get your feet wet.

      But if you are unable to do that,  for whatever reason (and that need not be confined to old age and relative stiffness  –  I had one instance in 2005,  17 years ago,  when I happened to be in the bottom of the boat putting the self-bailers down when the vicious gust hit,  and any attempt to then climb up over the side would have pulled the boat over on top of me,  so instead I deliberately dropped into the water),  once you are in the water and the boat is capsized horizontally righting lines may well be helpful in righting her.     But they will not normally then be essential.

      If however the boat should invert,  for whatever reason,  you now have an entirely different situation.   That is where the righting lines come into their own.

      Hope this helps,



    • #24535


      Thank you again in helping me to understand all the for’s and against.  I have been assured that the sail-head buoyancy bag will prevent inversion with the designer stating he could walk a short way along the mast before the mast started sinking. I would think the test was done in good conditions and can foresee that in a strong wind over tide condition that the mast could go down quicker. However I will not be sailing with children in those conditions. I am going to try and set up a line each side that will also act as a step.  With a RWO Eyemount just forward of the mast the line will run back through a bullseye placed equal distance back past the centre-board, the line continues back and terminates with a line stopper. This stopper is then kept taunt by a length of shock-cord which is fixed to another Eyemount towards the stern.  It’s hoped that by leaning out on the centre-board the line will extend until the stopper hits the bullseye. I just need to work out the length required. Somewhere in the length of extending line I will incorporate some tubing on the line to form  the step.

      It’s going to be trial and error to start with but I can see this being a help if I ever need it.

      Thanks again.     Windy


      • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by Windychippy.
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