Overall I’m very happy with the stability of Custard – my Wanderer dinghy. I’ve never had any concern about capsize. The junk rig helps with this – it is very easy and fast to reef as the gusts are coming in. It is also easy to put up full sail again when the gusts have gone through so there is no temptation to avoid reefing.
However. there are times when capsizing would be a really bad thing to do. For example, when older people are in the boat who would be impacted by immersion in cold water and would find getting back on board very hard.
There is a version of the Wanderer equipped with a steel centreboard. This apparently makes the dinghy very hard to capsize. However, it also increases the weight of the dinghy by about 38kg making the boat much harder to pull up a slipway and move around on land. Online opinion seems to be that while this works, one might as well get a Wayfarer and sail it heavily reefed.
The Wanderer does have floorboards, and it occurred to me that there is enough space under the floorboards for about 40l of water; i.e. about 40kg of water ballast. This could be pumped out before trying to get the boat up the slipway, or just when the wind was light.
Alternatively, I have a pile of old bricks at the bottom of the garden. Each brick weighs about 3.2kg so I’d only need 12 bricks to get to 38kg. Again, the bricks would be easy enough to put in and take out as necessary.
I sanity checked the question on the DCA forum and people seemed very supportive of the idea, so when I get time I’ll have a go and see what happens.
I’m also planning on getting some buoyancy bags for under the side-decks. The existing buoyancy is under the side seats. This works ok at keeping the boat afloat and limiting the amount of water sloshing around, but doesn’t help stop the boat capsize once water is coming over the side. If the top of the sides was buoyant this would help the ballast pull the boat upright.
I’m still working on getting Custard waterproof so this isn’t going to happen soon – I’ve got to get the front rubbing strip back on and sealed up first. Owl – my other boat – needs a new dagger board so that also needs doing. The current board is about 40 years old and plywood so I suspect it will snap off, particularly if I needed to use it to recover from a capsize.
As mentioned before I need to sort the effort involved in raising the sail. This was forced on me by injuring my hand while on holiday.
The sail on Owl is easy to pull up; that on Custard is too hard. They should be about the same as, while Custard’s sail is almost twice as heavy as Owl’s, Custard has a pulley system that should negate the extra weight.
The first thing to tackle are the batten parrels. These were ultra-short – normally junk rig parrels are quite long allowing everything to move around. The main reason for them being ultra-short was that I didn’t build them into the sail early enough but left them as something to sort out at the end. By that time I didn’t have much option but they seemed to work ok.
Over the summer I injured my hand pulling the sail up. I’ve got an old trigger-finger injury and the high load on the halyard meant that this re-occurred: one finger couldn’t be straightened for a week or so. This is irriating rather than a big issue but I don’t want it to get worse. Thus I clearly need to sort the halyard load out.
The hole through the foot of the mast was too tight for the stainless steel rod, so I ground the end of the rod as a quick and dirty reamer to make the hole the right size.
This worked well. However, on assembling the system in the boat a problem became apparent: when in the boat the rod wouldn’t go through as it wasn’t aligned perfectly. Boats are never straight and the mast wasn’t at right angles to my new mast step.
I solved this with three approaches:
Adjust the alignment of the metalwork with washers under one side;
Barrel the centre of the rod so the mast could move from side to side without jamming;
Put a big handle on the rod to help in applying force to get the rod in or out.
A big block cut from a fench post – possibly Larch. This provides somewhere for the screws to go and takes the vertical force into the old plywood hog (which I cut a section out of).
A top plate that is split into front and rear halves. Since the tabernacle is glued in, it isn’t possible to get the top plate in in one piece. The top plate transfers the side-to-side force into the new ribs.
A couple of fiddly little bits to block up the remaining hole in the front buoyancy tank.
The Wanderer dinghy – mine at least – has marine plywood cunningly concealed at the lowest point of the boat. The plywood runs from the front buoyancy tank, under the mast step, and to the centreboard case. Sitting at the lowest point of the boat, the wood is often sitting in water. My boat is now 40 years old and poking around in the front buoyancy the wood appeared a bit softer than I’d like. Well – the wood at the top could be pulled apart with my fingers.
In addition, my boat has a free-standing mast without shrouds. This is both a good and bad thing. The shrouds help to keep the mast upright, but they mostly try to pull the mast through the bottom of the boat. The wood is obviously designed to resist this downwards pull. However, the free-standing mast has huge sideways forces at the foot and if that foot isn’t really attached to anything strong then this would be a disaster – both for the boat and anyone sitting near the mast.