Baby Bob to the rescue - I hope!

Discussion in 'Capri/Catalina 14 Talk' started by JGM, May 22, 2007.

  1. JGM

    JGM Member

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    We had our sixth voyage on the C-14 this past Sunday and wow! What an adventure! The afternoon started quietly enough with my wife and two daughters aboard. Winds were 5-10 kts with occasional gusts to 13. I have a Minn Kota trolling motor and it was so calm, we needed it to exit the marina. My youngest commented that sailing was "boring".

    Her attitude didn't last long after we got out in the middle of Round Bay on the Severn and winds got more steady. It was a beautiful day for sailing, 75 degrees with slight cloud cover to prevent sunburn. After about three hours we toyed with heading back when the skies suddenly grew much clearer and the winds started to increase. It was really pretty amazing how fast the weather changed. After it all happened and we got back home, I checked the records of the nearest NOAA anemometer and it showed sustained winds of 10 kts / gusts 11 kts at the 4 PM hour, and sustained winds of 22 kts / gusts 24 kts at the 5 PM hour. Yikes!

    So... the wind is getting stronger and the only way I can keep the boat upright is let the sails luff violently. It occurs to me the jib needs to come down. I turn the C-14 into the wind and struggle with explaining to my wife how to lower the jib. Then the bow got turned to starboard - the side I was sitting on - and over we went, tossing all four of us in the water.

    As somewhat of an expert on capsized sailboats (Sunfish and Moths) I immediately swam around the stern to climb on top of the hull and grab the centerboard, only I was too late. In less than 15 seconds the Capri had turtled and was completely upsidedown. While my family clung to the gunwales, the youngest screaming in terror, I climbed atop the hull and bounced my puny 190 pounds this way and that trying to right the boat. It wasn't budging.

    Fortunately along came a party in a pontoon boat and the skipper offered assistance. Although this was the first time i had turtled a boat, I knew eventually we would get blown ashore and the bottom would bring up the mast. Had I been alone I would have declined the offer but one look at my nine year old's face brought out, "Can you take my family aboard?"

    With my loved ones safe and sound, I dove under the boat to get a line (the jib halyard) hoping to add more leverage to the righting effort. No luck. Then the skipper of the pontoon boat, named Jason, climbed onto the hull to lend his 230 pounds to the effort. Still no luck. We decided to try attaching a rope from his boat to the U-bolt on the bow to see if a slow tow would help roll the mast sideways enough to let us leverage the boat upright. That didn't work either. Then another burly fellow from the pontoon boat joined us on the upturned hull and I dove again underneath to make sure the sheets were all loose and the sails were free. Will me tugging on the windward stay underwater, and both of them leaning on the centerboard, we could not pull the boat even a few degrees upright. I considered perhaps the mast was stuck in the bottom but we were definitely drifting ashore. It appears in heavy winds, the C-14 is far more stable upside down than rightside up. Go figure! ;)

    After about 20-30 minutes of this, both boats drifted into the shallows, the mast got stuck in the mud and my two new best friends managed to lever the boat at least onto it's side. Jason asked if they could stand on the centerboard and I told him probably not out at the end, but close to the hull. I was afraid they would snap it off. Still the boat would not swing upright until I uncleated both halyards and drew in the sails. This surprised me since both sheets had pulled completely free of their cleats.

    Once upright and the sails stowed out of the wind, they towed us easily back to the marina. I offered them a ton of money for the gas they used but they wouldn't take it. Say what you want about motor boaters, but I find them exceedingly useful at times. ;)

    In retrospect, I learned many things about the Capri and the other aspects of our adventure. We didn't lose anything except one shackle and a water-logged cell phone. The Minn Kota Riptide motor worked pretty good after being submerged for all that time but the switch started to smoke and might need replacing. We just have to wait and see whether it survives or not.

    My boat is of the Model 2 variety with the forward hatch sealed by a large fiberglass pocket, thus preventing the boat from swamping and no doubt contributing to the trouble we had in getting her righted. I suspect with no water flooding the hull, she's just a bit too bouyant and her center of gravity is a bit too high to leverage her back over easily. Still... after reading Steve Spratt's adventure, I'm thinking I prefer a bouyant hull.

    Even though our mast has the foam plug in the top, there appeared to be no hesitation preventing the boat from turtling. I suspect when the winds are high enough, they just have to get under the hull and over you go until completely inverted. It really was only a matter of seconds.

    Another thing I learned is to educate any passengers and crew ahead of time to perform essential tasks like dropping a jib or reefing a sail when I can't let go of the tiller. After the wind picked up, we had about five minutes to get the boat seaworthy for what was coming but that time was wasted deciding what to do and explaining how to do it. That won't happen again.

    Although we survived the experience relatively unscathed, I've taken steps to make sure we don't get into the same trouble again. The local Hobie Cat dealer is sending us a "Baby Bob" mast float which should arrive by this weekend. If anyone has installed such a device atop their mast, I would be grateful for any insights into fastening, etc. It would be great if we could spend the weekend sailing and not engineering, if you know what I mean.

    Secondly, I would like to know if anyone has retrofitted any efficient and relatively simple reefing schemes for the main sail. Although I think just dropping the jib would have been sufficient to return control of the boat, that might not be true and there is always the possibility of getting into heavier winds.

    Finally, when pulling the boat onto the trailer and removing the drain plug, there appeared to be at least 10 gallons of water in the hull. All previous outings it had been bone dry inside. Where did this water come from? Around the seam between the hull and deck? Is that normal??

    Thanks in advance for all your replies,
    Jim
     
  2. Roger Lohrey

    Roger Lohrey New Member

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    Jim:
    It sounds like you had a very "exciting" day of sailing. I hope that your will be willing to go out sailing again. I like the idea of the masthead float. I looked at the Hobie Babby Bob and it says it has 32 lbs of boyancy. I am looking to make my own float out of foam and am wondering if anyone knows how much boyancy is needed to keep the 14.2 from going all the way over. I can see that 32 pounds would be necessary for a catamaran but not for a 14.2.
    Any information would be appreceited.

    Thanks
    Roger
     
  3. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Hi Roger,
    Thanks for your reply. Don't worry - this isn't the first time I've been dunked and it won't be the last. My wife said there was a mysterious smile on my face during the whole ordeal. Weird, huh. Oddly enough, she and my oldest have opted to go sailing with me again but the youngest might be a hard sell. Wish me luck.

    The Baby Bob arrived today and it was smaller than I imagined. I'll post some pictures once it's installed. Like you, I would be interested if someone more educated than yours truly could run the numbers and tell us exactly how much buoyancy is required. I suspect you would have to plug the wind speed into the equation since I'm convinced the hull was pushed upside down once it was laying on it's side.

    I also ordered a Jiffy Reefing Kit. Who knows. The next time the wind suddenly climbs over 20 kts, our capsizing days might be over. :(

    Jim
     
  4. c14_Greg

    c14_Greg New Member

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    The Baby Bob is magic

    I installed a Baby Bob earlier this spring after a turtling in 40 degree water that left me shivering for days afterward. The thing is magic -- I say that because I have managed to keep the boat upright with each outing since then. I used two pieces of 2-inch-wide aluminum plate bolted to the inside of the mast head to which I can bolt or unbolt the Baby Bob (nylon lock-nuts all around). It isn't pretty, but it hasn't come undone yet.

    Good luck and happy sailing.
     
  5. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Hi Greg,
    I got a little time to mess around with it today and I understand fully how you got your "Baby Bob" mounted. Thanks for the idea although I'm going to try to avoid lock nuts if I can. The smaller the part, the more likely I'll drop it in the water when I need it most. ;)

    Anyway... It's nice to hear they work, albeit "magically". I never want to turtle again!

    Thanks again,
    Jim
     
  6. CalSaling

    CalSaling New Member

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    Updates on float

    JGM and Greg,

    I was hoping to get an update in regards to the floats. Have you proved if it helps prevent turtling?
     
  7. JGM

    JGM Member

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    I haven't got the "Bob" installed yet but just looking at it tells me it's gonna work. First of all, it's pretty light. I thought it would be filled with foam but it's only an empty plastic shell. They say it has 32 lbs of buoyancy. I'm trying to imagine holding that much weight up while treading water. The whole mast, rigging and sails don't weight that much (I think). Considering the turning moment for turtling is back inside the hull somewhere, Bob is bringing a lot of leverage to the task.

    Still, after it's up there and if the gusts are strong enough and assuming it's earliy enough in the season that the sea nettles haven't drifted up the Severn, I might just cleat the main, throwing caution to the wind and let that puppy flop on over. Stay tuned.

    Jim
     
  8. CalSaling

    CalSaling New Member

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    Very interested

    If you do go over let me know. Most of the sailing I do is with the wife and kids so I spend most of the time preventing any sort of event of that nature. But if and when I do over, I am interested in keeping it as "in control" as possible and minimizing the event. So far my wife and kids like to stay dry and serene. Turtling just seems like the end of the family sailing days. Please let me know! :)
     
  9. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Well, we didn't get out sailing yesterday. The honey-do list seemed to carry much more weight than the fun we would've had sailing in 2 knot winds. But I did get the Bob mounted and took some pictures for anyone else thinking of going that way.

    I had some aluminum track left over from a sliding door installation which seemed to fit the Bob brackets perfectly once the roller flanges were sawed off. The first picture is a short section of the channel fitted to slide into the top of the mast.

    [​IMG]

    The next picture is of the other channel assembled to the Bob and the plug, including the clevis pin which holds the whole thing to the top of the mast. I wanted a quick way to remove the Bob if the winds are light.

    [​IMG]

    Below is a shot of the whole assembly installed on the mast top.

    [​IMG]

    The last picture is a long shot to give everyone a sense of scale. It's not pretty, but if it stops us from turtling...

    [​IMG]

    Of course, I could've just notched the Bob brackets to fit inside the mast top and skipped all the aluminum. I opted to go this way 'cause stainless steel is a lot harder to cut and drill than aluminum. I guess if you feel comfortable with such fabrication, leaving out the aluminum would be a more elegant solution.

    Finally, even if I took the boat and purposely capsized it and it didn't turtle, this would not be definitive proof the Bob will prevent turtling in all situations. It's the wind that drives it over upsidedown. In our case, the winds were 24 knots. I can see higher winds pushing the boat over even with the Bob installed.:(

    Hope this helps,
    Jim
     
  10. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Update

    We've been sailing twice since installing the Baby Bob atop the Capri mast. Neither time was it windy enough to purposely capsize the boat and test the Bob's effectiveness.

    So yesterday, after stepping the mast and launching, but before rigging the boat with sails, I climbed onto the deck, grabbed a shroud and pulled her over in shallow water. Laying on her side, the Bob easily kept the mast high and dry as we all imagined. Then to simulate to forces of a strong wind against the bottom of the hull, and forcing the boat over to turtle, we all pushed against the hull in the direction of the Bob.

    We did this for about 20 yards along the beach with the Bob in about 2' of water. Interestingly, the four of us couldn't push the boat fast enough to submerge the Bob further than a couple inches and as soon as we let up, it bobbed back to the surface. This leads me to think that even gale force winds might be insufficient to turtle a boat outfitted with a Bob.

    BTW, it was surprisingly easy to pull the Capri over in shallow water, and stand it back upright again. I would suggest that anyone relying on the foam in their mast to prevent turtling, that they repeat this shallow water test to see how buoyant their masts really are. The mast on my boat has an intact foam plug which did essentially nothing to prevent our turtling a couple months ago.

    Finally, I thought I would feel the presence of the Bob while sailing. Perhaps at first, while initially boarding the boat, but I quickly forgot all about it. It definitely takes a little more heft to step the mast.

    Hope this helps,
    Jim
     
  11. CalSaling

    CalSaling New Member

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    Thanks for posting!

    It was good to hear a first hand experience and energetic test on the Capri/Baby Bob marriage. I've read a lot of "I've installed successfully", but no further comments afterward. Thank you so much for posting!
     
  12. JGM

    JGM Member

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    It was my pleasure. The internet is a great resource but only if we all participate and share what we know ... or in my case... strongly suspect! ;)

    Jim
     
  13. fan

    fan Member

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    Execllent report. I love the fact that you actually tested this device instead of just relying on it functioning as advertized. Has anyone done this same test with the foam pulled mast?
     
  14. c14_Greg

    c14_Greg New Member

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    It seems to work for me too

    Very impressive pictures! I like the clean design. Much prettier than mine.

    I haven't gone so far at to tip my boat over on purpose yet, but I did watch the Bob bounce off the surface of the water one day after a strong gust pushed me over. I was able to climb to the high side quickly as the boat tipped, so my weight was enough to bring the boat back upright when the gust subsided. Previous similar situations didn't end so neatly, so I am feeling very positive about the Bob. I agree that more heft is required to get the mast up, but I don't notice it at all while sailing. Since I single-hand almost exclusively, I don't have other hands to help push it over, but I will give it a try one of these days.

    Happy sailing.
     
  15. clg44

    clg44 New Member

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    Installing the BabyBob

    JIM
    After reading the entire thread, I submitted an order for a BabyBob from my local HobieCat dealer - but of course they shipped the wrong one - so it is now on re-order (they come with and without the metal bracket - the version without the bracket just slips over the HobieCat mast, but since the Capri mast is slightly bigger and not perfectly round, it won't fit - so i needed the one with the metal bracket, but i diverge).

    Anyway my question is what size Aluminum Channel did you use. From the pix you included with your posting it is kind of hard to tell - and since I will need to buy the channel from a metal shop - and possibly get it cut and drilled to fit - it will really help if i can give the shop the dimensions without taking the mast to him (though I guess i could do that in a pinch).

    thanks much

    Carl (clg44) -

    PS - I am another new owner of an older boat - and the bay i plan to sail it in is "plagued' by high winds and swift currents (Phinney Harbor near the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal) - in fact I turtled the boat on my maiden voyage, which is my impetus for getting the BabyBob installed so i won't do it a second time.

     
  16. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Hi Carl,
    The sections of aluminum I used are really parts of a heavy duty sliding door track that were left over from a job. The two flanges that support the door bearings were sawed off, turning it into a simple U-channel. I can't remember the exact size off-hand but this is not a stock item unless you want to buy it in ten foot lengths.

    That said, I have three 4' lengths laying about which are just taking up space. If you only want the raw track, I can saw off a piece and send it to you postage paid for... does $10 sound reasonable? And if you can wait a couple weeks (or more) perhaps I can whip out a couple brackets for a slightly higher price. I make cabinets for a living so I have all the toys... er... I mean tools for the job. Now I'm wondering if your mast has the same shaped cross section as mine? Does anyone know if they are all the same?

    Jim
     
  17. clg44

    clg44 New Member

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    bracket for BabyBob

    Jim
    be happy to pay for a bracket - my only concern is that there is not all that much room above the main sheet pulley - another option might be to have a long enough bracket so that it could attach to the screw that holds the pulley in place - send me your address and i will send you a cardboard template of the top of the mask together with the dimensions at the top of the mast.
    Carl G
    P. O. Box 862, Monument Beach, MA 02553
     
  18. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Carl,
    I sent you a private message with my address for mailing the template of your mast.

    About the mounting pin and getting its hole drilled without hitting the mainsheet pulley, I agree it is a concern. On my boat, there was only 5/8" space between the top of the pulley and the top of the mast. I drilled the pin hole 3/8" down from the mast top which left 1/8" clearance to the pulley.

    I don't think attaching the bracket to the pulley's axle bolt is such a great idea unless you want to make the installation permanent. Doing so would make removing the Bob problematic on days of light air or if you wanted to race competitively. If you don't have the clearance at the top of the mast, it might be better to drill two cleavis pin holes, fore and aft of the pulley centerline.

    You can check the distance exactly by laying a straight edge across the top of the mast and measure down to the pulley. I think 1/2" would be a minimum before opting for the double hole solution.

    Since it doesn't take much more time to make ten brackets then it takes to make one, I'll go ahead and chop up most of the track I have in case anyone else wants to mount a Bob to the top of their mast. Making multiples will keep the cost down. You will still need to buy the 6 stainless screws/locknuts and here's the LINK to the clevis pin.

    About the only tricky part is drilling the hole in the top of the mast for the clevis pin. I'll include some instructions for that with the bracket. Certainly, if drilling this hole gives you the creeps, it might pay to find someone with a drill press who can handle the job.

    Jim
     
  19. carrnor

    carrnor New Member

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    Anti-turtling device?

    When I bought my present Capri 14.2 second hand it came with a strange looking triangular sleeve device which appeared to be closed cell foam covered with heavy nylon. The thing is designed to fit over and attach to the top of the mainsail. It covers about two feet of the sail top. It is hoisted aloft along with the mainsail.
    I assumed that since it was obviously designed for the Capri sail/mast, it was a Catalina device.
    Being a "real" sailor, there was no way I was going to put that thing on the top of my sail! After about seven years of sailing a Capri, and capsizing twice, with no recovery problems (except getting back in the boat) I got in a situation similar to yours, ie, unexpected 20knot winds, capsized, and turtled immediately. I was solo, and fortunately my wife was on the lake in the pontoon boat, saw me go over, and steamed to the rescue! We managed to get the boat upright by getting a line around the centerboard, and with me hanging on to the centerboard, Rosemary eased forward and the boat righted.
    I have since put the sleeve on the sail, and tested it in shallow water. It easily supports the mast, even with me pushing down on it. I suspect however that in a strong enough wind it will still go down. As a comment, I have always thought that foam in the mast was inadequate.
    In any case, since I am 84, I should probably try to avoid strong winds.
    My wife does not understand why boats have to "lean", so I go solo if the wind is over 5-10knots.
    Have fun sailing, and try to stay upright most of the time!

    carrnor
     
  20. JGM

    JGM Member

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    Hi Carrnor,
    Thanks for the story - it sounds a lot like mine! It would be interesting to find out exactly how much flotation is provided by this sail sleeve? I suspect it would be a better option aerodynamically than the Bob if we could be sure it would stop a turtle in high winds.

    Jim
     

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