Help for uprighting a capsized Catalina 14


New Member
I'm new to sailing this year and dumped a Catalina yesterday for the first time. I did what I was taught - pointed it into the wind and uncleated the sail, went around to the centerboard to get on it and upright the boat. It was so far up, I couldn't climb onto it. I hoisted myself up part way and hung off of it...not enough weight to upright the boat that way. I tried just pulling on the end of the centerboard from the water and kicking on the boat under the centerboard - nothing. Anyone have any tips on uprighting them when you don't catch yourself soon enough to climb onto the top as the boat is tipping? Thanks.

Don't know what to tell you. Ive dumped mine a couple of times and done as you describe successfully. I was able to get up on the cb ok but I am pretty limber. If there is water on the sail hanging from the cb for a minute or two first might help clear it. How did you ultimately right her?
The marine monitor boat came out. We righted it from on his boat and I sailed it in. I wonder about your idea of the water in the sails. There is a float on the top, so maybe it was taking on water...Thanks for the reply.
I have had the very same experience just as you describe it, didn't get it up until a power boater came alongside and lifted the top of the mast out of the water then it started to right.

These sails are huge and even with the sheets released it still takes a lot to get them to break away from the water. I do believe if you were able to hang on to the tip of the CB long enough it would eventually start righting.

I suppose the right thing to do is find a quiet shallow area and practice capsize recovery. I have'nt had that luxury as yet :D
Thanks, that makes me feel better! I'm strong...but not good at pull-ups - maybe I'll work on that:)

This boat was also on its side for about an hour before I came out to get it - I work at the marina and I was the only one that knew how to upright a boat...just took awhile to take me out there. I'm wondering if the "basement" of the boat was filled with water from being on its side for so long. I'm going to have someone check that for me.

When I originally was taken out there to "rescue" it, I was on the marine boat and we did it from was when I was sailing it back that I dumped it.

Also found out that when the main sheet ropes are in the water for that long, they swell and don't release quickly when you need them to (which is why I dumped it in the first place).

I learn some big lesson everytime I take one out!

Thanks again!
Anita -- I suggest doing some capsizing drills in shallow water. I sail solo, with scouts, and/or my young son. When I first got the boat, I practiced capsizing with my son. This got us both ready for when we did it for real on the water. Plus, gave me an opportunity to figure out how to get back into the boat. I found I couldn't get back in either.

I used some one climbing webbing I had. I tied it to the hiking strap at the back of the boat, then ran the webbing through a drain hole. Then I tied foot loops in the webbing making a rope ladder. While sailing I keep the webbing over the transom and hooked back to itself with a bungie cord. It gives me easy access to grab if/when I do capsize. The rope ladder is a little difficult, but far easier than trying to muscle into the boat without any other help.

Also, I found with my son after some practice... With the boat up on its side, I have my son hold the hiking strap, then I right the boat. This works great because as the boat comes up, he ends up inside the boat.

There are other people on the forum that have installed folding ladders on the transom for getting back into the boat.

I turtled the boat once, and had no problem getting the boat back upright. I used my rope ladder again to get back in.

1989 Capri 14.2
1984 Catalina 22
Try pulling the jib sheet tight on the high-side, you can get the sheet out of the water so it is not holding you down. Then throw that sheet's line up over the boat and use that to pull on and right it. I have practiced this drill with a friend near shore, but have not been forced to use it in open water, yet. It worked good for us when we were experimenting with it. My main reason for the capsize drill was to test out my masthead float (tidy-cat kitty litter jug) and I also wanted to try using the sheet to right the boat. Success on both fronts, the photo is of the boat before we put up the sail to try the new technique.
Getting Back In Your Capri

I saw a post somewhere on here describing a simple rope step
to get in over the transom of the Capri. I hadn't thought of how
much higher it is than my Laser. The first time I launched from
shore I would have been in trouble without it, as I was in
waist-deep water.
Get a six foot piece of rope. I used 3/8' that was left over from
replacing my jib sheet. Best if it's a different color than others at
the transom area. Pass the end through the hole in the rear
hiking strap bracket and knot it. Tie a loop into the other end
large enough for your foot to slip into easily. It's easy to reach
over the transom, pull the "step" over to you, slip your foot in,
and use the rudder/tiller to help pull yourself into the boat.
Thank you for all of your suggestions. I'm going to go out on a calm day and try some of these!
Cuddy door

I've found that my (mod1 #636) cuddy door is well up out of the water when capsized and there's basically no chance of water running in to fill the hull. The pic above seems to support this. But I've never had her on her side for more than a few minutes. I've read of people adding internal flotation to the mast via spray foam. My mast is new from factory in 2005 or so after the old one was damaged by a tree limb, and it doesn't at all seem to need any additional flotation. I'm able to pull myself up over the side or the transom but it's not the easiest. My fav thing to do in light air is jump into the water and sail her from over board while she drags me, holding/steering the rudder.
You are right about the boat floating high on its side, the main reason why I posted the pic was to demonstrate this to any skeptics. In my experience I found that the spray foam was not sufficient to prevent a turtle. After mine went upside down one unfortunate (albeit was windy blowing the hull over when I was on my side) day I decided that additional mast head float was required. I also force myself to keep in mind that the cuddy door will not keep out water if not secured, when mine was upside down the door came off and I took on a boatload of water between the decks. Since then I have been much more conscious of securing the door well. It is not often that the boat goes over, but as I have learned you can never predict a foul up due to equipment failure, or a snag in the sheet because of a randomly looped line or whatever unpredictable thing that Poseidon throws at you; as they say prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Just because

Just because it hasn't happened to me or I haven't seen it, doesn't mean it's impossible. I will now sail accordingly. Thanks!
Mast acts as a keel to keep boat upside down

A big problem with capsized boat is the mast. The mast tends to fill up with water and act like a keel to keep boat upside down. Sealing the mast or filling with foam will keep mast from acting like a keel. Another problem is that some boats centerboard tends to drop back into it's sleeve or slot if the boat turns upside down.

Hobie Cats used to have a righting strap underneath that made it possible to right them quickly once the sheets were released.

I have a line on each side of boat that is used to assist in righting boat. Feet on cb and hand on line I can lean back and pull boat out and upright all the time. Getting back aboard is another story.
I am convinced that water has a magnetic pull :D ...... just kidding:p ..... but it really is the darnest thing to get out of unless you are built like Michael Phelps. I am thinking of rigging up a hoisting rope with some kind of double or triple purchase system. Think about it! It may not be such a crazy idea:confused:
Got the boat up!! Thanks!

Thanks so much for all of your help! I went out and dumped it to try some of these. What worked for me was to cleat the jib sheet - throw the rope over the other side...then I pulled on the rope and walked up the bottom (side now) of the boat til it started tipping back up! :)

To get back in, I used the advice to have a rope with loops tied in it...and just put it over the tiller.

Thanks so much!

Thanks so much for all of your help! I went out and dumped it to try some of these. What worked for me was to cleat the jib sheet - throw the rope over the other side...then I pulled on the rope and walked up the bottom (side now) of the boat til it started tipping back up! :)

To get back in, I used the advice to have a rope with loops tied in it...and just put it over the tiller.

Thanks so much!


Wow! I am impressed, way to go Anita! :)
Been there

It might have to do with what you are wearing. I learned that i could the cb a lot better without my shoes on. We all have are trials and fails. When you think its going over just dump the sails. I do it all the time when i take new kids out and they arent so used to the heel.
It'd be a lot more work for not much payoff. It's just not needed. And probably risky to get tangled in things and tear. Just be sure the main is not cleated so as to let the water dump off, which doesn't take long. Other than that righting her wouldn't be any easier w/o a sail.
Yesterday, on the first sail (solo) of my new 14.2, I caught a gust and capsized. I was unable to pull myself up to the center board, but thankfully, a motor boater stopped by to help upright it. Once the boat was righted, I tried getting up using the home made loop step hanging off the top of the transom, but was unable to get in- the rope kept sliding to the side of the boat and my lower leg submarined under the boat. I had to use the motor boat's ladder to get out of the water and back into the Capri.

So last night I did some searching and found this thread. This morning I practiced capsize recovery with the bow tied to my dock and the stern to an anchor. Anita's method worked perfectly. Tossed the lower jib sheet over the top (took several tries) and was able to use that to walk up the sideways bottom of the boat to get it upright. You dont't really need to walk yourself up too much, but you need to wait a few seconds while hanging on for gravity to do it's thing.

To get in, I modified my rope loop step to route it through one of the drain holes. I attached it to a U-bolt was already mounted on the transom meant for a docking line, but you could also tie it to the hiking strap.
Maybe this is a stupid newbie question, but why not lower the main before righting the boat?

It's a dangerous nightmare under there with all the lines etc. Stuff that was neatly tucked away while you were sailing is now all over the place, just trying to snag you and cause problems. A loose halyard is even more problematic.

On my old C-15, I found that sealing the mast and boom helped quite a bit. I used silicone at all the holes/joints. I was never a fan of foam, as it might get water in it and then never get dry. Plus it adds measurable weight.

When the sail is up, and the boat is turtled, the main or jib halyard makes a good rope to pull on to get the mast back to the surface. It gives you a purchase up ( or down, as is the situation is when turtled ) so you have more leverage against what is certainly a waterlogged mast. However you have to swim under the boat to get it, and it's no longer coiled neatly at the base of the mast ( see first sentence ) so be prepared to go carefully so as to not get snared by something under there while you're sorting out a halyard to use.

It does not happen fast. You apply pressure, and wait. It will happen eventually... the old beast will begin to rotate and come up. Much slower than it went down (c: ..
My first time over, the bungee on the center board broke. Which meant the center board retracted completely up into the boat. Mine had completely turtled and at one of the more shallow sections of the lake. The mast was just stuck in the mud. I had to go under the boat, un-stick the mast, pull the mast up to the surface, while a buddy counterbalanced the boat, flip the center board back down, tie it down with a line, and then right the boat. Second problem was I didn't have the hatch tight, so the hatch had come off. Which meant the boat was over half full of water. Bailed as much as we could, put the hatch back on, bailed some more. These boats will still sail with only about 6 inches or less of free board. Was doing pretty good until a drunk in a ski boat decided to put his wake over my transom.

Completely filled me again. Luckily I was only about 100 ft from shore, was able to pull it the rest of the way in. Also, luckily DNR was patrolling and saw the whole thing, Arrested the ski boat operator, threw him in jail, and impounded the boat. I saw the ski boat again at the DNR auction the next January.

At the start of each season, I practice capsizing and righting the boat. So far have not had to do it in two years, knock on wood. Also I make sure to not let the fore sail to get back winded. I found out real quick, back wind the fore sail and then normally over you go.

wear a life preserver and carry a floatation seat. pull the mast up with mainsheet, tie the floatation seat to tip of mast to keep it afloat, swim back to boat and stand on centerboard tip. Once the mast is horizontal it should come up a lot easier. If there are two persons on can lift the masthead while the other rights boat from centerboard..