What's new

I wrecked my boat, so what did I do wrong?

Danmiller888

New Member
Last summer I taught myself to sail on a super porpoise. Because there is not alot of information out there on the super porpoise, I used the sunfish gooseneck and halyard settings.

Towards the end of summer after lots of practice I was confident enough to take my girlfriend out. I weight 190 and she’s about 110. The winds were whipping and we were having a blast (or atleast I was). upon returning I had the sail wide open and the mast actually ripped out of the boat and cause about a 1 foot diameter hole. We were heeling pretty hard prior to that. I know heeling is not a desired condition For speed but I really enjoy leaning out Over the edge and cutting hard.

anyways, the fiberglass seat that holds the mass ripped out of the boat and pretty much destroyed the boat as far as I’m concerned.i would have thought that the boat would capsize before it would break.why do you suspect this happened? Were we over weight? was the boat just weak? Improper technique?

We were sailing down wind with the sail open and a knot in the main sheet. Could this cause the nose to dig in and you can’t really capsize in that direction?

I just bought a 1970s sun fish and I don’t want the same thing to happen especially cause this hull seems to be a great shape.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Why do you suspect this happened? Were we over weight? was the boat just weak? Improper technique?

We were sailing downwind with the sail open and a knot in the main sheet. Could this cause the nose to dig in and you can’t really capsize in that direction?

I just bought a 1970s sun fish and I don’t want the same thing to happen especially cause this hull seems to be a great shape.
In strong winds, following/roiling seas, and a full capacity aboard, the rig can be expected to be "taxed to the max". :(

My Sunfish (and previously, my Porpoise) mainsheet has about four feet more length than factory lengths. Knotted at the bitter end, this allows the boom to exceed the ideal position of ~90° (right angle), when running before the wind. :cool:

The Porpoise is a pretty robust design--and in some areas--better than Sunfish. :eek: But submarining puts a sudden load on the upper rigging (especially the larger Super-Porpoise rig). :oops:

Absent a video of the experience, I would've expected the mast to fail before a deck failure (on either brand of boat). So perhaps there was previous unseen damage to the hull/deck--or the mast wasn't fully seated in the mast step. (Sand, toy, debris, ball).

I therefore find the Sunfish gooseneck NOT Guilty! ;)
 

Sailflow

Active Member
If you dug the bow into the wave in front there is a lot of load from deceleration. Usually have to sit farher back and steer to.keep the bow out of the waves. Your boat is fiberglass it can be rebuilt. Post some pictures as the experts on this site can help.
 
Last edited:

Woodwind

Active Member
Have You been eating a lot of junk food lately due to the pandemic?:rolleyes:




yep, pushed to the limit.....
Maybe sailing her a bit more flat and dumping the wind so as not to stress the rig so much when the wind is that high Is a good strategy.

but pretty much everything is repairable in the boat world unless it’s Roto molded plastic and probably that’s repairable too.
You will find much help on the Internet and how to repair your boat. Good stuff to learn, so you know, and a very bonding thing to do with a sailboat that you spend a lot of time with.


When you’re out there hiked out like that....... listen to your boat (and your girlfriend) .
If you’re putting in an inordinate amount of energy into keeping her more flat ( the boat,:eek:) or keeping yourself in the boat or pulling on the tiller hard, it’s a signal that it’s time to ease up and dump the wind.

Paying attention to this will allow you to sail without causing a lot of stress and damage to your vessel And your relationship.
As a lot of us know, at times it’s absolutely wonderful to have a girlfriend or spouse or a special person that loves to go sailing with us. And then sometimes it’s a wonderful solitary thing to do.

You could look at “weather helm” in any sailing instruction book or online to get an understanding.
Listen to your “girls” they will let you know when they are getting uncomfortable And stressed.


Submarining is to avoid.....and wooo hooo that gooseneck held up they are pretty robust!

Keep at it!!!
And tell your girlfriend that’s not how it usually is and hope to bring her back into the sailing fold if this has scared her.
.... take her on a really gentle sail to help restore her faith in sailing.

Cheers!!!

and PS change the words in that song to ” Don‘t take it, over the limit, one more time....”
 
Last edited:

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I just bought a 1970s sun fish and I don’t want the same thing to happen especially cause this hull seems to be a great shape.
If you part-out your damaged Super Porpoise, I'd like to buy some of your "old stock" hardware. :) Maybe the sail? :rolleyes:

Advertise the rest here, at this (our) forum:
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Just catching up to this thread... and wondering why you were heeling much at all when running downwind? I'd say the most common reason for dismasting is the accidental or "flying gybe" where the rig is subjected to massive shock load. Another way to shock-load the rig is by slamming into chop, which is why the positioning of live ballast (skipper & crew or passenger) is so important... but then again, it's important on any point of sail. These smaller craft with no standing rigging can easily be dismasted, especially if the step is worn or cracked like Beldar said. It sounds as if you combined just enough of several factors---speed, rough chop, position of you and your gal on deck, and "heeling" (which only slows your hull in the water and puts more stress on the rig above)---to cross that threshold of stress to the mast step, which led to the dismasting of your boat. :confused:

Tell me, are you raising your daggerboard when running off the wind? And what exactly do you mean by "cutting hard?" Are you talking about sudden tiller movements that create rudder drag and slow the boat, contributing to stress on the rig and mast step? When I'm on a broad reach or downwind run, I raise my daggerboard, slide aft and let the boat jump up on a plane, so she's effortlessly flying with minimal drag and minimal stress to the rig and mast step. In a subtle way, a daggerboard left down will slow your hull and ADD stress to the rig and mast step, when the boat really wants to shed hydrodynamic drag so the hull "keeps up" with the rig, so to speak. Another example: many small craft get knocked down or capsize while gybing because the skipper left the daggerboard down, and the boat "tripped" over the blade. The rig wanted to go places, but the blade held it back, same way one might trip over a curb and sprawl on the sidewalk, lol... ;)

Photos of the damage would be interesting, and might reveal some underlying causes of the dismasting. Especially shots of the failed step, the deck damage isn't that important because leverage from the rig will rip any deck apart once the step fails, unless the deck is steel, and even then it might buckle and tear. The good news here is that you've learned a valuable lesson: you sound as if you're making strides in seamanship, but this was one of those situations where factors combined to test you and your boat. Yes, it cost you in terms of damage, but if you learn from the experience you will become a better sailor. Remember what I've said: raise your daggerboard when sailing off the wind, position your live ballast with care, keep tiller movements minimal and smooth and precise, not sudden... you should only have to make slight tiller movements to avoid the worst of the chop, aye? And let boat speed be your focus: everything you do should contribute to boat speed, NOT reduce it. :rolleyes:

Of course, your TOP priority will always be MARINE SAFETY, and if conditions get TOO rough, then take steps accordingly... dump air from your sail, fall off if possible, and head for shore to sail another day. The mast step of my Laser [#2069] once failed at its lower end while under way... I was with a friend and we were off Point Loma in San Diego, where the wind tends to howl on occasion. We were on a close reach in some pretty good chop when I heard a CRACK---like a SHOT---and the rig immediately began to flail in the stiff breeze, the deck around the step heaving in an alarming manner. I immediately fell off to reduce stress on the rig and deck, and we wound up running toward the Silver Strand, where we safely effected a landing through the surf. By falling off the way I did, the stress was instantly reduced, since the hull and rig were now traveling WITH the wind, rather than AGAINST it. Also, the stress load was directed fore & aft along the centerline of the boat, instead of letting the deck heave from side to side... :eek:

Luckily, there was no further damage to the step or deck, and all I had to do was re-glass the step later. Our voyage was cut short, but meh, we still spent some time on the water... always a good thing. So don't let your gal be afraid, sometimes these things happen at sea, especially with smaller craft that lack standing rigging (stays & shrouds). Aboard these boats, the mast step is the greatest pinpoint stress location, which is why so many fail over time. They get "worked" over decades as all the drive from the rig above is transmitted through them, glass gets weak or cracked, "glass rot" often sets in, and next thing ya know... 'KER-RACKKK!!!' Steps don't fail in your yard or in the parking lot, you understand. They fail under stress & load, which is why you want to minimize the same, and you do THAT by becoming a better skipper, timing & executing maneuvers more smoothly, constantly watching your sail & ballast trim, learning to estimate the risks when conditions get rough, etc., etc. Sounds to me like you're well on your way, and you'll learn from these "teachable moments." :D

Well, guess it's time for this hand to grab that first beer, my interview isn't until tomorrow morning. The wind has been HOWLING here in Cochise County, it reminds me of a time when four of us were rolling across Cuddeback (Dry) Lake in a beat-up old VW Bug, drinking beer and messing around as youngsters will do. I was sitting behind the driver, and as I looked to my side I beheld this magnificent landsailer, tall rig and all, slowly passing us to port, lol. The VW Bug was maxed out at double-nickel, it was a thrashed stock p.o.s. with the transmission held together with coat hanger wire. The crew of the landsailer were all decked out in red suits and helmets, and their craft must have been doing 60 or 65 as it slowly pulled ahead... it was a BAD@$$ RIG. I laughed and asked our driver: "HEY, DUDE, DOESN'T THIS PIECE O' JUNK GO ANY FASTER?!? WE'RE BEING PASSED BY A FRIGGIN' LANDSAILER!!!" It was pretty funny, and we still had a good time, despite the embarrassing loss to the sailing rig, LOL. Meh, ya can't win 'em all, that's for damned sure... CHEERS!!! :cool:
 
Last edited:

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Couple o' quick observations as I kill time before my phone interview... for "threshold of stress" you can substitute "breaking point" of the mast step, as there will always be stress on a rig and step, as long as there is wind. Only when the stress reaches a critical point does the mast step fail. As a skipper, you are using the hull & blades to redirect all that energy, all that drive created by the rig above, and the manner in which you DO that will certainly affect stress levels, for better or for worse. A "heavy-handed" skipper who slings the boat around like so much hash will invariably add stress to the rig & mast step, while a skipper with a smooth hand on the tiller or wheel can still make bold maneuvers, they're just done with more finesse. Tacking speed is a good indication of whether a skipper has a smooth or heavy hand: a heavy hand will result in noticeable reduction in speed, while a smooth hand brings the boat through the eye of the wind without losing too much speed. Same goes for gybing, really, where control is even more important: an uncontrolled or "flying gybe" will not only stress your rig and step to the max, it will also slow you down as the boat violently heels, gets knocked down, or whatever... :confused:

As for raising the daggerboard, it's not restricted to sailing off the wind... under certain conditions, I'd often partially raise the daggerboard of my Laser or Minifish while on a close reach, or even close-hauled in lighter winds. Currents also come into play here if you're in coastal waters, but I reckon that doesn't apply to you. Yeah, once the wind is howling, you're gonna want that daggerboard all the way down while beating or thrashing to windward, but there are times when you won't NEED it all the way down. And at those times, if you leave it all the way down, you're simply creating more drag which in turn reduces your boat speed. Learn to experiment with the daggerboard (and rudder too, once you become more proficient) to see how much faster your boat can go... on a long and deep broad reach or run, I used to raise my daggerboard practically all the way and kick up my rudder a bit, and the resulting increase in speed was often dramatic. Shock cord helps keep a daggerboard at the selected height (or depth), just run the cord from the daggerboard around the mast. Some skippers use other methods to control daggerboard height, but shock cord is a good start, and relatively inexpensive. Uh-oh, almost interview time, gotta cut this short... Cheers!!! :rolleyes:
 

Danmiller888

New Member
If you part-out your damaged Super Porpoise, I'd like to buy some of your "old stock" hardware. :) Maybe the sail? :rolleyes:

Advertise the rest here, at this (our) forum:
I am parting it out as we speak. I’ll be sure to post the items.
 

Danmiller888

New Member
Thanks for the the advice. Lots to reply to here. To clear some things up, as I was going down wind with the sail wide open, we were not heeling at that time. I was referring to when were were close hauled.
When sailing down wind I do not recall the bow going under but it happened pretty fast and the wind was getting the best of me.

the center board was not up at the time of I recall correctly but I typically would have it up all the way when running down wind.


We did capsize prior to this event happening so I wounder if the mast was not Seated all the way from out upset.

as for repairs...this boat was pretty old and beat up, I found a sun fish in much better shape for 200.00. Considering the time and money I would have invested in fixing the super porpoise, I decided to scrap it.

I must say, having never sailed the sunfish yet, upon initial inspection, I prefer the super porpoise bailer design and foot straps.

finally I have some questions about being a “heavy handed skipper” which having never heard that before I can with much certainty assume I am. I tend to dig the rudder into the water when sailing closed hauled. I tend to probe the wind very aggressively and get ripples off my rudder as the boat heels over. I assumed this “induced drag” (aviation term) was a necessary evil in order to point as closely into the wind as possible. Am I wrong doing this? Maybe I’m not configured correctly?
 

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
That "heavy-handed" term was one of my own making, I conjured it to describe a skipper who makes overly-forceful tiller (or wheel) movements, lol. Tiller movements should be deliberate and precise, but they don't need to be excessively hard or violent. I get the part about seeing how close to the wind you can get, in order to point higher, I do that constantly, and there are such things as headers & lifts, but IMHO that's the time to be especially... er... sensitive, as far as tiller & rudder movements go. One can do this smoothly or one can do it with unnecessary force... and I should add that such excessive force is hard on the gudgeon screws, they will loosen up over time due to the heavy rudder drag created by forceful maneuvers. When I maneuver, I try to be smooth & fluid, like a surfer or skater, as this style of seamanship allows me to retain as much boat speed as possible, while hard or sudden maneuvers tend to slow me down and kill boat speed. Obviously, this smooth fluid style can't be employed all the time, like when conditions get rough and there's heller surface chop, but a skipper can maximize it, and perhaps use judicious timing when maneuvering in rough conditions. Just my $.02, you understand, others may not agree, lol. ;)

You mentioned aviation, so I'll quickly give you my perspective. Sailing and aviation share many similarities, even the nomenclature is similar: turning to port or starboard, for instance. To me, the main difference is that aviation generally occurs in one medium, air (unless you're aboard a seaplane), while sailing bridges two mediums, air & water. Most of a boat's drive (discounting tides & currents here) is created by the rig in one medium, air, then transmitted and redirected through mast step, hull, and blades to another medium, water. Water is much denser than air, so this transfer of drive or energy comes at a price: wear & tear on rigging & hardware, for starters. A good skipper can make a big difference in how smoothly this transfer of energy occurs, lessening the bad effects, and that includes sudden gusts or other factors which affect performance. Same thing can be said for pilots, really: the best flight I ever had was in a 1931 Stearman Sr. Speedmail biplane flown by Addison Pemberton, a natural born pilot, best I ever met. That plane was nothing more than a giant kite, but the pilot's skill and fine touch in steering made the flight an absolute pleasure. I might add that I'm not into commercial aviation, plenty of "heavy-handed" skippers in that realm, lol... :eek:

AGAIN, THIS IS JUST MY $.02 ON THE SUBJECT, OTHERS MAY HAVE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, LOL... CHEERS!!! :rolleyes:
 
Last edited:

Danmiller888

New Member
As a fellow Super Porpoise owner, I'd really like to see some pics of the damage.
I’m sorry I don’t have the hull anymore and I just looked through my pictures and didn’t find one of the damage.

I talked to my girlfriend and she said we capsized just prior to this happening so I’m wondering if the mast wasn’t seated fully after I righted boat. So in the future check your mast seat.
 
Top