THE HENLEY WHALERS - "Molly"-Specific Capsize Procedure Home
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“Knowing how to recover from a capsize should be one of the first things you learn.”

"It is not to be feared. It is to be practised"

Version 27/8/15,
inc GP 27 Aug 2015 00:00:19
Amended 6/3/19 - Uprighting.
Click Reload or Refresh

Prevention is better than recovery!If capsize is imminent:-

  • Crew – Get “Weight up!”
  • Helm – Point up into wind.
  • Mainsheet - Ease/Release it.  (Takes the wind out of the sail – reduces the heeling force)
  • Jib sheet - Ease/Release it.  (Allows the bow to come up into wind)
    These might prevent the capsize occurring

“The advice is not to worry - it is part of sailing.  It happens to the best of sailors.”

If capsize is inevitable:-

  • “Dry capsize” - As "Molly" goes over, climb up to the upper gunwale. The mast will lie horizontal on the water. You may only get a wet foot

    See Animation >>
    (Don’t believe it?  There is a video later.)

“The more you practise, the easier it becomes”

Capsize Animation 1
Animation 1 - Dry-capsize

Click image to animate

Immediately after capsize:-

  • Whoever was in command, resume captaincy. Generally this will be the Helmsman.
  • Others quietly follow practised procedure.
  • Check the crew (headcount and condition).
  • All crew get within the boat confines, ideally sitting on the upper gunwale, or standing inside on the centre-plate housing, or the lower gunwale. Otherwise lying in the water parallel to the boat.
  • Adopt responsibility for whatever tasks are nearest to you:-
  • Chuck any drifting kit back within the boat.
  • Un-cleat the MAIN HALYARD. “Haul down” the Main Sail.
  • Check the centre-plate is extended, and secured with the elastic strop.


  • Captain, solicit a suitable heavy-ish "Hauler".
  • "Hauler" take the “upper” jib sheet* (as a hand-hold), step out on to the centre-plate close to the hull. Take in all jib-sheet-slack, pull hard, lean back. If she won’t “un-stick”, walk slowly out onto the centre-plate. Don’t rush or bounce – this might break the plate. Step back in as Molly comes upright.
  • All crew - As "Molly" comes upright, adjust your position to maintain trim.
  • Sit low, preferably in the bilge; you are probably wet already! - A boat full of water is more unstable than usual.

See Animation (2) >>

*(Instead of the jib sheet, un-reeving the bottom end of the jib halyard to gain purchase from the top of the mast may be more effectve - TBC).
PW is not sure about the safety of this option. (a) The jib would thus necessarily be raised (probably not a problem, maybe even a benefit). (b) If the "hauler" loses hold of the jib haliard, it might be lost up the mast and not be available for re-hoisting the jib - This could be HAZARDOUS.

Capsize Animation 2
Animation 2
"Hauler" uses Jib-sheet
Click image to animate.

Resuming normality:-

  • Helm - Check the rudder is fully attached. (It may be partially off its mounting)
  • Helm - Keep boat pointing up, head slightly off the wind.
  • Jib – Adjust jib-sheet to provide forward motion for steerage and improved stability.
  • All other crew - Sit low. Bail and pump. Tidy the main-sail.
  • Mainsail – Does it need to be reefed? (or rig “Julia”?). Haul up.
  • Sail-on while bailing, or heave-to (if safe) to complete bailing.

“Capsizes are a shock when they happen for the first time,.... Being prepared to deal with them is a major confidence booster”


  • Prevention – Weight up. Head up. Dump. Dump.
  • Climb up.
  • Helmsman in charge. Others quiet.
  • Head count. Crew condition.
  • Crew & Kit inside.
  • Main Halyard, un-cleat.  Main Sail “down”.
  • Centre-plate - extended & secured?
  • “Hauler” out to base of plate with “upper” jib sheet..
  • All crew - Maintain trim. Sit low.
  • Helm - Check rudder. Head slightly off wind.
  • Jib – Adjust sheet - gain headway, steerage, stability.
  • Sit low. Bail. Pump. Tidy mainsail.
  • Mainsail, reefed, Julia?  Haul up.
  • Sail and Bail

See these four videos >>

If any crew are left overboard when Molly uprights, recover them as per "Man Overboard" drill - (Not yet written!)
Briefly - Two strong crew allocated to haul one person aboard at a time while everone else sits low in the bilge.

(Sections plagiarised from
Caution, and Overy Staithe SC .)
with thanks.

Printer Friendly Version of this page

Capsize Animation 1
Video (1). Dry capsize 0:24.
(As done Aug '15, unplanned, PW)
Capsize Animation 1
Video (2). Uses Jibsheet 2:12.
Capsize Animation 1
Video (3) includes Jibsheet 1:56.
Capsize Animation 1
Video (4) Capsize Recovery  2:54
With stage-by-stage explanation.
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