Righting after capsize - broken daggerboard

I'm new to sailing Mirrors (though not to dinghy sailing). On previous (fibreglass) dinghies I've sailed, I was taught long ago to right the boat by putting feet on the bottom gunnel and holding onto the daggerboard as close as possible to the hull. Or even standing on the daggerboard and holding onto the top gunnel when dry-capsizing.

Second time out in my "new" second hand wooden Mirror, I capsized after a poorly executed gybe in strong winds. Tried to right the boat holding onto the base of the daggerboard near the hull for leverage, only to hear a gut-wrenching crack and see the daggerboard split in two. I righted the boat fine with a jib sheet, my 7yo crew executing a perfect "scoop method" recovery. But minus a functioning daggerboard.

My question is, should a Mirror daggerboard be strong enough (holding close to the hull) to use as leverage when righting, and it's just that the 50-year-old plywood daggerboard was on its last legs? Or was this a foolish, newbie mistake, and I shouldn't have used the daggerboard at all whilst righting a wooden boat, and stuck to the jib sheet for leverage?

Also, does anyone have any advice on making a new daggerboard? I was thinking marine grade plywood coated in epoxy to stiffen it. But maybe even that wouldn't be strong enough to use when righting after a capsize?

curlew's picture

I suspect the board had some rot. I do see people right Mirrors with the dagger board. To give additional strength I think you would need to sheath the board with glass cloth, not just the resin.
My own centre board, which has been modified to a pivoting type, was snapped off when the boat was dragged against an underwater concrete ledge by a strong tide plus wind.

Thanks David. Reassuring to hear I wasn't doing things completely wrong whilst righting the boat!

Thanks also for the advice on sheathing with glass cloth. I'd understood epoxy would soak into wood and strengthen it. But coating in glass fibre too does sound like a good Idea, if I do take on constructng a new daggerboard myself.

Another capsize-related question: the side buoyancy tank that got submerged during the capsize had some water in it afterwards, despite having the bung apparently securely in. Not a lot, but enough to noticeably run out when I hauled the boat out afterwards and removed the drainage bung. Is this normal, or a sign of a poorly-fitting bung, or (worse!) a leak in the buoyancy tank?

I've watched your impressive Mirror mods videos, and am very interested in converting mine to a centreboard someday. I bought the Mirror with dinghy cruising in mind, so I'm not concerned about class rules. (I've been lurking as a member of the DCA for the last year or so.) But I think a centreboard conversion is too big a job for my current skill level. I plan to start with simpler projects, like installing inspection hatches in the buoyancy tanks, and constructing bedboards. (And maybe a new daggerboard now!)

PuffinInTegel's picture

Having only ever capsized my Mirror twice, I'm no expert on the subject, but I do remember some tips dating back to my regatta days in bigger boats (Flying Dutchman class).
For one, if the boat has started to turtle, try preventing that by putting some weight on the centreboard. On boats with gunter rigs and wooden gaffs, this doesn't seem to be too difficult.
As you hold on to the centreboard, try to get the bow at least partially into the wind.
Because a capsized Mirror while still on its side floats pretty high out of the water, chances of getting wind under the jib and mainsail are fairly good. Once that happens, you can start putting more weight on the board and pulling on a line over the high gunwale, and then (by my two experiences) the wind helps you right the boat.
If you manage to get to the transom as the boat comes up, pulling down on the transom will lead to a lot of the water in the boat draining out through the transom openings (I still haven't enlarged mine, which are circular, but even those worked well). However if you scoop up the crew onthe leeward side, this effect is reduced.
As you climb over the transom, make sure the sheets are free to avoid being capsized by the next gust of wind.
Probably most of our members will be familiar with similar instructions, but perhaps this may help the few who are new to the sport.
Cheers , I hope all are enjoying themselves, whether entering Autumn or facing a southern-hemisphere winter.
Gernot H.

Thanks for the helpful advice, Gernot! My Mirror did show signs of turning turtle, which I'd heard they have a tendency to do without a masthead float. But not as fast as a Wayfarer does, and there was plenty of time to prevent it going right over by putting some weight on the bottom gunnel and daggerboard, as you wrote. I guess my old plywood daggerboard just wasn't up to it, as I wasn't applying much weight and only at the base when it snapped. Next time, I'll probably just use a jib sheet thrown over the hull for leverage, rather than risk the daggerboard.

I was happy with how easy the Mirror is to right essentially single-handed like that, even without the daggerboard, in strong winds and some chop. And how stable it was once righted.

Better of course would be to not capsize in the first place! But when the helm (me) messes up, with an inexperienced crew I think the scoop method is the best and safest option. Ensures the crew end up in the boat as it comes up. And with their weight on the leeward side and the helm hanging onto the windward gunnel, it helps stabilise the boat once up. (At least, that was my experience on less stable racing dinghies, where the momentum of righting had a tendency to roll the boat right over on top of one, if not careful. Perhaps the Mirror is less prone to this.)

I guess the small transom drainage holes work: there wasn't much water in the boat after righting. And my homemade plastic milk bottle bailers were tied on and could be deployed to good effect on what there was.

I'm still curious to know whether a small amount of water getting in the submerged buoyancy tanks when capsized is normal, or whether it's a sign they're not watertight and need work?

PuffinInTegel's picture

The question is: what do you call a small amount?
There is a German rhyme which unfortunately does not translate very well:
"Holzboote sind nie ganz dicht,
und auch ihre Eigner nicht."
Meaning that "wooden boats are never quite water-tight, and their owners too are not "tight " either" - i.e. they are all a bit nutty.
I know that this refers to classical planked boats but water has a way of getting in anywhere, so all it needs is a sloppily executed joint somewhere and you have a cupful or so of water in the tank. I find the air-/watertightness rules a bit overdone as even a slightly leaky floatation tank would keep you afloat for hours. However damp in the enclosed spaces is never a good thing as it promotes rot over time.
I have found it difficult to find replacement bungs that are absolutely watertight and the O-ring seals on the inspection hatches have disappeared long ago, so my boat would definitely fail the test, yet I don't feel unsafe sailing her!