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– Don’t cleat the mainsheet if reaching or beating in gusty conditions and be prepared to dump it.
– Bear away as soon as you get overpowered.
– Hike hard from the amas and it will often recover.
– Ease the screecher if on a close reach and bear away – furl it if you keep being overpowered.
If you sail in shallow water constantly, you can prevent the mast from touching the bottom by using a masthead float such as the Secumar masthead buoyancy cushion which automatically inflates when immersed in water.
If the Weta capsizes in shallow water and it doesn’t turn turtle, you can’t always use the normal technique of righting it by flooding one of the amas, as the one you need to get to may be nearly 2 metres/6ft underwater and you’re wearing a PFD which turns you into a human cork.
One solution, as the video here explains, is to treat the Weta like a normal dinghy and get one of the crew to climb onto the hull and use their weight on the daggerboard to right the boat. However, this will mean that the crew’s weight will also be on the mast which may cause it to dig further into the mud and if it’s rough, it could easily cause the mast to break as it bounces on the bottom.
The less risky option is to undo the porthole on the underwater ama as this will relieve some of the pressure on the mast. If you can’t reach it because it’s too far under water, try standing rotating the boat around the mast by pushing down on the bowsprit. Once the lower hull is flooded it gets the angle of the mast as low as possible and reduces the winds/waves tendency to drive the mast deeper into the mud.
Next make sure all the sail are uncleated (Tip: mark the location of the jib cleats under the gunwale). Furl the screecher if unfurled and cleat it if you can.
To free the mast you can do a couple of things – First try rotating the boat to windward or leeward by swimming the bow
around from the bowsprit. Second, try swimming the stern around from the rudder. Depending on the wind and waves this may get things moving. If that doesn’t work, swim to the end of the bowsprit and push it down by standing on it. Obviously, be gentle when you do this or you’ll end up with a broken mast and bowsprit. Start at the bow and inch out towards the end of the sprit. Next try standing on the very stern of the submerged ama. Do not stand on the middle of the ama.
If all that fails to free the mast, swim underwater to the top of the mast and pull the mast out of the mud. If you are wearing a high-buoyancy PFD, start at the mast base and pull yourself down the mast as far as possible. Hang on to the mast and wiggle it as you go. The buoyancy of your PFD will be surprisingly effective at pulling up on the mast.
Once the mast is clear you can then right it as normal – but be prepared for a shower of mud when you get it upright.
If none of the above work, drop the sails and secure them to the boat and try the procedure above again.
If the mast is still stuck, you can try disconnect the rig by undoing the forestay and one of the sidestays, right the hull and then pull the rig on the boat and start paddling for home.
As a last restore, you can flag down another boat and try using a line from the ama arms to pull the boat free but tow it away from the direction the mast is pointing so that the mast tip is pulled clear of the bottom.
Take your time and keep the boat intact.
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