P-15 improvements

james nolan (nolan_laboratories@email.msn.com)
Wed, 5 May 1999 14:36:40 -0600

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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I've had the experience of turtling a P-15 in March in Colorado in about 45
degree water. The boat was totally swamped with sails up, and was easy to
right by pulling out the keel. (The keel was not tied down, lesson #1). The
keel did come off the hinge pin but was held in by a clip that holds the
retracting line. Once upright the boat was impossible to bail because the
gunwhales were under water. It floated at about 1/2 way up the cabin side -
window level. The cabin door was also open (lesson #2). The boat was easy to
get in to, you just swam into it. Self recovery was impossible and having
no bilge drain made it impossible to get it on the trailer (stripped the
winch teeth and collapsed a trailer cross member). I have since installed a
bilge drain plug so it could be pulled up on a beach or trailer when
swamped. I plan to put in enough flotation to float it above the gunwhales
so it can be bailed out after swamping. I would put the flotation up high in
the boat so it retains a righting moment when swamped. I plan to use 4"
thick pink building foam panels that will be removable. Also you can replace
the bunk cushions (giant sponges) with thick closed cell foam pads to add
to the flotation. Keep them tied down. The same foam pads can be added to
the cabin sides for insulation and flotation, also tied in. The closed cell
foam does not absorb water.

I think the best way to bail it quickly in emergency conditions would be to
put two self inflating life rafts inside the boat, one under the cockpit and
one in the cabin. When inflated after righting the boat they would displace
a large volume of the water out of the boat, enough to float it fairly high.
An inflatable air mattress would also work well (and cheaper). Also consider
truck inner tubes - very cheap.
Additionally you can put a small gel cell battery in a plastic 20mm ammo
case and run the wires to a large high volume electric bilge pump mounted to
the bilge. The small battery would give enough juice for an emergency high
volume bailing episode.

Jim Nolan P-19 #452 P-15 #1055