Re: How much Flotation? And Where?
Wed, 5 May 1999 23:35:43 EDT

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Dear Web Gang
In regard to a P-15, and probably also true of most small cruisers,
once you fill the bilge with water there isn't going to be any self rescuing.
I think that it is desirable to have the flotation loose if at all
possible in order for it to float to the highest point possible, thus giving
the boat the most stability possible under the circumstances. I believe it
is a mistake to secure the flotation in the boat unless necessary to keep it
from floating out of the boat.
There is a solution that I have been considering for my P-15. If the
hatches on the P-15 were sealed and reasonably water tight, there wouldn't be
any way to get water in the bilge. Even if you capsized, the boat would
immediately self right (assuming the centerboard was down) if the crew would
remove themselves temporarily from the boat. The only way you could get in
trouble would be to hole the boat hull, and that is another subject not being
addressed here.
I gave considerable thought this last winter as to how to make the
hatches reasonably water tight and it really shouldn't be too difficult a
task. By putting felt or other weather stripping material along the edges of
the hatch and the hatch opening, all that would be required is to put a
pressure latch on the hatch. In the simplest way, you could put a bolt in
the middle of the hatch with a 2 by 4 board on the inside of the hatch
secured by the bolt. The 2 x 4 should be a few inches wider than the hatch.
By getting the 2 x 4 turned horizontal you would have the hatch properly
latched. You would then want to tighten the nut on the bolt from the outside
and you could create enough pressure for the weather stripped edges to be
reasonably water tight. You would also have to make sure the open vent on
the forward deck is closed and secure. The sliding hatch on the deck could
be secured in a similar manner. Some additional innovations would be required
to water proof the hinged portion of the hatch and well as where the cockpit
hatch and the sliding deck hatch meet.
Another alternative to having a single 2 x 4 latch would be to have
several interior latches on the side of the hatches, each with a separate
bolt and nut to tighten and secure the hatch to the cabin in order to make
the connection water tight.
I believe I'm going to give this matter additional attention during
those days it is too windy for me to enjoy sailing. I believe it could be
done for the cost of some felt and/or weather stripping and a few large bolts
and nuts to secure the interior latches.
The only opening for water to get into the bilge's would be through
the centerboard trunk. Most sail boats with side decks will float on their
sides with the centerboard trunk out of the water. The P-15 cockpit would be
totally enclosed and my guess is that the centerboard trunk would be way
above the waterline with the boat laying on its side without any water in the
I have always assumed that those P-15 skippers who have made long
ocean crossings had some way of securing the hatches. I don't think it
should be that difficult for us to figure out.
Do my suggestions pass the "reason" test?

Richard S. Karam
P-15 #2098 Oops
Oklahoma City