Al Shestag's Turtle Tale
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 10:08:30 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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I've been corresponding with Al Shestag, who had asked for centerboard info
after a recent unhappy experience. He says it is okay to post his story, so
here it is:

From: "Al Shestag" <>
Subject: Re: Center Board help
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 1999 02:41:56 EDT

Really appreciate the fast response. My center board looked
exactly like the one in your photo. Was going to ask IM about
buying the center board from them but went into shock when I
heard the cost of shipping an 11 pound mast.
Can only imagine what the shipping would be on the 65 pound
center board.
Had an experience with a Powerboater that was "influenced"
Was enjoying one of the greatest sails I have ever had and
was about a quarter mile from the channel/ramp where I sail
from. Used the Jib downhaul to lower the Jib but It started
to fall over the deck. I had started to head into the wind to
lower the main and my crew decided to pull the jib back up and
I was not watching. Wind caught the jib, pulled boat around and
caused a nasty jibe, main swung around and over we went.
The crew, wife, doesn't swim but had her lifejacket on. I always
keep a life cushion in the back of the cockpit and was able to
grab it, normally a good swimmer but the shock and confusion
plus 3 ft whitecaps made for a very unpleasant experience for
several minutes.
Someone called the Coast Guard but they had shut down for the
day, 8:00 pm on Sundays, they finally got ahold of the Detroit
Coast Guard, about 100 miles away from the Cleveland area.
They got in touch with the Lorain C. G. and they arrived about 45
minutes later. Their main concern was getting the boat out of a
"Navigable Seaway lane". 9:00 pm near a 75 ft wide launch ramp
channel. They immediately wanted to call a salvage company, I
asked them not to, figuring that the boar would wash ashore in
a shor time, only about 1/4 mile offshore.
Somehow the salvage company got the Potter upside down, we
had gotten it flipped over. The proceded to drag it to the ramp
upside down, bending mast at 45 degree angle, loosing the center
board, ripped the 3/8" line out with the cleats and blocks, the
bow pulpit is also out there somewhere. Was able to get upright
at the ramp and used the suv w/4 wheel drive to pull boat up the
ramp, half on trailer. Way to heavy to winch up.
Got it drained and got it home, got the Honda running and sail
looks repairable but need a mast and centerboard so we can get
back out there. Have located a 3/4" steel plate that will weigh
about 100 pounds that should give some added stability.
Have been sailing off and on for over 20 years but the Potter
was new to us in early June. Last boat was a 22 ft. wooden
keelboat that was a little less critical. Built a 28 ft mast
for that boat from high quality select white pine 2x4's that is
still in good condition after 19 years.
If nothing else I think I can scale your pictures to get fairly
accurate measurements assuming that the slot for the center board
pin is 1/2".


Date: Mon, 02 Aug 1999 03:04:25 -0400
From: al shestag <>

Harry just received the drawing, looks like a winner. This is
exactly what I have been looking for. Yes the plan is to make
a model from plywood or a sheet of syrofoam encased with cardboard.
>From there I can make any modifcations that may be needed until it
is perfect. I have some great industrial two-part swimming pool
colored epoxy that I am planning on using, it will be so slick and
smooth that I may need to add some fins to help keep the Potter in
the water, I understand that planning is illegal in small sailboats.
I have the e-mail address and phone number for dwyer masts and have
been checking their info on mast and plan to call on Monday. I also
have found some phone numbers of some sailboats only sales and
service facilites and plan to contact them to see if something used
may be available.


Date: Wed, 04 Aug 1999 04:17:59 -0400
From: al shestag <>

Hello Harry:

al shestag here again. Did receive your center board pics and also
found same on the spec. page on PY site. Made a plywood mockup but
cannot fit into trunk while on trailer. Looks like I will need to
put boat in lawn and try to turn on side. Board looks like it will
fill space nicely. My trunk cavity measures 7/8" with caliper but
really hard to measure from laying under trailer. The piece of 3/4"
material may just fit but am concerned if there will be enough
tolerance to operate properly. Also doubling the 3/8" to 3/4" I
assume will also double the weight, my pin is 3/8" do you think
this will be sufficent both for sailing and trailering?
Would like to know how the digital voltmeter worked out, this was
to be my next project.

Turning Turtle would have been nice if it had stayed that way.
I had gone over backwards, much like a SCUBA diver. The boat then
came over on top of me and I had to swim out from under after
gulping air trapped in the inverted cockpit. The boat was behind
me at this point while going to help calm the wife so I did not
see exactly what happened. I seem to remember seeing the bottom
of the hull with the centerboard pointing skyward. The next thing
was going to the boat to hold on to but it was already going down
at the stearn so I stayed away to see what it was going to do.
Within just a couple of minutes all that was visible was about
6 inches of the bow. It seemed to be vertically floating, but just
barely. Why it floated like this I cannot figure out, the only
thing in the back was the Honda. Just inside the cabin were shoes,
sandles, life jackets and cushions. I have a 24 lb. battery
fastened to the very forward bulkhead, this is also were I keep the
15 ft.anchor chain and the anchor on the bow pulpit. I would have
thought that was the heavy end and would have been submerged.
The only visible object was the 4-6 inches of the bow and the
bow pulpit. As darkness approached we could still see the running
lights glowing 3-4 ft. down. This was how the salvage company
was able to locate the boat.
Just got the compression post re-installed and the rub rail back
on. Starting to make some progress.
Called Dwyer Mast today, the normal shipping person was not
available and could not get any firm prices but the person I
talked with figured about $40 to ship but could not guarantee the
price and should call back Wednesday for firm prices.
YES, things are starting to look much better, maybe I will get
to sail again this year, even the wife says she is anxious.
If you think any of this should be on the Potter site it is OK
by me.

Thanks again,
al shestag



Apparently your boat didn't have enough (or any?) flotation under the
cockpit seats so only the foam or closed air space under the v-berth deck
was providing flotation. Yours is the first report I've heard of a capsized
Potter floating in a near vertical attitude.

If you have thought about trying a lateen or crab claw rig, now would be a
good time to do it. Or if your mast is intact up to the shrouds, you could
cut off the damaged part above the shrouds and convert to a gunter rig.

I haven't installed the digital voltmeter yet. I got a good buy in a new
industrial quality meter at an on-line auction. The only catch was that it
needed 115 V operating power, so I bought a small inverter on sale at Fry's
Electronics to provide the dc-ac conversion. Complicates the installation,
but I can also use the inverter to recharge my camcorder batteries and
operate other 115 V items of 140 W or less. I rewired the switch panel so
the test switch will test one battery on the DVM while the other battery
powers the inverter. It all worked fine on the dining room table. Still not
sure how I want to mount everything in the boat.

I have jiffy reefing in place for my lateen rig now and also improved the
lazy jack but haven't tested on the water yet. Started messing with my
lateen mast socket installation and have it kind of screwed up at the



If you want to extract the applicable parts of Al's posts for the Turtle
Tales section of the PY web page, Al says it is okay to do so.

Harry Gordon
P14 #234, Manatee
Mountain View, CA