Sailing Hatseflats
A 15ft Pram for Dinghy Cruising

Hatseflats Design

Hatseflats Hull Build

Fitting Out Hatseflats

Building TooPhat

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Today was our last chance to sail before our holiday to France. It was a bit windy: slightly over NW4. But nothing to worry about with a single reef. So we rowed out of the marina at Oostmahorn and set sail to the main island. The plan was to first sail round the island and then order lunch at waterside restaurant La Barca.

Going down

During the run towards the island we revised our plan: why not sail to Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen? Despite the gusty wind it was nice and warm and there was enough wind to beat our way back up to Oostmahorn. This required a minor change of course so I gybed Hatseflats. That went well. A gust got in, I didn't respond quickly enough, and the next moment we were in the water. Just like that.

The first thing I saw was that Hatseflats was floating on its side. Then I heard Klarie say that she was safe in the boat. When I tried to swim to the daggerboard to right Hatseflats I got stuck because my foot was tied up in some string. So I held on to the boat with one hand and tried to release my foot. This seemed to take forever but it might have been less than a minute. Then I held on to the daggerboard and waited for the mast to get unstuck from the mud. While I held on to the gunwale the boat turned. The sail was flapping. The mast was spouting water like mad. Klarie was inside the boat and quite cheery that we were right-side up once more. The anchor had gone overboard and kept the nose to wind. The anchor pointed us into the wind because I had led the rode through a ring so Hatseflats aligned itself. We still had the anchor because I had tied the bitter end to the gunwale.

It was easy to climb back on board because Hatseflats was now half-full of water. I lowered the sail to get a better overview of the mess in the boat. With our two buckets out of sight we needed something big to bail with. The trug (floppy bucket) which held our fisherman anchor was big enough but had floated out of reach. Our second (grapnel) anchor in its own trug had remained in the cockpit so we still had one trug to bail with. Klarie started bailing the cockpit while I tied the sail down and looked for the missing buckets. I found the bailer under a tangle of ropes in the anchor well. While Klarie bailed the main cockpit I started bailing the anchor well. A motor boat asked if we needed help. I gently rejected the offer: thank you but we hope to return to the marina under our own steam.

After some time the water level in the boat had dropped enough to think about returning to the marina. While Klarie was still bailing the main cockpit I put a third reef in the sail. I hoisted the sail and we slowly began our upwind leg to the marina. With three reefs it was easy sailing. Just as well because we felt a bit shaken.

Once back in the marina we docked near the trailer slip because we had to take Hatseflats out of the water anyway. I checked that the fore and aft compartments were dry and left the hatches open to ventilate. The anchor well was a big mess. It was quite a job to untangle the anchor rode from the mooring lines. I was happy to find one of the two buckets in the anchor well. Our two waterproof containers were also aboard. The container with the phones and our car keys was damp on the inside. We decided not to switch on the phones and sort it out later.

I guess that even now I must have been high on adrenaline because I hardly remember getting the car and trailer and hauling out Hatseflats out of the water. I do remember cursing at myself for letting the aft hatch open while hauling Hatseflats up the trailer ramp.

After putting Hatseflats back in storage we went to a phone shop in Dokkum to get the phones fixed. While waiting for the repairs we enjoyed the sunshine. It was really nice and warm outside and by now we were almost dry.

Lessons learned

  • The boat was very easy to right despite capsizing on a run.
  • Klarie did not panic. Now we were finally capsized, the anxiety of capsizing was replaced by determination to get us going again.
  • It helped that Klarie stayed on board to rescue my Crocs. She balanced the boat while I hauled myself up into the boat. Most importantly, she did not have to be rescued herself.
  • Even with more than 300 liters of water, the boat was nicely balanced with the dry compartments in the bow and stern. The water could not slosh from fore to aft because the bulkhead of the bridge deck nicely separated the water in the anchor well from the water in the main cockpit.
  • I could free the mooring line from my ankle while I was in the water because I was able to concentrate well.
  • Our waterproof Garmin Extrex GPS had been in the water but was still OK.
  • Our waterproof ICOM VHF had been in the water but was still OK.
  • The lid of our container with the phones had not been tightened up so a minute amount of water had gone inside. Damage to our phones: 200 EUR.
  • We forgot about our dry clothes under the aft deck until we were inside the marina. Hard work keeps you warm.
  • A medium-sized bucket (6l) is more effective for bailing than a big trug (15l). Klarie bailed for about 10 minutes so there must have been 300+ litres of water in the main cockpit.
  • The wind vane was broken when the mast stuck in the mud.
Preparations for next time:
  • Take a knife on your person and know how to use it. You may need to cut yourself loose while you are in the water.
  • Capsize your boat in light conditions to get over your anxiety.
  • Capsize your boat in light conditions to test if you can right the boat.
  • Tie buckets down and bailers down. You will need them to bail the water out of your boat.
  • Tie your anchor down and ensure that the boat gets head into the wind once the anchor is overboard.
  • Ensure that your hatches and containers are waterproof and tightened up.
  • Ensure that halyards and mooring lines remain in place when you are going over. It is loose ends that trap you and get you killed.

Peace and quiet
Trapped myself in a mooring line