Falcon tip over

Restoring your Falcon? Come in for tips, and share your knowledge.

Falcon tip over

Postby alco2013 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:59 pm

I purchased a falcon 16 ,sailed a few times and really enjoyed it.I am wondering how much water will get in the boat when I flip over.I plan to do a trial flip this summer just to get the feel and to know how much water gets in the boat.I have a drain pipe at the rear leading to a thru hull near the water line will this work to drain the boat without bailing?Any info is welcome.alco2013
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Re: Falcon tip over

Postby William » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:17 am

The drain plug is meant for use when the boat is out of the water. I have never gone over in my Falcon even for a trial mostly because its an early model and I frankly don't think there is enough built in flotation. Early models also have thick hulls and are consequently heavy and less likely to go over, at least so far.
Sailing Theodora every day (I wish)
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Re: Falcon tip over

Postby DaveD » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:01 pm

While it's always a good idea to try out a capsize on smaller boats (sunfish, moth, butterfly, scot, etc.) I would venture to guess that the Falcon is on the cusp of being a boat that I would want to try to capsize, simply because of the weight of the boat, and the amount of positive floatation (the amount of floatation to keep the deck above the waterline, so you can bail the water out).

I have never capsized my Falcon. I have heeled it over so the gunwhales and deck were perpendicular to the water, but if the boat is moving, the sail will reef itself by spilling over the top, unless you release the sheet. That being said, knockdowns could happen I suppose.

Some of the newer Falcons (if 1970's could be considered newer) had foam positive floatation under the seats (mainly the hulls with the moulded seating and liner). Some of this foam can deteriorate with time, or become waterlogged when stored in wet conditions. I would be cautious to rely on this. At a minimum, if you try to swamp, do it in very shallow water (3-5 feet deep) to make it easy for a recovery. LOL.

The only boats I know that can bail them selves out are those with a "self-bailer", and even then, the boat has to be moving in order to activate it. In a swam situation, you are highly unlikely to get under sail, or to paddle fast enough to activate the bailer, so it's always a good idea to carry some kind of scoop.

I use half of a 1 gallon milk jug (handle side).
A bad day sailing is better than a good day at work...
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Re: Falcon tip over

Postby joecomet » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:02 pm

My 64' has the sealed forward bow section. Ever wondered why the boat doesn't come with an exterior bow eye? That's the sealed bow flotation section.
I have forgone stowage in the seats and filled them with foam chunks. I have also placed the large diamiter foam 'swim noodles' under the cockpit combings, and the smaller diamiter version sprung under the cuddy roof (also keeps you from snagging your head on the trough fittings.). Also foam in the upper 6' of the mast. Acording to my math, that should keep her afloat. I also have a submerged bilge pump. As long as my two marine batts still work, I have 500 gph removal, and a good size hand pump ifn they don't.
By the way, I have just redesigned the kick-up rudder to be raised and lowered by a mahogany dowel attached to the trailing edge of the rudder (forked), lead through two eyes and extends just over the tiller tail, with a nob to push/pull. Can't claim original idea, but my version. I will try to send some pics.
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Re: Falcon tip over

Postby littlebear » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:32 pm


As I mentioned in another post, I can offer some first hand experience here that may prove useful to others as to what happens when you push a Falcon just a little too far. Yes, unfortunately, I am "that guy"...

I've owned my boat, Beetle # 176 since the spring of 1983 when I was a junior in college. (Those of you doing the mental math, please be kind) In those days, my sister, my (now) brother in law and I would sail under just about any conditions that Lake Winnipesaukee would offer. I can remember sitting on the side of the gunnel holding the tiller hiking stick many times. We'd just storm along and have a blast. Fast forward a number of years, a wife, homeownership, a couple of (great) kids, a few pounds, well you get the picture. I restored the boat in 2005 after too many years of sitting, pictures of that effort can be seen under the roll call section. I really enjoyed getting back into sailing after so many years off, however the biggest change was I was almost always out by myself. I made some changes to the jib rigging (fairleads and some cam cleats) to make it a little easier to handle by myself but the mainsail rigging was unchanged.

As we all know, the Falcon has a pretty big main for a 16 foot boat and mine doesn't have any provisions for reefing when it gets gusty. As Dave pointed out, it's pretty easy to just let the main out and that along with the end of the boom rising up usually keeps things from getting too sporty. Failing this, the rudder will tend to lose grip and the boat will luff up on it's own. Well, almost always.

At the time (2008), I still had the original main rigging where the sheet runs along the boom, down through two blocks on the rear deck and then back up to the boom. (I was told this is called a"Crosby" rig by a gentleman at Cape Cod Shipbuilding) This allows the the end of the boom to rise if a puff hits, however there is one potentially nasty side effect. Occasionally when coming about, some of the slack sheet lying on the rear deck will get fouled on the rudder and prevent you from being able to let the main out. I'd always been able to just reach back and flip it up over the rudder and prevent anything more from happening, until the one time I couldn't.

I was sailing later in the season (for us) probably the second weekend in September. We tend to get strong N /NW winds that time of year and adding to that the passages between the islands can tend to funnel and increase the wind speed. I was about a half mile from our island house and had just tacked through a fairly narrow opening between the island and the mainland. It was breezy but I hadn't felt like the boat was out of control and I was smugly thinking I was just as good as when I was a kid in college. At just about this point and just after I had tacked, I got hit by an absolute hammer of a gust. The boat was heeled 90 degrees in a split second, the rudder was out of the water and water was pouring into the cockpit. As I looked back at the rudder, you guessed it, the sheet was fouled. I decided to not make a bad day worse and jumped into the water and got clear of the rigging, etc. I really didn't know if the boat would stay afloat. Two things in my favor were that the water was still around 72F and I was wearing my life jacket.

As the mast filled with water, the boat turned turtle and eventually settled floating upside down, bow high. My bow air tank is intact and I added foam floatation under the the seats and back deck as part of my restoration work. After a couple of minutes I was somewhat confident that my old friend was not going to the bottom. One of my neighbors had seen me go over and was on scene with help within a few minutes. We got the boat to the beach and got the sails down. Once I could lift the mast up and drain it, righting and bailing the boat was a fairly straight forward job. After this incident, I modified the main so I have a center of the boom block down to a a Harken swivel / cam cleat just aft of the center board. This has worked out quite well and I know it can't foul on the rudder again. I'll post some pictures of my rigging set up soon under the rigging section.

So, some advise to others. First, if your bow air tank is not intact or if you've removed it, you should really consider restoring it. My boat would have gone down like a rock without that reserve of buoyancy. Second, consider adding additional flotation where you can, it certainly didn't hurt in my case. Finally, wear your life jacket. I'm still in decent shape, a good swimmer and the water was pretty warm. I was in the water for around 45 minutes getting the boat to shore and then working afterwards to bail the boat. I was absolutely exhausted afterwards, a very humbling experience. If I'd been treading water, things would not have been good. I was very lucky that I was close to shore and had help. If I'd been in the open lake, who knows if the boat would have made it. OK, that's enough honesty for now, I'll add some more information as soon as I can.
Falcon # 176 "True Luff" (1960's) "Raptor" (1983- present)
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Re: Falcon tip over

Postby joecomet » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:06 am

Never a fun day to capsize. I took the cap off the top of my mast and crammed a three foot piece of pipe foam insulation down her. Took the shroud tangs off and sprayed foam in as much as it would take. Still not sure if that's enough to keep the mast from sinking. I have seen a float to attach to the head of the sail or the halyard, advertised somewhere. At 73, I am thinking about a transom mounted, folding boarding ladder. I bought one of those cheep rope boarding ladders, and then realized that it would just tuck under the hull when you tried to mount it. Of course, if'n the ol gal is inverted, none of that gear will do!! The good thing is that most of the shoal coastal water in this part of Florida allows one to walk home on the bottom. Well, lets just try to keep the stick side up.
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Re: Falcon tip over

Postby SailorJohn » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:36 pm

Just stopping in again and read this thread. I only swamped our boat once and it was in water that was bareablely luke warm. This was the one and only time the rudder wasn’t tied off and secured to the boat so guess what happened.

Our boat has plywood seats and there was a foam block under the stern seat held in place by the plywood over the top. There is a watertight floatation section in the bow, so between the two floatation sections the boat was able to be righted enough to enable bailing the water out. The high cockpit coamings are a real asset in the event of waves.

The earlier suggestion about doing a capsize in shallow water near shore is an excellent one. This way, one can find out how your particular boat looks when it is awash, and, if need be, pull on the bow line and tow it to shore. Bailing water will get awfully old!
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