Righting the Butterfly

Righting the Butterfly can be a very simple maneuver if you know ahead what to expect and what to do.

A 100 pound person can right the Butterfly unassisted with the sail in place. The important thing to remember is that your body weight must be at the tip of the daggerboard with the board fully extended. Also, you must pull yourself out of the water since the water neutralizes any submerged weight. When you stand on the board, make sure you are standing on the very end, leaning backward with the upper portion of your body. Standing on the board with your feet against the hull will actually make the boat turtle if the mast is at all submerged. Another thing that quickly turns the boat turtle is if the crew keeps hanging on the top side after the boat has capsized. Instruct the crew to let go and immediately drop into the water as soon as the mast hits the water.  One person should climb over the high side and immediately stand on the tip of the board. There is a good chance that you can right the boat and slide in as it comes up without even getting wet.

The position of the boat in relation to the wind can be very important in a strong wind. In this case, have the crew hold the stay or mast head and use his body as a sea anchor and let the boat pivot around until the mast is 900 to the wind. The boat can now be righted with the wind acting as a neutral force. If you let the boat swing 1800 until the deck is windward, it will right easily but the chances of it righting and continuing right over and re-capsizing in the opposite direction are greater. In any case, make sure the sheet line is free so that the sail will luff (head into wind) as the boat is righted.


Remember, a capsized boat will not pop up immediately once the sail is under water. It will come up very gradually until the mast raises above the water, so be patient. Also, be aware of the mast sticking in the bottom of the lake. If this happens, the boat must be swung around .] until it comes free.

When capsized, the Butterfly will eventually turn turtle as the water gradually flows over the sail. In a strong wind, this can be quite rapid if the mast is pointing away from the wind and the wind drives against the bottom of the hull forcing the mast down. The mast head is sealed, as are the rivets, to prevent water from entering (check your seal) . Water will eventually enter the tang hole and splice joint, but by the time these parts are in the water, the boat will be on the way to turtling.

When the boat is righted, the water should quickly drain from the two holes in the mast base. Filling the mast with floatation would only add weight and would not prevent turtling as there is not sufficient volume in a mast section to prevent a boat from turning turtle.

If a sailor under 100 pounds has difficulty in righting the boat, an air tight plastic bottle can be tied to the mast head. A half gallon bottle will keep the mast from going under in light air although it takes a one gallon bottle to keep the mast up with a strong wind driving against the bottom of the hull.