Yacht Stability

In the last few years there has been considerable publicity in the media concerning yachts capsizing and remaining inverted. Whilst most of these incidents have occurred in the southern oceans to extreme racing boats, there have also been a few events that have involved cruising vessels. Some of the reasons for this are discussed below.

In the past, yacht design, was governed by the materials used, this is still true but modern materials and construction methods have allowed yachts designers to radically change the shape of boats. There has always been a tendency for ideas from the racing world to spill over in to cruising. Whilst this has produced some very valuable changes and innovations (where would we be without modern roller furling equipment?). There is also pressure for less desirable factors to become the standard by which boats are measured.

Racers accept a higher level of risk than most cruisers are prepared to take on, but they are also doing so in an environment where there are many other vessels in the same race or a level of safety cover unavailable to the cruising yachtsman.

Modern cruising yachts are faster and far more comfortable to live aboard than in the past. In addition, equipment is lighter and easier for small crews to use, the down side is that the boats are lighter in construction, and some of the changes in shape that improved accommodating has caused can detract from the seaworthiness of the yacht.

To sum up, in the past we always used to consider (rightly or wrongly) that if a yacht was capsized she would quickly roll back on to her keel. With modern vessels this may not be the case. The purpose of this section is not to scare people into not going to sea, the type of situation we will discuss are extreme conditions, only found in exposed areas of ocean. Fortunately, most us will never experience anything even close to a capsize in a yacht.

There are some very technical terms, all you really need is a broad understanding of the principles involved.

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