Capsize recovery technique for Sailing Canoes when using Solway Dory Outriggers

sailing hard with outriggers as backupusing outriggers for extra safety on a coastal cruisepush down on outriggerstand on outrigger and pull on leeboardusing rope from far side to assistpush down on leeboard and keep clearclimb back in using outrigger beam for supportoutrigger greatly increases stabilityOutriggers are an optional extra that can be fitted to most open canoes. They provide additional secondary stability which reduces the risk of capsize. This can be useful for  novices while they are learning how to balance the canoe under sail and also for  experienced sailors as they venture into more challenging conditions.


They are carried on a beam that is canted up to allow the canoe to be sailed flat with the outriggers out of the water. This allows you to balance your canoe as normal, improving your skills and enjoying the responsiveness of a sailing canoe. As the wind increases you should attempt to balance the canoe by sitting out and using the outriggers as a back up for if you get it wrong. If the outriggers consistently try to bury themselves ease the sheet or reef the sail to keep things under control.


Although the outriggers reduce the chance of capsize, ultimately they may not  prevent it if you push things too hard. They are designed to be large enough to greatly reduce the risk of capsize but not so large as to prevent an upturned canoe from being righted. In the event of a capsize a different technique is required to right the canoe.


An inverted  canoe with outriggers is quite stable and the normal method of pulling on the leeboard could cause damage to the board or the canoe. Push down on the outrigger nearest the leeboard to sink it.  Place your foot on the beam next to the outrigger and try to stand up. Keep your balance by holding onto the beam and the leeboard. Slowly lean back to right the canoe.



If you are not heavy or tall enough righting the canoe is easier with a line from the far beam to pull on. If you find that you need this, you could have a line permanently attached to the beam which could be deployed quickly.



Continue slowly pulling until the canoe is on its side. As you push down on the leeboard the canoe will right itself. Take care that the far outrigger, which is up in the air, does not hit you as it comes down.



When the sailing canoe is upright the outriggers will make it much more stable as you get back in.


In summary, the outriggers make a capsize much less likely and make it much easier to re-enter the canoe if you do capsize. You need to practice this procedure to familiarise yourself with the method. The Open Canoe Sailing Group holds training events where these techniques can be practiced under expert supervision. See their website for details. OCSG