Emergency Flotation and Reserve Bouyancy
While the PDRacer is a very stable boat, there are many scenarios which you can get knocked over besides heavy weather. Being able to self rescue your sailboat is a very important feature, and could save your life.
If your boat becomes swamped a distance from shore, you could die from hypothermia in as little as 15 minutes, on a warm sunny day. This is a chart from the U.S. Coast Guard about the effects of hypothermia, and how quickly it can effect you.
|32.5||under 15 min||15 to 45 min|
|32.5 to 40||15 to 30 min||30 to 90 min|
|40 to 50||30 to 60 min||1 to 3 hrs|
|50 to 60||1 to 2 hrs||1 to 6 hrs|
|60 to 70||2 to 7 hrs||2 to 40 hrs|
|70 to 80||2 to 12 hrs||3 hrs to indefinite|
Kids and Hypothermia:
Kids are at a greater risk of hypothermia because they have smaller bodies, less mass, and loose body heat quicker. If you take kids sailing with you, you really need to be absolutely sure that you can quickly recover your boat when it becomes swamped.
Here are some methods used to provide emergency flotation in PDRacers:Worse Case Scenario
Recovering from a capsize
Airboxes at the ends
Airboxes on the sides
Using Pool Noodles (doesn't work)
Calculate Size Of Airboxes
Filling Air Tanks with Foam
One of the common first thoughts about air tanks is to fill them with foam or other floataion. The purpose of the air tank itself is to be a sealed air box, and to provide your floatation, so putting something inside of it is not going to make it perform any better.
If you look at how to recover a duck in the essays above, you will see that you really only need one set of airboxes on one side of the boat, but ducks usually built with flotation chambers on both sides, so that way you have double protection.
One negative effect of having foam inside your airbox, it will collect moisture and promote rot, which might actually damage your boat. So if it makes you feel better, then yes go ahead and put foam or bottles, or whatever else you want inside your air boxes -- just realize that the box itself is the most important part, and it needs to be built strong and sealed.
Being scared of knock downs and capsizing:
If you have proper airboxes built into your duck, carry a bailer, and you practice recovering your boat, it becomes almost like capsizing an air mattress in your backyard swimming pool.
Ducks are so stable they don't get knocked over very often, but in other racing classes, most serious racers knock their boat over about once every other race, becuase we push the boat as hard as we can and that means being on the edge, and falling over it. Its no big deal, a mast head float prevents the boat from going upside down, and in just a few seconds of leaning on the high side of the boat: she pops back upright and you get back to sailing again.
PLEASE -- Practice knocking your boat over and recovering her. You can practice by simply tie a long rope from a dock, row her to the end of the line and pull her over. If for some reason you can't recover her, simply swim back and pull the boat back to shore with the line. Figure out what went wrong, and try again.
There are even sailboat races that involve intentional knock downs. You sail to some marker, knock your boat over to the point the mast head float touches the water, then you can recover and sail the rest of the course. It is a really fun type of race.
Strike Something and Damage Hull - Emergency Hole Repair
With a 3/8" bottom, it is very hard to puncture a hole in the bottom of your hull, but it is possible such as if you hit a stump or pointy rock. Sailors have been jury rigging repairs to their hulls ever since there were boats, here are some ways to repair those holes so you can sail back.
Stuff a rag in the hole - most of us carry some kind of rag or sponge to get rid of spray water. Just stuff the rag in the hold, and it will plug up good enough for the trip home.
Wrap something on the outside of the hull - Captain Cook struck the great barrier reef while discovering Australia. To fix the hole, he placed a sail over the hole (on the outside of the hul) and tied it in place. Its called fothering, that was plenty good enough to seal it, so he could sail to a beach and then repair the hole properly. Also Inuit build skin on frame kayaks, so basically the entire kayak hull is really just a frame with an animal skin to make the hull.
Sit on the hole - A buddy of mine was sailing on his favorite lake on a calm day. Then suddenly mother nature whipped up some strong winds. It was a man made lake, so previously there had been trees that were cut down, and unfortunatly many stumps remained. Since the wind kicked up some waves, he was riding them trying to get back. He was going down one wave and suddenly CRACK! a 4" stump pierced all the way though the bottom of his hull. (his boat had a 1/4" plywood bottom). Thinking fast, it threw a boat cushion over the hole, and told his wife to sit on it. She did, and it plugged the hole! They sailed 5 miles back to the ramp, just like that.