Cat bridgedecks: Think about the underside

How do you spot an upside-down cat if the boat's white and the wave tops are white?

It's easier than spotting a capsized ballasted monohull, for sure (finding one of those often requires deepwater SONAR). But after hearing about the textbook rescue of a PDQ 32 that flipped near Fort Bragg, California a few days ago, one comment in particular caught my eye:

"Following the catamaran's radio signal, the helicopter, which arrived eight minutes before the lifeboat, was able to locate the overturned boat, whose hull blended in with the white-capped waves caused by high winds."

The vessel's crew had set off its EPIRB, helping the Coast Guard to find them in a bit over an hour. And apart from a bit of hypothermia, it appears the crew are all right. But I have to ask: Why was the underside of the hull white? That's like those navy blue PFDs I see at Canadian Tire now and then. If your boat is upside down (or you're in the water), you want to be as visible as possible.

If you sail a big multihull, paint the underside of its bridgedeck in bright orange, and mix in a nice aggressive non-skid while you're painting it. If the boat ever flips, you want to be seen, and you want to be able to easily get up on top of it- and stay there.

Of course, it's always better to plan to stay upright- and evidently, some part of the "make sure the worst doesn't happen" plan failed here- but even so, every boat should have an "if the worst does happen" plan. Just in case.

(Also worth looking at: Zero to Cruising's discussion of this capsize ).



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