Snipe USA

Upgrading Flotation and Equipment

Flotation Modifications

Snipe rules (Rule 15 in the SCIRA Official Rulebook, 2005-2008 Edition) call for hull floatation provisions which can be accomplished by using watertight bulkheads in the forward and aft portions of the hull, an underfloor watertight chamber, low density closed cell foam, floatation (buoyancy) bags, or a self-bailing cockpit. A combination of these features also may be used providing the floatation requirements are met. Foam floatation is most effective if installed on the bottom and sides of the hull, rather than under the deck.

As photos become available, floatation provisions installed by owners of wooden (planked and plywood) Snipes will be shown as examples how these modifications were accomplished. Click images to enlarge.

Forward sealed plywood bulkhead (1/4 in. or 6mm) added to Varalyay wood Snipe #14177. Mast step is aft of bulkhead. Deck beam system has been modernized as shown in “Building A Plywood Snipe” (available from SCIRA). Bulkhead and other joints are glued and reinforced with epoxy adhesive and filleting mixture. Note that deck must be removed to accomplish bulkhead installation.

Forward sealed bulkhead on Snipe #14177, viewed from aft side. Note location of bulkhead relative to hull frame and mast step on keel. Deck framing at top of bulkhead used to attach top of bulkhead and decking (to be added), and forward end of mast hole and associated framing. Note also lowered daggerboard trunk and brace/stiffener to deck framing at forward end of trunk. A temporary brace has been installed to maintain hull shape until side deck framing is installed. When installing this type of floatation system, forestay and jib downhaul hardware and rigging should be installed before installing the deck, since access to the space forward of the bulkhead will not be possible. It is advisable to install one or two watertight access ports in the bulkhead to provide ventilation during storage, and to allow for periodic inspection for any trapped water forward of the bulkhead.

Aft sealed plywood bulkhead (1/4 in. or 6mm) installed at back end of cockpit on Snipe #14177. Deck framing system as shown in “Building A Plywood Snipe.” Side decks in cockpit area not yet installed. When installing this type of floatation system, rudder gudgeons and decking reinforcement (blocking) for the mainsheet traveller system and associated hardware and rigging should be installed before installing the deck, since access to the space aft of the bulkhead will not be possible. It is advisable to install one or two watertight access ports in the bulkhead to provide ventilation during storage, and to allow for periodic inspection for any trapped water aft of the bulkhead.

Transom drain holes can be added to facilitate draining of trapped water in the hull in the event of a capsize. The maximum total area of drain holes is 100 sq. in. (for example, two holes 5 in. x 10 in. each), per the Snipe rules. They would work best when buoyancy (floatation) bags are also installed in the bow, sides and stern, and in combination with a cockpit bailer installed in the bottom in the cockpit. This installation is on wood Snipe #6940, built in 1947 and later updated. When cutting holes in a planked transom as shown, it is advisable to reinforce around the perimeter holes, on the interior side of the transom, with 1/4 in. (6mm) exterior plywood backing epoxy-glued to the planks to prevent potential cracking or splitting of the planks. Radius cuts are recommended at the corners of the holes to avoid stress cracking of the planks. If the holes are cut too close to the bottom, water may flow into the boat when launching off a trailer or dock, or while installing the rudder and tiller. It is recommended to keep the bottom edge of the holes above a horizontal line on the transom extending from the chine intersection at the bottom and sides. The shape of the holes is optional. For example, triangular shaped holes have been used on fiberglass Snipes, with the bottom edge of the holes sloped (parallel to the edge of the bottom planking at the transom), and the top edge horizontal. However, the maximum area requirement described above must be complied with.

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