Open 60 Ocean Planet Survives Inversion Test

In mid-December, solo skipper Bruce Schwab and gang did the IMOCA (Open 60-class) inversion test with Ocean Planet. "It’s not every day I go upside-down in a 60-foot sailboat!" said Bruce.

The test went well, but it took a bit longer than expected. After being inverted, skipper Schwab opened the deck air vents for the starboard water-ballast tank (usually used to let the air out) to let the tank start to fill. It filled some and Bruce also started to pump water in with a manual pump that’s set up for filling the ballast tanks while upside-down.

Schwab pumped for quite a while, about 45 minutes or so, before he realized that the water he was pumping into the tank was just draining out of the air (now water) vents. After closing them he made much better headway.

However, the pump is small and the tank very large. It seemed to Bruce like about 500,000 pump strokes were required before he was getting close. He wanted to hurry since the companionway hatch was leaking just a little--enough to get deep in the sump, er, coachroof. Every so often. Bruce would go up to the sail locker and walk
back and forth across the floor, er, cabintop, to get the boat rocking and see if she would go over. When she didn't it was back to the pumping, this went back and forth a few times. Finally, with the ballast tank about a third full, he got her rocking enough to go over.

"It was strange," said Bruce. "One moment I was standing on the cabintop on the left side of the boat, then taking a couple steps on the side as we rolled up, then I was standing on the right side of the boat. Kind’a fun, really. The whole thing took about two and half hours I think."

"Thanks to everyone who came to watch!" Bruce added. "You encouraged me to pump faster. Also a big thanks to Trident, the folks running the big crane to flip us over and Nelsons Boatyard for all the help.

For more details on Bruce Schwab’s Around Alone and Vendée-Globe efforts with Ocean Planet, log on to or call 510-562-4466 (office and fax) or 510-866-6582 (mobile).