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Old 22-02-2009, 18:52   #16
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I'm convinced, through gut feel rather than empirical evidence, that steering system failures are the leading cause of boats being abandoned at sea. It seems that it is happening more often, I believe because of the spade rudder, although I remember an article a few years ago where a long keel boat (54' I believe, article in CW) with partial skeg lost it's rudder in one of the 1500's. The boat had a swing keel and by trailing warps, adjusting the engine speed, balancing the sails and adjusting the swing keel the crew was able to get to their destination. They had a crew of 4 or 5 and arranged for a tow into the harbor.

Saildrive, your boat should have steering stops near the quadrant to keep the rudder from turning more than about 45 deg I believe (not sure the recommended max. angle). They should be adjusted so that the autopilot rams don't bottom out. I believe that most have a thick rubber type of facing to act as a cusshion in the event the rudder is slammed over. If your boat doesn't have them they would be a worthwhile addition.
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Old 22-02-2009, 19:15   #17
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I would second what DF says- it seems that most of the disasters we see on this board are due to failure of the steering system in some way. Is that what is really happening out there, or are we just seeing a biased sample?
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Old 22-02-2009, 20:02   #18
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40 days?????? big deal.......

We took 59 days to transit from Cape Town SA to Annapolis MD. We probably had enough stores for a year on board. We were actually sad to make landfall. It was sort-of an intrusion on our privacy.... Then again, we were making way and didn't have the stress of not being in control of our destiny.

I have said it many times and I'll say it again....parachute sea anchor and 3X provisions will avoid this sort of catastrophe.

I think the biggest failure of most sailors that get in trouble like this is a lack of mechanical ability. I'm sorry but I have a hard time having sympathy for someone that cannot make repairs at sea. I'm not saying that I could have repaired this problem but you can bet that I would have waited for good weather, got in the water and tried, even if it meant pulling the rudder at sea. I sure as hell would have had a back-up alternator. Although we may not have that hole story either.

I'm a little confused why he didn't hove-too if his rudder was hard over. It seems that we're missing some parts of the puzzle here.
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Old 22-02-2009, 20:24   #19
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......

Saildrive, your boat should have steering stops near the quadrant to keep the rudder from turning more than about 45 deg I believe (not sure the recommended max. angle). They should be adjusted so that the autopilot rams don't bottom out. I believe that most have a thick rubber type of facing to act as a cusshion in the event the rudder is slammed over. If your boat doesn't have them they would be a worthwhile addition.
I'll definitely take a look and see by what mechanism the stops work... There are stops for sure as I can feel them by turning the wheel end-to-end. During the incident, these stops apparently failed (in fact, the quadrant was cracked and had to be replaced)... It may be possible to reinforce the stops - unless the yard did that already. I'll check next Th when I return to the warmer South

Thanks for the info/suggestion! Layla is my first boat with a "wheel" and there is so much to learn

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Old 22-02-2009, 21:00   #20
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.
I'm a little confused why he didn't hove-too if his rudder was hard over. It seems that we're missing some parts of the puzzle here.
They said he tried to free the Rudder to no avail.
I sounds like he felt that his drift was taking him closer to possible assistance, so maybe he ruled out the sea anchor. The article didn't say whether he was drifting with bare poles or maybe he was hove-to when the wind was right.
I've made 2-3 knots hove-to, you can cover alot of ground in 40 days.
He worked his way 1,000 miles north. ( current or seamanship? )

It looked to me like he was working his way to Bermuda. Luckily they got picked up, before the next storm.

He's made 7 crossings she's made 4? It sounds like they kept their wits about them pretty well; they kept radio contact, rationed provisions.

I hope they find this boat.
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Old 22-02-2009, 21:23   #21
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The major thing that comes across is how hard it is to jury rig something once you have lost your steering. The forces acting on a rudder are very large. To jury rig something that will withstand those forces and that a person will be able to handle for an extended period of time is very difficult. Consider also that the boat will be very unstable unless you are able to heave to. But if the rudder is jammed hard over a jury rig rudder probably wouldn't work anyway.

Next chance you get, try it.

The best thing I have seen is the cassette type emergency rudder. It requires some very strong attachment hardware to be pre-installed on the transom. And some transom designs and pushpits would probably make it very difficult or impossible to steer with a transom hung rudder and tiller. Pehaps the best is a windvane with rudder that would allow a tiller pilot to steer in light winds.

I wonder how difficult it would be to attach the Scanmar emergency rudder at sea in any condition other than calm? Has anyone here tried that?
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Old 22-02-2009, 22:22   #22
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The major thing that comes across is how hard it is to jury rig something once you have lost your steering. The forces acting on a rudder are very large. To jury rig something that will withstand those forces and that a person will be able to handle for an extended period of time is very difficult. Consider also that the boat will be very unstable unless you are able to heave to. But if the rudder is jammed hard over a jury rig rudder probably wouldn't work anyway.

Next chance you get, try it.

The best thing I have seen is the cassette type emergency rudder. It requires some very strong attachment hardware to be pre-installed on the transom. And some transom designs and pushpits would probably make it very difficult or impossible to steer with a transom hung rudder and tiller. Pehaps the best is a windvane with rudder that would allow a tiller pilot to steer in light winds.

I wonder how difficult it would be to attach the Scanmar emergency rudder at sea in any condition other than calm? Has anyone here tried that?
If you have a para anchor, you just wait until it is calm. That's the beauty of those things. It's just like sitting at anchor.

There is a strange phenomena that takes place at sea. No matter what conditions you are in, your mind tells you that it will never change. Logic tells you that it will but how many of you have been becalmed r in a storm and just had that strong feeling that it will just continue the way it is currently.

When you put out a para anchor, that feeling goes away. Now, you are sitting in fowl weather, just patiently waiting for it to go away and you know that it will. When conditions moderate and you go back to sailing, that same old feeling overtakes you. It's something that you must experience to understand.
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Old 22-02-2009, 23:20   #23
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Not sure what happened to them, but I think with a hacksaw and mabe a small hand saw I could have cut the problem rudder free even if it took a few days because of cold water. After the storm! And another reason to have a small hand pump water maker. No bolts holding a pin in at the bottom of rudder? Cresent wrench onboard?
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Old 23-02-2009, 05:36   #24
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Hud,

What caused the steering failure in your friend vessel? Your story reminds me that I should test my emergency tiller. I know where it lives, I've never tried it though.

Did you hand steer the rest of the way to the BVI with the ET ?
The boat's owner had the steering cable replaced before the trip, and the contractor neglected to use seizing wire on the shackles. One came loose.
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Old 23-02-2009, 06:31   #25
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contractor neglected to use seizing wire on the shackles. One came loose.
Hmm...thanks Hud, just added that to the spring checklist!
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Old 23-02-2009, 06:52   #26
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Anyone want to go out and get the boat? We could bring hacksaws, crescent wrenches, an extra alternator/belts and a handheld watermaker.
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Old 23-02-2009, 06:54   #27
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And a para anchor too.
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Old 23-02-2009, 09:59   #28
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Kanani, nobody was suggesting that 40 days at sea, in and of itself, was a 'big deal'. Having said that, even you must admit that not being able to steer your boat for that duration would have made it a less than comfortable situation.

As to their inability to repair the problem, you can assume that he was mechanically incompetent if you wish, but I am not prepared to do so. We just don't know what efforts were made at a repair and whether it was even possible in the circumstances.

As to a para anchor having been a cure-all, I respectfully disagree - he was initially outside of the range of any efforts at a rescue and, remaining motionless but for current probably wouldn't have helped. It strikes me that he managed, by use of the drogue, to get himself into a position where a rescue was at least possible if needed; ultimately, he made a considered and not panicked decision to avail himself of the opportunity as a serious storm approached. I say kudos to both of them.

Brad
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Old 23-02-2009, 11:37   #29
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Im not sure about you folks , but 40 days & night would seem like a very looog time to me -being kinda helpless in that situation- that would wear on the mind- not to mention the body-with food and water getting low, and a big storm coming -

It might have taken more than 40 days to cut thru the shaft with a hack saw-Ever try cutting SS with a hack saw wile the the boat is moving up and down ugggggg! I only have a few Hack saw blades onboard I think I better buy a pack of them !
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Old 23-02-2009, 14:08   #30
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Kanani, nobody was suggesting that 40 days at sea, in and of itself, was a 'big deal'. Having said that, even you must admit that not being able to steer your boat for that duration would have made it a less than comfortable situation.

As to their inability to repair the problem, you can assume that he was mechanically incompetent if you wish, but I am not prepared to do so. We just don't know what efforts were made at a repair and whether it was even possible in the circumstances.

As to a para anchor having been a cure-all, I respectfully disagree - he was initially outside of the range of any efforts at a rescue and, remaining motionless but for current probably wouldn't have helped. It strikes me that he managed, by use of the drogue, to get himself into a position where a rescue was at least possible if needed; ultimately, he made a considered and not panicked decision to avail himself of the opportunity as a serious storm approached. I say kudos to both of them.

Brad
The headlines, "Adrift for 40 days: British couple cheat death" makes it sound like somebody thinks it's a big deal.....

This quote: "Although both escaped unhurt, they were tired, exhausted and grateful to be returning home after their six-week ordeal in which they ‘stared death in the face’." sounds a little big dealish.....

"Although both escaped unhurt, they were tired, exhausted and grateful to be returning home after their six-week ordeal in which they ‘stared death in the face’." and ....."By now, the ordeal was beginning to tell on the couple, with Andrea in particular beginning to feel weak." and............."Andrea was not going to be able to climb up a ladder thrown from the side because she was just too weak." all tend to make me believe that they were not prepared with provisions to take the risk of making a winter crossing of the Atlantic, although he insisted that they started out with plenty of food and water. If that were the case, a rescue would not have been necessary for a long time.

I hope that everyone here learns from this experience. I am sure that the skipper of this vessel will, at some point, hope that others learn from his mistakes.

The bottom line is....they were not prepared and were unable to handle all of the problems that they had, at sea.

As for as the para-anchor is concerned.....your wrong. The para anchor would have allowed them to keep there station as apposed to being driven with the storms.

I hate to seem unsympathetic but this is too common a problem to just write it off to, "There was nothing they could do". The fact is....there WAS something they could do. They just didn't know how to do it or weren't prepared with spares or the tools to do it.
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