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Old 23-02-2009, 14:13   #31
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Kanani, I was not referring to the sensationalist press, but rather the people on this site.

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Old 23-02-2009, 14:15   #32
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I'd be pretty close to snapping after that long. Does anybody know how cold the water would be? Would it have been possible to take the pole that the wind generator is mounted on and somehow make a lever underwater? Lash it to the side of the rudder. Then use your winches to move it from side to side. It probably wouldn't hold I guess but maybe freed it up.
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Old 23-02-2009, 14:51   #33
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I'd be pretty close to snapping after that long. Does anybody know how cold the water would be? Would it have been possible to take the pole that the wind generator is mounted on and somehow make a lever underwater? Lash it to the side of the rudder. Then use your winches to move it from side to side. It probably wouldn't hold I guess but maybe freed it up.
It's impossible to answer that question without knowing what was wrong. The fact that the skipper didn't know what the problem was is part of the problem itself.

I don't care how cold the water was because I have a wet suit....just for this sort of thing. I (or any other experienced, prepared sailor) would have had no qualms about getting in the water to figure out what the problem was. It actually could have been quite simple like a log or something stuck between the rudder & hull or or could have been more complicated. The fact that he didn't know is what is so troubling.

The reason that things like this bug me so much is because incidents like this one make us all look irresponsible and unprepared for what it is that we do.
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Old 23-02-2009, 15:04   #34
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I think it's pretty hard to speculate on a fix.

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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.
The incidents you see here have little to do with all accidents nor do they summarize similarly at all. We have had cases reported where the rudder is forced upward taking out steering and adding the issue of a hole in the boat.


The rudder was hard over wedged tight. Nothing you could do with alternate steering would have worked against the rudder in place like that. They couldn't even tow the boat with substantial boat. Removal of a whole jib sheet wrapped so tight would require cutting it out bit by bit. Once that was done there is no ability to speculate that it could be straighten or would even still be able to turn. That would require removal of the rudder so you could fabricate a substitute /alternate. In order to have fixed all this and been able to steer it would have required near perfect weather and well supplied crew that each could have assisted with great strength. The level of speculation needed is far beyond anything realistic. The lack of full information makes it a poor attempt.

All crew survived and were taken to safety. That is the only thing that is not speculative. We tend to want to speculate as a way of saying it couldn't happen to me. That you could have prepared enough for it. That would be the real speculation. In this case a loose jib sheet meets a spinning propeller complicated by a missing seizing wire.
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Old 23-02-2009, 15:06   #35
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Kanani
The bottom line is....they were not prepared and were unable to handle all of the problems that they had, at sea.


NO ONE can be completly prepaired to handle ALL of the thousand and one things that could go wrong- the best we can do is make an educated guess on what spares to bring and prepair the best we can. I would not try and second guess the Skipper with our knowing a whole lot more than what has been posted here.

My feelings on about putting out the Para Anchor would not really have helped much- whats the point in staying in one place 1000 miles from land -and no one willing to come and get you or help you-sooner or later your gonna have to move-hoping you get to anywhere near land
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Old 23-02-2009, 15:19   #36
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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.....
Just for the benefit of non-UK members, the report was from the UK newspaper "The Daily Mail". Nicknamed ""The Daily Heil" Think Fox news written in green crayon Stories are usually broadly true - but just the details are "filled in", nice and simply and sensational for the readership.

FWIW I find it hard to beleive that after 40 days the Skipper crew had not come up with / tried out just about every plan conceivable........

.......but a couple of thoughts spring to mind......

......maybe not prepared (with tools / spares / etc) as would have useful due to their extensive prior experiance giving a misplaced sense of security? - albeit only misplaced 1 time in a 100.

Plus maybe with a partner on board a reluctance to risk oneself overboard (too much or at all?) and possibly then leave her to fend for herself - no matter how competent she is as a sailer the relationship dynamic does change decision making........whereas a couple of blokes may have simply taken turns in having a go underwater (or tossing a coin for the "honour" ).
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Old 23-02-2009, 15:35   #37
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CNN also has the story- they said they lost power after several storms and therefore the watermaker.

British couple rescued after 40 days adrift at sea - CNN.com

40 days at sea? Manageable because you know the end date, and you meant to do it.

40 days adrift at sea? Now that's a lloooonnngg time.
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Old 23-02-2009, 15:56   #38
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The incidents you see here have little to do with all accidents nor do they summarize similarly at all.
Paul, I'm not just talking about incidents reported on the forum. There have been many boats lost in the past 10 years due to steering system failures. Some reported in the sailing mags., some in the press.

But there is a similarity, it seems to me. That similarity is that life is very difficult on a boat which has no steering. Anyone who criticizes these folks without knowing all the facts is pretty insensitive, IMHO.

Hud, could you report in a little more detail about your incident. How easy/difficult was it? Were you able to repair the problem at sea? If so, how difficult was that? How difficult was it to steer with the emergency tiller? I realize that you were not able to go to the aid of the other boat so I'm sure it was not just a matter of being inconvenienced, rather a matter somewhat more dire.
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Old 23-02-2009, 16:08   #39
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Just for the benefit of non-UK members, the report was from the UK newspaper "The Daily Mail". Nicknamed ""The Daily Heil" Think Fox news written in green crayon Stories are usually broadly true - but just the details are "filled in", nice and simply and sensational for the readership.

FWIW I find it hard to beleive that after 40 days the Skipper crew had not come up with / tried out just about every plan conceivable........

.......but a couple of thoughts spring to mind......

......maybe not prepared (with tools / spares / etc) as would have useful due to their extensive prior experiance giving a misplaced sense of security? - albeit only misplaced 1 time in a 100.

Plus maybe with a partner on board a reluctance to risk oneself overboard (too much or at all?) and possibly then leave her to fend for herself - no matter how competent she is as a sailer the relationship dynamic does change decision making........whereas a couple of blokes may have simply taken turns in having a go underwater (or tossing a coin for the "honour" ).
That's one of the things that bothers me. This "Extensive experience. I have found that the more sea experience that one has, the more you understand the concept of, "Sh!t happens". Normally, that drives a prudent skipper to take more tools and more spares....not less.

As far as getting in the water is concerned, what's so dangerous about getting in the water. If one is afraid or concerned about getting in the water, why would one be on a boat??? That puzzles me. We regularly jumped overboard, just to cool off or to clean the bottom of the boat mid-passage. I've even done it while hove-to in light to moderate conditions.

We once waited, hove-to at 22 degrees north, 600 miles off the Mexican Coast while a sailboat (that was out of food) caught up with us. We laid there for 4 days. We swan several times a day in 15-20 kts of wind while hove-to. We even took turns bottom cleaning.
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Old 23-02-2009, 16:29   #40
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As far as getting in the water is concerned, what's so dangerous about getting in the water. If one is afraid or concerned about getting in the water, why would one be on a boat??? That puzzles me. We regularly jumped overboard, just to cool off or to clean the bottom of the boat mid-passage. I've even done it while hove-to in light to moderate conditions.

We once waited, hove-to at 22 degrees north, 600 miles off the Mexican Coast while a sailboat (that was out of food) caught up with us. We laid there for 4 days. We swan several times a day in 15-20 kts of wind while hove-to. We even took turns bottom cleaning.
I think getting in the water is easy- its trying to work on the bottom of a boat thats pitching and moving about thats risky, it does not take much of a wave to raise the boat up and then down on your head!
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Old 23-02-2009, 16:47   #41
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I think getting in the water is easy- its trying to work on the bottom of a boat thats pitching and moving about thats risky, it does not take much of a wave to raise the boat up and then down on your head!
This is true and is the reason that a para-anchor is so critical. It allows you to lay-to comfortably until the sea state is kind enough to manage the task. If you have supplies on-board, it doesn't really matter if you lay there for a year. It may be boring but it beats the hell out of abandoning your boat and risking your life during a boat-to-boat transfer. That was the most dangerous part of their entire experience..
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Old 23-02-2009, 17:20   #42
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This is from the report on this incident running in the current 'Lectronic Latitude:

"The couple had plenty of food and a watermaker. They had fuel and the engine ran, so they had electrical power. They also had a satphone that they used to alert both the British and American Coast Guards, and to let their families know the situation. But at the time, the weather was good and neither Stuart nor Andrea — who had 11 prior transatlantic crossings between them — were particularly bothered, said Stuart, adding, 'In
hindsight, perhaps we should have been.' ”

For the full report, go to:

Latitude 38 - The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine

The 'Lectronic Latitude story also relates that, while the British and US Coast Guards had been notified early on via satphone, and they monitored the couple's position, no rescue attempt was launched due to their remote location, but neither was a ship ever diverted to give aid. Curious.

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Old 23-02-2009, 19:32   #43
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All we have is a news story, with little or no 1st hand information. Setting a sea anchor parking 1500 miles from nowhere makes no sense to me except to ride out a storm.
As I've pointed out, the track was proceeding toward Bermuda. I suspect these guys could navigate and determined they were making positive movement toward civilization.

Perhaps they had developed a way to assist this direction.

Imo a skipper's 1st obligation to the health and safety of his crew. Does he refuse rescue at sea challenging as it may have been, to save his ship, only to bring home a body?...small consolation.

I agree, a spare alternator might have helped, a portable water maker...

No one ever completely conquers the sea, it's like going to Vegas, sooner or later the house wins. This time it only took the boat, for that we can be thankful.
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Old 23-02-2009, 20:17   #44
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Couldn't even begin to suggest I could do better, not being there, how could anyone. That said, I do know that I have some very strong lines on the boat, some fair size winches, a reasonable grasp of geometry and so IF?? I could get a line around the rudder, something is going to move or break. Oh so easy to say that while sitting here warm, comfy and oh ya ................ NOT have endured a non planned 40 days at sea.

I do have one question regarding an emergency rudder. Not speaking to this situation specifically, if your rudder was either not stuck or not stuck to the side, but still with no way to use or control it, how well would it work to drag your tender on a VERY short painter, filling it partially with water and then tieing lines to the port and starboard at the stern of the tender and using this for a rudder?

No experience with this but thought I'd get your thoughts. I think I'll try this this summer.

Once again, I'm NOT suggesting this as a solution to this poor couples rudder problem, it's just got me thinking.

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Old 23-02-2009, 21:44   #45
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The tender-as-rudder thing would probably work to a degree. I think I would try and fashion something with plywood and c-clamps first.

What do you do if your rudder is stuck hard over (for whatever reason), though? Think of any way to negate it? What if you dropped a sail overboard and wrapped the rudder (assuming a spade or a skeg) from both sides? I'll bet Stuart Armstrong has a list of things that don't work.
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