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Old 17-01-2016, 10:12   #1
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Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Sitting on mooring ball in heavy weather. Watching wheel turn back and forth. Is it best to let wheel and rudder move on its own or should rudder be secured in fixed position? Looked on several sites w/out determining answer .
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Old 17-01-2016, 10:15   #2
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Personal preference I think...

Most I assume lock it like I do....
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Old 17-01-2016, 10:26   #3
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Lock or tie it off.
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Old 17-01-2016, 13:35   #4
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

On our boat, w hich has very little friction and mass in the steering system, if not secured the rudder will bang hard into the stops in certain sea conditions. This can not be good for anything, so we always tie it off (the wheel brake is not man enough to stop it).

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Old 18-01-2016, 09:06   #5
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Better to tie it off to avoid slamming back and forth. Usually centered, but if anchored in a current one can still steer the boat from side to side.


On my first boat with tiller steering, I used an aviation control lock with the red canvas streamer prominently labelled "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT". I just told anyone who asked that it was a fast boat.
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Old 18-01-2016, 09:21   #6
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

To reduce mechanical stress on the steering mechanism, we tie the rudder in central position by means of an elastic cord, allowing the rudder to move without slamming against the limit stops.
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Old 18-01-2016, 09:26   #7
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Tie it off, you don't want the wear and tear, and you don't want the rudder steering the boat in a current.
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Old 18-01-2016, 09:31   #8
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

One more for locking or tying off. Fundamental rule: Eliminate all motion of mechanical parts unless the motion serves an immediate and desired purpose.

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Old 18-01-2016, 09:36   #9
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Center the rudder and lock/tie it off.
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Old 18-01-2016, 10:46   #10
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Be aware that simply using the wheel brake or even tying the wheel off can still leave your steering system vulnerable to stresses other than hitting up against the stops. I'm talking about systems that use cables around the quadrant.
I agree that you need to stop the slamming against the stops. But those cables can then be vulnerable.
I inspected my system before crossing the pacific. Used the wheel lock to center the rudder while the windvane steered the boat. Several times waves slammed against the rudder and knocked it off center. Before we noticed it, the windvane was battling the off center rudder. So we locked it down harder and learned to keep an eye on it. Harder didn't help, so we knew we would just continue to recenter it. So far, all ok.
Sometime later under mild conditions one cable parted. Replaced both.
Again, some WEEKS later on a mooring in the wrong conditions with the wheel locked down & tied down, the swinging could not be controlled. One of my new cables broke.
I have a skeg hung rudder. Read unbalanced. I have learned that if I am in an anchorage where those conditions are repeated, one option that I need to consider is getting out of there.
Steering an unbalanced rudder with an emergency tiller with an unusable wheel in the way is brutal/taxing/dangerous if your stamina is already low.
I feel fortunate now. I will feel stupid for getting myself in the same position if there is a next time.
Carry spare cables.
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Old 18-01-2016, 10:56   #11
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

IMHO you should centre it and tie it off as rigidly as possible, so as to reduce wear on the stock and the bearings. By the same token I would also advise letting off your topping lift and lowering your boom-end to the deck to prevent wear to the gooseneck. Difficult of course, if you have a solid vang. And put a rag or something under it to save the gelcoat. Most boats are idle for more than 95% of the time, so it makes sense to prevent any unnecessary movement of wear parts.
On the 19ft keelboats on which I instruct, when at anchor/on moorings, we not only drop the boom, we also lift out the rudders completely.
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Old 18-01-2016, 11:02   #12
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Tying the steering hard over can help stop "sailing" in current on some vessels at mooring. Experiment a bit.
A small riding sail hung diagonally across the aft area (cockpit) with the rudder locked hard over opposite can help in some cases.

Definitely do something to stop rudder movement while moored-it is needless wear & tear if you don't.

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Old 18-01-2016, 11:17   #13
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

yes, I center and lock my wheel
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Old 18-01-2016, 12:17   #14
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Apparently it’s a trade-off problem. On the one side, to reduce wear and tear, there must not be any movement. On the other, to reduce mechanical stresses, a flexible response to the large forces of the sea is preferable. However, in any mechanical system some play (due to bearing, gear, cable slack and other clearances) is inevitable. In other words, even if you block the steering mechanism above deck at the wheel, down below in the water there still will be some minor movement. But what is worse, when the rudder is rigidly blocked, the forces generated by the waves become much stronger, provoking not only more mechanical stress on the whole steering system but, since some movement is inevitable, also more wear and tear. That’s the reason we adopt the flexible solution.
Besides, in 33 years owning two sailing cruisers, we had one serious problem with the steering cables immediately after buying the 2nd boat (apparently the previous owner didn’t care), but we never had any problem with rudder bearings which today , after 18 years adopting the flexible solution, are still perfect.
Obviously there might be particular circumstances, where the flexible solution is not applicable.
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Old 18-01-2016, 12:31   #15
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Re: Rudder positioning during anchoring or mooring

Sorry, I am not good at quoting but to the poster who said his steering cables broke from the stress transmitted from the rudder while the steering was locked at the helm (I assume the helm lock was a clamp on the cable) - so, what do you do, try to build some system to lock the rudder shaft or the quadrant directly?

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