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Old 25-05-2010, 08:09   #46
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It might be timely to start discussing how to steer with sails. I had to do that once while the friend who's boat I was on was trying to fix the steering.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:01   #47
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"how to steer with sails."
A good skill to have in any case, since "rudder" is just a six-letter word meaning "speed brake on a boat".

Anytime you use the rudder, you slow it down. So slowing with a neutral rudder and adjusting the sail trim is going to make the boat faster 100% of the time. Unfortunately there are a lot of boats that just won't sail themselves steady without any rudder effort.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:08   #48
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My boat will go on a steady course upwind. Then I can take the rudder out of the water and make repairs, or forget about the tiller and think out my options. Do not ask me how I put the rudder back in space, I think it cannot be done in the seaway unless dead calm.

But this is only upwind. I have seen only one way to sail a steady course off the wind and it cannot be done on my boat. So, if I have no space upwind, I would have to heave to while making repairs.

b.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:11   #49
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Our rudder 'fell off' between Tonga and Fiji. The post didn't come out, the rudder was constructed as follows:

Construction:
Massive solid stainless post right up through the hull and the cockpit floor and held up with a pin, rectangular mild steel plate welded to post, foam and fibreglass rudder made around the post and plate.

What happened:
The plate/post weld failed. The post was still in the boat and the foam was still on the plate, but when we turned the post, the plate did not turn.

What we did:
We were fortunate that there were some other cruisers within VHF distance, one with a rather large engine. To cut a long story short, we got towed for 3 days to Savu-Savu - which was an adventure in itself.

When we got there we dropped the rudder out of the boat while the boat was in the water and took the whole thing ashore in the dinghy. Then we cut the foam + fibreglass open to get the mild-steel plate out and got it re-welded to the post. Then we rebuilt the foam and fibreglass rudder with... foam and fibreglass, then we slotted it back into the boat while afloat. Then we carried on cruising around Fiji and on to New Zealand.

As you can imagine we had quite a lot of other cruisers wanting to know what went wrong and how we dealt with it, in case it happened to them. Our boat had a spade rudder, but the failure was absolutely nothing to do with that. It was a design and manufacture fault: the original weld was a single seam between the plate and the post, all done in one go with no gussets. When we had it welded back together we put in (I think) 4 gussets and a couple of inches of weld was done at a time and then allowed to cool. The original design lacked the gussets and the original weld had heat-damaged the metal of the plate. If you had a skeg mounted rudder, or even a full-keel, you could still suffer from the same thing and would be just as screwed as we were.

I can't believe that the boats that lost their rudders really needed to abondon ship - we had already started work on a jury rig to get us (slowly) to Fiji, when we got a tow, but I'd really rather do my next ocean crossing with a spare.

Hope this helps
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:19   #50
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Oh 2 other things:

Our rudder floats - which is why it didn't fall off
The housing for the rudder post is above the water line, so had it fallen off, we could have dealt with it underway.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:20   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
My boat will go on a steady course upwind. Then I can take the rudder out of the water and make repairs, or forget about the tiller and think out my options. Do not ask me how I put the rudder back in space, I think it cannot be done in the seaway unless dead calm.

But this is only upwind. I have seen only one way to sail a steady course off the wind and it cannot be done on my boat. So, if I have no space upwind, I would have to heave to while making repairs.

b.
How do you heave to without the rudder?
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:21   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"how to steer with sails."
A good skill to have in any case, since "rudder" is just a six-letter word meaning "speed brake on a boat".

Anytime you use the rudder, you slow it down. So slowing with a neutral rudder and adjusting the sail trim is going to make the boat faster 100% of the time. Unfortunately there are a lot of boats that just won't sail themselves steady without any rudder effort.

I agree that the ideal cruising boat can be steered on the sails, it's hard/impossible going downwind in a fin-keeled boat in 8ft of swell.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:40   #53
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Denise, perhaps you could expand on your experience.

My understanding is that it is almost impossible to steer with sails in a modern fin keeled yacht without the rudder.

YourOldNemesis had the luck of losing his steering within VHF distance and was able to get a tow. Perhaps you could expand on your tow experience.

I really believe that the only way is to have a spare rudder that can be attached while in a seaway. I like the "cassette" type for that reason.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:54   #54
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The other option is a hydrovane wind-pilot thingy (or something like it). This is a totally separate steering system from your rudder - when you engage the autopilot you lock the wheel/tiller.

The rudder is a bit smaller than your main rudder, but is perfectly adequate in times of crisis.

Towing:
We used 2 50ft sections of nylon 3-core anchor rode and 1 50ft section of anchor chain in the middle to weigh it down and take up the slack. To weigh it down further we attached the anchor to the anchor chain - this was a big mistake as it twisted for 3 days and there was nothing we could do about it. To get the rode to the other boat we attached a fender to the end of it and chucked it in the sea, the tow boat motored past and picked it up with a boat hook. We ran a loop of anchor chain out through the port anchor fairlead and back in through the stbd one as a harness and we attached the nylon rode to that using a big shackle protected with seizing wire and a spliced eye lined with a metal cover - so there was no opportunity for chafe at all.

The anchor chain harness was attached to each of the bow cleats we normally used for anchoring. We kept an eye on it the whole time and worried about what might fail, but none of it did. We were towed for 3 days at about 7 knots and ran our engine a bit too, to take off the strain a little. It all went without further incident!
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:55   #55
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a buddy of mine lost his rudder on the ARC. For three days they tried everything from steering with the sails to using a drogue to provide directional stability to taking a tow from a fellow competitor. The finally opted to abandon the boat.

The day after he told me the full story, I purchased a Scanmar SOS rudder.
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Old 25-05-2010, 09:59   #56
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Bash, have you ever mounted your Scanmar in a seaway? I would like to hear some first hand experience on how it is done. I'm talking about 3 or 4 ft waves.
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Old 25-05-2010, 11:20   #57
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Deep, well it was only for about 40 mins or so. I just kept doing some tacks by playing the main and jibs sheets in and out. I think we had to push the boom to port or starboard too. It was just to keep the boat from going ashore. I really don't remember too much of what I did otherwise. He has a Hunter Cheribini 33, easy to single hand.with steering even.
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Old 25-05-2010, 12:45   #58
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Good evening,

Yep, we've lost our rudder mid-ocean. Gone, never seen again. We then logged over 1000 miles to make port, steering the boat with a toilet door.

Boat, a Farr 38 cruiser racer, spade rudder, s/steel hollow shaft rudder stock. The stock sheered flush with the hull while sailing upwind into the trades in 15/ 20kts of breeze. Subsequently found ot that a stray current had caused electrolises to eat the shaft until the last 5 mm of the wall snapped of. The outer bit of the remaining stock crumbled away like a soggy biscuit when we later inspected it.

We were on passage from South Africa to the Med, doing a delivery. 500 Miles North of the Cape Verdes, beating up against the Trades to Madeira, the rudder says bye, bye.

Briefly, (I have typed this out on so many forums already) we made a steering oar with the spinny pole and the toilet door. Waste of time, then made another one, slightly better. All the time we are still intent on beating the 1000 odd miles to Madeira!
After 24 hours like this (actually making some progress) we stopped the boat, took everything apart and started a proper job.

We lashed the one edge of the door to the spinny pole with webbing held in place with wooden blocks and screws. So we now had a rudder and a rudder stock.
We then pushed the rudder and stock over the sloping transom and lashed the stock tight to the hull with ropes led to winches, the ropes running under the quarter, up the sides to the secondary winches. More ropes were lead from the top of the spin pole to other winches, like stays to steady the whole lot.
Finally we tied steering ropes to the top, outer edge of the door and lead these to the outer quarters of the transom (very wide transom), through blocks and lead them to the emergency tiller.
The top bit of the original rudder stock was still in place. That meant that by turning the wheel, we activated the emergency tiller which in turn activated the toilet door rudder via the ropes. We were back in bussiness. After another few days of beating against the trades we realised we are being silly and turned back and ran back down wind to the Cape Verdes.
On the way we called a passing ship on VHF and he phoned the owner and arranged for a new rudder to be sent out from SA to the Cape Verdes. Planes flying from SA to the US used to land at the Cape Verdes in those days. (1986)

On our last day out we logged 120 miles! An even used the autopilot again.

Lesson learnt. I will never sail trans ocean without a proper engineered small emergency rudder that I can slot onto the transom. It does not have to be very big. You just need something in the water.

Have a look at the Volvo and Vendee boats. They all have it.

To conclude. It was not our boat. The boat was fully insured. On three ocasions ships passed us in fair weather and we could have climbed off.

We NEVER EVER even thought of getting off. All our focus was on sailing the boat to a safe port.
What has happened in recent ARC events with people abandoning otherwise good safe boats just because a rudder fell of or because the rig is in danger of comming down is totally unaceptable.

Coping with whatever the sea dishes up is part of the challenge of sailing. And it makes sailing so rewarding.

I will try to post a diagram of how we rigged up the rudder here. Don't hold your breath!

Sail safe, have fun.

Banjo.
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Old 25-05-2010, 12:55   #59
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do rudders fall off

Further to my earlier post.

Here is a diagram. The full story was published many years ago in Yachting Monthly.

Regards,

Banjo.
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Old 25-05-2010, 13:33   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Bash, have you ever mounted your Scanmar in a seaway? I would like to hear some first hand experience on how it is done. I'm talking about 3 or 4 ft waves.
First off, I should mention that I have a sugar-scoop transom, so it's probably easier for me to mount the thing than it would be for others. The other advantage I have are davits, which I use to hold the unit in place while I thread the top bolts. After that, it's a simple matter to lower the rudder into the water. NOW COMES THE HARD PART. The two bottom bolts are tough to thread in a seaway because they are located right above where the transom meets the hull. I found that it's easier to cheat, and begin by lashing the bottom part of the rudder to the lower transom. This would give me some steerage while I worked the bottom bolts. Regardless, in big following seas I'd be concerned about going overboard.

I've done a few mental dress rehearsals since the last time I installed the rudder, and I think I'd probably deploy my drogue first if conditions were bad. I wouldn't want to try this operation while lying ahull.

There are helpful drawings on the Scanmar website. http://www.selfsteer.com/products/sos/installation.php These of course were shot in a harbor, and it's real easy to install in the harbor.
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