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
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
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.