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Old 18-10-2015, 18:05   #31
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

I have read some startling accounts of dolphins apparently trying to 'help' guide mariners around potential danger. The one above, with the blows on one side of the rudder while the other is blowing spray from upwind is really interesting to me (as a once upon a time marine biologist) - they are very smart critters, and it sounds a bit like they were 'suggesting' a course change! Doubtless they also have cranky-pants specimens among their number too tho.
In this case I am interested to know if you were running your depth sounder (guessing so) and suggest you try turning it off immediately if this happens again, and let us know the result. I am thinking that maybe it was annoying them, spoiling their fishing, or giving a cracking migrane (tho in this case you would think it would be reported a lot more). Also interested in case the strikes were again on one side of the rudder only, and in that case what is the result of following their 'advice' and steering accordingly??
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Old 18-10-2015, 18:12   #32
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

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I am astounded.

I have to ask, and I am sorry if it sounds a silly question, but are you sure it was Dolphins? I mean I am constantly astounded by their ability to avoid collisions with the boat when sailing. I used to panic about hitting them here near home till I saw how fast they move went they want to.

If you are sure they are Dolphins can you tell us which type because I have friends who are marine biologists who may be able to shed some light on the behaviour.


Sent from my iPhone so apologies for weird autocorrect typos.
It was definitely dolphins, we could easily see them racing up behind the boat heading straight for the rudder.
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Old 18-10-2015, 18:14   #33
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

Any chance anyone has any photos of these dolphins or knows their species for sure? Are they found only in Lake Macquarie or nearby inlets, or have they been seen at sea also? I know locally in the Santa Barbara Channel there are bottlenose dolphins (the larger) and common dolphins and their behavior and habits are quite different, bottlenose preferring poking along the coast individually or in small groups and venturing into harbors unconcerned with boats and showing little interest in them; the common dolphins preferring open ocean and very large pods. Still no dolphins hitting ruddders around here. Still when you think about it, if you WANTED to hit a boat underwater, the only place that will give, move or respond IS the rudder. And remember this is Australia which has its share of unusual creatures!
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Old 18-10-2015, 18:27   #34
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

Cheers to all who have responded. This is our 4th Yacht and have sailed on the lake for close to 20 years, and have never encountered this before. It was very bizarre.

The fact that the old owner had warned us about them. I plan on obtaining more info from him. As in, certain conditions as mentioned before......time, speed, temperature, visibility, direction of travel, electronics in operation, wind direction, true and apparent, wind speed, surface conditions, location (gps if possible), etc etc.

I will also contact a local marine biologist to get their thoughts. As replacing rudders is not a cheap exercise, so I plan on reducing the chance of this happening again!

Thanks again for all responses. Keep them coming. I am enjoying reading them all.
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Old 18-10-2015, 19:03   #35
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

Very interesting, a marine scientist I talked to was studying leopard seals in antarctica. He reckoned the intellegent animals were the ones to watch out for due to the fact that there behaviour was less predictable, much like humans.

Having once been attacked by a Dougong, I know firsthand how unpredictable marine mammals can be!

As I understand it the secret lives of dolphins includes some rather nasty behavior, at least by our standard's

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Old 18-10-2015, 21:55   #36
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

When you sail do you lock your shaft? Or does it free-spin?

If it free-spins, check your cutlass bearing.

I'm guessing it's a noise generating by your shaft that goes away when the engine is running and the boat is in gear.
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Old 18-10-2015, 22:17   #37
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

This behaviour certainly seems atypical. As already mentioned Dolphins are smart animals and others could "learn" the same behaviour. I suggest you report this to the local National Parks office or Taronga Park Zoo. I am sure they would be interested.
If it happens again try and capture it on your phone video.

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Old 19-10-2015, 01:50   #38
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

My father ran into a dolphin once not on purpose and the bugger obviously annoyed rammed the wind vane rudder side on.This was in New Zealand maybe its a down under thing.
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Old 19-10-2015, 02:08   #39
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

i was in a special unit in the Navy. they had a dolphin that attacked a divers regulator every time, after many times they put a recorder with him and found out that every time he breathed it would click. changed it out and solved the problem. It drove this dolphin crazy. So if you still don't know, listen under water and see what makes noise,. i also found out sonar does drv's them nuts.
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Old 19-10-2015, 02:35   #40
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

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We recently purchased an Elan Impression 384 on Lake Macquarie, Australia, and the old owner mentioned to watch out for the dolphins in the lake attacking the boat. We obviously thought he was joking. But sailing today we encountered 2 large dolphins smashing into the Rudder. I was very concerned that they might cause damage, so I rang the old owner who advised to turn on the motor, which did cause them to stop.

But due to dolphins being attracted by sonar, we think the depth sounder, or chart plotter/satellite is what attracted them? Has this happened to anyone else and if so did they stop once the instruments were turned off?
They usually just come and say hello (NZ East Coast) and move on to the next boat after a few minutes. You could be right about them hearing the sounder. I haven't turned it off to check. I can't see that the chart plotter would attract them as it it is a receiver only. Mainly dolphins are just inquisitive. I have seen them escorting my keel bulb which is dolphin like as well as chasing Kahawai which is a NZ sea trout. The Kahawai have come close to my rudder to try to escape the dolphins which have followed looking for a meal though they haven't touched the boat.


I've also seen quite a few dolphins escorting a power boat I was having a ride on at Port Stevens near your Lake Macquarie. I've driven along the road on the narrow strip of land between Lake Macquarie and the sea several years ago. Do you sail on the lake, or out in the ocean? The bridge must be high enough to get under?
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Old 19-10-2015, 03:07   #41
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

Hello all,
while I posted this discussion previously I just re-read the post and realised something very important. I believe I know the previous owner of the Elan. If this is the case I know for a fact he loves his red wine and loved to share it with his fellow mammals. I have formed a thesis that the dolphins having been introduced to the wonders of a fine red wine ( for the previous owner only had excellent vintage reds on his boat) and have developed a taste for for Hunter Valley reds.
My theory is that when the boat was sold the Dolphins were not getting their allotment of fine red wine from their favourite sailer and when they hear the dulcet tones of their favourite wine merchant boat in the lake they used a subtle reminder (hitting the rudder) to remind the skipper of his practice of supplying them with fine wine. l believe this can be confirmed with the previous owner
If I might suggest pouring a bottle of fine red wine over the stern to see if this alleviates the issue when the dolphins try this caper again. No surveyor would have picked up this issue when the survey was undertaken as it is a little know issue here in the southern hemisphere.


Greg and Sue
Sunshine
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Old 19-10-2015, 03:19   #42
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

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If this is not a Hunter Valley joke......could be the dolphins are trying to get rid of some parasites.
Told ya!
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Old 19-10-2015, 03:24   #43
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

Maybe the rudder is clicking, saying something offensive in dolphinese, causing dolphins to get angry

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Old 19-10-2015, 03:45   #44
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

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Hello all,
while I posted this discussion previously I just re-read the post and realised something very important. I believe I know the previous owner of the Elan. If this is the case I know for a fact he loves his red wine and loved to share it with his fellow mammals. I have formed a thesis that the dolphins having been introduced to the wonders of a fine red wine ( for the previous owner only had excellent vintage reds on his boat) and have developed a taste for for Hunter Valley reds.
My theory is that when the boat was sold the Dolphins were not getting their allotment of fine red wine from their favourite sailer and when they hear the dulcet tones of their favourite wine merchant boat in the lake they used a subtle reminder (hitting the rudder) to remind the skipper of his practice of supplying them with fine wine. l believe this can be confirmed with the previous owner
If I might suggest pouring a bottle of fine red wine over the stern to see if this alleviates the issue when the dolphins try this caper again. No surveyor would have picked up this issue when the survey was undertaken as it is a little know issue here in the southern hemisphere.

Greg and Sue
Sunshine

Hahahaha .... I did think it might have been the red wine BOTTLES clinking each other in the boat cellar. But they had all been drunk prior to handover. I did send the previous owner an email today asking for more info. Hopefully he will be able to enlighten me with his wisdom!
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Old 19-10-2015, 03:50   #45
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Re: Dolphins smashing into rudder

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They usually just come and say hello (NZ East Coast) and move on to the next boat after a few minutes. You could be right about them hearing the sounder. I haven't turned it off to check. I can't see that the chart plotter would attract them as it it is a receiver only. Mainly dolphins are just inquisitive. I have seen them escorting my keel bulb which is dolphin like as well as chasing Kahawai which is a NZ sea trout. The Kahawai have come close to my rudder to try to escape the dolphins which have followed looking for a meal though they haven't touched the boat.


I've also seen quite a few dolphins escorting a power boat I was having a ride on at Port Stevens near your Lake Macquarie. I've driven along the road on the narrow strip of land between Lake Macquarie and the sea several years ago. Do you sail on the lake, or out in the ocean? The bridge must be high enough to get under?
We mainly just stay in the lake. We do plan in venturing out to do more coastal cruising now we have upgraded. The Swansea bridge is only high enough for small speed boats. To get a large cruiser or Yacht out hey have to open the bridge. Normally on the hour every hour but needs to be booked.
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