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Old 10-03-2013, 10:36   #31
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

My deepest condolences to the crew and their families.

Its hard to tell what to do when it all goes pear-shaped, but if I had a working engine and broken steering on a rough night near a lee shore, my first attempt would be to start the engine, drop the jib, sheet the main in hard and (checking for lines in the water) put the engine in gear. The main should keep the boat near into the wind and the engine should give you some forward progress. It won't get you home, but it will buy time. YMMV, and it's worth practicing on your boat by letting go of the helm with just the main up.
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:56   #32
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Quite a bit of difference, and about 100nm, between Santa Barbara Island and San Clemente Island. The weather us usually completely different. Boring and flat (usually) out near San Clemente with prevailing north westerlies, all kinds of funky junk at Santa Barbara near Point Conception.
Although we didn't have the news of this tragedy at the time, our Channel Islands club race (about 70 nm north of San Clemente) was cancelled Saturday morning due to winds gusting 25-30 and 7 ft waves at 6 second intervals.

It's my understanding that it was even worse Friday night...at least up there.
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:14   #33
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Reb-- I'll bet $10 this is the case.... I'm guessing he also had no idea how fast the current was moving around that island or how sharply the bottom comes up. ...

This is another case illustrating the merit of an independent emergency rudder with pre-positioned brackets. And, likely, another case illustrating the fragility of carbon fiber rudder posts (unless they hit a UFO).

What a useless tragedy...
I'm reminded of that Farralones deal last year. Maybe these guys purposely went too close to shore (as it turned out) as a tactic.

And perhaps yacht clubs should think about automatically canceling races when the weather goes nuts. Particularly beforehand. But even during a race, cancelation for a prudent skipper would mean slowing the boat down, and getting off the edge. I don't miss West Coast sailing at all.

It's all fun and games til somebody gets hurt. And death? For what?
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:19   #34
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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what would or could you do if you lost a rudder in breezy conditions with confused seas and a rocky, surfbound coast to leeward?
For my reply I am changing the type of boat to a cruising boat as per the main thrust of this forum.

1) They were not sailing in the correct season. Cruise only in the correct season, not before or after. Check the correct season for any passage with others who have done it, or Jimmy Cornell. I don't know what the correct cruisng season is for that location as I am in a bar not on my boat.

2) A parachute sea anchor, NOT a drought etc, when set takes the boat with the CURRENT not with the WIND, although the boat may lie to the wind but currents are much more likely to run parallel to a coast, or around an island so there's a chance of keeping off the rocks of a lee shore.


3) I have 330 feet chain, that's 100 meters and a good anchor. That may be enough to stop the boat hitting the shore, but really, if its a coast then it would be the last resort. One would hope to stay further off shore. But there are some places where its less than 100 feet deep, 30 meters, quite a fair way out. But would the pick hold in big waves as one closes the coast?

4) Launch the dinghy, lash it to the lee quarter of the boat and use the outboard to steer. (This should probably be high up the list of options)



In this type of circumstance saving the boat will enhance the survival outcome as being in a rubber raft hitting rocks would be a very serious problem.


Look forward to other people's proactive thoughts.

I discarded a jury rudder system because of the situations short time frame. A useful jury rudder may take a day or so to make work IMHO.


Mark
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:46   #35
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

The area on the west side of San Clemente is far to deep to anchor until you are in the surf line, especially if big seas are running.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:24   #36
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

You are correct about the CG policy. A few years ago an Aerodyne 38 went on the rocks and was destroyed after the owner was rescued outside the Golden Gate. He had set an anchor off the bow with a long scope to stop the boat from grounding. The CG told him to cut the anchor loose or they would not perform the rescue. Even though the rode was well weighted and not streaming they felt it was a risk.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:43   #37
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pirate Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Mark... I doubt the dinghy would work in the sea build up.. the boat would ride over it or swamp it in no time... fine for 4-5 in sheltered waters but in those conditions... been playing mobile fender a few times past on dragging boats in weather and the last thing I'd want is to be lashed to a bucking boat in a sea..
A simple easy to stow jury tiller is a shaped piece of ply.. 3 U bolts to fit pre-drilled holes then lock it to your spinnaker pole... a length of rope and your stern cleats will give the pivot point... 10-15mins... and you've a semblance of control..
The engine would work but racers carry barely enough fuel to get out and back in at the end of play..
Events like these should have at least one power vessel as safety boat and capable of taking a tow.. unless it a distance race..
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:46   #38
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Had the Coast Guard been willing to tow the boat out of immediate danger, it seems that time would have been bought for the commercial tow to be able to get out, and a life saved. Helo rescues are not particularly easy or safe. In hindsight, towing looks like it should have been the preferred option.
It's easy to appreciate that sailing a race boat without a rudder and with a thin, short keel (see the previous picture of the deep "bulb on a stick") in rough seas might not have been very feasible. How feasible is it to sail most cruising boats by trim in these conditions? I'm guessing it would take practice and would be hard work for the sheet trimmers to try to keep the boat going without stalling. Have some of the people on this forum tried it in adverse conditions such as these?
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:56   #39
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

disaster can happen to anybody at anytime. i have thought how easy a dismasting would be as i waited for a bridge to open while fighting a strong tide. if the motor stalled i would have about 10 seconds before going under the bridge.
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Old 10-03-2013, 15:08   #40
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Here's something which is not as well known as it should be:

( ON EDIT :: provided there's a reasonable amount of wind :: )

A mainsail makes a good 'air rudder' if the boom is locked in position.

Say by setting up a preventer, and tightening the mainsheet against it.

(Or with a small sail or light wind: by a beefy crewmember or two pushing the boom forward against the mainsheet)

Particularly if engine power is available, such an 'air rudder' dodge can be a boat saver.

The more drive you have available in relation to wind strength, the closer in you can trim the boom, but on a beam reach it will work even with minimal engine power.

The thrust from the prop is beneficial in all phases, most obviously when you consider the beam reach scenario:

- when the sail is drawing properly, prop thrust reduces the imbalance from the fact that the sail drive is acting to leeward, trying to make the boat 'round up'.

- when the sail backwinds, the prop thrust is doubly beneficial:

Firstly because the turning moment (to correct the heading so the sail will draw again) is amplified.
This is because the sail thrust and the opposite propellor thrust combine to form a 'couple', which creates corrective yaw more quickly and positively than the sail alone

Secondly because it helps maintain boatspeed, or "way".

Loss of way is a problem if you are using the 'air rudder' dodge without engine power, during the phase in the cycle when the boat is heading too high, backwinding the main.
It's not strictly 'steerage way', because you don't have a rudder, but it's "directional stability way", because water flow over the hull underbody - and especially the keel - creates directional stability.

If there is no engine power available, it will probably be necessary to "actively steer" using the air rudder.
This means that someone should continually trim the mainsheet, while someone else loosens or tightens the preventer against the new boom position (or pushes the boom as above, if realistic).

It IS essential that the boom is not free to move at all, otherwise much of the drive is wasted because the boat will have to head up a long way before there is any steering correction.

Ideally the person trimming the mainsheet should have had experience sailing a windsurfer. Windsurfers ONLY have an "air rudder". Preferably for at least a few hours, enough to get past the phase of steering purely by inclining the mast fore and aft, to have acquired a good feel for steering by sheeting in and sheeting out.
(Or better still, experience of sailing a small dinghy without a rudder, simply using the sail)

ON EDIT :::
A headsail (with another savvy trimmer) will help if the boat is tending to round up too easily.


The following comments are not applicable to the OP-type sudden emergency, but might be worth considering in circumstances which are less fraught:

If the boat tends to bear away too much (which is unlikely, unless the rudder is jammed rather than absent), drop any headsails (rather than just furling). I guess you could try easing the halyard to let the draft in the main go further aft. If this doesn't help, try towing a bucket or small drogue off the windward chainplates on at least a boatlength of line. If you have more time, substitute something with less drag anchored further outboard, say a long warp with nothing on the end, towed from a long, improvised outrigger (say a spinnaker pole with inboard end clipped to the chainplate, with a lift and two guys, and a block at the outboard end). Adjust the length of the warp in the water to vary the drag.
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Old 10-03-2013, 15:17   #41
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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????? Don't know what you think a Columbia Carbon 32 looks like. Small sailboat, one rudder, single retractable drive, very light go-fast boat. 3500# on the hook.

The Columbia 32


I suspect the anchor was racer-small to save weight. It would be interesting to know what ground tackle they carried. Tiny fin is hard to manage if you were to try steering by the sails alone, especially in lumpy stuff.

We lost our rudder racing a Heritage One-Ton years ago in Lake Erie. 5" dia SS shaft snapped at the bottom of the bearing so no leaks. We had a couple hours to try sailing by trim befor the CG reached us to tow.

The question is what I would do. I assumed I'd be in my own boat.
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Old 10-03-2013, 15:29   #42
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

How far out on the west coast of San Clemente does the surf break? This chart is in fathoms, but it looks like a cruising boat would have a good shot at anchoring pretty far out. My main rode would have 500 feet on it from the get go, and I could easily add another 200 in about 5 minutes, plus I could drop another two anchors in short order. A lot of cruising boats would be able to do the same.
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Old 10-03-2013, 15:42   #43
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Apologies to DonRadcliffe - after going back through the thread more carefully I see that you made allusion to an upwind escape using the mainsail and the engine. Good to know there's independent support for this technique, but I'm sorry my inadequate skim through meant I didn't acknowledge your prior suggestion.
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Old 10-03-2013, 16:30   #44
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1) They were not sailing in the correct season. Cruise only in the correct season, not before or after.

3) I have 330 feet chain, that's 100 meters and a good anchor. That may be enough to stop the boat hitting the shore, but really, if its a coast then it would be the last resort. One would hope to stay further off shore. But there are some places where its less than 100 feet deep, 30 meters, quite a fair way out. But would the pick hold in big waves as one closes the coast?

4) Launch the dinghy, lash it to the lee quarter of the boat and use the outboard to steer. (This should probably be high up the list of options)

I discarded a jury rudder system because of the situations short time frame. A useful jury rudder may take a day or so to make work IMHO.

Mark
Sorry Mark but I have to disagree with you on these points.

1) Season helps but it is no guarantee of good weather or bad. Obvously take the season into account. Be very very careful of TRS's. But don't get to paranoid. Winter sometimes has nice settled weather.

2) 100 m of chain is more than needed on most normal sized cruising boats. Get lots of nylon for this scenario instead.

4) trying to use a dink like this in 30 knots with a big sea running is asking for trouble. However the dink is much better than the liferaft in this scenario if you had to abandon.

A good preplaned and ready to go jury rudder is a sensible option.

My first thought was to drop the headsail. Sheet in the main and motor into the wind. Or try reversing if that didn't work.

It may even be possible to heave to with a scrap of headsail and the motor ahead at 45 degrees to the wind.
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Old 10-03-2013, 16:47   #45
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

We don't know enough about this particular case to speculate. They could have been very close to the rocks and dead upwind when the rudder went. I know a lot of racers cut things very close. If it had been a cruiser, they probably would have gone by on the east side of the island both for the shelter from the seas and so as not to have the lee shore issue in the first place.
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