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Old 10-03-2013, 17:11   #46
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

in 30 kt winds, rocks are NOW. there is no time.
also in 30 kt winds on west coast, seas are more like 25 ft. is not conducive to considering a tow, nor of saving anything unless you are ON it

as for me--i would not be on that boat in the first place. i would be on my own boat in safer waters.
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Old 10-03-2013, 17:49   #47
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pirate Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
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.
My guess is they didn't have the searoom. In that case it makes the decision to wait even iffier, as I think someone else mentioned. I'm thinking the lawyers will be hard at work Monday a.m., and we've heard the last of this.
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Old 10-03-2013, 17:54   #48
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
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.
Certainly worth trying anything. As I noted, we were totally unsuccessful on a Heritage One-Ton (Morgan 37) when our rudder took a hike. This particular boat with skinny fin would get spun with every wave. Emergency tiller wold have been the best but would weigh more than an upsized anchor.

Seems the skipper should have taken assistance to evac at least the crew. We just don't know yet what the reasoning was. We are arm-chair quarterbacks.
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Old 10-03-2013, 17:58   #49
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

In this particular case, their track before the rudder broke was outside most of the other racers. They had about 3 miles and an hour and a half before they hit the surf.
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Old 10-03-2013, 18:25   #50
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Did anybody else in the race stand by them? That seems like the logical thing to happen. Another racer probably couldn't tow them all the way to shore, but certainly could have kept them offshore you would think. Sure, it would be very difficult to hook up in those conditions, but I hope somebody tried.
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Old 10-03-2013, 18:31   #51
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

The one time we lost a rudder, using the sails didn't work. It's one of those things that works well on paper, not so much under fire.
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Old 10-03-2013, 18:36   #52
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

I'm not sure of the origin for the "thirty knots of wind" suggested in some recent posts?

The report linked to in the OP quoted the USCG as putting the wind strength at ten knots. Has that been refuted?

Interesting suggestion by Snowpetrel to try reversing under power (as a last resort). I'd be inclined, if I did try it, to drop the main and let the jib flog ahead of the headstay, on freed sheets

(but still with stopper knots !!!! - any emergency manoeuvre using the engine naturally requires MAXIMUM vigilance for lines overboard).

This would intensify the natural tendency of most sailboats to point their stern into the wind, especially important given that the absence of a rudder could be expected to reduce this tendency. (Note to self: next time I'm in decent seas on a friend's boat with a dagger rudder, I must try a few experiments. One reason people tend not to do this sort of thing is that there's a tendency to get pretty sick pretty quick - all the more reason to take note of other people's experiments - rather than try and talk them out of it...)

It might be possible to modulate the direction by intermittently hauling in one or other sheet to bias the jib.

It's not a dodge I've tried in big seas but if the cockpit drains were up to the task (assisted by frightened, harnessed crew with buckets) I personally would need a better reason to rule it out than simply because it's unpalatable and scary.

There has to be some payoff from a youth spent in boats which were "too small" in conditions and with resources which today's language would deem "inappropriate".

You get inured to doing things which are merely unpalatable and scary, in situations where the alternatives are so stark as to put them in proportion.
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Old 10-03-2013, 18:45   #53
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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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
This was a small racing boat, not built for those winds. Knew the weather was bad but still went. Racers are a curious lot. My condolences to the family
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Old 10-03-2013, 18:53   #54
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Not sure if this has been linked to, but this is the CG story out now. 10-knots of wind, but 8-foot seas. And apparently they declined offers of help from fellow racers.
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Old 10-03-2013, 19:58   #55
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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I am not judging ... just curious ...
Why the skipper refused the help from other boaters and CG after initial MAYDAY call?
I still wonder about that ... ???
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Old 10-03-2013, 20:19   #56
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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The one time we lost a rudder, using the sails didn't work. It's one of those things that works well on paper, not so much under fire.
Exactly. It pays not to wait until it happens before carrying out trials, considering what other people have tried and described, etc etc.... because unless you've already done the groundwork, it's not likely that your attempts will "work under fire".

I don't think you're saying it won't ever work, but that you couldn't get it to work.

Unless you tried dozens of different ideas, combining some or all of the resources available, including sails, preventers, poles, engine if available, drags or drogues, deploying sails to windward which would normally be to leeward, and even direction of travel .... you can't say it won't work.
Naturally, you can't try all the possibilities "under fire"

There's a famous case of a Transpac boat called "Mir" (no relation to the ill-fated space station of the same name), which crossed the finish line backwards, having reset the spinnaker from the mizzen mast after losing the mainmast. They abandoned their preconceptions in order to resume taking charge of their vessel.
They didn't have to try everything under fire, given that many of them had a long history of "trying stuff", so their instincts and intuitions as to what would work were pre-honed.


It's hard to put ideas on a lost rudder scenario into practice failing access to a similar boat with a removable rudder, but leaving the helm free will give some crude approximation. (It would pay to have someone ready to grab it if you start making sternway - or if you're alone, you could lash it with a nylon line and some slack).

- - - - - -

Lessons learned on one boat can be applied on different sized boats as long as they share characteristics which relate to the lesson.

I first learned the extent of this when circumstances meant that I had to be left in charge of a 78' racing sloop in the Southern Ocean in a bit of weather, and I had to heave it to, alone on deck.

Luckily it was a boat I'd previously sailed on, in a variety of conditions, for thousands of miles, and I'd noticed that it handled in many ways rather like the 20' boat I'd cut my teeth on. For instance the timing required to 'keep the boat under the mast' when sailing downwind with too much sail up was remarkably similar. One reason was that both boats used an oversize, overdepth rudder to compensate for an afterbody which was more finely drawn than was fashionable.

I'd been in a couple of situations previously where we had to heave this particular boat to, but we'd always done this bare-headed, under trisail (which is what maxi-racer skippers tended to prefer) - and with about a dozen strong guys.

In this instance, we had no ability to set any sort of sail aft of the mast. Armed only with experience gained from jib-only heaving-to on the wee boat, I was able to preset helm angles, jib area and angle, etc, in such a way that the manoeuvre achieved the desired attitude first try, without me having to wear a trench between the winches and the helm.

So if the only person you know with a boat with a removable rudder has a much smaller (or bigger) boat, it's not safe to assume you can't learn valuable lessons about handling a boat whose rudder is gone.
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:46   #57
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Some time ago I remember reading about tank tests being done on 12-meter America's Cup hull designs, and many of them were much more stable going backwards.
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Old 11-03-2013, 08:39   #58
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

You might try steering the boat with the sails. I've done it on catamarans in steady wind. Not sure if it would work in heavy wind in confused seas. But you use the Main to come into the wind, and the Jib to come off. By working them in concert, you can drive the boat. You may have to mount/rig an oar or something similar off the stern later for better tracking.

During one Worrell 1000 (which is a catamarn race from lower Florida to Virginia Beach in the Atlantic Ocean), a really sharp racer (Smyth I think his name was) rather than sail through the heavy surf line when launching one morning sailed inside the surf line maybe a mile or so with his rudders up and his daggerboards only half way down. Only after he got up to a good speed and saw a nice opening did he attempt to break though the surf and sail out. By then the rest of the boats were waaay back..........
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:38   #59
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

The 10 knots of wind report was a typo-it was more like 25 gusting 30, and the waves were short and steep.
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:42   #60
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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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.
Not sure what your experience level is with towing, but I worked around it a bit and have my uscg assistance towing endorsement in addition to my 100 ton license.

Rigging a tow in those conditions would have gotten someone killed, or an arm ripped off. If the guys couldn't make ground tackle work trust me there's no way in hell they would have managed to secure a proper tow arrangement.
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