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Old 22-10-2013, 15:12   #76
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
A freely swinging rudder is NOT the same as no rudder at all. Your suggested experiment is seriously flawed as a simulation of rudder loss.

JIm
Well, I hesitate to suggest people REMOVE their rudder as an experiment. But if you'd like to try that, please report back here on your results.

If your rudder falls off entirely (a rare event), then assuming your rudder attachment point -- your skeg or keel -- didn't fall off with it (and you now have much bigger problems), then the skeg/keel will provide yaw stability. All that is needed to steer the boat straight upwind is a small yawing force - which is provided by the mainsail.

If the rudder linkage has failed, allowing the rudder to freewheel, then the conditions are exactly the same. If, on the other hand, the rudder is jammed in some non-neutral position, then the experiment I suggest by which the rudder be swung from side to side, is a valid simulation for whatever degree of deflection is tested. With any appreciable amount of wind, such as Uncontrollable Urge experienced, the mainsail will still override a jammed and moderately deflected rudder. The only difference will be that the boat will be slowed by the induced drag of the deflected rudder, and the boat won't head straight upwind.

But try the experiement yourself, and let us know what happens.
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Old 22-10-2013, 19:45   #77
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
I personally need to give this a bit more thought. I was always trained in the 'don't unless you have to step up into the life raft' school. But it's become obvious that's too simple and not a thoughtful enough rule.
That's an interesting point. I think it's just prudence to review one's seamanlike wisdom to judge the proportion of wisdom versus reactionary prejudice. To live life...or to sail...as if the equations are fixed is not acknowledging life's changing circumstances.
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Old 24-10-2013, 10:14   #78
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

"We're sure hearing a lot about broken rudders lately. Better reporting? "

As I recall, a big racing disaster, in which 6 to 8 lives were lost occurred in Europe about 10 to 15 years ago. At that time, the reason for several of the losses was given as carbon rudders.

Perhaps it is time for some better minimum standards by the racing associations. Fanatic racers have always gambled a bit with weight vs winning, and perhaps rules would prevent competition beyond the limits of safety. leveling the field for all captains.
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Old 24-10-2013, 10:23   #79
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

I suppose that would be more achievable than preventing fanatical racers. But requiring the crews to demonstrate how to heave to and how to set an anchor would eliminate a large portion of them from the race.

I have an old friend who's retired Coast Guard. He tells me that long ago, before boarding a sailboat, they would order: "come about and heave to!" But in the last decade or so, the order would be met by blank stares and the response: "how do we heave to?"
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