After reading the wise posts in this thread I am reluctent to showcase my lost
the rudder story. But in order to illustrate just how wise the other posters in this thread are.......
Many years ago after a divorce I found myself in possesion of 2 things, an aging C&C
25 and a profession that allowed me to work almost anywhere. I accepted a job in a small town on the southern Oregon
Coast and thought well I'll just sail there its only about 400 miles away and I'll live on the boat until I can afford something better. It was my first offshore solo voyage and I would have to take off my shoes to count the number of mistakes
I made. It was July, a time that generally means sunny days and warm weather
in the Pacific NW. It was indeed sunny offshore, sunny and 45 degrees with the wind
blowing 20-30 knots and 10 ft swells. I naively thought I would be better off going 40-50 miles offshore which would be outside the coastal shipping
lanes. After crossing the Columbia
river bar I hunkered down under storm jib
and a deeply reefed main and though cold and at times terrified I was generally thrilled to be in my own boat surfing my way south. Around midnite the tillerpilot started beeping continuously and I broached in the next wave. Holding a flashlight in my teeth I peered over the transom to discover the rudder (mahogany) sheared at the waterline. At this point I suppose I could have thought calmly and fashioned a makeshift rudder and soldiered on like a sailing stud, but I was cold, tired and wet. So I dropped the remaining scrap of sail, started the outboard
and turned east towards the out of sight coast. After several hours of feathering the throttle as the prop cavitated on every wave and making little progress I started feeling very alone and decided to call the CG so someone knew I was out there. I had no intent to be "rescued" I just wanted the reassurance that if worse came to worst I wouldn't go quietly into the night with no one knowing. Professionals that they are they calmly asked about my situation (how big did you say your boat is?) and the state of everyone on board (only you?).I assured them that I was not in immediate danger and was making my way slowly, very slowly, towards the coast. The operator asked me to stand by and then came back on to state " we need the training, would it be OK if we came out and towed you in?" Wondering how long my fuel
would last and unprepared for making port on this stretch of coast I quickly said sure! 3 hours later a motor
lifeboat appeared. I was maliciously delighted to see half their crew chumming over the aft rail. 4 more hours under tow saw us crossing a breaking bar and tied up to their dock
. They were thoroughly professional and courteous with nary a hint of paying for their service
or wasting the taxpayers money
. A few days later a new fibreglass rudder in place I continued on chagrined but a little wiser.
Lessons learned? Many, foremost that I could do it and loved it, but I really ought to have checked the 20 year old wood rudder for rot
and had a contingency plan in place!