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Old 14-10-2008, 22:33   #166
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Originally Posted by highseas View Post
From what I have read, attaching drouge to bow is a bad idea.You want to slow boat but keep it travelling the way it is meant to,FORWARD!If you are bow upwind and boat gets moving downwind it puts huge reversing forces on rudder ,resulting in loss of rudder altogether.You dont string out warps from bow,why would you put drouge on bow?
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Because you have heaved to and the parachute keeps the boat from moving very fast. The idea is to go as slowly as possible with your bow pointed into the wind, or at some acute angle off the wind.

I think the experts are split on this one. With catamarans, there seems to be a consensus that a sea anchor works best. With monohulls, some advocate a sea anchor, others a drogue.

It seems to me that if you use a drogue astern in a situation where you have lost your rudder, it better be one hell of a drogue, because if you get moving too fast you are dead.
FWIW, there is a lot of discussion on para-anchors and drogues (especially for monos) on this thread. Storm Tactics
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Old 21-10-2008, 10:02   #167
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OK,

I read the first few pages of this thread, and have decided to comment.

So what happened?

I left California on October 1. I was making pretty much 100 mile days on average. Nothing spectacular, but I was pleased with things. My wind vane's wheel adapter started coming off after a few days. The U-bolts that hold it on were apparently a bit loose (i had never checked them. didnt think they could work loose. oops) The first time that the wind picked up to 25-30, and the wind vane had to hack away at the wheel for hours on end, 3 of the loose U-bolts worked themselves back and forth and broke. From there on out, the other 3 were just waiting to break. After several unsuccessful attempts at jury rigging things, and a few days, I finally arrived at using a pretty stout tuna line set-up. Self-steering problems fixed. Until 11:06 PM on October 8, when my boat steered itself in a circle, and I went back up to re-set the vane. I realized that my wind vane's rudder post had completely broken in half. As in 1.5-2 inch aluminum piping (or steel, I don't know). BROKEN in half. it sheared off the bottom of my wind vane. It's an Aries lift-up wind vane, by the way. Not a Monitor. The safety line I had on it dragged it behind the boat. I have pictures of the vane that I will upload in a few days, when that is possible. It was very rough, and I attempted to hove to, but very unsuccessfully. I did not figure out until a few hours later what the problem was. My rudder post on the boat was broken, below where it could be fixed by mounting an emergency tiller. By this point, it was early morning and I was in 30-35 knot winds with gusts up to 40+. NOAA said seas were 5-6 meters, but some other report said up 8 meters. At 11 AM on the 9th of October, I was knocked down to where my starboard spreader hit the water. This is when I called for rescue. People on 14.300 MHz relayed my information to the USCG in Alameda, where they arranged for rescue. I also set off my EPIRB from the cockpit, in case I lost comm. 4 or 5 hours later, I was rescued by a Japanese freight ship headed for Shanghai, China. It is now Octoiber 21 at 11:43 pm shanghai time, and I am writing this from a hotel room.

Do I regret leaving San Diego for Hawaii?

No.

Do I plan to continue sailing?

Yes. I am flying to Hong Kong tomorrow night to try to find a boat, a place to live, and a job. I still plan to continue sailing (mostly) around the world.

I am well aware there are a lot of people on the internet talking all kinds of s--- about me. I don't really care. A lot will say "I told you so". I don't blame them at all. It was pretty difficult to abandon my boat. It was my home, my boat, my planned means of income, everything. In essence, that boat was my life. It's gone now, and there is nothing that I can do about that. All I can do from this point on is to move forward. To all of you who have supported me and given me words of encouragement, advice, wisdom, or otherwirse, thank you, it meant and still means a lot to me.

Ask yourself. If you are 830 miles from nearest land, in 35-40+ knots of wind, with roughly 20 foot seas and a BROKEN rudder post and wind vane rudder post, alone, what would you have done? Before anyone jumps up and talks all kinds of s--- from behind the comfort of their IBM, ask yourself what you would have done in that situation. I understand that I put myself in that situation, but there were a lot of circumstances that were beyond my control. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, abandoning my boat, but I felt it was my only option at the time.

Did I leave under-prepared, and on an old boat? Yeah, I think so, but honestly, I think that I hit something. Maybe a shipping container or something. Maybe a whale took a love tap at my keel. Maybe al-Qaeda sent a highly trained team of underwater operatives to the North Pacific to undermine my efforts without me knowing. I will never know. BROKEN wind vane and BROKEN rudder post in one night just seem really coincedental.

Am I trying to come up with other reasons to justify why I failed in my attempt to get to Hawaii, since I was solo, and thus have no one else to blame?

This is apparent. I'm blaming whales, containers and terrorists. Oh, and a hurricane apparently cropped up just south of me, and created these seas.

I realize that this post has no organization at all. Sorry. I've been on a freight ship for 12 days, watching horrible bootleg chinese dvd's and i have a lot on my mind. Also, im talking to a friend on skype, so sorry.

see you on the water again soon.

ronnie

i will add more to this post and others soon.
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Old 21-10-2008, 10:11   #168
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Please take my advice and go Thailand and forget about Hong Kong. From reading your blogs and your posts here it will be more fitting for your situation.
How did you make it through customs?
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Old 21-10-2008, 10:30   #169
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thanks for the advice. i am going to do some research while in hong kong and evaluate my situation, and where I should go from here. as far as customs is concerned, 7 immigration officers boarded the freight ship and went over the crew's papers with the captain, and my papers with me seperately. they went through my baggage, but I could have easily snuck a few keys in, which might not be such a bad idea considering my current financial state and distinct lack of seaworthy sailing vessels.
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Old 21-10-2008, 11:11   #170
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Welcome back "Shanghai Ron"

On an old boat old stuff breaks / wears out. But could have been Osama in a Wetsuit (or Bikini? ).

If you can find some work for a few weeks / months - even if not saving money will give you the chance to work out your next move / make some contacts in the real world and online (and also to eat!).

I dunno how you are doing with contacts, but if I recall correctly you have some Jesus stuff about you - always a few Western NGO's in that part of the world doing their stuff with the locals (usually the poorer ones).......even without signing up with them might be worth getting in contact for some on the ground pointers - and maybe wangle a floor to kip on / use of the communal rice bowl in exchange for jangling a tamborine .......and for that you might want to include a whale in your story

BTW in that part of the world usually helps if you dress smart and conservative - ie not cut off denims, a string vest and sandals with dreadlocks and half a goatee ......unless you head to Thailand and want to provide entertainment for the locals of an evening on Khaosan road
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Old 21-10-2008, 14:38   #171
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Ronnie...I think you have no one to blame but yourself for poor preparation, and poor seamanship which nearly cost you your life. You could have done this trip on THAT boat if you'd taken the time and $$ to : get a survey of a 47 year old boat, focused on making sure the things that mattered were in perfect working order and had spares, learned to sail the ocean in discrete steps to build your seamanship before jumping off on a huge voyage on a non-favored path to a destination.
Having said that, I don't blame you one bit for punching out when you did. You earned that right when you defended your country and were wounded in its service and hopefully you will be a bit more judicious in your next adventure.
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Old 21-10-2008, 15:37   #172
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Ronnie, sounds like you did the best you could. good points and well taken. it is really dubious if a surveyor would have found anything with the rudder shaft... unles it was obviously nearly corroded through. They spend 4 or 5 hours on a boat looking at a couple hundred things including evaluation of the design etc. I've contracted and attended several surveys from the Northwest to Annapolis to Florida and never saw a lot of time spent trying to see the rudder shaft. They may tap the rudder for hollow spots, but it's a bit of a turkey shoot whether a surveyor would have found your problem. However, he might have. Or a really good surveyor might know of specific issues that show up with certain boats. On the other hand getting to know your boat before you take that kind of voyage is important for sure, and maybe that is where you failed. Good luck in re-starting! I wonder how many of those being critical who are sailing old boats have actually cut a side panel off their rudder to see if the tabs that are welded to the rudder post are about to break free? The welds corrode first and once broken, the shaft simply turns in the fibreglass rudder.
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Old 21-10-2008, 16:32   #173
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Ronnie, sounds like you did the best you could. good points and well taken. it is really dubious if a surveyor would have found anything with the rudder shaft... unles it was obviously nearly corroded through......
I don't know if the surveyor would have seen the issue or not, but if he/she was told about the intended passage, they would have most likely recommended dropping the rudder and doing a real inspection prior to leaving. This only makes sense on an older boat (or any boat) that is getting ready to make an offshore passage. The steering system needs to be completely inspected. To do this you need to drop the rudder. It is not uncommon to drop a rudder on an older boat and see serious corrosion issues.

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Old 21-10-2008, 16:33   #174
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Ronnie - Welcome back to Cruisers Forum. I think there is universal respect here for you sharing your experiences so openly. There are also lots of opinions about your preparedness based not on IBM armchair sailing but many of our members have thousands and thousands of open ocean miles under their keels.

Spend a little time on the forum and you will get to know who they are.

In regards to what to do next I am in the South Asia camp. I have lived in Asia for 24 years and Hong Kong is very expensive. There are lot's of well found boats in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. It's always warm and as I posted a while ago there is work to be had for enterprising expatriates.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do. If you get to Singapore drop a note and I'll buy you a beer.

Oh - I am sure the couple of keys line was a joke. Thailand, malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore will string you up quick for that kind of enterprise.
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Old 21-10-2008, 17:37   #175
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thank you all again for your inputs and comments.

To the person who said I had no one to blame but myself for taking off in an ill-prepared boat.:

You're absolutely right. Unfortunately, I had to learn this one the hard way, but on the up side, I am still alive, and able to start over.

One thing I forgot to mention about my old set up. It was a custom built set up with a worm gear. Basically, the helm was directly connected to a worm gear. When the wheel turns, the gear turns. When the gear turns, it moves an arm that pulls forward or back on the port side of the rudder post, moving the rudder right to left.

What I had thought was one of the stronger poitns on my boat ironically ended up being its weak point.

I have to run, but ill type more later
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Old 22-10-2008, 06:31   #176
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Thumbs up G'day Ronnie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Ronnie - Welcome back to Cruisers Forum. I think there is universal respect here for you sharing your experiences so openly. There are also lots of opinions about your preparedness based not on IBM armchair sailing but many of our members have thousands and thousands of open ocean miles under their keels.......
First let me endorse ExC's comments.

Now for my own: I am glad you survived, I am sorry for the loss of your boat and gear and I am happy that you are making the effort to share the downsides of you experiences openly on CF. I have been critical of you lack of preparations and in not getting some more experience under your belt before attempting the voyage and I stand by my previous posts. I also stand by my admiration of you for actually departing and having a try. I just believe you could have done it better but that is now water under the bridge so what can now be learnt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronniesimpson View Post
.... It was pretty difficult to abandon my boat. It was my home, my boat, my planned means of income, everything. In essence, that boat was my life. It's gone now, and there is nothing that I can do about that. All I can do from this point on is to move forward.
All too true so let's see what can be learnt and take that forward with you into the future.
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....
Ask yourself. If you are 830 miles from nearest land, in 35-40+ knots of wind, with roughly 20 foot seas and a BROKEN rudder post and wind vane rudder post, alone, what would you have done? Before anyone jumps up and talks all kinds of s--- from behind the comfort of their IBM, ask yourself what you would have done in that situation.
OK Ronnie, what I would have done is stabilized the boat either hove to or head to wind. Hove to would be better but that may have been difficult to get the sail balance right especially if the rudder was jammed over to one side. Probably would have needed additional drag deployed off the other side. Don't know how well it would work until trying it. Otherwise, head to wind. No sea-anchor, then jury rig one from spare sail, Dogger fabric, fenders etc. Once stabilized, rest, eat, rest again until weather improves and/or I could formulated a workable plan to jury rig a steering system of some sort. Continue working the planning the work and working the plan stopping as necessary for weather and rest/eat.

But I speak not from behind the IBM but from a very privilieged postion of having prior experience of sea-sickness, tiredness, being alone far out at sea, broken steering systems (with no back up - my bad), 30-35 kts etc. The trick was that I didn't have all these events to deal with at once. Sometimes the learning curve was steep (and sometimes still IS steep).

Please understand that I am not critical of your decision to bail out, in the same postion (lack of experience etc), I would have probably bailed out. What I am critical of was that you didn't heed good advice and either prepared the boat better or more importantly, prepared yourself better.

Quote:
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.... BROKEN wind vane and BROKEN rudder post in one night just seem really coincedental.
Hmm... not really, bad things often happened together but I have noticed that good luck seems to favour the prepared - not sure why, just seems that way .
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.... abandoning my boat, but I felt it was my only option at the time.
- my emphasis -

To my mind, this is the most important aspect of the whole story. I believe this is where you can learn the most from your experience.

Let me talk plain here.

Clearly it wasn't truly the only option but it was the only one that felt right (or doable) to you.

This is where you let your feeling cloud your decision making process. Again I am not blaming you for this, rather just stating the facts. Many people placed in an identical situation (with the same level of inexperience) would make the same decision. That in itself does not make the decision or good one or bad one. But the consequence of this decision resulted directly in the loss of your boat.

Ask yourself, what was I feeling, how did I become to feel this way, why did I not feel another way. Could I have felt different, how could I achieve a different feeling, what actions could have I taken (either at the time or beforehand) to feel different. Could I have accepted how I felt and then taken a different course of action based on logic and rational thought.

Of course Ronnie, I don't know the answers for you because I don't really know you and I wasn't there. However, given what you have already posted, I am sure you will be able to work through this yourself.

However if it helps any, I postulate that given your inexperience, your lack of knowledge on some sailing issues and combined with tiredness and possibly sea-sickness, that your fear (probably unrealized at the time) clouded your decision making process and limited your ability to make completely rational judgments leaving you only capable of making decisions based on your feeling/emotions of the experience.

Anyway Ronnie, that is my 2 bob's worth and you can make of it what you will - I could be a stark raving loonie .

BTW, I posted earlier that I would send you my spare copy of L & L Pardey's book "Storm Tactics". It might be helpful, even if only to get another perspective from a couple who have truly been at sea most of their long life in small boats. It's your's for the asking, just PM me with an address that I can send it to.

Good luck in your future travels Mate.
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Old 22-10-2008, 19:34   #177
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That is a masterful analysis W. You nailed the dangerous intersection between feelings and options. Truly well done.
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Old 22-10-2008, 19:55   #178
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I've heard that the big problem with lashing or "U-bolting" a cabinet door or locker top on a whisker pole is that the board rotates and thus won't steer.

There's another method that does work, though. On the 2005 Caribbean 1500 (Virginia to Tortola), two boats had rudders damaged, and one lost his rudder entirely. He was able to steer for 400 nm or so with warps trailing astern on a bridle rigged to the cockpit winches. The warps could be adjusted to one side or the other by winching in a leg of the bridle, and the drag would change the heading of the boat. Balancing the sails was a key part of the strategy. This method has a good track record of success, as long as you're sailing off the wind.
Ok, HUD, sounds plausible. It occurs to me that this will work well on a wide beam boat, but not a small mono as the angle is not significant enough. I would think that in order for this to work, and assuming a run or broad reach, the drag must pass through the centerline of the boat significantly in order to effect a heading change. What do you think?
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Old 22-10-2008, 20:31   #179
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I don't think ithas been asked yet but what caused the rudder to fail.

The part that should be explored is what stresses were applied ot the rudder and why and were there things to be done to reduce the stresses on the boat.

Race car drivers have to take care of their tires. Ocean sailors have to tak care of their boat. Understanding what causes significant excess stress in a rudder system is important.

Some ideas -

1/ Unbalanced sail plan overpowers windvane system and even electric autopilot. Sail plan must be balanced at all times
2/ Follwowing sea, especially with boat speed below wave speed - keep boat speed up
3/ Hove to incorrectly, causing excessive side loads

Of course, it simply could be old u-bolts and old rudder pintles and post we probably won't know in this case but we still need an awareness on how to remove stresses from the boat so the boat doesn't get the crap beat out of it at all times.

This boat had a long history of successful ocean crossings.
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Old 22-10-2008, 21:45   #180
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Failure analysis is a complex science, and sometimes, the final determination is still S**t happens. With the tools and spares I carry (fewer now that I am moving to a Multi), there is very little that I can not repair, or improvise underway. There is an emergency plan in place for every major system. Even the ones that I can not imagine failing. To me, this is just common sense to go offshore. That said, I am sure there is some minor system whose importance I have not realized, that I have not prepared for. If I am lucky, that unforeseen situation will not come up. Luck trumps skill every day. The ability to adapt, and improvise is the most valuable skill a sailor has. We blew out the head sail (The only head sail) on a boat we had purchased, and were taking down the coast. We had neglected to bring a sailor's palm. Ever try sewing a sail without a sailor's palm? My wife thought of getting a wood spoon from the galley, and using that. She still has that wooden spoon. It looks like a strainer, but it got the sail back together, and got us home. She still has scars from the needle (a wood spoon is not quite as solid as a sailors palm), but the alternative was to motor for 125 miles down the Ca coast. Been there, done that, no thanks. That was, overall, only a 200 mile trip, and we failed to prepare sufficiently for everything that could go wrong, but we were able to improvise. So, allot of babbling to say, it is more important to develop the skill to build rockets out of bailing wire, than it is to prepare for every single possible failure.
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