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Old 11-01-2018, 17:52   #1
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Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

Just got back from a charter during which the steering cable broke.

Question I have is whether the charter company should have seen fraying on the wire in plenty of time and should have caught this. Charter company claimed the boat's rudder had recently been worked on and their subcontractor likely didn't tension the cable enough, and if so, the cable could fray and break in no time at all.

What do you experts think?

Boat was a 2009 Jeanneau DS50, dual helm, single rudder. Sprocket and chain at each binnacle, wire cable from each chain to the quadrant passing over sheaves at each 90 degree turn. Diagram of steering is at https://www.manualslib.com/manual/93...page=50#manual
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Old 11-01-2018, 17:59   #2
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Re: Just got back from a charter during which the steering cable broke. Question I

Does it matter? It's their boat--I reckon it's their problem either way. Are you after a refund or compensation? As long as it wasn't your misuse they can't possibly blame you.
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:03   #3
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Re: Just got back from a charter during which the steering cable broke. Question I

If it was recently worked on then there's your smoking gun.
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:06   #4
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

So if a cable can fray that quickly then maybe I should plan on inspecting it more often. I'm more curious if this a valid explanation. Not seeking any compensation claim or refund.
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:11   #5
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

Did the emergency tiller fit?
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:12   #6
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

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So if a cable can fray that quickly then maybe I should plan on inspecting it more often. I'm more curious if this a valid explanation. Not seeking any compensation claim or refund.
If the cable was installed improperly it could fray quickly. You would probably feel stiff steering first in that case.
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:13   #7
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

More than likely caused by lack of maintenance. Not sure it's a normal item on the list, probably checked if there's a complaint.
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:31   #8
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

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If the cable was installed improperly it could fray quickly. You would probably feel stiff steering first in that case.

Thanks Paul. Yes, the steering felt a bit stiff and not completely smooth running when I picked up the boat. I didn't think much of it but will definitely pay more attention if I run into this again, given how quickly it broke.

Yes, the emergency tiller worked. I always check this as part of my own boat inventory on checkout, since I want to make sure that will work if needed. I've encountered tillers that don't fit the boat in the past, so always good to check.

Steered initially with sails, then tiller and autopilot once things were under control.

Happened on the lee side of Mayreau in the Grenadines, just south of Salt Whistle Bay. We were headed out to the Tobago Cayes to anchor overnight but ended up anchoring in Troisant Bay instead (between Salt Whistle and Saline).

Charter company had a engineer subcontractor out the next morning. He replaced the cable portion with a rope line. We didn't have any Dyneema on board. He had a bit of trouble tensioning the line and two days later it failed again (rope came off the pulley I think).

- Joe
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:37   #9
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

I'm going to say it's a lack of maintenance that caused it to fail. Plenty of fish hooks seen in both sides. In addition the hole in the end fitting is showing elongation from extensive use.

In my mind that cable should have been replaced a few years ago.
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Old 11-01-2018, 18:45   #10
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

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I'm going to say it's a lack of maintenance that caused it to fail. Plenty of fish hooks seen in both sides. In addition the hole in the end fitting is showing elongation from extensive use.

In my mind that cable should have been replaced a few years ago.
So does it make sense that the cable was long since worn out, and the recently performed improper installation was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back?
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Old 11-01-2018, 20:42   #11
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

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So does it make sense that the cable was long since worn out, and the recently performed improper installation was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back?

That seems likely to me. I have a hard time believing that the cable wasn't already worn and should have been noticed when they worked on the rudder.
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Old 11-01-2018, 21:29   #12
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

I'd sure like to see a shot of the sheave that is at that point in the cable.
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Old 11-01-2018, 21:50   #13
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

Honestly, it's hard to understand how the cable being too loose would cause such rapid and destructive wear. Jump off the sheave... sure, but why would it just cause severe chafing?

Anyhow, were it my boat I'd be looking at the sheaves and the other side's setup as well. Having a sudden steering loss can be pretty unsettling in some circumstances!

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Old 11-01-2018, 23:43   #14
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

I often wonder how many boat owners check their steering cables?

I owned a gym and literally replaced hundreds of wire cables on pin loaded weight machines over the years. I've never seen one spontaneously just break. In my experience they give plenty of warning.
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Old 11-01-2018, 23:46   #15
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Re: Steering cable broke - does this explanation seem right?

This was a common problem on beneteau oceanis 46 2013/14 models and some Jeanneau ds49 models in charter in Greece
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