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Old 18-05-2019, 15:51   #1
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Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

We have a Hydrovane on our boat and have found it to catch sargassum weed in such a degree that it no longer can steer the boat.
When crossing the Atlantic in 2017 we at times had to clean it every 5 minutes.
It is so frustrating when you sail around the clock and you have to be on the alert for this type of problem. We are a short handed crew and need all the rest we can get. It has happen more than once that the boat has taken a tack by herself when the vane is out of control. It's worse if you sail with a gennacker. Then it can take some time before you get back on track.
I find this unacceptable. It is dangerous hanging over the side trying to free the rudder from the sargassum weed. You risk breaking a rib or two or falling over board, sails may get damaged and you are deprived of the rest you so badly need.
I have explained this to John at Hydrovane and suggested they would redesign the rudder with a taperd leading edge so that the grass will travel down and under but they seem not interested in doing anything to rectify the problem.
I realise that a redesign may not be a simple task and would certainly need thorough testing but this problem is not going to disappear. It will probably get worse.
I have talked to a number of people with Hydrovane's and I am not alone having trouble with weed.
Our vane is mounted off centre, which is one of the key features according to the Hydrovane home page. It may be a less of a problem with centre mounted since you then have the keel and the rudder in front to clear the way for the wind rudder.
Are there others out there with the same problem and if so did you have a remedy to get the gear working when confronted with this weed ?
/Hans
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Old 18-05-2019, 20:24   #2
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

This problem is not unique to Hydrovanes, in fact it happens on most vanes. I guess the answer is when your sailing in lots of S weed, use your autopilot.
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Old 18-05-2019, 21:03   #3
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
This problem is not unique to Hydrovanes, in fact it happens on most vanes.

This is true, but at least with Vanes that have auxiliary rudders that can be raised out of the water like the Windpilot Pacific it is a lot easier to get the sargassum off.


But it is still an annoying problem and there is no easy solution to it.
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Old 19-05-2019, 04:00   #4
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
This problem is not unique to Hydrovanes, in fact it happens on most vanes. I guess the answer is when your sailing in lots of S weed, use your autopilot.
Well, our autopilot uses the Hydrovane. We have the smallest Raymarine 1000+ which workes fine and draws very little power but suffers the same problem with weed.

/Hans
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Old 19-05-2019, 09:20   #5
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

The solution for an auxillary rudder vane would be a raked skeg mounted on the hull. Given enough distance from the boats rudder you could put enough rake on the leading edge to be self cleaning. An open frame made out of SS tubing could probably do the job.

Designing a rudder for the Hydrovane with enough rake to shed weeds but still be steerable with the relatively weak force input to the rudder from the wind vane would be a difficult task. A kick up rudder would be nice but designing one that would stay locked down in normal conditions yet kick up under weed drag and then be reset again wouldn't be easy and probably expensive to build.

Had the breakaway coupling do it's job when the Aires picked up a forest of kelp off the CA coast. Glad I was just doing a short hop before heading to the Marquesas as removing the remains of the old coupling, fitting a new one and reinstalling the servo-pendulum rudder was not an easy task tied stern to at a floating dock. If it had happened a week later when we were heading south, would've meant a lot of time at the tiller on the 3,000 miles to Atuona.
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Old 19-05-2019, 10:16   #6
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

A couple of questions:

Does your primary rudder, the one with the tiller, also get routinely fouled by the sagassum?
If not, why not?

Why did you chose to place the Hydrovane off center, instead of mounted behind the primary rudder? E.g., https://hydrovane.com/wp-content/upl...th-vane-hr.jpg
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Old 19-05-2019, 10:38   #7
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Just a suggestion...

Relying on a single piece of equipment (the Hydrovane) as your sole source of self-steering is not an optimal plan.

You see one reason with the weed problem. I have also had mechanical self steering gear fail in ways that were not repairable in the middle of the ocean, and was very glad to have a reliable electric system as a backup.

I know that mechanical vanes are frequently talked about as if they never, ever, fail. But that is just not true...
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Old 19-05-2019, 10:42   #8
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
A couple of questions:

Does your primary rudder, the one with the tiller, also get routinely fouled by the sagassum?
No, never happens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
If not, why not?
The boat is long keeled. The rudder is placed on the keel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
Why did you chose to place the Hydrovane off center, instead of mounted behind the primary rudder? E.g., https://hydrovane.com/wp-content/upl...th-vane-hr.jpg
Well, I had 4 or 5 reasons for this.
1) The wind vane is much more vulnerable sticking out aft.
2) I try to keep weight out of the ends as much as possible for performance.
3) It ads to the length of the boat. We are still under 10 meters or 32 feet. Cheaper in marinas and cruising licenses.
4) Easily mounted and accessible autopilot close to the cockpit.
5) Hydrovane says it works fine offset centre.
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:01   #9
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

A solution could be something like a sliding weight that fits around the rudder profile and normally sits on the upper end of the aux rudder held by a line. When untieing this line it slides down on the rudder till a second line stops it at the lower end of the aux rudder. could be worth a try.



A test prototype could be made easily out of some scrap wood and a dive weight tied to it, and a nicer version out of delrin (so it slides nicely) with encapsulated lead out of fishing weights.
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:05   #10
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billknny View Post
Just a suggestion...

Relying on a single piece of equipment (the Hydrovane) as your sole source of self-steering is not an optimal plan.
Quote:
Originally Posted by billknny View Post

I know that mechanical vanes are frequently talked about as if they never, ever, fail. But that is just not true...
This is a question of risk assessment.

If you buy a Mr Vee I guess you have to be much more concerned about the wind vane giving up on you. I have personalty spoken to 2 skippers having mechanical failures on these. I have never spoken to anyone with a Hydrovane forced to hand steer across an ocean.

One of my best friends who sailed single handed had to hand steer for a week and half crossing the Atlantic relying on an autopilot when his charging capability was lost.

I have the option of putting the Raymarine on the main rudder tiller even though it is to small for the forces involved. I would then need to shorten sails so that the load on the autopilot would not be to high but this is not a solution for normal cruising. This is a solution in an emergency situation.

/Hans
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:06   #11
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.



Sail in reverse for fifteen seconds to clear the weeds.
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:15   #12
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txg View Post
A solution could be something like a sliding weight that fits around the rudder profile and normally sits on the upper end of the aux rudder held by a line. When untieing this line it slides down on the rudder till a second line stops it at the lower end of the aux rudder. could be worth a try.



A test prototype could be made easily out of some scrap wood and a dive weight tied to it, and a nicer version out of delrin (so it slides nicely) with encapsulated lead out of fishing weights.
I am pretty sure the weight will not slide down by itself, at 6 knots the force
from the water passing by is significant but if you mount a roller at the lower
end you could force the weed past the lower end by pulling the rope.

I am really looking for a permanent solution where you do not have to attend
to the wind vane at all.

What about mounting a tapered skeg right in front of the vane rudder ?
Would that severely impact on the performance or offset the balance ?

/Hans
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:25   #13
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Floating seaweed is even a problem on kayaks. The kickup rudders are a good solution. We have such on our smallest boat, a Hobie Tandem Island Adventure and it can shed most anything by simply pulling up the rudder for a moment. We use that trailered boat for alpine lakes.

Of issue with a utilizing steep rake angle is whether the drag of forward motion will overcome the natural buoyancy of the weeds. It is as if you have a line wrapped on the rudder which line has floats, and or the line itself is buoyant.

Reference: https://www.surfski.info/forum/1-gen...ssum-weed.html

"The lead surfski and overall race winner was a South African guy named Kevin who had rigged his Fenn Elite S with an over-stern K1 rudder that would flip up automatically to shed weeds. I'm pretty sure I was getting weeds even on my "weedless" DK HC 7" rudder. Many of the other competitors, even those with swept rudders, complained about weeds and had to stop to shed weeds, etc. I think the buoyant air bladders in the Sargassum weed make it stick onto even fairly swept rudders, but it might shed more easily off of SHORT swept rudders."

I suspect your vane would be much less likely to get fouled if it was mounted in line with your keel / rudder which pushes the weeds down and away. Perhaps rake the windvane rudder assembly so as to be parallel and very close to your rudder, i.e., bottom of rudder raked forward.

If it is sticking to one side it will be placed in the maximum flow of the weeds as the hull will push the weeds towards your vane's rudder.
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:26   #14
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
Sail in reverse for fifteen seconds to clear the weeds.
Are you serious ?

We are mostly 1 person on watch. How in the world could you expect that person to do that manoeuvre in the middle of the night on a cruising boat where everything is set up going down wind with genua poled out ?

If you are forced to head up into the wind you can of course do that but that is
not a routine manoeuvre putting excessive force on your equipment.

/Hans
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Old 19-05-2019, 11:39   #15
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Re: Hydrovane and sagassum weed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
I think the buoyant air bladders in the Sargassum weed make it stick onto even fairly swept rudders, but it might shed more easily off of SHORT swept rudders."
You might be right about this. However as the boat heaves in the waves I suspect that if there is a slope the weed will travel down in every wave. At some speeds I can notice this on the existing rudder even though the slope is very slight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
If it is sticking to one side it will be placed in the maximum flow of the weeds as the hull will push the weeds towards your vane's rudder.
Yes. you are correct about this.

/Hans
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