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Old 25-12-2019, 03:19   #1
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Emergency rudder & propulsion

Hello everyone ,

I thought of sharing a project that I think lives in the hearts and minds of many boaters ,.... what to do with rudder/engine loss or failure ?
Imagine losing the rudder or have the engine die on you in the open sea or another inconvenient location , a nightmare for all of us , and the worst thing is , it does happen in the real world .
As most boaters I cherish redundancy systems and act accordingly . The last project was to develop ( for private use !) and E-rudder & E-propulsion system , just in case .

This topic is too extensive ( loads of pics) to also post on this board so if and when the moderators do not mind I would like to paste a link to the Jeanneau proboards forum so you people can have a look , and by all means post any comments , remarks or doubts you see fit .
Please don't think this a hidden advertising for another board by one of its moderators , nor is it bragging or boasting from my part as I value my anonymity and privacy too much . What's in a nickname .
Please see this as a call/request for different opinions , and also as a contribution to the virtual world of sailors /boaters that has become an amazing source of information.

Emergency rudder & emergency propulsion | Jeanneau Owners Forum


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Old 25-12-2019, 06:53   #2
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

That's an elegant and very expensive solution to a very rare problem. Some rudders are vulnerable, and there are rocks out there, and cruisers do occasionally destroy rudders on rocks.

I'm going to play devil's advocate. Don't let it get you down.

Alternatives: Anchor and call for help. Determine that the rudder can be used with an emergency tiller (have a straight to the rudder post tiller). Lash the dinghy on the side and use it as a tugboat. Keep and rig an emergency rudder, like a big oar over the side. Own a boat that has a well-protected rudder, not a spade.

Your solution is better in ways than any of those alternatives, but costs more. Would the more, given other types of failure possible, be better spent on some other type of safety? How much do you invest in personal safety, as in MOB? How much in emergency communications, as in satellite communication? How much in a life raft? How much in two engines with separate fuel supplies?

My state (Florida) spends limited highway funds on the changes to road design that promise the greatest return in lives saved. They spend a fair amount of money determining what those are, such as rumble strips, curve warning signs, and wider shoulders. Ultimately, we put an economic value on a human life.

Beautiful work. It's even pretty.
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Old 25-12-2019, 08:46   #3
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

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what to do with rudder/engine loss or failure ... open sea ?
Engine failure should absolutely not cause a safety issue for a sailing boat, except in extraordinary conditions (like caught in a very strong current in very light winds where you somehow can't anchor or severe storm with big waves pinned inside a horseshoe lee shore).

Rudder failure is more problematic/difficult. If you are building a boat you really have two choices (and can do both) #1 make the main rudder strong as a brick s*&t house - you can make a rudder which will take a dead-on rock impact at speed and survive (I know from experience ). It will be a little bit heavier and a little bit more expensive than a 'normal' one but really not very much so of either in the total context of the boat. And/or #2 build in the capability to swap in a spare rudder easily. Perhaps the best way to do this is have the main rudder in a 'cassette' type structure, where you can just (relatively) easily and quickly slide in a spare blade - the spare blade can be cleverly be stowed as part of a birth or settee.

If you are buying used or 'stock production' which does not have those sort of rudder features, and don't want to make a change (as a note switching to a stronger rudder/rudder structure would take some effort but is not all that hard on an existing boat) . . . . there are all sorts of emergency steering techniques that have been discussed many times. For open ocean work I think most consider a single-element drogue their first choice - for inshore work . . . call a tow .
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Old 25-12-2019, 09:14   #4
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

How many times have I been relieved that my rudder is above its foot (the lowest spot under the boat) and my propeller in front of that? The answer would be embarrassing. All those stuck in the mud incidents in which we shrugged, figured out the route to deeper water, and went there. I know it's a trade off - a spade rudder and a strut mounted propeller would allow for a faster hull - but there is nothing quite like putting your armor around your most vulnerable assets, your propeller and your rudder, particularly if you screw up as often as I do.
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Old 26-12-2019, 01:30   #5
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

tkeithlu ,

this was a diy project and therefor not that expensive you know . I agree , it takes some tools one usually don't find in the average garage like tig welder , lath etc. , but beside that I'm sure this is a project within the capabilities of many , owning a boat eventually converts most boaters into skilled diy'rs , no ?
Money wise this was ok , the biggest expense was the outboard mount , the rest is SS scrap/leftovers , some bolts & nuts , minimum of plywood and epoxy resin with fiberglass mat . A wrap of less than 200$ .

As for storage , everything comes apart and assembles in way that it takes a minimum of time to do so , exactly what emergency situations require .
Next to the additional weight the set stores away nicely in my huge starboard cockpit locker .
I did some youtube homework prior to my design and found many solutions to be overwhelming robust and prominently present . I like redundancy equipment out of sight and not a permanent visible part of the boat .
You are right the investment in safety equipment is crucial , but this approach always results in depending on help from others , my choice is to reduce that dependency and take matters in my own hands when the situation calls for it .

Breaking waves ,

indeed , a sailboat can survive without an engine , but often when the wind drops completely the swell is there to stay and the rolling will drive us nuts when the engine lets you down for whatever reason , so there's sometimes a need of forward drive .
Engine failure is not that uncommon as you know , there are many reasons for it to happen .
I do realize you cannot anticipate or get ahead of all the misfortunes on a boat , it would take a truckload of spare parts for that .
I do believe we can narrow it down to some essentials , and in my view propulsion is one of them .


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Old 26-12-2019, 05:29   #6
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

In a seaway the yacht will pitch..the outboard motor will rise up and cavitate

An emergency rudder is very highly loaded. On a fin keel hull , the rudder provides lateral resistance and it steers the boat .

Once you loose the lateral resistance of the rudder...it has snapped off...the boat will spin like a top around itís fin keel

I donít like the looks of the pictured emergency rudder ...not strong enough

The best solution is always a cassette rudder . Long Rudder Blade stored under a bunk..rudder cassette installed when you put to sea.

The emergency rudder...tiller ...should be set up to receive a tiller autopilot and have a backup block and tackle steering system

Imagine being crouched over on the transom lip, hand steering for the next 1000 miles


If you google emergency cassette rudder you can find correct plans, drawn by a naval architect , for a home built foam core Eglass unit to fit a 40 to 45 foot boat
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Old 26-12-2019, 06:10   #7
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

Good morning, bobs.

I'll say it again, it's elegant, and you should be proud of the job you did. You took on a challenging DIY when you saw a need for your boat and completed it. Whether all boats should be so equipped is really only a issue when you get to the mass market use of limited resources.

I've done similar projects on a smaller scale, although I guess building my own boat was a big one - my need was seaworthiness that if ever actually needed would cost me my marriage. Examples are a system that can flood the engine room with C02 and complex ways of cross-connecting batteries.

I hope that you never need it, but I also hope you also use it from time to time without being in a desperate situation, and reassure yourself that it's there if you do need it.
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Old 26-12-2019, 07:52   #8
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

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and in my view propulsion is one of them .
Sorry, did not mean to sound critical. It’s a nice clean job you have done.

I personally would be ambivalent about the outboard mount, but it can’t hurt to have it. We had engine trouble cruising in S Georgia, and made ourselves prepared to launch the dinghy with outboard as pusher, but just sailed and.never needed it.

The rudder is (to me) more interesting and complex subject. I had a WindPilot plus at one point - the one with the independent rudder. It could steer the boat if the main rudder was locked centerline, but I once dropped the main rudder out of the boat (easy with an accessible spade rudder with lower bearing above water line - as all should be built but few are) and tested the aux rudder. It really missed the extra balance provided by the main rudder. Could steer at slow speed in flat water, but failed if any swell to push the boat around. I also twice broke that aux rudder shaft ( in windvane usage). My conclusion was that rudders are rather more difficult than they seem. But again, can’t hurt to have yours available as a possibility.

Good sailing.
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Old 26-12-2019, 09:26   #9
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

Our boat has twin rudders. While the surviving rudder would be off center, I think it would be adequate to give us considerable control if the other rudder was somehow lost. My bigger concern would be the more likely situation where the rudder was badly bent and made control very difficult. Or where the damage to the rudder cause a hole where water could enter.
As for the engine, my remedy for its loss is on the mast. I would use
my sails.
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Old 27-12-2019, 02:14   #10
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

Slug ,

quite some straight forward remarks , but no harm done , I did ask for comments .
I agree my ' contraption ' looks a bit feeble , considering the brutal forces at hand .
In comparison with the cassette E-rudder shown it looks like a toy , but then my intention to unite the different worlds of E-rudder/drive , dinghy step , hydro generator , differ from that one goal of getting a man's size E-rudder in place .
I did read about this concept but set it aside it being too bulky and not versatile for my needs .
I might regret that one day , however hope I never do .
The cassette just wasn't suitable for the array of applications , choices we all make .

You read my article and no doubt noticed the psychological issues I have using the main engine , from the start of the boat purchase my focus has been on saving the engine as much as possible , not just because a sailboat has to sail , but rather to make it last as long as possible . Many of my boat adaptations and additions are related to preserve the engine .
This kink has also inspired me to reduce the use of the engine arriving at or leaving from the anchorage . As many of you I also try to anchor shortly after dropping the sails or vice versa , a nice feeling of not having to turn the switch/key on arrival or departure
But most of the time a crowded anchorage and subsequently safety requirements does not allow this treat , so the engine has to be engaged.
One cold start equals the wear of 10 hours running , how many times do we cold start per season , that's a lot of hours /wear just for on/off anchorage .
My outboard gets me in and out , experimented it several times but did not mentioned that aspect it in my essay .

What I'm trying to say is that you're probably right all the way , but for my needs a cassette E-rudder would just not fit in .
As for automatic steering the E-rudder I' m still looking for an low-price ( secondhand) autopilot but intend to make the preparations of manipulating the tiller with blocks and ropes from the cockpit area .

I do regret not being aware of the newest gadget in our fascinating world , just yesterday i stumbled upon it and for sure it would of inspired me to have a closer look and perhaps reconsider the application of a cassette E-rudder . This appears to be a peas and carrots story .




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Old 27-12-2019, 02:20   #11
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

tkeithlu ,

building your own boat ?!
In my world that makes you a Jedi knight , I would never be brave enough to take that challenge .


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Old 27-12-2019, 02:30   #12
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

Breaking waves ,

no offence taken , none in the least .
Interesting to read the windvane rudder is not really up to the task to steer the boat ' single handed ' without the stabilizing effect of the ( non active) main rudder I mean.
Reading this puts me off balance a bit with regards to the strength of my E-rudder .
Maybe I should of asked for these remarks before building my setup , but then without the essay on jeanneau proboards there might not of been a reason for people to post what you and others have posted in this thread .
Thanks anyway .

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Old 27-12-2019, 03:15   #13
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

I quite like the idea of the spinnaker pole fastened to the transom rather than used as an oar. "Heya used two steering guys on a spinnaker pole clipped onto a bathing platform. This simple method took the crew 325 miles to their destination with very few problems"

YM did a series on ideas:

https://www.yachtingmonthly.com/sail...steering-30065

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Old 27-12-2019, 08:46   #14
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Re: Emergency rudder & propulsion

If you start an engine then you should run it until it gets up to operating temp. And you should use an engine periodically if you want it to last.
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