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Old 07-05-2020, 19:14   #1
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DIY emergency steering drogue

So, I sail a boat with a modern high aspect spade rudder. No long keel heavy displacement safe rudder here! And the thought of losing the rudder worries me. The latest incident is here: https://coastguardnews.com/coast-gua...da/2020/05/01/ -- a perfectly functional boat abandoned due to steerage issues.


Some tests have been done using a Galerider drogue for steering, with what seems to be rather exceptional results. Yes, I know, it's a lousy solution -- but most other suggestions are even worse. I think if I had this aboard, I'd sleep better. Problem is, the 30" drogue (suitable for my 43' boat) is around $700! That's a lot of change for not much product -- and something you hope never to use. Yes, I know, safety is never too expensive -- but money doesn't grow on trees.


Seems to me that the product has about 10' of 1x19 wire (what, $10?), about 50' of 2" webbing (another $50), a swivel (OK, that's serious money), and some odd and ends. Tops, $200, probably closer to $150.


Anyone ever made one? Is there another less well know brand that isn't as expensive? Is it "patented" or otherwise non-copy-able? Thoughts?


Harry
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Old 07-05-2020, 19:49   #2
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

Having crewed on a big boat with a spade rudder that did fall off, and having tried in the dark to rig a set-up you are considering, I am really lukewarm on the whole idea. Maybe some have gotten it to work ok, but it seemed to me you need more leverage than just the beam of the boat. In our case we had more luck actually sailing the boat rudderless, which was a good deal of work. We finally had it going pretty well on 2 upwind points, and we could tack, but it was a workout! Have you thought of installing a self-steering vane that can double as a spare rudder? In any case there are videos out there, here is one:

As you may be able to see, deploying this in rough conditions will be a challenge. In this video I see a lot of ways for things to go wrong.

I should amend this by saying that spade rudder just falling off is extremely rare,(and in our case was due to some uncorrected damage to the rudder!) so rare that the more you sail and see everything is fine, the better you'll sleep.
On the Salmon River we have big rafts with giant sweep oars. I'd be more inclined to think of a way to rig up a version of that off the transom as a rudder with guy lines to control it and keep it from flailing around.
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Old 07-05-2020, 20:23   #3
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

On your Saga 43 I might also check into mounting beefy gudgeons on the transom and consider an emergency rudder that can be bolted together at sea and mounted on the gudgeons. It wouldn't be very big, but it would certainly be something I'd research before planning on a drogue.
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Old 08-05-2020, 04:54   #4
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

Don,


Yes, I've seen that video and also the better one done on a Swan 44 using a Galerider. And, yes, not an easy situation no matter how you play it.


The link I included in my OP was yet another boat abandoned offshore due to loss of steering. Not sure exactly WHAT, and if it could have been fixed, and if any emergency system would have worked.


I've contemplated several options.
* The original owner had a Monitor vane installed. The next owner removed it to install the arch. So I think that installing one is not an option. (The Monitor, of course, provides no help in a loss of steering).
* Due to the sugar scoop/walk through transom, mounting an alternative rudder is a challenge, but I've read some good articles on how to build one. Certainly something I'm still considering. If it could be done, it would be the best answer.
* Given the extremely low risk, spending a lot of money, sacrificing a lot of storage, and buggering up the back of the boat, seem like a poor cost/risk analysis.


But it is a subject of great discussion in my mind, and worthy of much discussion in general. Even if it's just an excuse to sit down and drink a beer.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:00   #5
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

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Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
So, I sail a boat with a modern high aspect spade rudder. No long keel heavy displacement safe rudder here! And the thought of losing the rudder worries me. The latest incident is here: https://coastguardnews.com/coast-gua...da/2020/05/01/ -- a perfectly functional boat abandoned due to steerage issues.
Harry
Though the article cited doesn’t give the name or design of the boat, your example looks like it might have a "long keel, heavy displacement safe rudder”. The article also doesn’t say what the actual issue was, but a rudder malfunction could happen to anyone. Thinking up how one might rig up a steering drogue might be worthwhile, though trying it out might not give you accurate results unless you can unship your working rudder.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:18   #6
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

I believe that rudder loss is quite rare, more likely to happen is some sort of damage that can jam the rudder to one side or the other, and that may not not be possible to overcome.

However a Galerider at least on our IP will work pretty well. I didn’t watch the linked to video but it sure looks as if they are attaching the lines of the stern cleats, and if so that won’t work very well, at least not on our full keel, maybe on a fin keel as they are less stable.

However if you attach one end of the line to a midship cleat and the other end of the line around the other midships cleat and run it back to the sheet winch it will work surprisingly good.
I’ve never heard of a rudder failure on an older IP as the system is extremely simple, but why not be set incase your the first?

However I can tell you the forces put on a Galerider are surprisingly high, if you homebrew one be sure it’s strapping is extremely strong and the opening is around some pretty good sized rigging cable, rigging cancel is stiff and will hold the “mouth” open no matter what, and be sure that your mid ship cleats are very strong and well mounted.

The Galerider will take us down from 5 kts to about 3. It doesn’t stop the boat, remember that it’s resistance isn’t linear with speed, it’s resistance goes way up with speed and of course comes way down with speed, so it’s not going to stop the boat. I can get somewhere at 3 kts, just takes longer of course. I have not tried it in bad weather, but deployment is easy, just be sure you have nothing ends of the rope attached and set correct then drop it overboard.
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:58   #7
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

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Originally Posted by psk125 View Post
Though the article cited doesn’t give the name or design of the boat, your example looks like it might have a "long keel, heavy displacement safe rudder”. The article also doesn’t say what the actual issue was, but a rudder malfunction could happen to anyone. Thinking up how one might rig up a steering drogue might be worthwhile, though trying it out might not give you accurate results unless you can unship your working rudder.
Yes, this incident appears to be a loss of steering CONTROL, and not a loss of rudder. Which could be worse -- if the rudder is locked hard over, there's no overcoming that. And I suspect that badly bent rudder shafts are a bigger concern (especially on a spade rudder) than complete loss of rudder. A rudder can only be "lost" if the cross bolt comes out (or in my case, several, including the various quadrants), or the webbing shears off the shaft. But a nice log can bend it beyond workable use.


The Swan that demonstrated the drogue belonged to a boatyard owner. So he had the ability to inexpensively drop and replace his rudder. Nice luxury! LOL
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:57   #8
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
* Due to the sugar scoop/walk through transom, mounting an alternative rudder is a challenge, but I've read some good articles on how to build one. Certainly something I'm still considering. If it could be done, it would be the best answer.
So actually I see the scoop and walk-through as a real advantage when it comes to mounting a spare rudder. Someone can be positioned out on the step and another in the cockpit to lower the rudder into place in the gudgeons. Or actually, for your design, I like the one shown at the bottom of this article with the outboard tiller. If it were me, that's the one I'd look to. It looks easier to instal and break down for storage and really, probably nearly as effective as the original rudder.
https://www.sailmagazine.com/diy/kno...rgency-rudders
By the way, we tried rigging a steering oar with the spinnaker pole and a hatch lid too that the article mentions, but with the spinnaker pole of a 65 foot boat and the boat pitching, that pole was flying around and we nearly killed ourselves! So that idea died quickly before we did any damage to ourselves or the boat.
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Old 08-05-2020, 10:10   #9
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

  • It's more about knowing how than the specific product. I've tested pretty much all of them (for storm and steering) and although there are differences, they all work. I've even tested steering using a DIY rig of anchors and chain hanging under fenders.
[Ideally, there would be considerable weight under each fender--that is what creates the drag. However, this rig was used across 1500 miles of the Pacific.]



  • Drag is adjusted by hauling the drogue in (less drag) or letting it out (more drag). In light winds you haul it right in to the transom.
  • If I were going to build my own (which I do not recommend), I would build a Delta Drogue. It is the simplest to construct. I have hand sewn a scale model of a Gale Rider (to compare to the full-size version that I had) and I can tell you the high price is justified. It's a pain. Every other model is simpler. But the Gale Rider is the smoothest. The Shark is probably the easiest to deploy in storm conditions.
  • Loads will be a few hundred pounds steering, up to a ton in storms, and it will have to last.

Finally, even if you have an emergency rudder, you may want to rig something like this to stabilize the boat while you install it. It is easy to rig in any conditions and will stop the crazy yawing and rolling.
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:06   #10
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

Don,


I think I've read that linked article before, but forgot. It's good stuff, thanks! The last one, that fabrication of windsurf stuff, doesn't make sense to me (not saying it doesn't work, but that I don't understand it). However, the sail rudder is rather brilliant, and as you indicated, might work well on my boat. Would need a substantial rudder post, something down low installed permanently (ugh), and something up high, which could even be on our arch. Wonder if our 4" carbon fiber spinnaker pole could be pressed into service as a rudder post? Otherwise, storing that part could be a challenge.


Thin,


I was hoping you'd chime in. I know you are a huge fan of throwing stuff overboard and seeing the results, so I figured you'd have good things to say. Yes, the loads on a drogue would be high, and it's why I hesitate to make one. I also hope never to need one, so buying and storing a solution presents lots of opportunity costs. This makes your Rube Goldberg contraption look especially tempting -- if it can be done with gear on board, and get us home (regardless of how ineffectively), then it's a win. Sit down and write a procedure, verify all parts are present, and file it away.



Thanks all for comments -- and looking forward to more.


Harry
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:15   #11
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

There are cheaper options. Although this link is a UK firm, they are also sold perhaps made in Aus:

https://www.oceanchandlery.com/seabrake.html
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:10   #12
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

I met a couple in Hiva Oa that spent 50 days sailing 3000 miles without a rudder.
They had lots of time to experiment and tried several methods, finally settling on fastening their spin pole across the transom and setting a bucket on a bridle thru the poles ends. This dramatically increased the leverage, therefore needing less drag to control the direction. Also they could steer by hand pulling the continuous line across the cockpit without using a winch. The biggest problem was that was the only pole and sailing DDW with just a jib not poled out, main gave too much weather helm, it was slow going for their 28' 60's sloop.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:17   #13
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

We have a skep mounted rudder and I drilled a 3/4" hole at the bottom close to the trailing edge. This is to clip a line to if the steering fails.The line(s) port and aft run over the side s of the stern for pulling the rudder to steer.
Bill


Thanks all for comments -- and looking forward to more.


Harry[/QUOTE]
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:20   #14
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

I thought this looked simple, cheap and do-able:
https://pacificcup.org/sites/default...s/rudder_1.pdf
Instead of permanent fittings on the transom you just need to lash the 2x4 top and bottom and the gudgeons are mounted on that. That could be easy to stow too. Certainly inexpensive.
And the soft rudder, I hadn't seen that but that looks promising too:
https://pacificcup.org/kb/emergency-...ign-guidelines
but if you had the space for the rudder to stow below and you didn't mind the three fittings mounted permanently on the transom, I'd still be thinking about the one I mentioned earlier.
(clearly I'm not interested in dragging drogues! sorry!)
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:40   #15
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Re: DIY emergency steering drogue

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... The biggest problem was that was the only pole and sailing DDW with just a jib not poled out, main gave too much weather helm, it was slow going for their 28' 60's sloop.

This highlights an important point. Sail balance is critical. close reaching (yes you can sail slightly to windward with drogue steering) requires the main, but as soon as you go far off the wind the main should come down. Less steering drag is more helpful than the extra power.
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