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Old 14-04-2021, 11:19   #1
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How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

Let's say there are storm-force winds and you're close-hauled and making leeway with your bow about 50 degrees from the wind. You've got a sea anchor set and you're currently staying leeward of the boat's slick. On either side of the slick, large steep waves.

Aside from getting hit by some submerged object (e.g. whale, shipping container, Aquaman...), what are some ways your rudder could get broken or disabled in such situations? I've heard the force of sliding sideways down a wave could do it. What about broaching or rolling? And how likely is this while hove-to?

Also (super newbie question): how would you know your rudder is f***ed up? Would the wheel feel "jammed" or would it spin loosely as you try to steer?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 14-04-2021, 11:40   #2
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pirate Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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Originally Posted by FantasyIsland View Post
Let's say there are storm-force winds and you're close-hauled and making leeway with your bow about 50 degrees from the wind. You've got a sea anchor set and you're currently staying leeward of the boat's slick. On either side of the slick, large steep waves.

Aside from getting hit by some submerged object (e.g. whale, shipping container, Aquaman...), what are some ways your rudder could get broken or disabled in such situations? I've heard the force of sliding sideways down a wave could do it. What about broaching or rolling? And how likely is this while hove-to?

Also (super newbie question): how would you know your rudder is f***ed up? Would the wheel feel "jammed" or would it spin loosely as you try to steer?

Thanks in advance.
Hove to your wheel/tiller is lashed 3/4 or so over depending on how the boat performs best.. an extra large wave breaking could throw you back with enough force to bend the stock with the right combination of cross waves.
You would not be aware of it happening till the storm had passed and you wanted to get underway again.
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Old 14-04-2021, 17:05   #3
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

Boats that have hung off a drogue from the bow in bad storms have been thrown back by a wave and damaged the rudder beyond repair at sea. Those were in survival conditions worse than what would normally be the case with heaving-to. I'd be more worried about getting rolled as you'd be pretty close to beam onto the waves when hove-to
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Old 15-04-2021, 04:43   #4
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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Hove to your wheel/tiller is lashed 3/4 or so over depending on how the boat performs best.. an extra large wave breaking could throw you back with enough force to bend the stock with the right combination of cross waves.
You would not be aware of it happening till the storm had passed and you wanted to get underway again.
Thanks! And with the rudderstock bent, there'd be no way to steer, true? Unless one knew how to do so using sails alone (if possible)?
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Old 15-04-2021, 05:05   #5
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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Boats that have hung off a drogue from the bow in bad storms have been thrown back by a wave and damaged the rudder beyond repair at sea. Those were in survival conditions worse than what would normally be the case with heaving-to. I'd be more worried about getting rolled as you'd be pretty close to beam onto the waves when hove-to
I have to admit I'm confused about drogues vs. para-anchors. Are these just different names used for the same device, but in different circumstances? Or are they essentially different? Are both referred to as "sea anchors"? Google isn't helping me...

Also, I'm reading Storm Tactics (Lin & Larry Pardey) and they describe using a para-anchor to keep the boat not quite beam-to but in a beating position by using a pennant line. I'm attaching an image of their diagram. With this setup, it seems like it might be harder to get rolled though not impossible. Thoughts?
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Old 15-04-2021, 08:23   #6
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

Are you still trying to write a sailing novel?

You have your terms reasonably badly understood/confused here.

#1 Most people in actual storm force winds will have no sail set. Storm force conditions are (fortunately) actually quite rare. Most people who talk about sails being set are really talking about gale conditions. Many (perhaps most) people who sail around the world in the tropics don't even ever see actual storm-force winds at sea. You can have sails set depending on specific circumstances - we have forereached in such conditions . . . but bare poles is more commonly the solution when you get to actual storm force.

#2 'Close-hauled' usually means sailing to windward . . . it usually does not mean hove-to, nor sitting to a para-anchors (with sails or bare poled). It would be rather rare to be sailing close-hauled into actual storm-force winds - about the best even good boats can manage in those sorts of conditions is close reaching with pinching up to close-hauled at the top of the waves (see reports on the sydney to hobart race to see examples of this).

Note when 'hove-to', you often (but not always) have a backed storm jib. To prevent sailing up too close and to prevent gaining too much speed.

#3 The Pardey approach is hmmm . . . lets says say somewhat controversial. They had a quite distinctive/unusual boat, which was suited to that particular approach and it is generally felt to be less suitable for other more common cruising boats. Their boat was small (so the para-anchor was easy to handle/easier to handle that para-anchors suited to more common bigger boats). Their boat had an 'inefficient keel and rudder, meaning that it did not sail very close to the wind, which helps a boat stay hove-to because it means the boat will not sail up close, but most more common fin keel spade rudder boats are less comfortable in that attitude. And their boat did not run off well (the rudder gave poor control and it would tend to go sideways to the wave faces), again unlike the more common fin keel/spade rudder designs which tend to (not all of them) run off better.

The 'slick' the pardey's talk about is also somewhat 'controversial. You should go look at some of the videos taken from helos during the sydney to hobart storm, and think about how much 'slick' is going to exist, and how long it is going to exist in the breaking water, and how 'easy' it is going to be to actually keep your boat in that zone - in those sorts of truly huge wave conditions. There is certainly some effect from the para-anchor and hull on the waves . . but how useful that effect is in actual storm conditions is hmmm debatable.

This can be debated at length . . . but currently I would suggest, for the more common cruising boat designs, the generally preferred storm system is a 'long series' drogue (eg 'jorden series drogue" and similar concepts). The Pardey approach is not commonly used (it is not widely recommended even by most para-anchor manufacturers) - this is a debate about details of the pardey approach I have not even gotten into here (like their using a much smaller para-anchor than typically recommended to allow the boat to 'give', and the challenges in engineering their suggested bridle system to sustain the requited storm-force loads).

#4 Para-anchors and drogues are different devices. Para-anchors tend to be set off the bows, and tend to be big enough to intend to 'stop' the boat in the water. Drogues tend to be set off the stern and tend to have smaller surface area with the intent of preventing the boat from surfing but still allowing it to move at some speed. Drogues can be either 'single-element' or 'few element' or 'long series' designs depending on how many drag elements are on the rode while papa-anchors all (that I am aware of) are single element.

Now, as to how a rudder could get broken . . . . The force when a boat on a para-anchor is thrown suddenly backwards by a wave can be quite high . . . as mentioned above that can bend the rudder stock, but it also can break the connection between the rudder stock and the blade (often there are some bars welded to the stock inside the rudder and those welds can snap). Usually, when sitting on a para-anchor you have the rudder 'lashed down/locked off' and you will not know the rudder is broken until after you try to get sailing again. This whole broken rudder thing is one of the reasons leaning people toward the currnt preference for drogues (along with some challenges retrieving para-anchors).
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Old 15-04-2021, 09:32   #7
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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Originally Posted by FantasyIsland View Post
Let's say there are storm-force winds and you're close-hauled and making leeway with your bow about 50 degrees from the wind. You've got a sea anchor set and you're currently staying leeward of the boat's slick. On either side of the slick, large steep waves.
1) You're either close-hauled and sailing OR Hove To, OR sitting on a sea anchor. You're not all three. Clos-hauled and sailing is sailing. Hove To, is sitting with the use of a sails and rudder angle. A Sea Anchor is a sea anchor. The last two can be used to ride out the storm, but it is one or the other.

2) If you're hove to, there would only be a 'slick' on one side (the leeward side) of the boat.

3) You don't 'make leeway'. You make way and have leeway (sideways slip). It would be the lateral drift off of course, such as the wind pushing you off course. I suppose if you are hove to, you could consider that leeway as well, I suppose, but you don't really have a course to be pushed off of in that case.
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Old 15-04-2021, 09:59   #8
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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2) If you're hove to, there would only be a 'slick' on one side (the leeward side) of the boat.
Thanks for the clarifications. Is "wake" preferable to "slick" in this sense? Also, when hove-to, the wake/slick should be to the windward side, not leeward, yes? Leeward being the side sheltered from the wind (or downwind).

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3) You don't 'make leeway'. You make way and have leeway (sideways slip). It would be the lateral drift off of course, such as the wind pushing you off course. I suppose if you are hove to, you could consider that leeway as well, I suppose, but you don't really have a course to be pushed off of in that case.
Hmm. Not to argue, but I've read "making leeway" is a common term in sailing. Found this in hardcover sailing instruction books and googling. Usage example:
Quote:
when “beating” into the wind, most sailboats move a little bit sideways as well as ahead. Sailors call this “making leeway”
This is not to discount leeway as a noun as well. And point taken about the course.
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Old 15-04-2021, 10:06   #9
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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Are you still trying to write a sailing novel?
Yes, though it isn't a sailing novel as much as a novel about someone who was sailing and then wound up someplace...strange. I read your entire post and want to thank you for taking the time to write it. Definitely useful!

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#3 The Pardey approach is hmmm . . . lets says say somewhat controversial.
Ah. That's good to know. This is why I'm seeking multiple sources of expertise.
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Old 15-04-2021, 11:42   #10
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

Rudders best get damaged while underway by hitting some unknown submerged object like a container or some maintenance error where it falls off. If you're still going the with a HR-44 and twin rudders, bad maintenance would be negligent on the skipper's part. Having it damaged in other ways is going to be a stretch without much benefit if the story isn't centred around this.

If the rudder is damaged before the storm, heaving to will be hard. If the boat is prepared, they'll probably deploy their drogue to weather the storm (perhaps a little too late after the knockdown damaging whatever else you have in store for them). If they don't have a drogue, they'll have hell of a time bare-poled, add as many knockdowns and damage as desired.

A damaged rudder and a storm-front arriving makes for lots of drama and stress.

Have you decided how you deal with the EPIRB every boat has to have to call for help? (Help which will take some time like a few days and won't be able to do much in storm anyway). It's just a good exit to get them out of the story where they end up on a Liberian freighter with Russian crew and the beautiful HR-44 gets scuttled.
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Old 17-04-2021, 10:12   #11
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Re: How might a rudder get disabled while a boat is hove-to?

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This is why I'm seeking multiple sources of expertise.
You could find the diametrically opposed perspective in Steve Dashew's heavy weather book' . . and that reflects his diametrically different choice in boats.

And you could find a third perspective (but much closer to the dashews than the pardey's) if you looked up Ship Novak's heavy weather videos, again mostly reflecting his choices in boats.

We were somewhat 'in the middle' (my wife wrote a couple of books including one which covered our heavy weather mindset). We believed cruisers with a somewhat typical cruising boat should know all and be able to use all the techniques depending on the circumstances. Our first boat (a centerboard ketch) hove-to very well and that was our first choice, but we would switch to other techniques when the situation demanded (like being caught in the gulf stream in a blow when it does not make sense to sit there hove-to when you can dramatically decrease the wave height and bad shape by running off 50 miles out of the stream). Our send boat did not heave-to well but did both forereach and run-off very nicely and our first choice was to forereach if our destination was upwind or run if our destination was downwind. And we would use drogues when the circumstances dictated (when we did not want to boat to surf). We carried a para-anchor, in case we did not have sea room to run off, but we only 'practiced' with it in gale conditions and never used it 'in anger' (full storm) - it was not easy to use and we would prefer almost any other solution.

As to damage in storms . . . . often it is caused by the boat being slammed sideways by a cresting wave. The wave might cause some damage by itself (like ripping life raft off deck mounting) but usually the more severe damage is on the side opposite the wave which gets thrown down on the water (which is non-compressible) - often windows are broken and sometimes deckhouse structure is damaged (was more frequent on wooden boats but we know some fiberglass ones that have experienced it).

And there can be rig damage - either due to high wind loading on a part that was not well maintained or had a hiddent flaw . . or when the rig hots the water in a knockdown (different from a roll over - one is to around 90 degrees and the other to around 180 degrees). Heavy objects inside the boat can break loose in a knockdown or roll - batteries, stove, engine, etc.

And it is not at all uncommon to get quite a bit of water in the boat, from various sources /leaks, which can short out electronics and just make a general mess of things. If you get enough free water (like a couple feet) inside the boat, then its sloshing back and forth due to waves outside can break bulkheads and such.
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