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Old 02-27-2013
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Alex W Alex W is offline
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Re: Loss of Steering

I still don't understand if you are talking about loss of steerage, where the boat mechanically works but you can't turn it, or loss of steering where the actual steering hardware has failed (for instance your rudder fell off).

The former is very common and you'll learn how to recover from it in classes. The key is to have the boat moving through the water as other's have mentioned. The normal way to loose steering is to end up in irons and you'll learn how to backwind the sails to point the boat and get speed and thus steerage again.

Loss of steering hardware is a much more rare occurance and the right way to avoid it is to maintain the boat. A boat with wheel steering should always have an emergency tiller that can be used. For wheel or tiller steering an important part of every haul out is inspecting and maintaining the steering system. You should still learn how to steer with the sails (that helps for broad turns) and may be able to improvise and emergency rudder and tiller (using a paddle for instance) for tighter steering in port to correct the situation. The sailing classes that I took taught me how to steer with the sails, but I don't know how common that is. It is also a helpful skill for learning how to balance the sails when they come out of balance (coming out of balance is the same as steering with the sails).
boats that I sail on regularly: Pearson 28-2, Rondar 505, Yankee 30, Blanchard Junior
Seattle, WA
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