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Old 03-01-2013
JonEisberg JonEisberg is offline
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

I believe any of those who seem to feel that they could have simply "balanced the sails", and continued on to their destination is grossly underestimating the challenge they faced... They had only just begun one of the most boisterous tradewinds passages in the world, one that routinely busts up gear on even some of the best-found and most well-prepared boats... That particular crew, on that particular boat, seemed to not be up to such a task, and in my estimation probably made the right call to abandon... Or, in other words, that crew and that boat should have probably not been there to begin with - for a more capable, prepared, and resourceful crew might have gotten that boat to the Caribbean...

Hell, with sufficient provisioning and water, simply lying ahull would fetch you up somewhere, eventually... But in my estimation, the way to have dealt with such a situation would be to configure a twin headsail or twistle rig - which was the tradewinds rig of sailors like the Hisocks and Smeetons due to its inherent downwind self-steering capability, long before the advent of efficient, powerful autopilots, or the servo-pendulum windvane... Coupled with a drogue, that boat could have made steady, if not slow, progress towards the islands, at least until some form of steering assist might have been fashioned... One of the reasons I think a Jordan Series Drogue should be aboard any passagemaking boat, it would serve perfectly as a steering drogue, easily adjustable to suit the conditions...

A simple sloop rig like that CS, however, they probably did not have the gear to effect a twin headsail rig... Even a cutter rig should carry 2 poles, IMHO, to better configure something close to a twin rig, and such a prospect in lighter air is a good argument in favor of having a Code 0, as well...

I think this incident is a decent argument in favor of windvane steering, as well... Some units - like Scanmar's Monitor or the Hydrovane, can easily be modified to serve as an emergency rudder...

With some sort of twin head rig - a sail configuration that tends to PULL a boat downwind, rather than PUSHING it - that boat likely would have been saved...

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