Steering goes south while tacking - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-20-2010
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Steering goes south while tacking

What would you do when the steering goes south ...... while tacking?

After all nite sailing up the Bay at around 6 am just off Cove Point, while tacking to avoid the barge coming aft on the port side, the steering cable/chain broke. I lost control of the boat and heading to the collision course with the barge.

Here is what I did:
I immediately let go both sails
I started the engine
Then i don't know what else I can do except watching the boat get closer the barge. I saw the wind blew the bow toward the barge. I tightened the head sail and let the boat swing completely around and step on the throttle. I missed the barge just 150 yards. It was a close call. I was lucky.

Besides not waiting until the last minute to tack, what else would you do in this situation.

I need to learn how to handle this better
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Old 09-20-2010
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I'd love to hear replies to this. I was in the ship channel, absolutely no wind, and my motor quit. I started drifting towards a huge barge and had no way to steer or anything. Like a scene in a movie, when I was about 20 feet away I got the engine going again and avoided a collision.
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Old 09-20-2010
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In your situation, you may have time to call on 16. I don't know. In my situation, I didn't have a chance to call.
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Old 09-20-2010
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Does your boat have an emergency tiller? Mine does and it connects directly to the rudder post so you can directly move the rudder. That said, it would take me a few minutes to deploy it even though its close at hand. Just unscrewing the cover would take a minute or so, so it might not have been much help in the situation you describe. I guess Murphy's Law says if you're steering chain breaks it will do so near a dock or another vessel.
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Old 09-20-2010
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I have to say your VHF is your friend...always have it on and ready to transmit or receive especially at night...it doesnt take more then 10 seconds...what else can you do in 10 seconds?

In a situation like that forget protocol... Something like this will do..

" Pan pan pan..To the barge headed north in xxx.bay the sail boat directly in front of you will luffing sails has lost all steering repeat we have lost all steering please acknowledge"

I know some boats don't have a lot of power on board but at 99.00 a base unit VHF to me seems like one of the best investments any boat can have...and worth a dedicated battery and small solar trickle charger or shore power charger...Hand helds are ok but I dont trust them in an emergancy.

Quick access to one fired up and ready to go let me warn a large trawler steaming up Swinomish channel of a small sail boats grounding situation on the rocks... and he throttled down just in time to keep from totally washing the poor guy high and dry possibly holing his boat.
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Last edited by Stillraining; 09-20-2010 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 09-20-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midlifesailor View Post
Does your boat have an emergency tiller? Mine does and it connects directly to the rudder post so you can directly move the rudder. That said, it would take me a few minutes to deploy it even though its close at hand. Just unscrewing the cover would take a minute or so, so it might not have been much help in the situation you describe. I guess Murphy's Law says if you're steering chain breaks it will do so near a dock or another vessel.
I got my emergency tiller in place after the barge passed me. But not able to deploy in time. The barge did know I was in trouble.
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Old 09-20-2010
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Depends

I don't have much to add but... it depends a lot on how close and how fast that barge was approaching. (They are usually going a lot faster than they appear)

It sounds like you did the right thing and you were lucky the motor started. (luck may not have much to do with it, you may keep your motor in good shape)

True, VHF is very important BUT in many cases (depending how far the barge was) a call isn't going to matter much other than alerting the tugboat that he is going to have a lot of paperwork to do after he runs you down. In most cases the barge isn't going to be able to maneuver or stop in time. It's going to be your responsibility to get out of the way. If you had a second person on board, by all means try to let the tugboat captain what is going on, as you try to get out of the way.
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Old 09-20-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post

" Pan pan pan..To the barge headed north in xxx.bay the sail boat directly in front of you will luffing sails has lost all steering repeat we have lost all steering please acknowledge"
Thanks, I will practice this from now on. English is not my first language
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I lost stearing once motoring into our marina. I used the throttle and transmission lever to stop my forward progress and keep from hitting anything as my wife got the emergency tiller out and I rigged it up. We didn't have a barge coming at us, but now everyone knows where the emergency tiller is stored and what it looks like in case I ask for it again.
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Old 09-20-2010
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Yikes ! If it wasn't too deep, I might drop anchor until I could get the engine going or the barge out of the way
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