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  #31  
Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
I think I have to put myself in the don't leave the boat camp. If it were my wife and I, I would imagine we would make an effort to get somewhere and downwind would be the direction to go. I have to think you could manage two plus knots in a fairly controlled manner, at least close enough to get towed in. You mention that it would take two extra weeks -- so? When you leave on a passage you typically have lots of food onboard. As for water, this is a part of the ocean where afternoon showers happen pretty often. The comfort level might go down, but survival is not an issue.
In 2006, the J-44 FIRST LIGHT was abandoned approximately 1000 miles from Barbados on a passage from the Canaries, after a rudder failure... Very experienced sailors, winding up a circumnavigation, one of the reasons cited for abandoning was a medical condition of the owner's, that might have been exacerbated by an exceptionally long passage time... They hitched a ride on a passing yacht, which happened to be bound for their intended destination - Barbados...

After arriving in Barbados, they flew home to California... Three weeks later, FIRST LIGHT washed up on a beach...

On Barbados...



So, on this particular passage, I think it's safe to assume that a rudderless yacht with a crew aboard might be expected to make it across the Atlantic as well as one with no crew whatsoever... Or, perhaps not...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinook View Post
I don't think survival is the issue. Sure they could have survived, but what's the difference in risk levels between abandoning ship and continuing the trip without a rudder? Is it REALLY worth it?

If their only option was to continue, I'm sure they would have survived, there have been plenty of incidents where people in this same situation have either jury rigged a rudder or survived without. I don't really think survival is the issue, but the level of risk they assumed changed when their rudder broke.
Well, if 'survival' is not the issue, what WAS the real risk, here? Discomfort? Invconvenience? Having to strictly ration provisions, and the possibility of weight loss? Running out of books on Kindle, or DVDs to watch, culminating in Terminal Boredom?

Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that GPS Hath Wrought... Without it, or an EPIRB and the likelihood of an AMVER-coordinated rescue, these folks likely would never be attempting to sail across an ocean to begin with... Chalk this one up to another "GPS enabled" incident, in my book...

Miles and Beryl Smeeton - among countless other voyagers who have faced far greater challenges at sea in small boats - would be shaking their heads in wonder, today...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 03-02-2013 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 03-02-2013
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

The YBW video that Denise posted is very informative. The lashed spin-pole tiller was obviously very effective - and brilliant.

BUT, no way am I going to fault this guy for pulling the plug. I mean, c'mon you guys, 600nm or 1300nm to a destination and you're talking buckets, crew weight, wing-n-wing, drogues, and lashed tillers? No freakin' way.

The drogue would slow you to 1-2 knots (that's about a month to the closest destination)...the lashed tiller would mean you're hand-steering (nominally) 24 hours a day...and the wing-n-wing would only let you go where the wind is blowing. The buckets and body english are silly in this context.

That video makes it clear that these techniques are great for moving a boat over a realtively short distance in an emergency situation. It's not about making a freakin' passage without a rudder. Granted, if you want to go all Slocum you could do any of the above for 1300nm and 2-3 months (assuming you had the food/water/ability-to-get-it to survive). But if you (or your crew) are anything less than JSlo, you're calling AMVER. Let's be realistic here.

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Last edited by smackdaddy; 03-02-2013 at 11:11 PM.
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
The YBW video that Denise posted is very informative. The lashed spin-pole tiller was obviously very effective - and brilliant.

BUT, no way am I going to fault this guy for pulling the plug. I mean, c'mon you guys, 600nm or 1300nm to a destination and you're talking buckets, crew weight, wing-n-wing, drogues, and lashed tillers? No freakin' way.

The drogue would slow you to 1-2 knots (that's about a month to the closest destination)...the lashed tiller would mean you're hand-steering (nominally) 24 hours a day...and the wing-n-wing would only let you go where the wind is blowing. The buckets and body english are silly in this context.
The wind, and current - as a quick glance at a Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic for February would indicate - will generally be taking them directly towards the Lesser Antilles, presumably their original destination... In winter trades, surely such a boat could make better than 1-2 knots DDW, towing a modest amount of drogue... Even the "passage" of the abandoned FIRST LIGHT, left to lie ahull for the final 1000 miles, only added 3 weeks to the overall passage time...

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
That video makes it clear that these techniques are great for moving a boat over a realtively short distance in an emergency situation. It's not about making a freakin' passage without a rudder. Granted, if you want to go all Slocum you could do any of the above for 1300nm and 2-3 months (assuming you had the food/water/ability-to-get-it to survive). But if you (or your crew) are anything less than JSlo, you're calling AMVER. Let's be realistic here.
You're right, that crew obviously incapable of toughing it out, as would be many other sailors today... But it would certainly be worth attempting, to some - and many, many sailors could have pulled it off...

These folks did... The couple sailing the Sweden 390 EGRET lost their rudder on the same passage a few years ago, and stuck with the boat... It appears the prospect of abandoning her never even crossed their minds... they lost steerage 1500 miles out of Martinique, and yet still managed to complete their 2200 NM passage in 26 days, a most impressive achievement...

Oh, well - perhaps only True Brits are capable of such resourcefulness, and resolve, eh? (grin)

cic.oceancruisingclub.org/publications/2736
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Last edited by JonEisberg; 03-03-2013 at 12:07 AM.
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

I think it's true that some sort of emergency provisions should have been made for the 'loss of rudder' possibility, and that the abandonment, on the face of it, seemed premature if not unnecessary.

I think the biggest thing that we MMQBs simply cannot fully appreciate is the stress, discomfort and resulting state of mind of the skipper and crew aboard at the time of the crisis. As with the incident in the Bahamas a couple of years back that had more dire consequences, that skipper made decisions that in hindsight seemed irredeemingly bad, but without having been there at that time and seen the 'scene' we can never truly know what we'd do in the same circumstance. We all know what we think would be right, and hope we'd be able to do 'right', but none of us were 'there'...

I do agree with Jon that the modern era has made it much (too much?) easier for less prepared sailors to tackle more arduous passages, and probably creates a false sense of 'can do', along with the high expectation of a bail out if things don't go as well as hoped.

Wondering, Killarney, what you and June have for a concrete 'backup' plan for this eventuality?
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

I would like to again recommend this thread for anyone who hasn't read it, if for no other reason than to read Robert Gainer's thoughts on boat balance (Page 3). There were a few people in this thread who actually lost steering and wrote about what they did in response to it, interesting and informative.

Making Passage w/o a Rudder
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

I agree with Jons acessment

So I have to ask for a show of hands which among you would have taken on a voyage on a 36 ft CS from Portuagal to the Carribean Captain of this vessel knowing what you do about the previous rudder problem and also knowing that the other 2 crew memebrs were novices?

Which among you would have taken a position of first mate ( crew) with this Captain knowing the other two crew were novices?

The issue here is not should they abandon ship, but should they ever have left the dock.
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
It just seems that more tenacity was in order before abandoning the boat but it's easy to armchair quarterback without really knowing all the details of their decision.
I totally agree. On that note though.

I dont see how hard it would have been to lash an ore to the spinnaker pole. and then loose lash the pole to the backstay as a temporary rudder to turn back. From what I saw of the photos that is a fairly well equipped vessel, items to make that kind of temp rudder should be on hand.
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

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Originally Posted by SirRedemption View Post
I totally agree. On that note though.

I dont see how hard it would have been to lash an ore to the spinnaker pole. and then loose lash the pole to the backstay as a temporary rudder to turn back. From what I saw of the photos that is a fairly well equipped vessel, items to make that kind of temp rudder should be on hand.
That would be relatively simple, actually - although getting it to hold together for the duration of a passage would likely be a challenge... (Good argument for having a Band-It tool aboard, far more secure than lashings for such a repair) The hard part, would be actually manually steering that boat with such a device for 1000 NM or more, in conditions boisterous enough to have broken the rudder to begin with... Clearly beyond the capability of this, and most other crews, unless it was simply lashed in a fixed position... Again, I think you may be seriously underestimating the challenging conditions that are likely to be encountered on this passage - you need to configure a setup to get the boat to do the heavy lifting, not the crew...

If you haven't done so, read the account I linked to above of the EGRET... The spinnaker pole would be put to FAR better use poling out a headsail, that's the way to begin to make the boat steer itself in this situation. Forget about the main, unless it might be removed and flown as another twin headsail. Trying to fly anything from the mast will only make things more difficult, in this particular case, you need the center of effort as far forward as possible...

A staysail or storm sail sheeted flat on the centerline would also serve as a sort of reverse riding sail, and help bring the bow back downwind when she tends to veer off onto a reach... But again, being a simple sloop rig with no inner forestay apparently, this was not an easy option aboard VIEWFINDER...
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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
In 2006, the J-44 FIRST LIGHT was abandoned approximately 1000 miles from Barbados on a passage from the Canaries, after a rudder failure... Very experienced sailors, winding up a circumnavigation, one of the reasons cited for abandoning was a medical condition of the owner's, that might have been exacerbated by an exceptionally long passage time... They hitched a ride on a passing yacht, which happened to be bound for their intended destination - Barbados...

After arriving in Barbados, they flew home to California... Three weeks later, FIRST LIGHT washed up on a beach...

On Barbados...

....
Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that GPS Hath Wrought... Without it, or an EPIRB and the likelihood of an AMVER-coordinated rescue, these folks likely would never be attempting to sail across an ocean to begin with... Chalk this one up to another "GPS enabled" incident, in my book...

Miles and Beryl Smeeton - among countless other voyagers who have faced far greater challenges at sea in small boats - would be shaking their heads in wonder, today...
I remember of several boats on past ARC that were abandoned after rudder failure. They all made to America. Going downwind there are some limited ways to sail the boat and direct it in an approximately general direction, so I guess they would get there in a reasonable period of time, not exactly on a determined spot but near the American coast were they could be towed.

What seems odd to me is that they not had even tried to see what they could have managed.

Regards

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Re: Rudder lost at sea and rescue

My sentiments are with what Jon is saying but it is possible that there were medical issues that made them decide to abandon ship. It's hard to believe that one of them was not capable of staying aboard. Fresh water and food to suffice for a LONG time could have been supplied from the ship that rescued them.

Another point to be made here is that if you're going on any kind of passage, there should be at least a month's supply of food and water aboard. It is not difficult to store a great quantity of canned food and IMO, it's foolish go offshore without having at least a small hand powered reverse osmosis water-maker. One of these in a ditch bag should be considered essential equipment.

On boats that have a transom with a reasonable angle to the water, it is relatively easy to have some sort of pintle/gudgeon or similar hardware that can carry a small emergency rudder with a tiller that is reasonably functional. Being located so far from the c/e, a small rudder has a relatively large effect. Keeping it in the water would be a problem in any kind of sea but at least some upwind ability would be possible.
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Last edited by smurphny; 03-03-2013 at 08:28 AM.
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