Procedures following jammed steering - SailNet Community

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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 10-27-2010
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Procedures following jammed steering

Following up on the previous thread about steering failure, I wanted to see if anyone had any feedback on the proper procedure to follow after a steering malfunction where the rudder sticks in one direction or another.

Recently (last week), we had a propeller shaft separate from the drive shaft at the flange, apparently pushing the propeller aft and jamming the rudder on the port side. (This on a 33' full-keeled sailboat.)

With sheer force I was able to wrest the rudder back towards center; it's a long story but in the end we were able to balance the boat and sail safely to meet up with a launch close to where we'd started (gybing when we needed to come about).

What I am wondering is what I would have done if we were not in the end able to get the rudder centered.

All I can think is either
(a) dropping the main and trying to heave to on the starboard tack (where the rudder would need to be most of the way over anyhow), or
(b) dropping the sails altogether and trying to anchor (we were sailing relatively inshore, in about 50-30 feet of water).

However, heaving to may not work with the rudder that hard over, and I'm concerned about the time that would need to be spent spinning around figuring out the proper positioning of the genoa, and as for anchoring, I'm not sure we would've been able to get the anchor set without being able to back the boat .

What do you folks think? What do you think are the right steps to follow?
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Old 10-28-2010
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Tack, gybe, tack, gybe, ...

Heave-to or anchor were my first thoughts. Maybe a securite call. Someone might be in the area that could help with a tow. Maybe if it is jammed just a bit off center you could induce as much weather or lee helm as possible and drag warps off the stern like if you lost the rudder?
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Old 10-28-2010
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(b) if possible drop the sails and anchor, if possible, until the situation can be assessed...

These events usually happen in multiples, and if you are like me - often get worse before getting better. Much easier to repair and call for help anchored.

Open seas - heave to would be a good option again till assessed and repaired
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Old 10-28-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barquito View Post
Tack, gybe, tack, gybe, ...

Heave-to or anchor were my first thoughts. Maybe a securite call. Someone might be in the area that could help with a tow. Maybe if it is jammed just a bit off center you could induce as much weather or lee helm as possible and drag warps off the stern like if you lost the rudder?
Issue a pan-pan, not a securite.

If you have two balls (dayshapes), hoist them if you cannot anchor. Hoist one ball, if you have to anchor.

I know few, if any, have dayshapes.
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Old 10-28-2010
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Thank you -- I'm glad I'm not far off base as far as my original thoughts. (Others reading this please chime in!)

We do not carry dayshapes, but now that you mention it jackdale, I think that's something we're going to carry on board going forward, as this is the second steering malfunction I've experienced in the last three years.

(Brief digression: three of us in a 23' Sonar out for an afternoon in Long Island Sound. Winds are building, and Execution Rocks lighthouse (and the shipping channel on the south side of it) is getting closer and closer, so we decide to tack. We come up, build some speed, and as I push the tiller over, the nut on the single bolt holding it in its bracket shears off... and I'm holding an unattached tiller in my hand... oh boy...)

Anyway, we're pretty much tucked in for the season, but next time there's a bit of wind and open water we're going to practice this scenario (so I'll update this thread in a few months when we're back on the water).
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Old 10-31-2010
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FWIW, there's no "shipping channel" south of Execution Light, there's too much chance of hitting Gangway Rock, or Execution itself. Sure, you can pass south of it, but "shipping channel" has legal meanings, i.e. you are not allowed to anchor in one or obstruct it. South of Execution? All you need to fear is anchoring too close to a lobster pot, and explaining that to the lobsterman.
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Old 10-31-2010
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Sure there is hellosailor, we sail out of Echo Bay in New Rochelle all summer, and the passage between red 44A and green 25, just south of Execution Rocks, is the only route that we ever see the tugs and their barges take. If you take a look at the chart, I'm referring to the point at 40 52.276' N 73 44.285W.

Here's what we usually see right there:



Most of our practice sailing is in 23' Sonars without an axillary engine, so avoiding those tugs can quickly become non-trivial!

Last edited by leonem; 10-31-2010 at 05:59 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 12-26-2010
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I had the exact same thing happen at night, on a trip from Miami to West End.
We were sailing, I imagine the shaft was being turned by the fixed prop, and all of a sudden the helm got really heavy, it became obvious that it would only turn one way, pretty soon I was hard over. The prop shaft had slipped out of the flange coupling, the two coupling halves were still bolted together, the end of the shaft was past the packing, but stopped halfway out of the shaft log, as the prop was hard against the rudder. It was a fairly new boat, and hadn't sailed much. While we'd been motoring, I guess the loading of the prop driving the boat kept it secure, but a after a few hours sailing, it worked loose.
As it was night, and my family were aboard, I didn't want to go in the water and try to push the shaft back in, and as much as I loath being towed anywhere, my only option was to drive a cedar plug into the packing nut, and call for a tow back to Miami.
the next day back at the dock, I backed the grub screw out of the coupling, and careful of the threads, drilled an indent into the shaft, and hardened it down with some threadlock.
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