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Oyster 39 (?) rescued 520 miles off Bermuda - steering failure

capnsensible

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Joined
15 Mar 2007
Messages
25,220
Location
Atlantic
I do not know the owner's experience or circumstances. However, I have been onboard this boat with the previous owners, who carried out a major refit before heading out on an Atlantic circuit. After a successful crossing and a winter's cruising in the West Indies she was sold, I presume to the current owners in Ft. Lauderdale.

She is fitted with a Whitlock Mamba steering system which uses torque tubes and bevel boxes, so no cables, quadrants etc.

I understand there was a problem with a bevel box becoming 'disconnected' from the hull. The standard Oyster 39 fit out includes an emergency tiller, plus extension to the rudder stock so the boat can be steered from on deck. This is normally stowed under the aft cabin bunk. I'd have thought it pretty easy to connect this into the Aries vane gear. Alternatively, shoring up the bevel box with anything to hand, non essential parts of the interior, boat hooks, dinghy oars etc.

The abandonment of what seems to be a perfectly seaworthy boat, albeit with a not insurmountable problem is sad. I assume that the insurers will cough up, and make them less likely to insure other small lightly crewed boats of under £1m in value for ocean passages.
I wonder what things they tried and over what period before taking the massive decision to abandon?
 

lw395

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2007
Messages
41,515
Our emergency tiller can be rigged with a 4:1 tackle with a cam cleat. It works quite well on a beam reach or higher.
 

Bajansailor

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Joined
27 Dec 2004
Messages
5,016
Location
Barbados (East coast)
Re how her AIS transmitter (and navigation lights) was left turned on, I cannot see any likely pink suspects on the Marinetraffic map in the vicinity of 500 - 600 miles east'ish of Bermuda. I hope that this just means that her batteries have run out of juice (maybe the solar charging is not working?)

A useful tip - if you right click on a vessel on Marinetraffic, then click on 'measure distance', and then click somewhere else, it also gives you the current speed of the vessel, in addition to the distance.
And all of the pink blobs in that area are doing reasonable speeds.

There seem to be various other yachts heading back to Europe now; maybe Sundowner will be 'found' by a yacht capable of towing her. That would be a nice salvage prize.
 

Old Harry

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Joined
29 Sep 2017
Messages
3,564
Re how her AIS transmitter (and navigation lights) was left turned on, I cannot see any likely pink suspects on the Marinetraffic map in the vicinity of 500 - 600 miles east'ish of Bermuda. I hope that this just means that her batteries have run out of juice (maybe the solar charging is not working?)

A useful tip - if you right click on a vessel on Marinetraffic, then click on 'measure distance', and then click somewhere else, it also gives you the current speed of the vessel, in addition to the distance.
And all of the pink blobs in that area are doing reasonable speeds.

There seem to be various other yachts heading back to Europe now; maybe Sundowner will be 'found' by a yacht capable of towing her. That would be a nice salvage prize.
AIS on a yacht will rely upon the signal being relayed, it well off shore, last ais signal FireShot Capture 006 - MarineTraffic_ Global Ship Tracking Intelligence - AIS Marine Traffic_ ...png
 

RobbieW

Well-known member
Joined
24 Jun 2007
Messages
3,058
Location
On land for now
AIS on a yacht will rely upon the signal being relayed, it well off shore, last ais signal
Using MarineTraffic, if you pay extra it will show shipping mid ocean using satellite AIS reception. The position will be there if she's still transmitting and afloat
 

gertha

Active member
Joined
29 Jan 2006
Messages
153
AIS , you can pay what you like where you like; sometimes you are not visible , bean there done that got the T shirt.
\
If you don't believe me ask Tonys wife she is adamant I turned the over rated piece of safety equipment off when we disappeared for a few days; but I had not.

You have to believe me AIS does not always work from a yacht mid ocean; if you do not trust Tonys wife ask Clever Trevor who often routes me when I used to go play in the deep blue stuff before the worlds dictators put us all in detention.

Simon
 

Kelpie

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Joined
15 May 2005
Messages
5,180
Location
Loch Snizort, Isle of Skye
It's easy to suggest jury rudder solutions, much harder in practice I think. There was a good video quite recently from a yacht called Hilma (Jeanneau SO45) who lost their steering in the Pacific. They tried at least half a dozen different jury rigs before finding something that actually worked for more than a few hours without breaking. Key to it seemed to be plenty of sturdy poles and ratchet straps. A suitable strong point low down on the transom is extremely helpful... I'd be tempted to chuck one of these in a locker
143 - Handrail Bracket 48mm - Pipe Clamp Store - Allen Key Clamp Fittings
Maybe pre-drill the bolt holes for it.Or just buy a Hydrovane of course.
 

geem

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Joined
27 Apr 2006
Messages
2,719
Location
Caribbean
On a reasonable sized boat, has anybody ever tried to steer with just a hydrovane rudder? I keep reading about using the hydrovane as an emergency rudder but in an ocean situation, with swell knocking the boat around I just can see a hydrovane rudder steering my boat. My rudder is 5’6” long. The hydrovane rudder is so tiny, how will generate any steering force in an ocean swell? In normal use they rely on an offset being locked in on the main rudder and the hydrovane steers effectively as a trim tab. How does it all of a sudden become possible to steer the boat without the main rudder locked in the right place?
 

Kelpie

Well-known member
Joined
15 May 2005
Messages
5,180
Location
Loch Snizort, Isle of Skye
On a reasonable sized boat, has anybody ever tried to steer with just a hydrovane rudder? I keep reading about using the hydrovane as an emergency rudder but in an ocean situation, with swell knocking the boat around I just can see a hydrovane rudder steering my boat. My rudder is 5’6” long. The hydrovane rudder is so tiny, how will generate any steering force in an ocean swell? In normal use they rely on an offset being locked in on the main rudder and the hydrovane steers effectively as a trim tab. How does it all of a sudden become possible to steer the boat without the main rudder locked in the right place?
I think that is a very valid criticism. A lot will depend upon the type of boat- longer keels being better than high aspect ratio ones. Maybe a drogue would help. Or a hole or notch in the trailing edge of the rudder so that a line could be secured to hold the rudder in place- although this would obviously require a rather dodgy bit of underwater work, unless you were so paranoid that you pre-rigged the lines and left them slack...
 

Rappey

Active member
Joined
13 Dec 2019
Messages
730
There are plenty of accounts of vessels losing main steering but still getting to destination ok using the hydrovane.
Accounts on hydrovane website
 

Bajansailor

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Joined
27 Dec 2004
Messages
5,016
Location
Barbados (East coast)
We have had two boats with Hydrovanes, and we have sailed both of them very easily on occasion with a tiller attached to the stub tiller on the Hydrovane unit.
Yes, you do want to get the boat balanced as best you can - if you have a lot of weather helm in a gust the Hydrovane is not going to be as effective as Geem's 5'6" mini barn door.
I think that Captain Sensible has also mentioned manually steering his Moody 33 with the Hydrovane rudder.
 

Blue Sunray

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Joined
20 Jul 2015
Messages
2,027
On a reasonable sized boat, has anybody ever tried to steer with just a hydrovane rudder? I keep reading about using the hydrovane as an emergency rudder but in an ocean situation, with swell knocking the boat around I just can see a hydrovane rudder steering my boat. My rudder is 5’6” long. The hydrovane rudder is so tiny, how will generate any steering force in an ocean swell? In normal use they rely on an offset being locked in on the main rudder and the hydrovane steers effectively as a trim tab. How does it all of a sudden become possible to steer the boat without the main rudder locked in the right place?
This is worth a read on the mechanics of how rudders work, albeit the effect is more pronounced on a larger displacement vessel.

How Does A Rudder Help In Turning A Ship?
 

Sandy

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Joined
31 Aug 2011
Messages
15,393
Location
On the Celtic Fringe
On a reasonable sized boat, has anybody ever tried to steer with just a hydrovane rudder? I keep reading about using the hydrovane as an emergency rudder but in an ocean situation, with swell knocking the boat around I just can see a hydrovane rudder steering my boat. My rudder is 5’6” long. The hydrovane rudder is so tiny, how will generate any steering force in an ocean swell? In normal use they rely on an offset being locked in on the main rudder and the hydrovane steers effectively as a trim tab. How does it all of a sudden become possible to steer the boat without the main rudder locked in the right place?
If it is one thing that Golden Globe Race 2018 taught us is that Hydrovanes work.

Disclosure: I purchased a Hydrovane at the Southampton Boat Show 2019.
 

geem

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Joined
27 Apr 2006
Messages
2,719
Location
Caribbean
If it is one thing that Golden Globe Race 2018 taught us is that Hydrovanes work.

Disclosure: I purchased a Hydrovane at the Southampton Boat Show 2019.
Were you in the Golden Globe race then?
 

Rappey

Active member
Joined
13 Dec 2019
Messages
730
On a reasonable sized boat, has anybody ever tried to steer with just a hydrovane ?
Yes! Was a rustler 36. We were on a beam reach under genoa only , doing 6-7.5knts steered by hydraulic auto pilot.
My friend had only signed the paper work the day before the lockdown.
So not to miss on a chance to experience a rustler we snuck out on the first day of lockdown (yeah I know we need taking to the tower of London and beheading)
Everything was new to both of us.
My attention turned to the hydrovane, engaged the rudder and had great fun steering using its rudder significantly altering the direction of the boat whilst the auto pilot worked furiously to correct the course.
It didn't turn the boat as quick as the main rudder but it still easily altered course to port or starboard .
When we can go out again I would like to see the main rudder say 20 degrees and turn the hydrovane the opposite way to get an idea of how much turning power it has.
I would love one for my boat. Maybe one day.
 

Fr J Hackett

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Joined
26 Dec 2001
Messages
36,109
Location
Grenoble
On a reasonable sized boat, has anybody ever tried to steer with just a hydrovane rudder? I keep reading about using the hydrovane as an emergency rudder but in an ocean situation, with swell knocking the boat around I just can see a hydrovane rudder steering my boat. My rudder is 5’6” long. The hydrovane rudder is so tiny, how will generate any steering force in an ocean swell? In normal use they rely on an offset being locked in on the main rudder and the hydrovane steers effectively as a trim tab. How does it all of a sudden become possible to steer the boat without the main rudder locked in the right place?
Did it with a Vancouver 34 with the wheel locked and rudder amidships was OK and the boat sailed well in about 20Knts true. Only did it for half an hour just to see if it worked using a premade tiller out of stainless that could also be connected to a small tiller pilot.
 
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