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

capnsensible

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For sure if the main rudder is secured around midships, the hydrovane rudder can cope with severe conditions. Its not a 'trim tab' , its a rudder. A bit of time looking at the videos is not time wasted if you are interested in the topic. (y)
 

Frogmogman

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26 Aug 2012
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For sure if the main rudder is secured around midships, the hydrovane rudder can cope with severe conditions. Its not a 'trim tab' , its a rudder. A bit of time looking at the videos is not time wasted if you are interested in the topic. (y)
This is a good point. People often forget that a rudder fulfills two roles. It steers the boat, but it also provides lateral resistance aft; with the rudder gone, the boat will tend to pivot around the keel. If the main rudder is still attached, that lateral resistance is still there, and quite a small blade can do the job of steering the boat.

With the rudder gone completely, even a decent emergency set up, such as the hydrovane will struggle without, say, a drogue to compensate for the loss of lateral resistance from the rudder.
 

lw395

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This is a good point. People often forget that a rudder fulfills two roles. It steers the boat, but it also provides lateral resistance aft; with the rudder gone, the boat will tend to pivot around the keel. If the main rudder is still attached, that lateral resistance is still there, and quite a small blade can do the job of steering the boat.

With the rudder gone completely, even a decent emergency set up, such as the hydrovane will struggle without, say, a drogue to compensate for the loss of lateral resistance from the rudder.
Unless you can move the centre of effort forwards to compensate, e.g. by putting a big reef in the main.
 

dunedin

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This is a good point. People often forget that a rudder fulfills two roles. It steers the boat, but it also provides lateral resistance aft; with the rudder gone, the boat will tend to pivot around the keel. If the main rudder is still attached, that lateral resistance is still there, and quite a small blade can do the job of steering the boat.

With the rudder gone completely, even a decent emergency set up, such as the hydrovane will struggle without, say, a drogue to compensate for the loss of lateral resistance from the rudder.
Absolutely. And massively worse again if the rudder is still present but jammed off centre, when a small vane will never manage to compensate for this.
Don’t know the type of steering on the boat that was rescued, but if the rudder was present but jammed over and could not be freed, most alternative steering options are likely to fail. (Not ruling out other things to try in extremis, like trying to drop the rudder out entirely - but soon gets back to armchair speculation)
 

Rappey

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If the rudder is Jammed off centre then hacksaw away whatever is holding it ?
My long keel rudder I think would most likely fail with the rudder stock shearing from the support webs inside the rudder blade. An emergency tiller would then be of zero use.
A hydrovane would then be indispensable.
Plan B if crossing an ocean would be to have an emergency rudder that drops down on pintels on the transom restoring steering.
 

Frank Holden

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At the end of the day a well balanced yacht does not need a lot of helm... a few degrees at most. I have a semi custom 'trim tab on aux rudder'....
Yes you need to have the headsail driving the boat and not the main.
And yes..... you need the aux rudder well 'damped' to stop it 'over steering'.
And you need the main rudder 'locked'... I actually lash the helm with small stuff - the Whitlock thingo doesn't do the job - often with just a smidjin of weather helm on it.WSslip03 (3).jpg
 

PeterR

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12 Dec 2009
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There are lots of stories of how to rig emergency steering systems but most only work if the rudder is still in place and can be centred. Where you have actualy lost the rudder none of the jury rigged systems with spinnaker poles etc work for any length of time. The forces that broke the original system make short work of them. The only method I have come across that looks to have any hope of lasting is a drogue system as showed here and the crew actually had the nerve to remove their rudder to prove their point - not just try and fix up a trim tab system for a rudder that was still in place and doing most of the work to keep the boat going in a straight line. I now keep a Seabrake drogue on board which works in much the same way but I've never tried it with the rudder out.

 

lw395

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There are lots of stories of how to rig emergency steering systems but most only work if the rudder is still in place and can be centred. Where you have actualy lost the rudder none of the jury rigged systems with spinnaker poles etc work for any length of time. The forces that broke the original system make short work of them. The only method I have come across that looks to have any hope of lasting is a drogue system as showed here and the crew actually had the nerve to remove their rudder to prove their point - not just try and fix up a trim tab system for a rudder that was still in place and doing most of the work to keep the boat going in a straight line. I now keep a Seabrake drogue on board which works in much the same way but I've never tried it with the rudder out.

All looks easy when the water's as flat as a witch's tit. Typical youtube expert.
I've sailed a Merlin after breaking the pintles.
But we cheated, raking the mast less aft!
A close reach is not so hard to steer by the sails, in reasonable seas, but beating or running is harder.
 

Rappey

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I know what your saying about youtube experts but I wrongly thought it would be off the stern, not mid ships. Then I often wondered how you would wrestle with the lines and how effective it would really be. Now it all makes sense!
Showing how to in dead calm waters does show the theory very clearly though. Would be harder to see in stormy seas .
I would like to see them do the same video with rudder but no tiller to see if it alters anything.
 

Bajansailor

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At the end of the day a well balanced yacht does not need a lot of helm... a few degrees at most. I have a semi custom 'trim tab on aux rudder'....
Yes you need to have the headsail driving the boat and not the main.
And yes..... you need the aux rudder well 'damped' to stop it 'over steering'.
And you need the main rudder 'locked'... I actually lash the helm with small stuff - the Whitlock thingo doesn't do the job - often with just a smidjin of weather helm on it.View attachment 89905


Thank you for this photo and note Frank - could you post another photo or two as well please, as the set up is not very clear in the above photo?
Is the auxiliary rudder offset slightly to port relative to the main rudder?
And do you steer the trim tab, to then turn the auxiliary rudder?
 

Frank Holden

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No problems.... gear is all on centreline... vane works on trim tab which drives the aux rudder
Designed by a chap who built a proa when he was 18 and singlehanded it to Australia from Holland.... using the first of these that he had built... I think this was about his 30th.... each built to order and sized by eyeball to fit the boat it was going on..

Starting with the vane.... vertical axis.... has a gear wheel (?) shrunk on to the shaft.... shaft sits inside but is independent of the next tube..
Red line engages /disengages the vane... release the red line and a a bit of bungy engages the gear.
Pic 1 running in the lower bit of the South Pacific.

P1010040_1 (3).jpg
Better pic of that bit here... three 'tubes' can be seen here... the inner one is the vane.....
The next one (#2) ( with the T-head ) translates rotary motion imparted by the vane into push pull further down the food chain . You can see the bungy which is not connected and the red string.... Fine tuning... the drum... one turn = a 4º alteration...

The set screw seen at the back is wound home when assembled ... stops the vane from being lost when you do a 360º. Not apparent in the pic but it is about 5mm clear of the gear wheel.
DSC_0622 (2).jpg

The outer tube is an integral part of the aux rudder....
DSC_0625 (5).jpg
And tube #2 has a 'stub tiller' at the bottom that applies 'push pull' to the trim tab.
DSC_0624.jpg

And that is that.... except for yet another stub tiller which is a fixed part of the aux rudder.. lines from that lead through small blocks to jammers ... these are used to apply damping... damp down to about 2 or 3 degrees....

You can see between the stub and vertical tube #3 the pin that secures the whole thing to the frame which is attached to the boat...

DSC_0627 (3).jpg
This is the frame..
IMG_1446.jpg
Thats it...
Cheers,
Frank
 

Bajansailor

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Brilliant! What an amazing design. Thank you for describing the set up in such detail.
We have had two Hydrovanes, and I thought they were pretty wonderful, but your design does appear to be much better.
 

michael_w

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Having been shipmates with Wind Pilot, Monitor, and Hydrovane. Without shadow of a doubt, the worst at keeping a decent course is the Hydrovane.

If I had the spare cash I'd sell my Hydrovane to some mug who believes their advertising and fit a Monitor.
 

capnsensible

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Having been shipmates with Wind Pilot, Monitor, and Hydrovane. Without shadow of a doubt, the worst at keeping a decent course is the Hydrovane.

If I had the spare cash I'd sell my Hydrovane to some mug who believes their advertising and fit a Monitor.
Opinions are interesting, arent they? I got lucky using hydrovane on my boat and others. Worked great.
 

Kurrawong-kid

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17 Jan 2012
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Can a Hydrovane drive your boat on a tight kite reach?
+1/2 I had one of the very rare small early versions. Exactly as michael_w posts but on a broad reach. The vane was not powerful enough despite the gears. Tried a larger plywood vane but it would not balance. Only with invention of carbon fibre was I able to have a larger vane and then OK. They are good, but not very good. A lot depends on the handling characteristics of the design. Hydrovanes are liable to be overpowered if the “pivot” point shifts fore or aft as wind strength fluctuates even though the sails have been balanced for the average wind strength. It was however 36 years old when I sold it and the new owner had no trouble on a Sabre 27.
 

Bi111ion

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5 Aug 2012
Messages
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I have an Oyster 39 of the same age with the same Whitlock Mamba steering system. We wont know much more about what happened on Sundowner until we hear from her crew but worth saying that Oyster 39's do indeed have an emergency tiller that fits through a port in the after deck and goes down to the rudder post. It is stored under the cabins sole. If the bevel box the wheel or the universal joints are jammed they may need to be removed. So just a thought to me and others with this system when we can go back to our boats that these parts are properly lubricated and free of rust so they can easily be disconnected. As a last resort though the rods can be cut. Also, although we may have other back up steering options, wind vane for example or steering with a drogue, it is worth testing these when it is not an emergency. At least off the wind a ketch like this can be finely trimmed to not need much steering but you do not want to be learning this art when you have to.

On mine the bevel box is a three way orthogonal one, with one shaft connected to a sproket driven by the auto pilot. So if this bevel box jams you lose the auto pilot too, but not if it fails between there and the wheel. Sundowner was pretty well set up for blue water cruising and had a wind vane as well, as is best practice. Perhaps this was damaged too as on the USCG video it seems to have no auxiliary rudder.

I know the report said Sundowner left her AIS on, but I checked on Marine Traffic and it only received a sat AIS just before the rescue and it has not been updated. I hope this tough little ship appears on AIS and is salvaged.
 
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