The sailor Luca Sabiu started a survey via whatsapp contacting more than 80 yachtsmen and making them a specific request: “Tell me the first two maneuvers or emergencies at sea that, especially if you are in a small crew, bring you to a stressful situation”. The answers came in abundance and Luca has decided to address for us all the situations indicated by the sailors surveyed, showing how to handle them safely and calmly: in this first episode he explains what to do in case of failure to the rudder wheel.
MANAGING A RUDDER WHEEL FAILURE
This could happen on your cruising boat, especially in fresh and strong winds: the most common cause is the helmsman’s lack of determination in managing the wheel which runs away and arrives too violently at the end of its travel during a downwind or an oversteer. The management of this failure is totally solvable by the skipper without external help.
2. You will hear the rattle of the breaking of the false chain link, the boat will begin to be unmanageable, with the sails and sheets flapping dangerously: this will objectively represent the most difficult moment of the breakdown.
3. At this point you will need to be ready and quick to “shut down” the engines of our boat: the sails. Rewind the genoa as quickly as possible, and lower the mainsail with the goal of stopping the boat.
4. Once you have stopped the boat and calmed the crew, you will start the engine and can move to the respect bar.
5. Bring the tiller rudder back to the center of the blade and at that point insert the autopilot, which, working on the blade and not on the wheel, will manage your boat.
6. At that point, depending on your speed, you will be able to reopen the sails (engine always on) to help you return to port.
– When you arrive in port, you will have to make a bow mooring, which will be much easier in this circumstance.
– this breakdown does not require a VHF emergency call.
– It is essential that the skipper puts all his calm into the field.
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