Hobie Forums

Rudder Loss Solutions
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Author:  vetgam [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:26 am ]
Post subject:  Rudder Loss Solutions

Preemptively looking for a backup solution should I experience rudder loss that involves more that replacing the pin. I sail with friends offshore and want to be ready for it. I have an AI and a couple of weekends ago I tested the use of my paddle as a backup rudder in 15 mph winds and found that I was unsuccessful. Looking back, I may have been had too much sail and overpowered the temporary rudder. I'll have to try it again with less sail. I was reading about sea anchors trailed behind boats with one line hooked to the starboard and the other to the port side. Pulling in on either line is suppose to steer the boat by creating drag on one side or the other. I may give that a try too.

Has anyone worked out a good backup rudder solution?

Author:  KayakingBob [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Depends on the direction you want to go, compared to the wind (and wind wave) direction and strength. Most conditions, except fairly light, I would reef about half the sail or more.

Downwind is fairly easy just dragging your double paddle on one side then the other to steer.

Across the wind a single flat-blade paddle is best on the leeward side against the hull. I prefer one with a 'T' handle to turn, as well as push/pull to keep course. It takes a bit of practice, because if you over steer you will round into the wind or down wind and have to paddle both sides to get it back.

Upwind, you are probably better pedaling and using the double-blade paddle to steer.

Best is to pull up the rudder from time-to-time and try it on different tacks to see what works for you. Learning not to over steer will save you much time circling back around to get back on course. :) I don't break many pins now, but early on with the early AI's I had lot's of practice in paddle steering!

Author:  NOHUHU [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Couldn't have said it better.

With the right paddle and practice, you'll get the hang of it. Great skill to have!

Author:  vetgam [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

I don't keep a flat paddle on board. Do I need to purchase one or should the normal curved paddle do in a pinch?

Author:  KayakingBob [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

For ruddering, the Hobie curved flexible double bladed paddle is not great. A stiffer, strait single paddle ("T" handle for me) works better. I keep the single paddle always within reach. It's my stop and reverse, as well as my emergency rudder and steering on failure.

Maybe it's my whitewater background, but I've been carrying a single-blade paddle and a throw-rope bag almost since my first AI sail. Here's how I carry the paddle on an AI mounted with a split-second, quick-release pull tab on a ball bungee:

Author:  vetgam [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Playing around in the garage today. Filmed this crude video tonight. Would something like this make it easier to steer?


Author:  KayakingBob [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Your paddle looks much stiffer and straighter than what Hobie supplies with the boat. Hobie sells a 'T' handle for their paddles. If it fit's yours, you could be all set.

Author:  NOHUHU [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

You are on the right tack, vet.

Steering as far back as possible and toward the center the boat will make things easier. Having a hard straight paddle that you can twist, just like our rudder will help quite a bit. Sometimes, you need to flip the paddle from side to side quickly though, as when you prepare to land, encounter waves or avoid obstacles. Better to just furl the sail and pedal/paddle at that point.

You're going to be creating a lot of extra drag, so using a lot of sail is still needed, even to go slow. With a half sail or less, I don't make decent headway upwind.

It wouldn't hurt at all if you train yourself to steer using just the sail and pedal at the same time, (this will keep you pointed generally in the direction you want to go). Combining all these techniques is usually what gets the job done.

I admire that you're preparing yourself and your boat for this sticky situation. You are just the kind of guy I like to sail with.

Author:  vetgam [ Thu May 02, 2013 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Went sailing today with the intent to try some of the rudder loss options described earlier. Turns out I didn't need any of them. My whole problem was that I didn't trim the sail last time when trying to use the paddle as a rudder. I was being overpowered by the sail. With less sail, paddle steering was easy on the AI. Anyone who hasn't practiced a rudder loss situation, really should. It wasn't as instinctive as I expected and you don't want to be at a loss if this happens to you.

Author:  FraznDaf [ Fri May 10, 2013 7:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions


What a Great Idea!!! A KISS Solution to a potential problem..... Thank You!

Author:  Tom Kirkman [ Fri May 10, 2013 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

The little PVC bracket is a nifty idea. Would take up much room to keep one on board, just in case. Hopefully somebody will give it a try and let us know how it works. I'm sure it's going to have some effect and would effectively allow you to steer one-handed. Thanks for sharing the idea.

Author:  Slaughter [ Fri May 10, 2013 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

So simple vet. You have the tick of approval from all of us. Looking forward to the test report.

Author:  stringy [ Sat May 11, 2013 3:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Great work Vet, love the simplicity of your soluton! 8)

Author:  vetgam [ Sat May 11, 2013 8:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

Took the boat out today to test the PVC rudder device. It does work well but you have to practice it a bit. You end up siting with one blade of the paddle under your your arm like a football with the other blade back near the rudder. You just lean one way or the other to steer, basically one handed or armed if you will. I was able to do this with full sail, 15mph winds and it didn't feel like I lost speed but I'm sure I must have lost some due to all the little adjustments in direction.

If you have an AI (I do) then the device is not essential but it would make a long trip back home a hole lot easier. Haven't tried it on a TI but I can imagine it working well.

Author:  tonystott [ Tue May 14, 2013 9:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Rudder Loss Solutions

As some of you can no doubt recall, I once got swept 6-7 miles out to sea after breaking a rudder line in my TI. I subesquently fitted external steering lines, but on a recent overnight trip offshore, broke two rudder pins, a problem which my external lines couldn't solve. Fortunately Rob Saunders "rescued" me by fitting a spare pin (twice).

So I have been searching for a truly redundant solution, and then Cavendish hit the nail on the head, with an emergency rudder! So I have knocked together a diagram of such a solution, as below

A few observations
    As it would only be for emergency use, you could probably get away with having to bolt the rudder blade onto the shaft (using wing-nuts) and put up with the extra drag.
    I reckon a safety lanyard on the bottom is good insurance for when you are inserting the rudder from below.
    I included a PVC "bearing tube" with glued on PVC collar to avoid any possibility of wear to the scupper tube... Far less an issue to fit a new bearing tube...
    The collar at the top of the rudder shaft hold the rudder up, and its bottom (and the rudder shaft itself) could be waxed etc for minimal friction.
    The amount of rudder shaft protruding at the top is entirely optional, and I could even envisage two tiller mounting holes, one at right angles for steering by lines (see below) if solo in the front seat of a TI, or pointing directly forward for steering by hand (in an AI or back seat of a TI)
    To hook up for remote steering, I would do what I have on my external setup (which will no longer be needed once I fit this emergency rudder system). A bungee cord leads back to a block, and then links to a line going forward to a clamcleat by the seat, for adjustable tension (eg rudder will swing full right unless tension applied to the other line). Another line goes forward to another cleat. So steering direction relies on the tension applied to the latter cord. Easier to demonstrate than describe.

I reckon something like this is a winner if you really want to minimise risk of really offshore trips, when reaching land is not a foregone conclusion.

Love to hear reactions please.

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