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Rudder Failure

January 10, 2015

I abandoned the solo circumnavigation attempt for the second time because of the mainsail failure. All else was going well, no impediments to further progress, to best of my knowledge. However there was a real problem developing that would also have ended the voyage – read on.

“Just as well you stopped in Cape Town” was the opinion of Mike Giles who is managing the boat repairs and getting her ready for delivery back to the US, after he observed at the dock that the starboard rudder had dropped a couple of inches..  Here is more of what Mike had to say when I asked if I would soon have noticed the problem and what would be the best and worst scenario. . “
“In all likelihood, unless you had a reference on the quadrant height, it would have been hard to pick up. When I saw it had fallen, the fix included removing the life raft, opening up the locker, removing the cover plate. Then attaching a lashing and connecting it to the main halyard through a "guide bridal" to get the angle correct. You would have been able to do that at sea i guess, but would have required the main halyard for the task. …….

The above is best case. If it went any further, the rudder would more than likely dislodged from the top bearing and would thus have no support, so you would have had a rudder floating around, probably causing damage and left with a gaping hole.  The tie bar and quadrant would have been damaged.

You would have had to disconnected the tie bar, connect up the port wheel and continue.   If any structural damage, that would have definitely be the end of your trip.  Fixing holes under the hull would not have been easy.

Worst case a long limp back to land with a hole in the boat. Your safety would have been the water tight trap door behind the aft birth.  So there was a design for the worst case... Like I mentioned earlier, lucky you ended up in Cape Town. I think you had some lucky stars looking out for you.” Mike Giles

So I suspect regardless of the sail issue the trip would have had to be abandoned at some later point and with the boat in a much more dangerous condition – life threatening hull damage leading to a possible sinking though it was in a water tight bulkhead. Ironic to state that “...I think you had some lucky stars looking out for you.”

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