Author Topic: Emergency steering  (Read 19757 times)

S/V Laelia

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Emergency steering
« on: January 26, 2012, 08:42:58 PM »
I've been mucking about in the cockpit and the lockers most of today. The sun is now below the yardarm (somewhere) and it is time to reflect on the day's activities and imbibe some form of relaxant.

Somewhere I read that it is a really good thing to do emergency steering drills every now and then. The first step is to go through the drill in the security of your slip. You know, make sure you have all of the pieces and you know how they fit together. The next step is to try it out while sailing. The first time should be under controlled circumstances - fully crewed, a full-time lookout, lots of sea room and light boating traffic. Then you can graduate to having random members of your crew declare an emergency steering drill at random intervals not to exceed once/quarter.

That's roughly what it said. Being the obediant, safety concious sailor that I am, I resolved to do that. It gets a little tricky since I usually sail single-handed but I figured I might entice a friend or two to come along and help me out.

OK - Step one. Dig through cubbies and lockers looking for the key to take the cover off the emergency tiller access port. The Previous Owner (PO) had actually labelled it and put it in the storage area under the navigator's table. I took it out to the cockpit and found that despite all the bare-handed maneuvers I could come up with - the cover would not budge. Possibly, this has happened before and would explain why the key is bent. After some gentle tapping around the perimeter of the cover and on the key handle, the cover began to turn. The key was only slightly more bent than it was before. Being the logical, safety concious sailor that I am, I took this occasion to clean out the grunge that had accumulated in the opening and in the threads on both part of the port and the cover.

Now to try out the emergency tiller. It has been living at the bottom of the port cockpit locker which is, as all of you know, about a mile deep and full of stuff that would take a while to remove in an emergency situation. No biggie. I excavated it and fitted it into place.

But wait, I couldn't get it in place. That big shiny destroyer wheel was in the way. Not a big problem - the boss that holds in on the shaft is only finger tight. I unscrewed it, pulled off the wheel and listened to the key fall to the cockpit sole. Incredibly enough, it did not disappear down one of the cockpit drains.

Now the tiller fits over the top of the rudder post and begins to slide into place - until it clangs against the pedestal guard. Yep, fully seated, the tiller cannot be centered without grinding it against the top of the guard. Possibly the emergency tiller should be installed pointing toward the stern? I guess that would be more natural for sailors who are used to steering wheels rather than tillers but it is counter-intuitive to me.

Some of you may have read my posting under Chandlery where I am trying to sell off the components of my Edson steering. (Yes, you are not alone in thinking that this is wierd and possible a desecration of the boat - but hey, it's my boat and my trip :)  ). So naturally this a good time to remove the pedestal guard. Now, this may sound trivial but it ended up taking several hours. I will say, that having looked into the guts of the Edson steering, I am impressed by how robust it is. I also am driven to wonder how many people follow Edson's recommendations concerning lubricating the chain annually. Hint, you have to remove the binnacle compass to do it. Given the amount of grunge around the seat of the binnacle mount, I doubt that it has been done in recent history on Laelia.

Anyhow, I did finally get the pedestal guard, drop leaf table and drink holder uninstalled.



The binnacle compass is sitting on the navigator's table. I don't think I have broken anything yet - just in case I decide not to uninstall the whole system. Now the emergency tiller fits into place and isn't intefered with at any point in its travel from stop to stop.

But wait! Curiously enough, the tiller does not go equally far in both directions. When I push the helm to starboard, it deflects about 30 degrees before hitting the stop. Push it to port and it goes almost 45 degrees. I reinstalled the wheel long enough to verify that the rudder was centered (according to the piece of tape that I use as a king spoke) and then reinstalled the tiller. Hmmm. It is pretty close to centered. Why would this be? Possibly, I am wrong about where the tiller points when the rudder is centered? Tomorrow I will go out for a little excursion to find out a) when is the rudder centered and b) do I really want to convert to tiller steering.

Stay tuned...
« Last Edit: January 26, 2012, 08:48:41 PM by Sailor Ralph »
On my way back to SF Bay.

Ralph Lewis
S/V Laelia, Hull 206
Somewhere between La Paz, BCS, Mexico and SF Bay

Bill

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2012, 10:13:23 PM »
the emergency tiller should fit so that it points to the starboard side, you would then steer the boat by pushing the tiller toward the front of the boat or pulling it to the rear.  At least it is that way on mine.

I can see why you might want to go with a tiller, but I have sailed so many years with a wheel I have forgotten what a tiller is like.  I did love the feel of a tiller. 

Bill
Bill Wismar
S/V Tangerine
1976 hull #71

S/V Laelia

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2012, 10:16:30 PM »
Inquiring minds want to know why it is that way  :) Most sailors have experience with a tiller. Why introduce something new when the hapless fella is dealing with an emergency?
On my way back to SF Bay.

Ralph Lewis
S/V Laelia, Hull 206
Somewhere between La Paz, BCS, Mexico and SF Bay

S/V Laelia

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2012, 10:21:21 PM »
After a few microseconds of reflection on the question, I can see why. The tiller bumps into everything else if you don't do it that way. (Didn't I just write a whole long diatribe about that?) Still, I think I would just go with putting in on so it points toward the stern. Then, all those sailors who are used to wheel steering would still turn to starboard when they push the tiller that way.

But then it puts the helmsman in a position away from the engine controls - not a happy situation when you have saved yourself from disaster and you are just about to dock and congratulate yourself on your readiness and quick wittedness  :)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2012, 10:38:58 PM by Sailor Ralph »
On my way back to SF Bay.

Ralph Lewis
S/V Laelia, Hull 206
Somewhere between La Paz, BCS, Mexico and SF Bay

Bill

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2012, 11:17:11 PM »
You seem to forget, if it was easy and made sense  it would not be a sailboat. 

Happy sailing, it was 79 here yesterday and I was just crazy that I could not get to the boat

Bill
Bill Wismar
S/V Tangerine
1976 hull #71

S/V Laelia

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2012, 11:24:32 PM »
How true! Rational people travel in cars and airplanes. Sailors get cold, wet and seasick and take days or even weeks to go where others go in a matter hours in comfort. Given that sailors are irrational, why should their boats be rational or logical?

79!! I'm green with envy (or seasickness).
On my way back to SF Bay.

Ralph Lewis
S/V Laelia, Hull 206
Somewhere between La Paz, BCS, Mexico and SF Bay

POG

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2012, 10:30:42 AM »
Ralph,

If you really want to spend next Christmas in the tropics and get there on top of your own keel I think you should forget about making your P365 tiller steered.  Don't fix what ain't broke.  I am pretty sure there are more essential things to deal with to keep you fully occupied for a long time.

Carl
Carl Seipel
POG    Hull #118
San Francisco Bay

S/V Laelia

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2012, 11:34:46 AM »
Carl,

Good point. If I had the money to be doing other projects, I probably would be doing them but that's not the case. My job hunt is progressing slowly and I am pretty much out of money for boat projects. This particular exercise has taken me 3 - 4 hours and has provided me with some entertainment (?) and I've learned a bunch about how the boat is put together. I haven't done anything that I can't undo in a few more hours. If I can sell the components of the steering system for enough to cover the tiller conversion, I can at least move ahead on this project. If not, I will just put it all back together.

In the mean time, almost anything is better than sitting here doing nothing. I can only spend so many hours a day sending out resumes and answering phone calls from people with thick Indian accents before I go beserk. The rest of the time I fill with the projects I can do for little or nothing - like this one.

Ralph
On my way back to SF Bay.

Ralph Lewis
S/V Laelia, Hull 206
Somewhere between La Paz, BCS, Mexico and SF Bay

Bill

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2012, 08:50:42 PM »
Hey Ralph

I can see why you would want a tiller, but, there is always a but.  I think the cost of moving all the controls, a new compass etc etc etc is not worth the little gain you might get.  Also once used to a wheel it is very easy and has many advantages.  Now from an ex yacht broker standpoint:  you might plan on spending your last days on your boat so this might not matter, but for resale you will be killing the value of your boat.  Also did you decide on your propane issue, I remember seeing and add for propane tanks that fit in stainless cradles off the stern.  If I remember right they were made out of fiberglass and you could see the gas level through the tank. 

Bill
Bill Wismar
S/V Tangerine
1976 hull #71

Dale Tanski

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2012, 09:14:59 AM »
Ralph,

I agree with you... your boat your call. I too love a tiller particularly on smaller twitchy, nimble, aggressive sailboats in a fresh breeze up wind. 

After wheel steering a 365 for a few years and knowing how she reacts in a bit of a blow on the wheel, I do wonder however just what kind of a tiller we are talking here.  If she was a deep fin keel, had a balanced spade rudder without the skeg and sailed like a J-boat, the tiller would be a mail order item.  I suspect that several trees will be sacrificed to produce a tiller of respectable means to tame the beast and minimize neck vein enlargement when she begins to round up in a big puff. At the very least by the time you reached your distant destination you would have Popeye arms.

I might suggest at the very minimum you go the Home Depot 2x6 route and a sea trial before you sell your existing steering gear.

Dale

"Maruska"
Pearson 365 Cutter Ketch
1976 Hull #40
Buffalo, N.Y.

S/V Laelia

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2012, 12:16:47 PM »
Thank you all for all the feedback and opinions.

I did get out yesterday for a 3 hour sail using the emergency tiller. I sure do like having a tiller again but I think I will end up keeping the wheel. 

When I was backing out of the slip, I had the rudder hard over to conteract the prop steering. When I shifted to neutral and tried to move the helm with the boat still coasting in reverse, it was all I could do to get it off the stop. I had to shift into forward and apply moderate throttle to get movement with reasonable exertion level. Given that I don't spend much time in reverse, I could probably live with it.

My outing was in fairly light conditions of 5 - 10 kts with the boat moving at up to 4 kts (at least that's what the speedo showed). The helm was distinctly on the heavy side even with careful attention to balancing the sails. Some of that has to do with the short tiller and the rather awkward shoulder high grip on the tiller. But that is only part of the story. There's no getting around the fact that the boat has a big barn door rudder hanging off the skeg with no balancing portion.

If yesterday's sail was as bad as it gets, I could live with it but Dale's comment about dealing with the boat in heavy air gives me pause. In the relatively minor gusts that I encountered and with the sails somewhat out of balance, the steering load got hefty. All told, by the end of the sail, I had a sore shoulder.

I agree with Bill's comment too. Hopefully, I will be on the boat until they carry me off in a body bag but, just in case that's not the way things play out, it would be good to do what I can to maintain the value of the boat.

So - that was an interesting exercise. I learned a lot. I have more respect for the robustness of the Edson steerer now that I've peered into the guts and looked carefully at what's under the cockpit sole. I will be putting it all back together. I noticed that the idler pullys are mounted on what appears to be a steel plate. The paint is flaking off and the base looks rusty. That will need some attention along with the rusty fuel tank top. It will help keep me busy until I get money for other projects.
On my way back to SF Bay.

Ralph Lewis
S/V Laelia, Hull 206
Somewhere between La Paz, BCS, Mexico and SF Bay

slokat

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2012, 10:51:29 PM »
My emergency tiller looks different than your picture, will try to remember to take a pic next time @ boat.

I have it stored on hooks just below the edge of the port locker.

My hatch access turns by hand, I use "plumbers valve stem grease" on the gasket.

slokat

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2012, 03:13:31 PM »
Looks like my tiller was shortened a bit, fits well pointing to aft, doesn't hit anything & moves the same distance from side to side.

http://slokat.com/Wind%20Tamer/pics/Etiller.jpg

For someone that is used to wheel steering, it's helpful knowing what the rudder position is, even if the tiller is backwards.

It stores on hooks inside the port lazerette.

http://slokat.com/Wind%20Tamer/pics/Etillerstored.JPG

Dale Tanski

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2012, 06:34:33 PM »
Thanks for the pictures on the emergency tiller.  I do like that arrangement.
I have a question however, the 4 loop metallic gizmo that apparently holds up your emergency tiller while in the cockpit locker in the 2nd picture, is that what it is for or is it a really cool line holder? Is that a manufactured item or did you or somebody have it made? Does it work for a line holder or do the lines fall off when the boat heels? Any info or feedback would be greatly appreciated as I am looking for a solution.
Thanks...
Dale Tanski
"Maruska"
Pearson 365 Cutter Ketch
1976 Hull #40
Buffalo, N.Y.

slokat

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Re: Emergency steering
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2012, 07:40:50 PM »
It is manufactured, was already mounted there when we got Wind Tamer. The previous owner might have kept lines on it, they would definitely stay on when heeled.

When I found the tiller buried in the aft locker under 3 anchors and other items and finally realized what it was, went looking for a handy place to store it. Just happened to fit there and is easy to retrieve.