Steering Failure!

Three and a half miles into Bass Strait with sloppy seas of around 3 meters and we suddenly had a steering issue.

Today was meant to be the start of our trip from Phillip Island to Lakes Entrance, which we planning to do over three and a half days. We’d been anchored in Cleeland Bight, just behind Cape Woolamai, a couple of miles down the channel from San Remo. At 6:30 am this morning we hauled anchor and caught the last of the ebb tide out into Bass Strait, heading for Waratah Bay, our first stop along the way. We were met by a sloppy sea state of up to 3 meters swell with about 1 meter waves.

About 3.5 miles later (just under 1 hour travel time) we lost the ability to turn to starboard, but could turn to port without any problem. A check of the steering system gave no clue to the issue – it all looked fine. So we turned around and came back. A couple of times we needed to adjust course significantly to starboard, so we had to do a circle to port. Eventually we got on a heading that took us straight back into where we came from. It was an anxious hour until we were able to drop anchor, two hours after we left.

Being back in calm water we were able to quickly identify the problem and learnt, once again, to make sure everything is secured as soon as it’s finished with. On Yamoya’s stern we have a swim platform, that’s folded upright against the stern when not in use. Sitting just below the swim platform is the rudder. Attached to the swim platform is a boarding ladder for getting out of the water. This ladder collapses into itself and folds flat against the platform, with a strap to keep it in place which we forgot to put back on when we folded up the swim platform. In the swelly conditions the ladder extended itself and was strong enough to stop the rudder from turning to the starboard side.

Here’s a picture of the swim platform, folded upright against the stern, with the boarding ladder having extended itself down into the water.

This is the same shot zoomed in, showing the ladder bent to the left. At the top of the photo you can see that it has tried to break away from the platform. This is from the rudder pushing against it.

In this photo the swim platform has been folded down and you can clearly see the ladder quite bent and out of shape.

So the ladder was a quick fix and the steering is fully functional again. But we’ve missed out weather window to get to Lakes Entrance. Oh well, we’re starting to feel like San Remo is our new home.

2 thoughts on “Steering Failure!

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  1. Just add this to the checklist of things to do/check before and after upping the anchor and/or leaving the boat on a mooring or at anchor and then heading out into Bass Straight.

    Liked by 1 person

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