August 25, 2019 at 7:16 am #225209
I’ve been acclimating S/V Silverheels to the Chicago/Lake Michigan for her first season here with a new owner, and one of the highlights of the season in Lake Michigan is the Chicago Air and Water Show Weekend. The crew met at the dock on Sunday morning amidst a torrential downpour, but the forecast called for the rain and clouds to clear out, but winds to build from 10 knts to 25 knts, and that’s what happened. As we were sailing on a broad reach with aircraft flying over and in the midst of reefing down to the second reef point on the main, the steering gave way and Silverheels rounded up into the wind. As I had crew out at the mast already, they lowered the main completely and then we turned our attention to pulling in the jib. Once de-powered, we found that the cap to the emergency tiller access was corroded/seized shut so we had to remove the 6 bedding screws holding the plate down to the cockpit floor. These were removed, the emergency tiller was mounted, and the three men aboard rotated on the tiller every 10 minutes to fight the effects of prop wash against the rudder to keep course (of course the events that transpired at the time were not so efficiently arrived at as depicted in this story).
On the following week, to determine what was wrong I removed the Riviera compass from the binnacle and found that the 4 long screws holding the compass mounting were corroded/seized in tight. A friend of mine suggested we try to fish the ends of the chain out with a coat hanger, and this effort was successful. This allowed us to confirm that the chain indeed broke. It was really great to find that the previous owner (Tor Pinney) did an excellent job of maintaining spares on board, a spare Edson steering chain was among the items. After fishing out both ends of the chain and tying them off with twine messengers so as not have to re-fish them out if dropped, we disconnected the eyebolts terminating the steering cables from the steering quadrant below the cockpit. This gave us the slack we needed on the cables to pull up the chain to where the chain was connected to the cables. We then proceeded to disconnect the old chain from either end pulling out the small cotter pins used to hold the connecting link, and connect the brand new replacement chain to the existing cable.
In order to restore steering I crawled down into the port cockpit locker to ensure the steering cables were properly aligned into the guide wheels and around the quadrant while my partner was above and able to re-attach the eyebolt terminals to the steering quadrant through the emergency tiller access and put on the requisite tension. This was accomplished yesterday and the effort is as of yet un-tested under power, but I feel fairly confident that Silverheels is back in business.
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