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A decent Emergency Rudder?

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It fits any boat but does it work? I don't think the control lines look like they have enough angle to take much lateral load and the stainless meccano angle doesn't look up to much either. If you secured a spinnaker pole across your transom and ran the control lines through the ends of that to get some better support in my mind it would help. But it doesn't scream secure, robust alternative. I do like the principle though.

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Yeah, the video is poor - and very slow only.

I do see that the horizontal plane angled down and depth controlled by the "meccano" would produce some fwd  force, to try to keep it behind the boat.

In perfect conditions this may work, but in the turbulence of the wake, waves etc  I have doubts. As I see it the outer lines are for steering control only. The idea is good, but I'd like to see a decent demo....

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I don't think it's an option because it looks so piss weak. I think if you were serious about it proper gudgeon's on the stern would prove far superior.

I'd still go with a drogue rather than that option not as accurate for steering but at least it wouldn't fold under the boat.

Having spoken with people who have had to resort to the board on a spinnaker pole solution, apparently it doesn't work very well.

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Hi David


Great to hear from you and thanks for your interest.


As you rightly say in one of your posts, there is no proper alternative.  What other means of emergency steering does the other forum member mean?

Drogues slow the boat down and the forces of the water would eventually break the drogue rope or wear it where attached to the stern.  The drogue won't steer the boat as such, it would just point the yacht into a better direction and the yacht would then go sideways.


A drogue will not replace a rudder or skeg.  That's the point of Oceansteer.  We have tested it on a yacht with the rudder removed.  The yacht did not have a skeg either.  The Oceansteer gave the yacht directional stability and replaced the rudder/skeg allowing it to sail forwards and to windward.  A drogue would not be able to do that.


After extensive research we have found that Viking oars lashed up by lashing a table top or locker lid to the end of the spinnaker pole don't work for long.  They are hard work to operate and soon the plywood blade will fall off.  We've tried it ourselves.  Plus, what if you need the spinnaker pole for the spinnaker?  The Oceansteer will allow you to continue to sail downwind under spinnaker or with your genoa poled out.


If you have a Hydrovane then you don't need an Oceansteer.  Oceansteer is aimed at yachts that don't have a windvane steering system.  Sailors doing offshore races or the ARC for example.


The blade of Oceansteer is immensely strong!  We have tested it a lot and we could not break one.


The point of Oceansteer is that the blade is allowed to articulate on its pivot point.  It is not fixed.  If it was fixed the force of the water would break something.  Oceansteer stays level with the seawater whilst the yacht heals over.  It's supposed to do that.

The brackets merely keep the pivot point in the centre of the transom to allow the blade to turn from that point.  The brackets do not tow the Oceansteer.  The ropes are working in tension obviously and are more than strong enough.  You use pulley blocks on the toerail, cleats and spinnaker/genoa winches to control and secure the ropes.  These bits are strong on all boats.  If a rope breaks you just replace it.

You run ropes along the length of the hull from bow cleats to the pivot point at the bottom of the brackets.


The faster you go the more that the Oceansteer is pushed down into the water and forward towards the transom.  The brackets become very stiff and do not move when the yacht is travelling quickly.  The shape of the blade pushes it downwards.  We have spent a long time designing it and developing it to get the geometry right.

The geometry means that it will not break of the water.  The force of the water against the bottom of the vertical blade turns the horizontal plane blades down forcing the Oceansteer down and forwards..


The brackets can be scaled-up.  It's a compromise.  Obviously, if you have a 60' blue water steel, heavy displacement ketch that you sail across the Southern Ocean you will need larger brackets.  We supply brackets that are appropriate to the size of the yacht and can also scale-up the Oceansteer blade.


Obviously on a 30' GRP racer you will not have the room for long heavy steel brackets.


Thicker ropes are supplied for larger yachts.  Plus you can use spare spinnaker sheets and the tow rope or anchor warp etc, etc.  In heavy weather ropes should be run from the bracket to blade attachment pivot point to the bow of the yacht and pulled tight so that the brackets are pinned firmly to the transom.  Friction then helps and stops banging in a swell.  The brackets can also be doubled up.


The idea of Oceansteer is to allow you to sail on to a port of safety and not necessarily to continue sailing to your original destination.  Sail trimming and reefing will be required.  It's an emergency steering device not a replacement rudder.  It's a compromise between weight, space required and function.  If you have the storage space on a large yacht then we can build you a size appropriate Oceansteer with large brackets.  If you own a 30' light displacement racer/cruiser then you might not have the space for anything bigger.

Oceansteer is designed to be easily stowed on a yacht and believe me we have spent ages measuring lots of yachts lockers and walked around marinas with Oceansteer trying it in and on other peoples yachts.


Obviously every forum attracts smart arses and detractors.  Like here in the UK many people talk about their sailing rather than actually doing it.  But it's great to see that so many people are interested and that this unique solution is going down well.


If the weather was bad enough to break off your rudder you would eave-to and ride of the weather by trailing ropes and a sea anchor.  You would not deploy the Oceansteer until the weather is calmer or if you are in danger from a lee shore.


I'm sure that you were only joking when you said that you would copy it.  I'm sure that we could get one to you cheaply as there must be containers and stuff heading to NZ.  We live not far from the docks in Southampton.  We have pitched Oceansteer cheap enough that it would not be economical for anyone to make their own.  The components are expensive and it would not be strong enough if you compromised on quality or thickness.  Plus copying other peoples inventions is a great compliment.


I hope that helps?


Spring time for you I guess?  Lucky buggers!


Happy sailing.






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I think it is an interesting idea. I get the point about the lines from the pivot point to the bow taking the majority of the load.


I have tried to steer a boat with a small drogue before, with very limited success, other than virtually directly downwind - being only able to go one way (ok +/- 20 deg) is barely "steering".


It would be good to get one here and try it. I'll be taking the rudder off Island Time for inspection/maintenance after this season - could be an opportunity. I'd mean to go out when it was a bit choppy - say 30 Knots +, and see what happens.


Nick - are you interested in a trial on a 40 ft keeler - and some publicty, as well as a proper video? Send me a PM or email matt@neptunes-gear.com

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I notice the mechanno brackets have been beefed up with some tubing in the PBO test.



That's their pipe lagging not alloy tube. Who would like to have a stab at the price, in NZ dollars ex freight? I reckon $750

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I have a feeling he was referring to me not liking his design. 

I thought he defended it well and made some good points, then I saw that comment (which I can assure you is far from the truth) and is an assumption based on his own prejudices.

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