Be Thankful for Your Steering

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Today is the American Thanksgiving holiday, a day when we often reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives.  I am personally very thankful to have Brandy in my life to share in our boating adventures.  I was also thinking about how thankful boaters are when their boats are in working order and how disappointing it can be when they break down.

On our last podcast Ken & Carol Gillstrom told us the story of them losing their steering hundreds of miles offshore and how they made it back to port safely.  The story prompted me to investigate various methods that can be used to restore steering if you primary steering is lost.

I found some great info on sailors that have tested various methods.  It looks like using a drogue is a good option in all sea states, but improvised oar steering can also work.  One tip seems to be that the panel should be fairly small.  In rough seas, the pole/oar method is hard to control and injuries can result from the pole flying around.

Here are the sources I found:

Yachting Monthly article comparing various emergency steering methods


A good video on drogue steering from Michael Keyworth, an experienced offshore sailor:

A PDF that outlines the approach in the video above

A good article from World Cruising Club comparing emergency steering methods


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Hopefully, we will never have to use any of these methods, but it is good to practice them to determine what works best on your boat.  In the meantime, be thankful for your steering.

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