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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:52 pm 
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Yesterday on Sydney Habor was amazing with every boat out and great conditions. After sailing around for 5 hours in often quite choppy conditions "bang" the rudder pin broke. For a while I was in a dangerous position being close to middle head and very little control over where I was drifting. I paddled away from the rocks and managed to hail a cruiser who kindly hauled me to a nude beach to make repairs.

Replacing the pin was easy on the beach and off I went again. The up and down strings are not tight I didn't hit anything and the end result could have been disasterous had the pin gone while I was closer to a dangerous lee shore.

I look for lessons learnt from these events and here we go.

1. The steering was a little stiffer than usual when I first went out and I should have had a look as to why. It later eased to normal.
2. Conditions were very choppy with wind gusts to 20 knots though the boat was not over powered. Both pins I have broken have been in these conditions.
3. It was impossible for me to change the pin at sea in those conditions.

As a result of 2 pins broken in 18 months I will adopt (as others I know do) the stainless steel pin method and keep an eye out for stress damage to the hull. I would rather trash the boat than end up drowning while being smashed on the rocks.

Happy new year.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:17 pm 
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Geez Dave, you've had some bad luck with the pins. As I recall, Kayaking Bob and his mates trialled some stronger pins a few years back and ended up tearing the transoms off two of their boats. That's the problem with the pre-2011 AI's - the transom is so weak that you are forced to use a weak rudder pin to protect it. I don't know if keeping an eye out for hull damage will help. I think if it happens, it'll happen all at once and you'll still be left without steering and with a hull full of water. I gather the transom's much beefier on the 2011 model, but that's little consolation to us owners of earlier models. I'll refrain from making humorous comments about you being forced to land on a nude beach (?Cobbler's). Were you out on the Harbour for the New Year fireworks?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:58 pm 
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There's one more lesson that should be learned. Rudder pins DO break. Keep clear of anything that you wouldn't want to drift into, like those rocks that you talk about!

I wouldn't want to risk damaging the boat. If you break a rudder pin, you're left floating. If you break a hull, you're sunk! That's not good! Keep some spares, and see how it goes. I've found that mine have only broken in VERY cold water. I wonder if these pins that are designed for California conditions, don't become a little bit more brittle in the very cold water? Just a thought, no basis to believe it other than my own personal experience.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:33 pm 
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No Chris I avoided the kaos of NYE and stuck to the rule that NYE Sydney harbor is great on someone elses boat.
It was a truely magic day on the harbor yesterday in bays at Manly and Middle Harbor - heaps of people rafted up and enjoying their boats, being the first good summer day in Sydney this season.

Augaug I know rudder pins break and you should stay away from danger and not run with sizzors etc. After every break one gets cautious for a while and as danger passes so does caution. It's been said before about the do s and donts regarding rudder pins but the bottom line is that it is a fault with the boat that could kill you. I have had a lot of joy out of the boat and would like to have some more but the pins are a worry. Considering I have broken 2 in 18 months tells me that the stern was at risk twice for a moment - stainless for me.

Chris our nude beaches used to be good, now you've got to watch your ass if you know what I mean.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:12 am 
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G'Day Dave,
I know you have covered a lot of open water km's and I know how disconcerting breaking a pin can be (I broke two myself) but going to a permanent SS pin is risky. I used to carry one as an emergency spare but never needed it.
I'm not sure if you've seen this pic posted by reconlon? It put me off using a permanent SS pin (and this damage was only caused by a harder plastic pin).
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=40008&p=162467
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Two pins in 18 months seems acceptable to me. Wouldn't a better option be to regularly check the pin and replace it more frequently?
When I broke my first pin it was in a 20+ knot southerly but I was still in control thanks to the miragedrive. I was able to pedal back to shore using the paddle as a rudder.
If you do go SS then consider reinforcing the transom by filling it from the inside. Hot glue may be one option.
If I still had my earlier AI I probably would have converted it to use the latest rudder by now. It didn't look too difficult to throughbolt a u-section of SS directly beneath the transom extension on your AI so that the longer rudder pin went through it as well. With a backing plate and proper sealing/filling internally it should be strong enough. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:05 am 
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My suggestion would be to practice controlling the boat without it's rudder and keeping a paddle where you can grab it and use it within a second or two.

Or, if you consider a future broken rudder pin too life threatening, trade up to a 2010, 2011 or 2012 hull. The older boats don't loose that much of their value, and you also get other improvements and a new 2 year warranty.

Breaking a rudder pin (or a few dozen! :) ) should be a challenge to master, not to dread.

On a side note, I do still reinforce the transoms on my pre-2010 AI's, but with West System's G-Flex epoxy.

Any way you choose, enjoy your sailing...

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:55 pm 
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A new hull now there's an idea, I wonder if I can buy a 2011 hull and rudder only? Will that overcome the problem of broken pins? That question will be raised at Jervis Bay next month.

To other 2010 AI owners beware of heavy chop while sailing to windward in say 15 knots> especially with backwash coming from cliffs, seawalls etc that seems to be the danger zone that I will try to avoid in future, also should your steering become a little "stiffer" than usual it's time to change to a new pin.

I will take my own advice and delay S/S pins for now, and I still love the boat. Heading out today to Hawksbury River/ Patonga o/nighter.

Happy sailing


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Grey color pins? I have no reports of grey pin failures that I am aware of.

Maybe consider a maintenance schedule for inspection and replacement. You broke two in your conditions in a year? Maybe increase inspection of the part and replace them every couple of months in-season.

Failure of a pin should not be a devastating event. Furl the sail, pedal and steer with a paddle.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:21 pm 
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I've broken a gray pin. Pins seem to last up to 1.5 yrs, but can last as little as 200 yds, i.e., immediately after replacement. I dreaded breaking my first one, but it is not that big a deal. As KB & Matt say, simply reef your sail a bit if necessary, and use your paddle to rudder to a landing site to change your pin. Keep spare pins and a Leatherman tool handy to make the change. Most people store 1-2 extra pins in their rear hatch cover.

Keith

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Last edited by Chekika on Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:54 pm 
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mmiller wrote:
Grey color pins? I have no reports of grey pin failures that I am aware of. ... Failure of a pin should not be a devastating event. Furl the sail, pedal and steer with a paddle.
(Quote edited by augaug)

I've broken a grey one. I just wonder if they get brittle in cold water. But again, the original post claims that this is a potentially life or death event, that seems like operator error more than a rudder pin failure. The boat is VERY easy to control with the mirage drive and a paddle while the rudder hangs loose. It's not convenient, but it is very easy.

The time that I broke the pin without the paddle wasn't a dangerous situation either. Put the mirage drive in, peddle, stick an outstretched arm into the water to create resistance to correct steering movements. It's super simple, it works perfectly, and you can do it without a paddle. The operator error would come into play if you didn't have clothing to keep your hands and arms warm enough in the case of a pin failure. I usually pack a waterproof jacket and neoprene gloves.

You CAN peddle the boat, and steer with no paddle or rudder! Practice it before you panic and do the wrong thing!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:41 am 
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I still believe the fault is not with the pins be they black or grey but with the design which can be cured by shimming the slack between pintles and rudder. Stop the rudder from shimmying or quivering whilst travelling through the water which I believe keeps working on destroying the pin at the the hinge points. Simply tighten up the joint so there is no improper movement caused by the poor engineering. I did that on my 2009 model, sailed and kayaked for countless hours in all conditions including the heaviest of winds on the original pin without ever breaking one. I sold that AI to a friend who still has the original pin in use even now over three years later.
Search the forum for my earlier thread which covers it all. And by the way I upgraded to a 2011 hull a year back just because I could and am quite happy with the new hull and rudder set-up though on reflection think I my 2009 hull was just as good with the rudder set-up top notch after the shimming trick..Pirate

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:40 am 
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Pirate, you may be right, but that is not the whole story, because, on the same boat some pins (grey, black, whatever) last a couple years, while another pin lasts a couple miles.

Clearly, there is considerable variability in pins. One could argue that if a pin has not broken, don't change it--the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," applies here. Well, maybe. After 1.5 yrs, you are pushing it.

Keith

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:07 am 
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I think I mmay have posted this once before ...

... While sailing my 2007 AI up on a remote area of Lake Champlain I met another fellow with an Identical Papaya 2007 AI. While talking I asked how many rudder pins he's gone through - He's still on his original :shock: and He sails almost every day may-oct.

I gave him 2 new ones but I hope I haven't jinxed him

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:17 pm 
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Chekika wrote:
Pirate, you may be right, but that is not the whole story, because, on the same boat some pins (grey, black, whatever) last a couple years, while another pin lasts a couple miles.

Clearly, there is considerable variability in pins. One could argue that if a pin has not broken, don't change it--the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," applies here. Well, maybe. After 1.5 yrs, you are pushing it.

Keith


Agreed Keith. My hypothesis is based on personal observation of my friend Mickey's rudder system vibrating as he was peddling with me down a river so I am convinced that there is just too much slack in the system which allows this unwanted movement. I might argue that an even thinner or weaker pin than usual will bring on failure even sooner whilst an unusually good combination of pin and hole diameters will ensure a more lasting set-up. My efforts were aimed at shimming out the slack to bring the percentages back in my favour. I always thought bushing the system would be a far more efficient answer but was not prepared to take that step until after the warranty ran out.

Has anyone experienced a pin failure with the 2011 rudders yet?..Pirate

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:52 pm 
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Firstly I have to thank Augaug for the laugh about casually dipping your hand in the water to steer an AI in 20 knot winds and 5' chop with a 3 knot current while rapidly drifting toward a 100' shear cliff with 6' waves crashing against them, good one.

Pirate what you say makes sense and I will give it a whirl.

Matt-both pins I have broken were grey and I have been replacing pins prior to all significant offshore trips, I guess I've used 6 in 18 months all grey. I note your ostrich approach to the pin issue and no response re possibility of buying a new hull and rudder system only.

I stick with my earlier comment re "danger zone" for rudder pins is heavy chop and 20knot> combination.

I will continue to enjoy the AI more aware of its' limitations.


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