My biggest concern in strong conditions are the aka bolt/nut failing and/or the rudder pin failing.
The former concern is of a sudden capsize and loss of items etc. The latter being stuck in the
middle of an open sea without propulsion to get to shore and replace the pin (I don't believe I could do it in strong winds out at sea)
Do people (e.g. TonyStott) use a reinforced device in strong conditions, or just hope for the best ?
First of all, you should never be in danger of losing items, as EVERYTHINGS should be on a leash or safely stowed in a mesh pocket or inside a hatch...
There are plenty of ways of "hardening up" Islands to minimise the prospects of getting caught out in rough weather (once you are stuck out there in it). Most of these have been gleaned from this forum, some are my own idea...1. Rudder pin breakage
a. Before msking a trip in open water, ensure your pin shows zero nicks or marks. If not, fit a brand new pin and keep the old one as a spare
b. ALWAYS heave really tight on the rudder down line so there is no doubt at all that the rudder is tight as it can go. Even a slight amount of slack can see the blade tilt back and increase the strain on the pin (and steering lines) massively.
If there are more than one Island, you can simplify pin replacement greatly by bringing both together back to back (with amas folded forward on that side) or sliding the "good" one's bow in under the "broken" one's aka, so the rear sailor can reach the rudder on the front one. (Kayakingbob has a good illustration elsewhere in the forum). If I was on my own, and was unsuccessful in reaching safety using a partially furled sail and paddle for steering, I would (reluctantly) consider tying myself to the Island, and slipping into the water to change the pin from outside, but ONLY if I was comfortable with reboarding safely afterwards, AND hypothermia was not a possibility.2. Aka brace pin breakage.
I have a line running from the mast base out to the padeye fitting near the ama handle on each side. When this is clipped on, the ama cannot swing in rapidly should the brace pin break. However, if you need to fold the ama in, you can still do so, by undoing the brace and sending the ama forwards.3. Broken steering line
(very low probability)
Firstly, if you make sure your rudder down line is cleated tightly, you will reduce the chances of braking the steering lines.
Secondly, ensure that the steering line goes right round the securing screw, AND that you had added a flat washer under the head of the screw. It will be very unlikely that the steering line will slip if it is clamped tightly between the rudder and the washer.
Thirdly (and I admit this was probably an over-reaction on my part), you can add "arms" about 4-6 inches long sticking out from each side of the rudder, and rig external rudder lines forward to cleats near the seat. To simplify usage, I have added a length of bungee in the starboard side, so I can pre-tension this line depending on weather conditions, while I have added a pulley to give 2 to 1 leverage, to reduce the force required at the seat. This arrangement removes any reliance on the internal steering lines (but won't help if your rudder pin breaks). I now don't think the small odds of breaking n internal lines justify this mod, but I might as well leave it in place.
And last of all, if the excrement really has hit the rotating cooling device
, you could always make up an external rudder. As I have a TI, the rear scupper holes are not covered by an aka crossbar, so my solution works for me. However, there are many alternatives for an AI, using the rod holders etc, to make up a frame to support a rudder (however, I believe it is easier to steer an AI with a broken rudder using a paddle, than it is on a TI)
Hopefully that should give you something to think about!