A few years ago, four friends started to make a trip with a 7m rib for about four days. The weather was nice and we were travelling at a speed of about 30 knots, enjoying the lovely cruise in the waveless sea when.... suddenly and without any warning, the engine turned sharply right and the rib started to make circles.
The turnaround was so violent that we would almost fall to the sea. Fortunately, though momentarily lost my balance, I managed to maintain steady and return the throttle lever to the neutral position before any of us fell of the rib.
Without having the possibility of replacing the steering cable, with feet and hands with ropes and paddles, we were trying to put the engine on a stable position. Finally, making an irregular and tortuous course, we managed to return to our base about thirty miles.
I wondered what would happen if this incident occurred at a rough sea or if small children were on board. Certainly we would suffer and have troubles in dangerous conditions.
It is a fact that no matter how powerful the engine is any damage on the steering system makes us really immobilized.
In order not to find ourselves in this very uncomfortable position, looking for casual and temporary solutions at the last moment, we can manufacture and always have with us a "backup" tiller.
In this way we are eliminating a lot the possibility of being immobilized when a steering cable is broken or the oil is suddenly leaking in case of a hydraulic steering system. It does not cost much, nor takes a lot of space in the rib. Thus, it may be necessary and then get us out of dangerous adventures, without even having to interrupt our desirable vacation.
Materials and construction
The small and improvised steering system which we will make consists of two parts, which can easily be made. We need a small base and a long stainless pipe. The stainless base is screwed permanently on the existing holes located in the steering bracket of each engine. We must beware of its size, so do not bother to trim the motor, as well as the shape and the required slope, which should be according to the shape of the sundeck. The edge of our base is essentially a short piece of stainless steel tube, into which our 'tiller' adapts.
The stainless steel tube that plays the role of tiller should:
- have the appropriate length, so as the pilot be able to drive seated on the aft sofa.
- have smaller diameter than the small tube of our base, so as to adapt and be steady with a small screw.
In case we have the classic roll bar on our stern, then things are simpler and the tiller is a straight tube. But when instead of a roll bar there is a stainless spar, located in the centre of the stern, then it should be designed accordingly so as to be able to move in all directions.