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Emergency Steering

Photo If your boat's rudder is lost or disabled, the standard SAILOMAT 601 self-steering system can be converted into an emergency steering device, that can hold a desired course and assist in bringing your boat home safely. Normal self-steering would have to be exchanged for manual emergency steering.

The option of using SAILOMAT 601 for emergency steering is made possible primarily by the high strength of the SAILOMAT shaft, holding fork and servo blade components.

In principle, the regular SAILOMAT 601 can be used directly for manual emergency steering, although in most situations, steering with a standard servo blade (and locking the pendulum motion with lines positioned at the fork or lower, and running around the transom) would be somewhat inefficient due to the small blade area.

Instead, for more efficient emergency steering with SAILOMAT 601 we recommend a conversion with the following steps:

a) Increasing the oar blade surface using the optional SAILOMAT component 'BEST' (Blade Extension for Emergency Steering),

b) dismantling the pedestal/ rocker arm and mast tube components, and

c) hooking up pendulum 'locking lines' and manual steering lines to the special tiller on 'BEST'.

With 'BEST' the SAILOMAT 601 servo blade surface is more than doubled to approximately 0.23 sq. meter ( 2.45 sq. feet), and then considerably better for emergency steering of a sailboat than the standard oar blade. With the 'BEST' steering blade size still significantly smaller than the yacht's normal rudder, steering ability limitations exist. The emergency steering system should be considered as an assist device, capable holding the boat on a steady course, but with limited maneuvering ability and slower course corrections.

'BEST' specifications:
(Blade Extension for Emergency Steering)

Rudder area +0.228 sq. meter (+2.45 sq. feet)
Area increase +106%
Length 800 mm (31,5 in.)
Chord 285 mm (11,2 in)
Dept. adjustable
Steering by special tiller and control lines
Material aluminum 6061 T6

The two pendulum locking lines are secured around the top section of the 'BEST' rudder, then wrapped around the yacht transom, and secured to the deck. In this way the rudder blade is directly supported by the locking lines, and the mechanical loads on the other SAILOMAT components minimized. The steering lines are attached to the aft facing special tiller from the trailing edge of the 'BEST' blade.

For further details of converting the regular SAILOMAT 601 system with 'BEST' into an emergency steering please contact Sailomat Design Office.


Self-Steering PrincipleTechnical DataEmergency SteeringOff-Center MountingInstallation Examples


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