Stuck Steering Dilemma Solved!

Today we devoted the morning to fixing our stuck steering wheel.  When we returned to the boat, and David removed the canvas covering the binnacle, I heard “Well THAT’s a first!” …. uh oh!

We’ve been returning to the boat every six months for over 12 years, and we’ve never had a time when the steering wheel refused to turn.  Until now.  Not good.

Eying the binnacle, we were initially suspicious that the little wheel on the outside of the binnacle that locks the steering wheel in place had somehow parted from the clamp inside the binnacle, but a brief glance at the compass & binnacle didn’t look promising.  Sticking our heads in the sand, we decided to worry about it “later” while we got the boat ready to live aboard.

Removing the compass with two tiny screws...

Removing the compass with two tiny screws…

But this morning, with the cabin cleared, sails on and general moving aboard & initial cleaning complete, we turned to the main limiting factor … stuck steering.  Unfortunately, once we removed the two little screws on top the Ritchie compass & then removing the 4 big screws underneath … surprisingly, all four major screws budged with a bit of intense pressure.  Might be the first time the “one won’t budge” Mr Murphy law didn’t kick in.   Well, at least that’s good news!

Unfortunately, the steering lock let loose completely with just a tap of a big screwdriver….   🙁  releasing a bit of pressure on the steering wheel, but not enough to completely free it.  Crap!

Access to the inside of the binnacle is by coaxing these four big screws to unscrew... amazingly, they did!

Access to the inside of the binnacle is by coaxing these four big screws to unscrew… amazingly, they did!

David climbs into the “pit” inside a cockpit lazarette and looks over the steering mechanism below.  He suspected our hydraulic auto-pilot might be responsible, but found corrosion on the rudder post that was inhibiting turning… not good.  We used a file and cleaned it up as best we could and then re-lubed and voila!  The steering is working!  Next time we haul, we’ve already added it to the list to be checked.


One more challenge solved….   off to the swimming pool!    🙂   Is it time to go sailing yet???   Cheers!  Jan


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