Group: Forum Members
First, it should be distinguished whether we are talking about being without a rudder or a failure in the steering mechanism: the control of the rudder. They present quite different challenges. The initial report was not about a loss of a rudder, but rather a breakdown in controlling the still intact and functional rudder. I would venture to say that the majority of actual rudder losses at sea result in the loss of the vessel. Loss of control of a functional rudder can usually be repaired or jury rigged.
This article is a good argument for those below deck autopilots that are independent of the primary steering apparatus. (Most wind vane designs depend on elements of, if not the whole, steering system.) As long as the rudder shaft is in place and the rudder is attached to the shaft, our autopilot (an Alpha 3000) will steer our boat independent of the quadrant, cables, wheel etc. It should be a primary consideration when purchasing a below decks autopilot. Most may do so as I have only experience with the Alpha.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy