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A Basic Guide to Boat Steering Failure

Have you ever wondered what you would do if your steering system failed while you were out on the water? Furthermore, what would you do to ensure returning to the harbor safely? The following are some guidelines to follow if this happens to you.


What causes Marine Steering Systems to fail?


Marine steering systems are relatively simple and rarely fail, hence the reason so many boat owners tend to take them for granted. It’s also the reason why they often neglect performing preventative maintenance on them. Damage sustained in an impact and the lack of preventative maintenance is the two most common causes of steering system failure. When this happens, you can’t control your boat. Improper maintenance or the lack of preventative maintenance is the most common cause of marine steering system failure. So, you should have a reputable repair facility regularly check your system. This will ensure all minor issues are corrected in time and do not require extensive repairs later on.


Although the cables are the system’s backbone and are very durable, they rarely break. However, they can drop a sheave because they get stretched out after years of use. Additionally, if there is too much tension on the turning block, it can become detached from the bulkhead, thereby releasing the cables. Having a steering system failure can be a terrifying experience. However, there are certain measures you can take in order to gain enough control over your boat and get it back to land.


How to address Steering System Failure


There are several measures you can take if you experience a steering system failure while out on the water including:


  • Check your steering cables – they might have slipped due to a lack of tension and just need to be tightened. Once tightened, you can slip them back into place by using the emergency tiller.

  • Drop your anchor – if you’re unable to rely on the auto pilot or emergency tiller, drop the anchor provided you’re in shallow enough water. This will keep you from drifting until help arrives.

  • Engage your auto pilot – your auto pilot is connected to the stock and doesn’t rely on the steering cables.

  • Remove the rudder – although this seems drastic, if the rudder is jammed, you’ll never be able to control your boat.

  • Use your emergency tiller – if there’s no auto pilot, you can use the emergency tiller to restore control of the steering by bolting on. This will make managing the boat easier.


To learn more about steering system failure and what you can do about it, call Miami Marina at (305) 892-2628 or e-mail us at sales@powerhousemarina.com today. We are here to assist you with all your boat needs. Call us NOW.

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