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Critically Bad Welding Job

Suddenly, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I lost my windvane self steering. With a “pling” the bolt that connects the steering line drum to the steering wheel had fallen off and was lying on the cockpit floor. I steered by hand and switched on the electrical autohelm. Then I had time to think and made a provisional repair with grey Dyneema line as you can see in the picture. Now I can’t disengage the windvane, I have to disconnect the steering lines completely to steer by hand. The reason for this failure is a faulty weld of the bolt. If you don’t have a redundant selfsteering system, a fault like this can lead to a very dangerous situation when sailing singlehanded. There is just no chance to steer by hand for the next 13 or so days, 24 hrs per day. The Swan 44 has a short bulb keel and a spade rudder. The advantage is the boat steers like a dinghy. The disadvantage is, even when trimmed really good, you have to steer her actively in the waves. I am not amused by the lack of quality of the welds of such a critical piece of equipment.

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