rudder problems

Sun 1 May 2011 03:31
14:47n 61:33w

We were en route to curacao (via tobago keys) since yesterday, from guadeloupe, when 4 times in a few hours the steering failed. It felt if something was stuck below decks in the rudders blocking the wheels to turn.

With 25+ knot gusts and 6-8 ft waves it looks like one of the 2 rudders 'flipped' around, with the wind at lets say 90 degrees (maybe because it came out of the water due to heeling?)

The steering then stopped functioning, similar when just loosing the control due to too much wind, but then normally the boat will point in the wind, not this time.

The wheels then functioned counterwise. When I turned clockwise on the starboard wheel, I could see the port wheel turn anti clockwise and vice versa. At this point, the wind came from port, and the rudder indication showed starboard steering..

All four times suddenly the steering was working again after about 15 seconds or so, but the 15 seconds the boat was uncontrolled, dangerous.

One time the result was an uncontrolled high speed gybe, we are glad nobody got injured and that no other ships were around us, but thus is a serioud issue.

We have changed course and are now motoring to st lucia to get the rudder/steering checked.