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Broken Cables on SIC Bullet on Maliko Run!


#1

What Happened?

I hadn’t used my SIC 17’ Bullet in maybe 6 months. The cables looked a bit rusted. I tested the steering a bit on the rack and it seemed a bit sticky, but OK.

Well, it wasn’t OK.

About 1 minute into paddle, going from Maliko to Sugar Cove, just after my ride left, my right steering cable snapped. At first I didn’t realize it. With only one cable having tension, my board was pointed toward the right and rocks, uncontrollably. I jumped off and noticed what happened.

I tied the free steering cable to the cable used for holding the paddle. That seemed to keep the fin relatively straight.

However, I couldn’t get good tension, and a little ways outside of Maliko, I tried to tighten up things a bit. Bad idea!

The other steering cable snapped!!!

For a few minutes, I was seriously worried. My paddling partner was 600 yards ahead downwind and moving away faster and faster. It was late in the afternoon, so I didn’t want to get stuck at sea in the dark.

With both cables broken, there was no way to fix the fin. I noticed that the fin seemed to stick a little if I reversed the fin angle. It then tried to paddle. Of course the fin didn’t stay in position. I did, however, discover that with some work, I could roughly get the board where I wanted it to go.

So an an hour and thirty minutes later, I got down to the finish line at Sugar Cove.

This experience reminded me of why I don’t like to windsurf when I haven’t gone in a while. With brittle, unused gear, it seems so likely that you’re going to break something, such as the tendon, a rope, or a boom!

Observations

  • It’s impossible to paddle with a single side of the steering cables broken and the other side under tension. The fin will be fixed in one direction.
  • Paddling with broken steering cables is annoying, but doable if you free up the cables enough that fin can move freely.
  • If the steering just had some sort of simple lockout pin, then I could have fixed the fin in place to get me home easily.
  • Don’t trust rusty “stainless” cables on a SIC bullet! Get them replaced!

Questions

  • There’s quite a bit of the cable that’s hidden. How do you know if the hidden part maybe damaged badly?
  • What sort of maintenance can be done on the cables to prolong their life? Or should cables be replaced yearly?
  • Can an older steering system be easily retrofitted to allow locking the rear fin in case this happens again?
  • Any better way to fix the fin when a cable snaps?

#2

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days.
Last night this came up: Jam something between the rudder and the hull.

But what does one have out in the ocean on a SUP?
I’m guessing the clearance between the rudder and the hull is 1/16-1/8"…

So do you have a string on your shorts?
Could you rip a piece of deck pad off?
How about your leash - would it fit?
The bill of your hat?
Rip up your t-shirt or rash guard?
Watchband?
Camelback tube?
Sunglasses strap?

Smooth Sailing,
Bottom Bob