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!
- 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!
- 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?