Many years ago Kodiak logger, Paul Hansen, was crab fishing with his dad twenty miles east of Old Harbor, Alaska, off Kodiak Island. All was well until something gave way in the steering system, and suddenly control of the boat was lost. Looking in the lazarette, they found a vital piece of the steering mechanism had broken and required welding. With no welding machine on board, they knew they had to get to Old Harbor to make the repairs.

With the broken steering, the boat would only go in big circles, always turning the same direction. To compensate, Mr. Hansen had the crew tie a line to a six-by-six crab pot and ease it over the stern. Next he directed them to secure the line to the capstan in the middle of the deck. They adjusted the line so that the crab pot was barely under water.

When the boat was put in gear and the crew slid the line from the port side of the stern to starboard and back, as needed, to keep the boat headed for Old Harbor. They soon arrived safely, having steered for twenty miles with a crab pot!

The Hansen technique will work with many variations.

(Some of this material excerpted from PRACTICAL BOAT MECHANICS, by Ben L. Evridge, to be published this fall.)