Originally Posted by dtwitty
Can you leave a wooden tiller in the water at all times? I have been removing mine after each use and am wondering if it is really neccesary.
I assume that you are refering to the RUDDER, since the tiller is unlikely to be in the water since it is attached to the top of the rudder. You could leave the rudder in the water all the time, but it would require painting the part imersed in the water with antifoulant paint (even in freshwater) to repel slime and other nasties. Even then the rudder and the paint and/or varnish finish will last a lot longer if the rudder is sealed with a few thin coats of a good Epoxy before painting. However, by removing the rudder when not using the boat, the life of the rudder and fittings will be extended tremendously! Especially if you stow the rudder inside the cabin when you are not aboard. This allows the wood to dry out between uses and reduces exposure to the harmful UV rays of sunlight. With the rudder staying in hte water 24/7 it will slowly absorb water through any crack in hte paint/varnish finish which will tend to lift the finish off the wood and could lead to dry rot, but definitiely will soften the wood leading to the edges being more vulnerable to damage. Taking the rudder off and at least laying it in the cockpit will help to reduce that water penetration.
We always removed the rudder on our CAL 21 before going ashore each day, and during hte week the rudder was stowed in the cabin. This kept the rudder looking good for 38 years with a yearly application of 2 coats of varnish. The lighter colored patch is epoxy filler where I faired the damage caused by the outboard prop contacting the rudder. We added a plexiglas plate to the side of our outboard later to prevent that damage. The plate extended out from the "anti-ventilation" plate/fin on hte outboard just enough so that plexiglas fin hit the rudder before the prop would (sorry, don't have a good pic).