Join Date: Apr 2006
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There's no genteel way to really say this, but if you have ANY water in the rudder, you WILL HAVE RUDDER FAILURE. The only question is when it will fail, and how inconvenient or dangerous that may be for you.
Yes, sealing the rudder shaft isn't easy. Yes, even a casual bump at low tide can make a hairline crack that lets water in. Yes, opening a rudder up and rebuilding it is damned expensive and inconvenient.
But once water gets inside the rudder, it becomes stagnant water with zero oxygen content, and that's the perfect mechanism to cause the stainless rudder stock to fail. Unless the iron armature or frame in the rudder fails first.
You can try to drain it (takes a long time, even with multiple holes and a heat source) and then reseal it, and if you are lucky you will reseal it and the internal damage will not be enough to cause a failure. But really, there's no way to tell how safe the rudder is, or when it is going to fail. Could be this year, or 15 years from now. You're gambling once you know it has water in it.
Which is perfectly fine--as long as you KNOW that you are gambling, and what the stakes may be.