Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not) - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 03-04-2013 Thread Starter
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Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

After reading the thread and others about "Rudder lost at sea" It has me thinking about build vs buy Em Rudders. (ER)

First search took me to Rigrite and they have some pretty beefy Pintles and Gudgeons, tiller heads etc. How beefy is needed?

Length of a E R is surely a problem, Then there are boats that have small high above the water line transoms or double ended.

Example; my Oday 30 (not likely she will ever see seas outside of the Chessy) to hang one on the transom. that's easily 3ft from the water line.. then the actual blade in the water part.... 6-7 ft bottom to tiller head? The the tiller will hit the wheel since it's close to the transom. Another problem; the weight of such a rudder.. I know the one on my H23 was heavy and that wasn't very large.

The spinnaker or pole type ER could be included in this discussion too.

Anyways... thought this could be a fun discussion without the drama on a discussion where someone actually lost one.

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-04-2013
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

Have you seen this, good article - not mine
emergency rudder


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post #3 of 22 Old 03-04-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

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Originally Posted by knuterikt View Post
Have you seen this
emergency rudder

Thanks Knut! Impressive! Long like I guessed!

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

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Thanks Knut! Impressive! Long like I guessed!
Not mine, but two examples on how it can be done
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

My emergency rudder would consist of the two 8' dinghy oars tightly lashed together. To one oar, I'd screw one of my spare companionway boards. one end of the oars would then be lashed to the base of a stern stanchion allowing it to move back and forth.
(this is for my 8000 lb 28' S2).
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

We carry 3 6 foot section of 2X6 that we use as fenderboards when we go to the LI sound. I am thinking thats the beginning of the shaft for the "oar in the water". In a quick fix Maybe Carrying an 8-10 foot section of pipe or two smaller sections which could be bolted together


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post #7 of 22 Old 03-04-2013
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

What is not documented very well, or at least I am not aware of it, is how the rudders failed.

Denise, our O'days have a 2+" stainless steel tube that runs through the rudder tube and into the rudder itself. Welded to this post should be a stainless steel frame. This assembly is sometimes referred to as a "Flag." I did some googling and found a pic to give you an idea; Note that this pic has two shafts, because the guy built a rudder and a skeg as one unit, then cut them apart.

The flag is then set in foam to provide increased surface area. The whole thing is wrapped in Fiberglass, and that's your rudder.

There is also a good overview of the process at the Foss Foam website, here.

A problem with our rudders, and I believe that this applies to most spade rudders, is that the rudder connects to the hull right at the waterline. There is a lot of stress on the rudder in this area, and the fiberglass shell therefore tends to crack right here. This, in turn allows water to enter the shell, where it sits and stagnates, and causes crevice corrosion of the stainless.

I believe that the vessels that have experienced failure, did so because of shoddy repair to a damaged rudder. Welding stainless is not the same as welding mild steel, and without using the right tools (TIG welder) and correct welding rods, what looks like a good weld will soon fail after the rudder is placed back into service.

When I pulled my rudder last year, I cleaned out a groove around the rudder post (that stainless steel tube) and filled it with 5200.

Here is a "before" picture;
The red stuff seen in this pic is not corrosion, but is actually grease.

I then dropped a HDMPE spacer on top, and allowed it to set in the 5200. I believe that the 5200 has the flexibility and the compressive strength to resist cracking, and will keep water out.

Regardless, I would either spring the $3K for a new rudder, or build my own, if I were to make an open ocean run.

I would also consider through bolting large (5") stainless washers through the rudder post to either side of my rudder to substantially "beef it up."


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Last edited by eherlihy; 03-04-2013 at 10:57 AM.
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post #8 of 22 Old 03-04-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

Yes, nice photo there E, I'm sure our boats would "snap" off at the hull, and that is where the stress would take it's toll.

For as often that rudders seem to fail it does seem that spade rudders are most susceptible. "Watched it float away" has to be painful.. but most would sink is my assumption.

a ER board longer would make up for width imho, and be easier to turn. although the side way forces would bend it for sure.

It's not an easy fix for a short term Emergency situation.. something that also seems to totally overlooked by open water and "mature" sailors

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

Thanks... I think....

I believe that when these rudders fail, that the rudder post is left sticking out of the hull, and the rudder, sans metal frame, floats away. It may have been possible to bolt, or clamp a locker door onto the remaining rudder post (of course you would have to go for a swim to do so) and fashion this as a temporary rudder...

But then you would need calm seas, and a young whippersnapper () to try such a feat.
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post #10 of 22 Old 03-04-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Let's build an Emergency Rudder! (or not)

A ER that had a post to fit inside the broken off post could work... but the stub would be out of round and then there would be the prob of locking it to the old...

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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