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post #1 of 4 Old 11-03-2012 Thread Starter
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Refinishing Rudder Questions

Greetings All!

First, I hope everyone had a great summer sailing season! It was my first season in my 1972 MacGreggor Venture 21. I used it only in Barnegat Bay here in New Jersey, and had a great time learning to sail (mostly solo). Fortunately, I got it out of the water just before Sandy, and am now looking forward to fixing and improving it over the winter - which brings me to the issue of this posting - refinishing the rudder.

The attached photos show the two main sections of the rudder. My plan is to strip off all paint, sand all the wood, replace the rusted bolts/nuts/etc first, THEN do whatever staining/varnishing/painting/whatever is best - SO, I'm hoping I'll get a few tips here on SailNet!

While I had the boat in a slip this season (as you can see, I got a substantial amount of barnacle buildup), I'm planning to trailer-launch it next year, therefore I'm assuming stain and varnish on the wood will be ok. Yes? No?

The large metal plates appear to have a thick coat of black paint on them, so I'm thinking of stripping them with the appropriate chemical(s), then sanding and repainting.

Any thoughts, suggestions or advice are VERY welcome and appreciated!
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post #2 of 4 Old 11-03-2012
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Re: Refinishing Rudder Questions

The plates may well be anodized aluminum.. probably no need to take that finish off if so.

I'd also suggest that you modify your gudgeons and pintles in a way that makes them easy to remove between sails.. whatever you do to your rudder will fare better and longer if it's not always immersed. You can get little 'keeper' clips that mount above the pintle on the transom to prevent accidental lifting out. Set that up rather than the keeper pin and you can leave the rudder in the cockpit between trips. No Barnies....


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post #3 of 4 Old 11-03-2012
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Re: Refinishing Rudder Questions

Welcome to Sailnut FishDragon.

Good for you for getting your boat the he!! away from the storm surge of Sandy!

Here is the spec of the Mac 21': MACGREGOR 21 sailboat specifications and details on

I'm not very familiar with the V21 so please bear with me.
As Faster suggested, if you can actually remove the rudder when you are not using the boat it will not get nearly as many barnacles. This is a great idea, especially if you end up using sub optimal marine finishes on the surfaces. Varnish, most finishes and most paints will not last too long when submerged in water for a long time, especially over a wood surface.

For your metal surfaces/plates I'd think about using something like: Pettit Zinc Coat Barnacle Barrier

The problem with wood in underwater use is that it will swell, eventually causing seams that allow more water intrusion. The most widely recommended course of action would be to clean/sand down to wood and coat it with epoxy and glass cloth and then apply an anti fouling paint of some kind. If you can keep the rudder out of the water most of the time then a good marine varnish, with 8 - 10 coats could certainly last a season (perhaps 2 or 3).

Not that I could not understand your post (pics help a ton BTW) but the 'nautical' terminology for the pins on the rudder are 'pintles', and the female opening they fit into on the transom, or back of boat, are called 'gudgeons'. That should help if you want to find new hardware as it seems to have a patina of rust and is likely stainless steel (SS), which can/will fail.

I've had rudder failures before in boats smaller than your V21 and it never seems to happen when it does not matter; it is always when you need it most.

There are ways of actually steering a boat without a rudder but it is not something you want to learn quickly in an emergency. It is good practice to be able to come about and jibe without a rudder though. I've done it in smaller boats but should try it myself on my 27 footer.

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post #4 of 4 Old 11-04-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Refinishing Rudder Questions

Thank you Faster and CalebD

Wish I'd thought of removing the keel at the start of the year - seems so obvious now, lol. I will def look at the keeper clips and other. Thanks!

As for the plates, they are spots where the finish has been eaten thru, including what appears to be damage to the metal, so unless there's some reason not to, I'd prefer to strip them down and refinish them.

CalebD, thanks for the parts explanation, very helpful! Also, as I see you're in NY (I live in NJ, west of Newark), I have a question for you - I'm thinking of primarily launching from Keyport, NJ and (obviously) sailing Raritan Bay next year. Of the dozen or so sails I did this year, I did almost all of them solo, getting to the point that I was sailing in 20mph winds using both main and jib (which I'm sure to most is no big deal, but to me it felt like a real accomplishment!). Does that seem like a reasonable plan, or am I overestimating my sailing skills?

Last edited by FishDragon; 11-04-2012 at 11:22 AM.
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