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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During a sail last Sunday in the Chesapeake near Deltaville, while broad reaching in 12 knots apparent with our new (first time up the mast) A1.5 spinnaker, we lost the rudder. The boat did an immediate 180 degree turn to windward, the spinnaker went through the fore triangle and out to leeward, shredding it. When we couldn't get underway again, continually luffing up, we realized that the rudder was gone. We anchored, put on the PFDs, checked for water ingress (none), and called TowBoatUS (first time in 33 years). So now I need a new rudder for our 1984 Sabre 38 Mk I. Sabre hasn't built sailboats since about 2012, so they're out. I've talked with Foss Rudders in FL and they have a Sabre 36 mould that will work. They do the traditional foam filled mould around an armature. I'm also taking with Ruddercraft based in Boise ID. They will make a more modern custom foil for essentially the same price. Does anyone have experience with either fabricator, especially for a larger boat?

The rudder sheared at the waterline. The rudder post was 2 ⅞" but 38 years of corrosion left it with less than ⅛" wall thickness (down from ¼"). Stunning.
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We had two rudders made by Foss Foam for our previous boat (40' catamaran), and are currently having another rudder made by them for our current boat (46' catamaran). The rudders they made are still perfect after 8yrs. They have a ton of molds, so it is possible to find another suitable foil if the Sabre 36 mold doesn't work. The molds can be somewhat modified to fit.

How does Ruddercraft build rudders if they aren't foam filled around an armature?

Mark
 

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Had the exact same thing happen to us but on a much smaller boat, 25 Hunter. We were lucky in that our boat buddy grabbed the floating rudder and hauled it aboard. The fix was to insert a stainless steel pipe and thru bolt it. So....any chance of recovering the old rudder?
 

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After a hard grounding while entering an unfamiliar inlet, bent my rudderpost I contacted Foss Foam to; 1 - get their recommendation on how to repair the rudder so that I could complete my journey, and 2 - make a new rudder for my 1986 O'day 35 in November of 2020. I spoke with both Al (founder) and Dave (son) Walker. They take great pride in their work, and in getting it done right the first time. Al provided his advice for getting the boat back underway for free, and it was not the advice that I had expected.

For the new rudder, Dave wanted me to confirm the dimensions of the rudder before placing the order. Because I was in gator infested waters of Georgia and Florida at the time I was reluctant to jump in and get measurements. When I spoke with Al, he said not to worry about getting measurements. He had the original molds for the O'day 34/35, and barring some customization, assured me that the rudder would fit.

The rudder was delivered to the boatyard that I had contracted do the work (do NOT use them) 2 weeks after I arrived in Fort Myers, and the work was completed in under a week. There were no issues with the rudder fitment, and I am VERY happy with the rudder that Foss Foam provided to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
any chance of recovering the old rudder?
Nope. We didn't realize that the rudder was gone until 5-10 minutes had passed. We had to take down and bring aboard the spinnaker remnants and then spent time trying to get going in a straight line. Only then did I climb over the stern to try see under the boat. I never would have expected its loss, that's why it was the last thing I checked. Anyway, it's not like I had steerage to go an get it. We were in open water with 15 knots true and a 1'-2' chop so it probably drifted pretty far by the time I realized what happened. And then what? The whole thing would have had to be ripped apart to insert a new armature. Not worth it, IMO.
 

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It looks like your Rudder post was filled with I'm not sure what so you may want to the determine what that was and not have it in your new one I had a short experience sailing without a Rudder once, just steering with the sails, I doubt I could ever do it on the ocean though it was a friends Hunter 33 cherubini that was quite easy to handle he was down below trying to put the cable back on the quadrant LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've had a conversation with David and have traded several emails with him. He really knows his business and has been very specific regarding dimensions that he wants to check. I have great confidence that he can make me a good rudder that will last another 38 years (I plan to tie the rudder post to the Sabre grounding system). On the other hand, RudderCraft says that their foam does not absorb water and their shape has more lift. They are offering to custom build the rudder from scratch with a more vertical entry which will help with pointing, reduce weather helm, and possibly get us a little more speed. Since we race, that's interesting to me. Price between the two is virtually the same. Foss thinks they can get their rudder to me sooner though. Also in Foss' favor is that Sabre recommended them as well as several other sources. Decisions, decisions.
 

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The new rudder that I received from Foss has the rudderpost filled with the high density foam that they use in the rudder.

My old (original?) rudder did not have anything in the rudderpost, other than nasty water which would somehow find its way in there. I used to siphon the water out of the rudderpost as part of my de-commissioning process in the fall. One year I added some PG antifreeze (concentrate) just to be sure that the rudder would not be damaged by freezing.

I don't have to worry about this anymore.

Foss also offered (at least on their old website) that they could customize your new rudder. Looking back, I wish that I had requested a notch in the leading edge to allow me to remove the prop. shaft WITHOUT dropping the rudder... Too late now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It looks like your Rudder post was filled with I'm not sure what
It's just foam, the same as in the rest of the rudder. Helps to make it float.. as if I could go get it.

I had a short experience sailing without a Rudder once, just steering with the sails, I doubt I could ever do it on the ocean
I considered it but have never practiced it. Given that we were within sight of our home port, only 4.5 nm away and given that the harbor entrance and harbor itself are tight, there is no way anyone could use sails to steer to the marina. If there IS someone, I'd like to see them do it and then buy them several beers! That would be masterful!
Ironically, If I was offshore, I would definitely figure out how to do it. But within sight of Deltaville, it just wasn't worth it except as a fun thing to try. We'd still have had to be towed into the marina.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Had the exact same thing happen to us but on a much smaller boat, 25 Hunter. We were lucky in that our boat buddy grabbed the floating rudder and hauled it aboard. The fix was to insert a stainless steel pipe and thru bolt it. So....any chance of recovering the old rudder?
Sadly, there is virtually no way to fix this short of complete disassembly and rebuilding the armature. On this boat with the loads involved, especially some of the conditions that we sail in, I wouldn't trust anything else.
 

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FWIW: Michael Keyworth, the former GM of Brewer's Cove Haven Marina, posted a video of his boat, a 44 foot Swan, motoring around Naragansett Bay with his rudder removed. He was testing a drogue steering setup, and it worked VERY well. I was told it worked well enough for him to bring the boat through Newport Harbor without a rudder.

Here is a link to the writeup: https://www.ussailing.org/wp-conten...thout-a-Rudder-Figures-included-June-2014.pdf

ETA: Here is a link to a page with the video: Emergency Steering with a Drogue: A New Approach - Newport Bermuda Race
 

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RudderCraft says that their foam does not absorb water and their shape has more lift. They are offering to custom build the rudder from scratch with a more vertical entry which will help with pointing, reduce weather helm, and possibly get us a little more speed. Since we race, that's interesting to me. Price between the two is virtually the same. Foss thinks they can get their rudder to me sooner though. Also in Foss' favor is that Sabre recommended them as well as several other sources. Decisions, decisions.
Foss's foam is closed cell urethane, so it won't absorb water either. If you are a racer, then having a more efficient foil might be advantageous. Foil design and materials to support them have improved dramatically since the 80's. I don't know how that will effect your rating, though, or if it is even allowed if you class race. Price being the same is interesting since Foss will use an existing mold and Ruddercraft will have to design and make a mold. Foss charges $1000 just to make a mold. As for delivery, get very good assurance that Foss can deliver in the next two weeks. I just returned from their factory and they are running full blast with the floor filled with rudders being made and lots of orders waiting. They all go on vacation at the end of July for 3 weeks.

Frankly, I was surprised at how busy they were. There must be lots of people losing or damaging their rudders, because they aren't making any OEM ones. Their backyard is pretty interesting. Piles and piles of molds from almost every boat. Hundreds of molds. I was surprised to see newer model catamaran rudder molds. I guess I'm adding to their pile since they didn't have ours...

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Foss's foam is closed cell urethane, so it won't absorb water either.
Good to know

Ruddercraft will have to design and make a mold.
RudderCraft says that they say that they build up closed cell foam around the armature and don't use a mould. Seems more labor intensive and I wonder how they gat an efficient form without a mould.
David warned me several times about their vacation and noted how slammed they are right now. I appreciate the candid response. With that said he thinks that I can have a new rudder by the beginning of August. RudderCraft says September... maybe.
 

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RudderCraft says that they say that they build up closed cell foam around the armature and don't use a mould. Seems more labor intensive and I wonder how they gat an efficient form without a mould.
Probably like how surfboards are made. Take a foam blank and shape it with planers and sanders using section guides for planform, then glass around it. Seems just as much labor as making a mold, but then they don't have hundreds of molds laying around.

Mark
 

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During a sail last Sunday in the Chesapeake near Deltaville, while broad reaching in 12 knots apparent with our new (first time up the mast) A1.5 spinnaker, we lost the rudder. The boat did an immediate 180 degree turn to windward, the spinnaker went through the fore triangle and out to leeward, shredding it. When we couldn't get underway again, continually luffing up, we realized that the rudder was gone. We anchored, put on the PFDs, checked for water ingress (none), and called TowBoatUS (first time in 33 years). So now I need a new rudder for our 1984 Sabre 38 Mk I. Sabre hasn't built sailboats since about 2012, so they're out. I've talked with Foss Rudders in FL and they have a Sabre 36 mould that will work. They do the traditional foam filled mould around an armature. I'm also taking with Ruddercraft based in Boise ID. They will make a more modern custom foil for essentially the same price. Does anyone have experience with either fabricator, especially for a larger boat?

The rudder sheared at the waterline. The rudder post was 2 ⅞" but 38 years of corrosion left it with less than ⅛" wall thickness (down from ¼"). Stunning. View attachment 144071
View attachment 144070
There are 2 companies named Foss Foam. I’m in Massachusetts, yet ordered my new rudder from Foss Foam in California ( near or in Newport, CA). The original rudder on my 1983 Cal 35-2 was designed like a barn door and at my request they supplied one with a more hydro-efficient design, elliptical in shape. It made a noticeable difference in performance both sailing and motoring. Their price was the best and delivery was precise.
 
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