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Hi Sara,

That was a nice idea to get out for a sail. Sorry it didn't turn out as expected.

No first hand knowledge of your Cal 28 on my part. But looking at the photos and schematics, it appears you have a semi-balanced spade rudder connected to the tiller via a rudder post that is encapsulated in a fibreglass tube.

The good news is that this arrangement is usually fairly robust. I don't see the skeg that saildork mentions (but he may have better info than me), so it shouldn't be a question of pintles or gudgeons (i.e., rudder hinges) getting bound up.

You said you dove under the boat for an inspection. Did you carefully inspect the gap between the top of the rudder and the underside of the hull? Sometimes tenacious growth, such as barnacles, or other debris can lodge in this gap and bind up the steering. If it's all free and clear, you should be able to pass a scraper through that slot easily.

Like I said, this is usually a fairly robust arrangement. But alignment is still important. If for some reason the top end of the rudder post tube has shifted (even moderately), it's possible the rudder itself is now misaligned and binding on the underside of the hull. This could result from an overly flexing cockpit sole.

But I think more likely, as Saildork suggested, it could be rudder bearings.

Some additional diagnostics are called for. Hopefully some of our maintenance mavens will chime in with suggestions.
 

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... No hanging weeds, just pulpy stuff close to the hull. I can scrape that off with a fingernail, so I don't *think* it would bind up something as big and as robust as a rudder... or could it?
I doubt it. I was thinking more along the lines of solid material like heavy barnacles or other debris that could jam the rudder.

But if you go down again and can determine that the top of the rudder is contacting the bottom of the hull,that would certainly tell us something.

Hi,

The rudder post is off center. If you look at the profile of the boat you can see that the rudder post is set at an angle fore to aft. Port to starboard it is in line with the keel of the boat.
P.S. Just to avoid confusion, I would not describe the rudder post as off-center, which implies that it is not on the fore and aft centerline of the hull (off-center rudders do exist, but rarely). Instead what you have is an angled rudder posted where the stock is canted forward. This is not unusual.
 

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oh the flavour of humble pie...

I spent most of yesterday in the water. About a quarter of the hull is scraped bare, so I now have an excellent view of the rudder. I don't know if I am relieved or annoyed. It appears that early speculation was correct that I (or someone over the last month) have gotten the tiller katywhompus and it is locked 175° from where it should be.

the large side of the rudder is towards the bow and is locked up against the hull just a few degrees star b' of the keel line. The smaller side has over an inch gap from the hull at the stern end. There wasn't any evidence at all of any object striking it. It appears to just be jammed up against the hull.
Sara,

Wow!! So what you seem to be saying is that the leading and trailing edges of the rudder are reversed!? I.e., the rudder has done a 180, but not the tiller?

It's hard to imagine how this could have happened. :confused:

Maybe if the tiller connection was loose on the rudder head, and you were backing down quickly, you could have torqued the rudder nearly all the way around, until it eventually jammed on the underside of the hull a few degrees off-center. Looking at the drawings, I wouldn't have thought there was enough gap between the underside of the hull and the top of the rudder for it to spin that far, but maybe the drawings do not reflect "as built".

Is there any way you could do a quick haul-out, just hang the boat in slings, and work on the rudder? This is the sort of problem that is difficult to address from underwater, especially without scuba gear, but might be quickly remedied with a haul-out. You might be back sailing even sooner.

Himself was a trooper and pulled me in and out of the water, handed me tools, jury rigged wrist lines after I had dropped 2 scrapers to the bottom, held the line attached to the weightbelt to support me while I was on the surface, held the breathing tube out of the water while I was under and trotted back and forth from one side to the other with endless patience.
I'd say YOU were the trooper!!:)
 

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I was reading an article where the rudder had the failed internal where the backbone spline had fatigued to the rudder post. This allowed the rudder to pivot on the rudder post without control. They had Foss make a replace rudder for them. I believe it was a stainless steel backbone and rudder post.
You know, I think that theory is more plausible than the other scenario I suggested (most rudder heads are keyed to accept the tiller fitting, so it's hard for them to spin freely without being extremely loose.)

If the internal rudder post let go from the rudder backbone, not only could it spin freely but it also might be susceptible to being forced downward some, which would explain how it could have done a 180 despite the tight clearances.

Sara, this is yet more argument in favor of a quick haul out. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but you'll be able to diagnose much more easily with the boat hanging in the slings.
 

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Ahhhhhhhh -- the old "reversible tiller" trick!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

Glad it worked out and wasn't any one of the much worse possibilities we were envisioning. Clearly, those drawings do not reflect the "as built" rudder, which must have quite a bit more of a gap between it and the underside of the hull than depicted.

Phew!!

Now go sailing!:)
 
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