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I have a 1969 cal 34 with tiller steering which is out of the water for a major refit. I just removed the tiller and there are no bearings inside the shaft, although there is a grease nipple connection below the deck approx in the middle of the tube. Assuming you did not hit something that could have bent the rudder, I can only think that something is wedged between the top of th rudder and the underside of the boat. If it was caused by a build up of material inside the rudder tube, I think you would have felt the tiller gradually getting harder to move over time.
The only way you can safely take the tiller out while the boat is in the water would be to drag an old sail or net underneath the tiller before removing the cap on the rudder post.

Good luck
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