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210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So Himself has been really working hard and has the v berth almost prepped; scraped, sanded and scrubbed down. He has been covered in paint chips alot recently. As a reward I packed a nice lunch and then while he was busy scraping and sanding his heart out I stowed all the work supplies and tools in the cabin, started up the motor and cast off. The plan was to call him above deck when we were out of the slip and into the main channel out of the marina. I was planning on sparing him the anxiety he was gonna have watching me take her out with out anyone at my elbow watching... he is SUCH a nervous nelly...

So it was beautiful, sunny and calm, perfect weather for practicing maneuvering
our new little hole in the water... Backed out so sweet and easy, put it in
forward and eased ahead. Shifted the tiller to bring us to starboard and head
straight up the marina channel. And I notice the tiller won't move past the
centerline. HUMMM. Shift it slightly back to starboard, moves fine, shift back
to centerline and can't move beyond it. Try shifting back to starboard and
discover it is now locked in line with the center of the boat and won't swing
either direction. What followed was a slightly hysterical deck dance as I
realized I had no rudder and was heading towards a neighbors boat. fast. or at
least it seemed in the moment to be very rapidly... Hit the reverse and slowed
up enough to back away from the other boat, calling calmly but with great
urgency for Himself to come up RIGHT ******* NOW please, which, bless his heart
he did, and like a good german soldier he followed instructions, took the
outboard in hand and ran it while I directed us close enough to the end of a
dock to make the jump from the deck to the dock with a line in hand.

After that it was relatively calm. I pulled the boat to a stop and kept it from
doing more than kissing the corner of the dock. Snubbed her off to a cleat, got
a line from himself off the bow, and walked her around and back home into our

well damn. that was not how I was planning on it going... so much for the
romantic lunch on the bay...

Since it was a warm day I climbed into the water and dove the hull, searching
for anything that would explain the sudden and unexpected lockup of the
rudder/tiller assembly. I found the expected yucky stuff on the hull, not too
bad since I had scrapped it with a brush prior to the start of our short little
trip. But nothing else fouled under the boat that would account for the
technical difficulties were were experiencing...

It made no discernible noise when it locked up, but the outboard was running so
only a really loud noise would have been heard. It gives no feed back as to
*where* the bind is since it has no movement at all.

We have already had occur to us the "rudder dropping straight to the bottom of
the marina floor when we unscrew a critical pin" scenario.

So, now is a good time to remind myself of all that good stuff like challenges
are just unexpected learning opportunities and the whole purpose of a hobby is
to have an unending and undoable number of tasks to work towards completing. and
don't get a boat if you are goal oriented and not into embracing the journey.

So now our journey has taken a turn towards the repair and maintenance of a
tiller/rudder assembly on a Cal 28.

HELP!!!!!!??????!!!!!!! : -O

Some helpful pics for seeing what I am referring to;


210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

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.

When I inspected it I ran my finger along the edge of the rudder where it lays along the hull. I could not slide a finger thru there. I don't know if I could slide a scraper thru, but we have ALOT of scrapers so I can try that and see if there is that much clearance. What I was able to feel was the half inch or so of slippery bumpy jelly like stuff that grows on the hull, even though I had just brushed it. 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?

210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I plan on putting cargo straps around the rudder in 2 places and then cleating them to each side. Word has it my rudder floats, so getting it to neutral bouyancy to reinstall may be the harder part.

I plan on checking for any sign of contact with the hull or rudder that would account for the jam, but frankly don't expect to find anything. Just doesn't add up with how the whole thing went down. If there is a bend in the rudder post then that's that and I'll at least know what the problem is.

Going to check for condition inside of tube and for anything that has been added into the tube to line it. relining or refacing the tube may be in order is there is a problem there.

spacers down at the bottom of the post to gap it from the hull that may have broken up and fallen off may also be a possibility but no one with my boat has been able to confirm or deny the likely presence of spacers.

Tommorrow is supposed to be warm and I will be going under to check it out then.

I really appreciate all the thought you all have given this!

210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
oh my god, you have no IDEA how grateful I am that it happened within jumping distance from the dock! Well, actually you all prolly do ; -)

We are across the bay it oyster cove, right at the foot of San Bruno Mt.

Despite deceptive camera angles, the tiller is not hard over. it is locked in a totally neutral position, as is the rudder below, lined up exactly along the keel line.

We had no *event*, no whales, logfish or other submerged obstacles collide with us that we are aware of. My initial inspection underwater ruled out any line or object being the cause of the jam.

Tomorrow I open her up and start poking around underneath as well. I expect to pull the rudder out of the water. I am not counting on the buoyancy keeping the rudder off the bottom, and will have it soundly bound up before I slip the tiller cap off and start monkeying around with that collar.

The little bit of speculative info I have on the mechanics of the rig (much of it courtesy of a guy who has a boat VERY similar to mine, but 12 foot longer ; -) is that the rudder is very simple, no bearings, maybe bushings. There has also been speculation that there might be a groove worn in the shaft and that this is causing the problem.

The spacer idea was from someone else who had one go on his boat and produce similar results to what I am experiencing. I have no idea if my rig actually had one or not.

weather is good today so tomorrow should be a good day for gettin wet! And all offers of assistance gladly accepted! I'll keep ya posted.

and man, my condolences on that trip last year, WHAT a drag....

210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
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.

my bad...

So, I cleared the area of growth. Did my best to scrape it out between the rudder and hull. Strapped it up as discussed earlier. Unscrewed the bolts on the tiller cap. and nada. That cap is so not just gonna come off. So much for the worry that the rudder would slide into the muddy morass of the marina floor.

I tried to get a grip on the rudder from below and wrench it free, but no dice. at one point in frustration I gave it a huge kick, but the effect of being under water rendered that into a slow motion comedy...

I am imagining taking two 12' lengths of lumber and sandwiching them on either side of the rudder and lashing them together and then lashing lines to the ends to make sort of a huge twisting lever and then applying pressure from both fore and aft in the appropriate directions to get the clockwise rotation I need to shake this baby loose.


Any other ideas?

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.

He sorta lost it when the tiller cap wouldn't come off. A combination of weariness and lack of food contributed to his anxiety and for a while we had the "We are just going to wait until we pull it out of the water, because we don't know what the problem is and we might break something"/"Oh no we aren't, sailing season is almost upon us and we are taking this sucker out on the water if it kills us!" conversation. But I fed him and poured him a glass of vino and we took the dog for a walk and looked out over the bay in all it's glory and pretty soon it was " I really do want to go sailing, it would be so nice if we were out there right now" / "I know honey, and we will be. It's just a thang. We can get thru this."

I was pretty tired last night and today we have a swapmeet in Valleg
jo that we are going to with our shopping list of needs and wants. Hopefully we will find some of the stuff we need for the electrical...

So. There ya have it.

210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Ok, there was no bend in the rudder post, the tiller cap was not loose and allowing the rudder to slide around, there is no nipple on the tube it runs thru to add grease into, I have no idea (still) if it has bushings or bearings or not.

There are no marine services at my little marina to get her outta the water, and I would have had to tow for a ways to get where she could have come out.

Man, am I glad I didn't have to!

We tied her up tight to the dock from both sides, close on the port side. Then a nice beefy buff man who loves me lots climbed down into the water and got between the dock and the rudder and PUSHED that sucker back off the center where she was jammed.

There is something in there about ladies always behaving better for handsome men.... sheesh... He hardly had to touch it!

And as an extra bonus he tied up an aussie, I got my climbing rig on, my daughter took off the main cover, unwrapped all the mainsail lines and generally assisted while he pulled my ass up the mast twice so I could untangle the escaped main halyard and lubricate all the stuff at the top tip of the mast.

We are ship shape and ready to go!

Thank you all for all the good advice and encouragement. Without I would not have been able to figure out how I had messed up, and what needed to happen to recover from my goof.

I now have in BIG letters on the underside of the tiller;


So if it ever gets flipped and turned around I will recognize that fact before I go anywhere with her!

210 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
she is a sturdy girl, and I am so happy I didn't do anything awful to her...

and man, that tiller, turned around, looked VERY different from the drawings.
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