Jul 25, 2012, 1:30 AM
Post #8 of 8
Re: [The Publisher] Lost rudders
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From Donald Street:
.... if a boat has a spade rudder, an emergency rudder should be made, with fittings on the stern so it can be easily mounted when the rudder is lost.
The rudder should be made up of plywood bolted together and tested.
If it works, then the parts should be carefully marked the bolts knocked out, the rudder disassembled, stowed in the lazarette ready to go when needed. .....
The only time I've been on board when a rudder broke was at the entry to a relatively sheltered harbour. The skipper/owner/builder had shown the foresight to build a spare rudder into the joinerwork. The timber plank running around the curve of the hull, outboard of but in the same plane with the under-bunk locker lids in the saloon settee, was a purpose-built rudder, predrilled for emergency gudgeons, which were stowed in the spares locker. (Being a transom-hung rudder, this was an easy swap: the matching pintles on the hull were massively strong and well fastened, so he was assuming they'd survive almost anything intact.)
The rudder is dagger-style, with an outer aluminium carcase enclosing a swinging scabbard, so the blade can kick up when you hit something (shearing easily replaceable nylon bolts). The spare rudder was intended to substitute for the whole shooting box, carcase, liner and blade, with a simple flat plank, very adequate in area for emergency use, and strong and durable, but no match for the performance of the original. But this meant that if any of those three things failed, one item would fill the bill in their place.
In this case it was just the blade which broke, from excessive lateral loading in a broach. (At that time it was very high aspect, a timber core, rather lightly skinned with fibreglass: in hindsight, the core should been thinned in way of the bottom of the carcase for extra skin thickness locally)
The spare rudder was a countervailing instance of foresight, trumping the deficiency of the blade. However, (sadly, in a way) it was not needed on this occasion: The break was level with the bottom of the carcase, as you'd expect, and it was still held by the fibreglass on one side, forming an informal hinge. I volunteered to jump off the stern, with a harness to a tethered line, and see if it could be persuaded to line up well enough so that we could pull it partly up and turn the carcase effectively into a "splint". Owing to the very long blade, it was clear we'd still have plenty left to steer with, even if we withdrew it so the break was near the top of the carcase.
Short story: the attempt succeeded. (Just as well, as we had guests who were getting married the next day!)
I'm not Charles Atlas by a mile, but the boat is only 23'.
Nevertheless, the boat is intended, and very successfully used, for offshore sailing, and if a boat that size can carry a spare rudder, I think any cruising boat - and many racing boats - could (and arguably should)