Rudder repair

I was looking back over our blog yesterday–sheesh, I can’t believe how much we’ve written on here–and I realized that I’ve been a little ambiguous about the work being done to our lovely little boat. It’s all Michu. When I say, “We’ve now got two foot pumps in the galley,” it’s not like they were installed for us by paid professionals–they were measured, ordered, finessed, and installed by Michu.

There are, however, a couple of things we’ve hired out in the last two years. One of these jobs is repair to our rudder.

No full keel here.

No full keel here.

I wouldn’t ever say a rudder is not important, but there are some boats where a perfectly functioning rudder matters more. On a catamaran, you’ve got two rudders–if you lose one, you can limp along with the spare for a bit. Some boats have their rudders attached to their long keels, making them harder to damage; because these keels run the length of the boat, they help the boat track even if the rudder straight-up falls off.

On our boat, the rudder is just hanging off the back, ready to hit a rock or a whale. If there’s a problem, we’re going to spin like a top; advanced rudderless boat handling techniques, like dragging wraps and steering with the sails, won’t really work for us. The thing needs to be bombproof. So it was a little disconcerting when, in the spring of 2015, it started leaking unidentifiable goo.

Drilled out pin and collar. Wrecked.

Drilled out pin and collar. Wrecked.

Michu spent two days trying to get the rudder out–a process that involved drilling through a heavy stainless steel pin that wouldn’t budge, and that we would later need to have custom fabricated–along with the stainless collar that surrounded it. We then hired John at Hi Seas to split the poor baby in half and see what was in there. For all we knew, we could have been looking at rust fragments and horsehair. Instead, we saw this:

Something is missing...

Something is missing…

That is one massively overbuilt rudder. (Turns out, this is a theme on our boat. When we were ordering new standing rigging, the guys at US Spar kept telling us that every piece of wire and turnbuckle was too beefy for our boat.) It turned into a talking point for the whole marina–as in, let’s wander over with our beer to the shop and check out how overbuilt that rudder is! The water intrusion hadn’t done any damage; this was essentially a thousand-dollar expedition to make sure everything was ok. John dug out the old foam, filled it in with new foam, and sealed it, fairing it up like we were a real race boat.

The last few inches were tough.

The last few inches were tough.

It was no easy task to get the rudder back in; the boat had to be lifted high, and the rudder jammed in by several of the afore-mentioned beer-drinkers. I believe hammers were involved, along with a tire jack. But in it went, and she works great.

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