Arguably, apart from the hull, the rudder is the most important part of a boat. I certainly know how important a rudder is, because I have experienced sailing four boats that have had rudder problems. Every time a rudder failed, the sea conditions were rough. Twice, pintles broke, and twice, tillers parted with their rudders. When wind reaches gale force, breaking waves can exert enormous loads on a rudder and associated fittings. Breakages to them generally happen when a boat sails too fast for the sea state.
Bearing in mind what a rudder may have to cope with, I thought I would take a look at ‘Sandpiper’s’. I don’t intend taking my little boat out in a gale, but at some time she may find herself in a tumble of water. One thing that had gone unnoticed when I first examined the rudder was a loose stopper between two pieces of ply that make up the cheeks of the stock. The stopper consists of a small piece of copper tubing held in place by a large brass screw passing through it and both side pieces of the rudder stock. The tubing is in effect a spacer between the sides of the stock. It is marginally longer than the thickness of the rudder and its main purpose is to prevent the rudder from moving forward beyond the vertical position when fully down.
The lower part of the stock is quite often submerged; therefore the end grain of the plywood is vulnerable to water ingress. Varnish is not very resistant to water, so I shall consider stripping it and replacing the varnish with water resistant paint.
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