Posts tagged rudder
Read Part Three.
June 26th marks one week at sea. Despite the chilly morning, I figure it’s about time I cleaned up a bit, so I fill a bucket with seawater and shave, then splash myself, soap myself down, dump the bucket of cold ocean water on myself, and rinse off with half a gallon of fresh water. Of course, that afternoon it gets hot and muggy, and I wish I’d held off on my shower until later in the day. The autopilot is doing a fine job of keeping the boat on course at speed, so I spend most of the day rinsing the salt out of my clothes and setting them out to dry. I’ve only used 5 or 6 of my 28 gallons of water, so I consider doing laundry, but decide to hold off for a few more days (I will eventually give up on the idea of clothes altogether). By evening I’ve made up 5 miles on Warrior’s Wish.
I wake up at 04:00 on the 27th to find that I slept through my timer. I haven’t had any problems with squalls yet, so I’ve been leaving the spinnaker up at night and sleeping in 30 to 60-minute spells. Fatigue is starting to get the better of me, though, and it seems that I’m not hearing the timers anymore. I’ve also moved into the port quarterberth. It was on the lee side during the windy reach, so I didn’t use it because I was trying to keep my weight on starboard, and the berth was wet from spray coming down the companionway. It’s dried out now, and I favor it because the noise of the autopilot on starboard is deafening, whereas I can barely hear it on port. What I am hearing, though, is a knocking against the hull, close to the rudder. I make my way to the cockpit and feel the tiller. Vibrations confirm something is caught in the rudder. The boat is moving over 7 knots despite the fouling, so I decide to wait until daybreak to clear it. An approaching squall changes my plans, though, and I end up dousing the spinnaker and backing down the boat until the mystery object, likely a plastic fishing float, floats off in the darkness. I take advantage of the break to fix one of the links in my spinnaker net. The net is just a couple strips of webbing, rope, and luff tape that fills the foretriangle to keep the spinnaker from wrapping itself around the forestay. It’s a tangled mess when not in use, but works perfectly once hoisted. With the spinnaker back up, the boat accelerates quickly, with a noticeable improvement in speed. I hope whatever was stuck on the rudder had not been on there for too long. I have a new worry though. The rudder shaft seems to be making a new groaning sound when I turn it under load. I’m beginning to be a bit paranoid now that I am 1000 miles from land, and am worried that the fiberglass rudder shaft might be cracked. I’ve been talking about it to Paul on Culebra. He used to own a Santa Cruz 27, an almost identical boat to mine, and his rudder shaft once cracked at the head. The nuts on the tiller bolts have also been coming loose and making annoying popping noises, so I’ve been tightening them every other day.
I get an unexpected surprise at the morning check-in. I have made up 30 miles on Warrior’s Wish, and am now leading by 3 miles. It looks like Ronnie is not getting the good wind I have to the South. I am broad reaching in 17 knots, on course for Hanalei, and moving fast. The day turns sunny and hot very quickly. I find a small flying fish in the cockpit, and later notice some larger ones on the foredeck. I feel that the rudder noise is getting louder, and decide to investigate. The head is slightly loose, and the shaft is slipping a little. I douse the spinnaker, let the boat round up into the wind, and remove the tiller head. There’s no sign of cracks in the shaft, so I put the head and tiller back on. I’m a little more at ease now, and hoist the chute back up. Once the boat is moving again, I prepare some sauerkraut and sausage to celebrate my passing the halfway point. In the afternoon a tropic bird flies a couple circles over the boat before disappearing.
Sailing day after day on a featureless ocean leaves me kind of disoriented. I’m used to sailing on the confined waters around Seattle, surrounded by hills, trees, houses, and mountains. Sometimes I think of the clouds as hillls, and the clear skies between them as a lake. I end up trying to make landmarks out of the clouds, but whenever I look back at my wake, the clouds I was looking at are gone, and different ones have taken their place. The shadow of the spinnaker moves over the boat, and I am convinced for a while that I’ve just sailed under a bridge. It’s impossible for me to think on the scale of the Pacific Ocean.
Read Part Five.
Since last time I’ve added a rebate to the foam, which will accept a couple strips of unidirectional carbon. This will give it good stiffness in bending. It’ll go over the spar that we cut out of the foam. I have no idea how much thickness the layers of uni will take up, so I just guestimated it. Hopefully it’ll work out. I guess I can always fill up the outside with putty.
Peter and I then covered the spar. I finally got to pull out my roll of carbon fiber, which was pretty exciting. After a lot of measuring, I finally worked up the courage to cut the stuff. We cut it to the shape of the full rudder and just used the extra material to wrap the spar. At 30 bucks a yard you don’t want to waste any of this stuff!
Any boat with a flimsy little rudder like Idéfix’s should have a plan in case said rudder snaps off before heading out on the big water.
Idéfix came equipped with an emergency rudder. It’s a half inch thick plywood board about 3 feet by 18 inches with stainless U-bolts to stick the spinnaker pole into. It would probably snap off if the boat went any more that 3 knots, which happens, like, all the time. And if I have to sail anywhere at 3 knots I’ll probably run out of food and water before I get there. It also doesn’t look all that ergonomic or effective, and weighs a ton.
So I thought I’d try my hand a building a new emergency rudder that’ll slide into a cassette to be bolted on the transom. With my typical cavalier shoot-from-the-hip approach I sketched a half-assed outline on a piece of paper and went to Burlington to pick up a huge piece of foam, a roll of carbon, and some epoxy. I’ve never shaped foam or handled carbon before, so I figure I’ll make this one before tackling the real masterpiece – Idéfix’s custom replacement rudder. Yeah seriously.