Of course you cannot keep a true course without a good rudder. Sadly, it seems that Flirt actually lacks that part of her inventory. Today I managed to remove the rudder from her shapely stern and have discovered it was fairly well damaged sometime in the past.
Removing it was the hard part. After undoing the retaining bolt and driving out the pin, I had to lower the nose of the trailer to ground level before pulling the rudder up and out of it’s lower pivot. I then pushed it to the side and carefully wiggled it down and finally free from the rest of the boat.
I had an inkling there was some damage to be found as the trailing edge of the keel on the Starboard side had a small chunk taken out of it, but I was not expecting the amount of fairing material I would find under the layers bottom paint that so sloppily covers Flirt’s lower hull.
As you can see, the damage is all at the bottom of the rudder and goes straight to it’s wood core. As Flirt came from Lake Champlain, I can only imagine that she must have been backed into some rocks at one time, taking a few large chunks out of her ancient glassfibre. As the damage was under several layers of bottom paint, I am going to say it happened somewhere in the middle of her 51 year old history.
Surprisingly, the wood does not feel rotted. Once I ground out all the filler material, I can see that it is dark, but it does not feel soft nor does it crumble or flake away. Flirt may have gotten lucky in that I can hopefully just reglass and fair the rudder and eventually re-install it without having to go through the trouble of cutting it in half to replace the wooden core.
What did amaze me is the weight of the rudder. It feels like it comes in at the proverbial ton and feels very solid. If it ever broke away from Flirt, it would no doubt sink to the bottom to never been seen again.
Right now I am just busy sanding it down to the raw glass so I can get everything fair and true before I apply another strong skin to make the rudder whole. It’s a lot of work and I am making good use of one of my favourite tools, my DeWalt Orbital sander. It is definitely worth it’s more hefty price over other orbital sanders and in the amount of work it has saved me, worth it’s weight in gold