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What Is a Sailboat Rudder? An Overview of Its Function and Design

John Sampson

Sailboats have been used for thousands of years to traverse water. They have undergone many changes and improvements over the years, and one of the essential components of a sailboat is the rudder.

Quick Facts

Understanding the sailboat rudder.

The rudder is a vital component of a sailboat that plays a crucial role in steering and maneuvering the vessel. The rudder works by changing the direction of the water flow around it, which moves the boat in the opposite direction. Without a rudder, it would be impossible to navigate a sailboat effectively, especially in different water and wind conditions.

Components of a Sailboat Rudder

A sailboat rudder comprises several components, each with a unique function that contributes to the rudder’s overall effectiveness. The stock is the main vertical shaft that connects the rudder blade to the boat’s helm. It is usually made of stainless steel or aluminum alloy and is designed to withstand the forces exerted on the rudder during navigation.

The blade is the flat portion of the rudder that faces the water current and directs the water flow in the opposite direction to steer the boat. The blade is typically made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic or aluminum alloy and is designed to be lightweight and durable. Pintles and gudgeons are the two connections between the rudder and stern that allow for easy installation and removal of the rudder. Pintles are the vertical metal pins that fit into the gudgeons, which are the horizontal metal brackets attached to the boat’s stern.

Different Types of Rudders

There are several types of rudders used in sailboats, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Transom-mounted rudders are the most common type of rudder, and they are mounted on the stern of the boat. Skeg-mounted rudders are attached to a fixed fin called a skeg, which provides additional stability to the rudder.

Keel-mounted rudders are attached to the boat’s keel, which is the central structural element that runs along the bottom of the hull. Spade rudders are free-standing rudders that are not attached to any part of the boat and are commonly used in racing sailboats. The type of rudder used depends on the boat’s size, design, and intended use.

Materials Used in Rudder Construction

Rudders can be made from various materials, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Wooden rudders are the traditional choice and are still used in some sailboats today. However, they are relatively heavy and require regular maintenance to prevent rot and decay.

Aluminum alloy rudders are lightweight and durable, making them an excellent choice for racing sailboats. Stainless steel rudders are also durable but are heavier than aluminum alloy rudders. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic rudders are the most common type of rudder used today, as they are lightweight, durable, and require minimal maintenance.

The sailboat rudder is an essential component that plays a crucial role in steering and maneuvering a sailboat. Understanding the different types of rudders, their components, and the materials used in their construction can help sailors choose the right rudder for their boat and navigate more effectively in different water and wind conditions.


The Function of a Sailboat Rudder

Steering and maneuvering.

The primary function of a sailboat rudder is to steer and maneuver the boat. The rudder’s blade directing the flow of water in a specific direction allows for the steering of the boat as the blade changes direction. Sailors can use the rudder to turn the boat in any direction they choose, allowing them to navigate through narrow channels or around obstacles in the water. It is essential to note that the rudder works in conjunction with the sails to control the boat’s direction and speed.

Balancing the Sailboat

The balance of the sailboat is critical to ensure safe maneuvering, and the rudder plays a crucial role in achieving this. A balanced rudder helps in keeping the boat steady, reducing drag, and preventing unwanted turning. Sailors can adjust the rudder’s angle to keep the boat balanced and on course, especially in rough water conditions. A well-balanced rudder also helps to reduce the risk of capsizing or losing control of the boat .

Rudder Effectiveness in Different Conditions

Rudder effectiveness varies depending on the boat’s size, weight, and water and wind conditions. A larger boat may require a bigger rudder for proper maneuvering, while a smaller boat can work with a smaller rudder. Sailors must also consider the water and wind conditions when choosing the right rudder for their boat. In calm waters, a smaller rudder may be sufficient, but in rough water, a larger rudder may be necessary to maintain control of the boat. Additionally, the rudder’s effectiveness can be affected by the boat’s speed, with higher speeds requiring more significant rudders to maintain control.

It is also important to note that the rudder’s effectiveness can be impacted by external factors such as weeds or debris in the water. These factors can reduce the rudder’s ability to steer the boat and require sailors to make adjustments to maintain control. Additionally, the rudder’s effectiveness can be impacted by the sailor’s skill level, with more experienced sailors able to make more precise adjustments to the rudder to control the boat’s direction and speed.

Design Considerations for Sailboat Rudders

Sailboat rudders are an essential component of a boat’s steering and maneuvering system. A well-designed rudder can make all the difference in a boat’s performance , especially in challenging weather conditions. In this article, we will explore some of the key design considerations for sailboat rudders.

Rudder Size and Shape

The size and shape of a rudder play a crucial role in determining its effectiveness in steering and maneuvering a boat. A larger rudder provides more leverage and maneuverability, allowing the boat to turn more sharply. However, a larger rudder may also produce more drag, which can slow down the boat’s speed.

The shape of the rudder is also important. A well-designed rudder should be streamlined to reduce drag and turbulence. The thickness of the rudder should be carefully considered to ensure that it is strong enough to withstand the forces exerted on it while remaining lightweight.

Rudder Placement and Configuration

The placement of the rudder on the boat can significantly affect its performance. A rudder that is too far forward can cause the boat to become unstable, while a rudder that is too far aft can make it difficult to steer. The location of the rudder must also take into account factors such as the propeller’s placement and the boat’s shape.

The configuration of the rudder can also determine its effectiveness and balance. A single rudder is the most common configuration, but some boats have twin rudders to provide more steering control. The angle of the rudder blade can also be adjusted to optimize its performance.

Hydrodynamic and Aerodynamic Factors

The design of a rudder must take into consideration the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic factors affecting the boat’s performance. Hydrodynamic factors include water flow, pressure, and turbulence, which can significantly affect the rudder’s performance. The shape and placement of the rudder must be carefully designed to minimize these effects.

Aerodynamic factors consider the wind and air resistance’s impact on the boat’s performance. The rudder’s size and shape must be designed to minimize the wind’s effect on the boat while providing sufficient steering control.

The design of a sailboat rudder is a complex process that requires careful consideration of many factors. The size and shape of the rudder, its placement on the boat, and its configuration must be optimized to provide effective steering and maneuverability. By taking into account the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic factors affecting the boat’s performance, a well-designed rudder can significantly improve a sailboat’s overall performance.

Motor Rudder

Rudder Maintenance and Repair

The rudder is a crucial component of any sailboat, providing steering and control. As such, it’s essential to keep it in good working order through regular maintenance and inspections.

Inspecting Your Rudder

Regular inspection of the rudder is essential to ensure its continued performance and longevity. A thorough inspection includes checking for cracks, wear and tear, and loose components such as hinges, pins, and screws. It’s also important to check the rudder’s alignment and ensure it moves smoothly and without any obstructions.

During your inspection, be sure to check for signs of corrosion, particularly on metal components. Corrosion can weaken the rudder and cause it to fail, so regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to prevent this.

If you notice any issues during your inspection, it’s important to address them promptly. Small cracks or damage can often be repaired, but if the damage is extensive, it may be necessary to replace the rudder entirely.

Common Rudder Issues and Solutions

One common issue with rudders is corrosion, particularly on metal components. Regular cleaning and maintenance help prevent corrosion and ensure the rudder’s longevity. If you do notice signs of corrosion, it’s important to address it promptly to prevent further damage.

Another common issue is damage to the blade or stock. This can be caused by impact with debris or other boats, or simply wear and tear over time. If the damage is minor, it may be possible to repair the rudder. However, if the damage is extensive or compromises the rudder’s structural integrity, it may be necessary to replace it entirely.

Loose components such as hinges, pins, and screws can also cause issues with the rudder. These should be checked regularly and tightened or replaced as needed.

When to Replace or Upgrade Your Rudder

Sailboat rudders can last for many years, but at some point, replacement or upgrade may be necessary. This includes upgrading to a newer design or larger rudder to improve the boat’s performance or replacing a damaged or worn-out rudder that is beyond repair.

If you’re considering upgrading your rudder, it’s important to consult with a professional to ensure that the new rudder is compatible with your boat and will provide the desired performance improvements.

Regular maintenance and inspections are essential to ensure the continued performance and longevity of your sailboat’s rudder. By staying on top of any issues and addressing them promptly, you can ensure that your rudder will continue to provide reliable steering and control for many years to come.

Motor Rudder

A sailboat’s rudder is a crucial component that helps steer and maneuver the boat safely. The size, shape, placement, and construction materials must all be taken into consideration when designing or replacing a rudder. Regular maintenance and inspection help ensure its continued performance and longevity.

Rudder FAQS

How does a sailboat rudder work.

A sailboat rudder works by changing the direction of the water flow past the boat’s hull, which in turn changes the direction of the boat. The rudder is attached to the stern of the boat and can be turned left or right. When the rudder is turned, it creates a force that pushes the stern in the opposite direction and turns the bow towards the direction the rudder is turned. This is how a rudder steers a boat.

What is a rudder and its purpose?

A rudder is a flat piece, usually made of metal or wood, attached to the stern of a vessel such as a boat or ship. The main purpose of the rudder is to control the direction of the vessel. It does this by deflecting water flow, creating a force that turns the vessel. Without a rudder, steering a vessel would be significantly more challenging.

Can you steer a sailboat without a rudder?

Steering a sailboat without a rudder is challenging but not impossible. Sailors can use the sails and the keel to influence the direction of the boat. By trimming the sails and shifting weight, it’s possible to cause the boat to turn. However, this is a difficult technique that requires a deep understanding of sailing dynamics and is usually considered a last resort if the rudder fails.

What controls the rudder on a sailboat?

The rudder on a sailboat is typically controlled by a steering mechanism, like a tiller or a wheel. The tiller is a lever that is directly connected to the top of the rudder post. Pushing the tiller to one side causes the rudder to turn to the opposite side. On larger boats, a wheel is often used. The wheel is connected to the rudder through a series of cables, pulleys, or hydraulic systems, which turn the rudder as the wheel is turned.

How do you steer a sailboat with a rudder?

To steer a sailboat with a rudder, you use the tiller or wheel. If your sailboat has a tiller, you’ll push it in the opposite direction of where you want to go – pushing the tiller to the right will turn the boat to the left and vice versa. If your sailboat has a wheel, it operates like a car steering wheel – turning it to the right steers the boat to the right and turning it to the left steers the boat to the left.

How do you steer a sailboat against the wind?

Steering a sailboat against the wind, also known as tacking, involves a maneuver where the bow of the boat is turned through the wind. Initially, the sails are let out, and then the boat is steered so that the wind comes from the opposite side. As the boat turns, the sails are rapidly pulled in and filled with wind from the new direction. This maneuver allows the boat to zigzag its way upwind, a technique known as “beating.” It requires skill and understanding of sailing dynamics to execute effectively.

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John is an experienced journalist and veteran boater. He heads up the content team at BoatingBeast and aims to share his many years experience of the marine world with our readers.

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Draining Water from Rudder

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I've read and heard of people drilling a small hole at the bottom of their rudder to allow any abosrbed/ingressed water to drain while the boat is on the hard. The hole is filled with MarineTex or the epoxy before splashing. Does anyone really do this? If so, what are you experiences? Josh  

Just getting the water out doesn't address the damage that it has already likely done. Delaminating the rudder from its post and web is a nasty problem.  


You can fix it! I will be dropping the rudder for a cutless bearing replacement. Time to do a shaft inspection, too!! I have already repaired the skin of this boat's rudder. When I got the boat the entire surface of the rudder was spyder cracked. I assumed it had filled with water and frozen. It had been on the hard for several years in New England. The cracks were evenly distributed. I drilled some holes and drained a lot of water. I ground down the cracks, not through the skin, filled them with an epoxy resin and tediously teased into place fg mat, then added a layer of fg mat in epoxy resin over the entire skin. I carefully sanded and faired the surface leaving a continuous epoxy/mat layer surface covering. The stuff that drained out of the rudder the first year was septic. I was going to drill out some large plugs for inspection at that time but decided to see how things looked after a season of coastal sailing. I did inject (GretStuff) into the holes I had drilled using a long feed tube placing the foam deep in the holes. I used a long 3/8 bit and drilled up from the bottom edge of the rudder as well as some holes up high. I repeated the hole drilling and foam injections for a couple of years and quit after no drainage or apparent "wasted" core showed up. No signs of the original surface cracks have ever appeared. I closed the holes with epoxy paste each time. It has worked so far! It looks perfect after 5 years of service and storage here in Maine. Now I guess it is time for an exploratory dissection since I can take the rudder into my shop and have a careful look. Down  


Drilling, draining and filling the holes are fairly easy, but Minnewaska's comment is the vital one. Water in the rudder is only a problem if you get hard freezes. Drill and drain solves that one. Filling is a simple epoxy/fibreglass job. This keeps the rudder from splitting. BUT the real danger for most boats is rudder-post delamination. At very least you should stop the ingress. You should also test the rudder/post bond. If there is any hint of movement, or if the water coming out of the holes you drill are rusty, then you probably have a bigger issue. You probably need to drop the rudder, split it, rebuild the interior structure, and then reseal. That is a big job! EDIT: eherlihy's solution might be another option to a full rebuild. If you split and rebuild, then you know exactly what's going on. But it is a big job (depending on the size of your rudder).  

To be clear, I don't have any current water ingress issues that I know of. I just read that people do this routinely as a preventative measure and was wondering if its common and any what are the pros/cons. Josh  


Josh-- A simple test for water ingress is a very small hole at the base of the blade. A shop vac can be used to pull a vacuum on the blade and evacuate water, if any. A tight fit for the vac hose to the blade can be assured by cutting a 2-3" length off the end of pool noodle with a center hole a bit smaller than the hose nozzle that one works over the hose nozzle (for a relatively air-tight fit of the hose nozzle against the blade). If one gets any measurable water out of the blade with this arrangement, further investigation is required. The two dangers of water ingress are delamination of the blade skin from the core due to freezing (for those subject to freezing weather) as noted by others, above, and the possibility of corrosion/weakening of the connection between the blade armature and the rudder shaft/stock within the core. If nothing is found, the inspection hole can be refilled with thickened epoxy and then covered with a small patch of glass. The foregoing test might not be a routine matter but something one would undertake if one or one's surveyor had any suspicion that something might be amiss with the rudder. When we first bought our boat, the foregoing test extracted about a pint of water from the blade. Subsequent investigation (removing a section of the skin) revealed localized delamination but even more so, corrosion of the armature. With this, the entire skin on one side of the blade was removed, the damaged core removed, the damaged armature shot blasted and then repaired, reinforced and epoxy painted, the core replaced and then the exterior skin re-adhered to the new coring and a new layer of glass applied to the entire rudder. The repair took about a week (including drying/curing time) and cost something in the neighborhood of $3600 (the skills required being beyond my level of expertise). The foregoing repair was not inexpensive but was far preferable to the possibility of loosing the use of the rudder at sea, halfway between home and heck's half acre, and the costs that could entail. FWIW...  

I drilled holes in bottom of my Tartan 30 rudder to drain at winter layup and sealed with epoxy in spring for first two years of ownership. Core still seemed to fill with water during season even though drain holes sealed. For last 12 years of ownership have left drain holes unsealed. Reassuring is that drain water always comes out clean--no rust-- and surface shows no sign of delamination.  

It's very hard to keep a rudder completely dry forever. Somehow the rudder post must penetrate it and it's almost always underwater. You can epoxy these drain holes well, but that seem is still suspect. However, once you've found enough water to drain out by drilling a hole, you have to become concerned for the corrosion of the post and web inside, or the structural separation/delamination. It's a real lousy problem.  

Thanks for reply. If/when I do serious cruising, I may well cut an inspection hole at a post/rudder arm bracket just inspect weld integrity for corrosion. Loosing rudder action very scary thought. In the mean time, I'm relying rust in drain water to as telltale to any corrosion taking place and the fact that rudder does not seem to have any play or visible delamination. I guess that this relys on the fact that corrosion underwater in absense of air is limited. Also, I'm in fresh water, Lake Michigan.  

swallace11 said: .....I guess that this relys on the fact that corrosion underwater in absense of air is limited..... Click to expand...


The rudder armature has failed on two of the nine Tartan 30's at the Club where I'm a member. As I recall, both required significant repairs to the skeg shoe while the rudder was off.  

If rudders eventually fill with water, why not design a rudder that can be submerged and inspected. I'm thinking a few basic structural components such as ribs and spars(rudderpost) with a covering of plastic, riveted on. The shape is the same and with holes on the top and bottom it could fill with water, then drain when hauled out. Anyone see anything out there like that? With a roll of plastic, rivets and some spare ribs you could even keep a spare rudder stored on board unassembled. Wing design  


Rudders that do not suffer from water absorption have been designed and built. The problem is that the stainless rudder post and armature inside and the fiberglass covering it have different expansion rates, making it impossible to seal the fiberglass to the rudder post for the long term. The post and rudder have to be made of the same material. Carbon fiber rudder posts are used on some boats and don't have this problem. Expensive though.  

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Understanding boat rudders: Navigating the key component for smooth sailing

  • Understanding boat rudders: Navigating the key component for smooth sailing

Navigating a boat requires a complex interplay of various components, and one of the most crucial elements is the rudder. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of boat rudders, exploring their functionality, importance, and role in steering a ship to smooth sailing.

What are boat rudders?

Boat rudders are an essential component of the vessel's steering system. They are hydrofoil-like structures located at the stern (rear) of the boat, underwater. The primary function of the rudder is to control the direction of the boat by redirecting the flow of water as the boat moves forward.

The role of boat rudders in steering

Boat rudders play a vital role in steering a ship. When the helmsman turns the wheel or tiller, the rudder changes its angle, redirecting the water flow on one side of the boat, creating more resistance on that side, and causing the boat to turn in the opposite direction.

Types of boat rudders 

Spade rudders: Spade rudders are simple and streamlined rudders attached directly to the hull. They are commonly found in modern sailboats and provide excellent maneuverability and responsiveness.

Skeg rudders: Skeg rudders are partially submerged and supported by a skeg, a vertical extension of the hull. These rudders offer increased protection and are often used in larger motorboats and trawlers.

Balanced rudders: Balanced rudders have a portion of the rudder forward of the pivot point, which balances the force applied by the helmsman. This design reduces the effort required to steer the boat.

Barn door rudders: Barn door rudders are large, flat, and wide rudders resembling barn doors. They are commonly seen in traditional fishing vessels and provide excellent control in rough seas.

Spade hung rudders: Spade hung rudders are free-floating rudders attached to the boat only at the top, allowing them to swing freely. They are commonly used in high-performance sailing yachts.

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Components and mechanics of boat rudders

A typical boat rudder consists of several key components:

Rudder blade: The rudder blade is the flat, vertical surface responsible for redirecting the water flow. It is the most critical part of the rudder and comes in various shapes and sizes.

Rudder stock: The rudder stock is a sturdy vertical shaft that connects the rudder blade to the steering mechanism. It provides the necessary support and stability for the rudder.

Tiller or wheel: The tiller or wheel is the steering control operated by the helmsman. When turned, it causes the rudder to change its angle and steer the boat.

Rudder bearings: Rudder bearings are the mechanisms that allow the rudder to pivot smoothly on the rudder stock. Properly lubricated and maintained bearings ensure easy steering.

Steering linkage: The steering linkage consists of rods or cables connecting the tiller or wheel to the rudder stock. It transmits the helmsman's steering inputs to the rudder.


Steering a ship: The interaction between rudder and helm

The process of steering a ship involves a coordinated effort between the rudder and the helm. When the helmsman turns the wheel or tiller, the rudder angle changes, causing a difference in water flow on either side of the boat. This creates a force imbalance, turning the boat in the desired direction.

The effectiveness of the steering system depends on various factors, such as the rudder's size, shape, and angle, the vessel's speed, and the water conditions. Proper coordination between the helmsman and the rudder is essential for precise maneuvering.

Maintaining and repairing boat rudders

Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of boat rudders. Here are some maintenance tips:

Inspect for damage: Regularly inspect the rudder blade, stock, and bearings for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion.

Lubrication: Ensure the rudder bearings are well-lubricated to prevent friction and allow smooth movement.

Antifouling: Apply antifouling paint to the rudder to prevent marine growth, which can negatively impact performance.

Check steering linkage: Inspect and adjust the steering linkage regularly to maintain precise control.

Address issues promptly: If any problems or abnormalities are detected, address them promptly to prevent further damage.

Rudder design innovations

Advancements in technology have led to innovative rudder designs aimed at improving performance and efficiency. Some notable innovations include:

Hydrodynamic profiles: Rudder blades are now designed with advanced hydrodynamic profiles to reduce drag and enhance maneuverability.

Rudder fins: Some rudders are equipped with additional fins or foils to improve stability and minimize yawing motion.

Retractable rudders: Certain sailboats feature retractable rudders, which can be raised when sailing in shallow waters, reducing the risk of grounding.

Steer-by-wire systems: Modern vessels are adopting steer-by-wire systems, replacing traditional mechanical linkages with electronic controls for smoother steering.

The influence of rudder size and shape on turning radius

The size and shape of the rudder directly impact the vessel's turning radius. Larger rudders with greater surface area provide more steering force and can turn the boat more quickly. However, larger rudders also create more drag, which can affect overall speed and fuel efficiency. The optimal rudder size depends on the boat's size, weight, and intended use.

Rudder efficiency and hydrodynamics

The hydrodynamics of the rudder significantly affect its efficiency. Smooth and streamlined rudder designs minimize drag and turbulence, resulting in improved performance and fuel economy. Advanced hydrodynamic analysis and simulation tools help optimize rudder shapes for various vessels and operating conditions.

Common rudder issues and troubleshooting

Like any mechanical component, boat rudders can experience issues over time. Some common problems and troubleshooting tips include:

Stiff steering: If the steering feels stiff or unresponsive, check for obstructions in the rudder bearings or linkage.

Vibrations: Vibrations during steering may indicate misaligned rudder blades or bent rudder stocks.

Leaking bearings: Leaking rudder bearings require immediate attention to prevent water ingress and corrosion.

Excessive play: Excessive play in the rudder could be due to worn steering linkage or loose connections.

Reduced maneuverability: Reduced maneuverability may result from a fouled or damaged rudder blade.

Rudder steering systems

Various steering systems are employed in conjunction with rudders, each offering unique advantages:

Tiller steering: Common in smaller boats, tiller steering directly connects the tiller to the rudder stock, providing direct and responsive control.

Wheel steering: Larger boats often use wheel steering, which utilizes a mechanical or hydraulic system to transfer steering inputs to the rudder.

Hydraulic steering: Hydraulic steering systems offer smooth and effortless steering, ideal for larger vessels.

Electric steering: Electric steering systems, also known as electro-hydraulic steering or electronic power steering (EPS), utilize electric motors to assist in steering the boat. These systems work in conjunction with hydraulic components, making steering more effortless and responsive for the boat operator. 

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FAQs about rudders


What is a Sailboat Rudder?

What is a Sailboat Rudder? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

A sailboat rudder steers the boat. A rudder is a hinged fin or blade mounted on the stern of the vessel that turns side to side, and it's controlled by a tiller or a helm.

A rudder is one of the primary controls of a sailboat. When the boat moves forward through the water, the rudder causes friction on one side and changes the direction of the boat. Rudders are controlled by moving a tiller side to side or by a helm and a complex linkage system. Rudders are delicate and sometimes flush with and protected by the keel.

Table of contents

Identifying the Rudder

Rudders are connected to the sailboat using a hinge or a shaft. The rudder is always located in the water behind the boat, but some rudders have part of their structure exposed above the waterline. Rudders that aren't visible above the waterline are usually underneath the stern and controlled by a vertical shaft that descends through the bottom of the boat.

Rudder Design

Rudder design varies widely between boats. Some vessels have large, ornate rudders that are exposed above the waterline. Large rudders are common on catboats, canoe yawls, and other traditional designs.

Many modern boats use small, blade-like rudders that are hidden from view. The size of a rudder doesn't necessarily correlate with its effectiveness, but an improperly sized rudder can cause significant issues.

How Does a Sailboat Rudder Work?

Sailboat rudders are simple devices. Rudders are essentially deflectors, as they deflect water to port or starboard as the boat moves along. When the rudder is amidships or in the middle and aligned with the keel, the boat goes straight. Rudders also help keep the boat on a straight track as they increase the area of water moving down the length of the boat.

Rudders only work when the boat is moving. If there's no moving water to deflect, the rudder can do little to direct the vessel. Rudders also don't work when the boat is blown sideways. Maneuvering is only possible when the boat is moving forward.

Can a Sailboat Rudder Steer in Reverse?

But what about moving in reverse? Rudders can be used to steer the boat in reverse, but they're significantly less effective when pushed backward through the water. The distance required to make a turn in reverse is usually much higher than when moving forward, and steering input is less precise. In some cases, sailboat rudders can break off when moving too quickly in reverse.

Sailboat Steering Characteristics

Sailboats steer much differently than cars, and there aren't any brakes to slow down with. Sailboats tend to steer from the middle; picture a fan blade spinning slowly on a motor, and you'll get the picture. As a result, steering too aggressively in tight quarters can cause your bow or stern to hit something that's beside you.

Speed is generally helpful for steering, especially when you want to make precise movements quickly. However, speed is a double-edged sword, as slight rudder movement at speed can dramatically and rapidly alter the course of the boat. But remember, you can't steer without moving forward.

Tiller Steering

Sailboat rudders are often controlled by a tiller. Tillers are a long rod connected to the rudder. Sailors move the rod side to side from the cockpit to turn the rudder directly. Tillers are the simplest form or rudder control, and they're highly reliable. Tillers point in the opposite direction that the boat will travel.

Tiller steering is found most often on small boats. This is because the forces involved in steering boats of greater size can be too difficult to manage with a tiller. That said, there are some relatively large boats with cockpit configurations that allow for the use of a tiller. Sailboats with tillers range in size between 10 feet and 30 feet.

Benefits of a Tiller

Tillers have numerous benefits. Tillers offer precise control of the boat because they connect the rudder directly to the person steering the boat. Additionally, tillers are extremely simple and robust. Many blue water sailors prefer tiller steering, as it's difficult to break and easy to repair.

Over the years, sailors have developed many creative ways to make tillers more useful. Many boats feature tiller extensions that allow the sailor to steer from further away. Tillers also respond much faster than helms, which is great for racing and pushing the limits of the boat.

Tiller Self-Steering

Bluewater sailors developed an extremely useful way to multitask onboard a tiller-equipped sailboat. Self-steering is possible on vessels with a tiller, and no electronics or complex machines are necessary. Self-steering involves connecting the jib sheet to a series of pulleys and opposing bungee cord (or surgical tubing).

As the tension on the jib increases, it'll tighten the jib sheet and pull the tiller and change the course of the boat. The opposite is also true. This keeps the boat at the right angle to the wind and is useful for solo travel. GPS-guided self-steering equipment is also available for tiller-equipped sailboats, and it's relatively easy to install.

Helm Steering

A helm is essentially a large nautical steering wheel. Steering a boat with a helm is somewhat similar to driving a car, as the boat moves in the direction that you steer (unlike a tiller, which moves in the opposite direction). Sailboats equipped with tillers are usually larger. Some larger sailboats have two helms placed side-by-side in the cockpit.

The helm consists of a steering wheel and a pedestal which is mounted to the deck. Helm pedestals often feature a marine compass to make navigation possible from one location. Engine controls are often located nearby as well. Sailboat helms are often large in diameter, sometimes 30 inches or more. Large wheels make steering easy and precise.

Helm-equipped sailboats are generally 30-feet long and larger. Tillers are excellent for large boats, as they enable precise movement and require little effort to use. This is especially important at speed when the force of water rushing by a large rudder can be too difficult to overcome with a tiller.

The helm is connected to the rudder mechanically or hydraulically. Some high-end sailboats incorporate power steering, but this is unusual on most consumer vessels. Mechanical helm linkage typically utilizes a cable (or multiple cables and pulleys) that stretches from the helm to the rudder.

Hydraulic Rudder Control

Most sailboat helms are hydraulic. These helms use pressurized hydraulic fluid and small diameter lines to replicate the wheel movements at the rudder. Hydraulic systems often include a fluid reservoir and a pressure cylinder, along with mechanical parts to transfer the force at the wheel and the rudder.

Rudder Maintenance

Rudder maintenance is fairly simple and should be performed regularly. As with the hull, rudders are an ideal habitat for all kinds of unwelcome marine life. Within a year or less, your rudder can be completely encapsulated in barnacles, plants, and other organisms. Marine growth will negatively impact your speed and steering, so it must be scraped off regularly.

Maintaining the steering system is also essential. Tillers are relatively easy to maintain, as they use very few moving parts. Look for grease fittings, and make sure your tiller and rudder are fastened tightly. Helms are more complex, and the hydraulic system should be inspected, repaired, and topped off if necessary.

What to Do if the Rudder is Damaged

Rudder damage is a sailor's worst nightmare, and it's akin to a hole in the hull or losing a mast. So what should you do if your rudder gets damaged or breaks off? First, call for help! But if help isn't available, there are a few makeshift ways to steer the boat without the rudder.

If you have an outboard motor, use it to steer. If not, then a run-of-the-mill rowboat oar makes an excellent rudder substitute. Simply lash the oar to the back of the boat with the end in the water, and use it like a tiller. It's not ideal, but it worked for the Romans, and it should work for you. Some sailors have fashioned makeshift rudders from interior cabinet doors, hatches, scrap metal, and whatever else is on hand.

Losing a rudder is a worst-case-scenario, and it doesn't often happen when sailors keep up with maintenance and stay away from dangerous water. Preventative maintenance and proper navigation are the best ways to keep your rudder in good shape. 

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

All About the Rudder on a Sailboat

The rudder on a sailboat is one of those important parts that often gets overlooked. It’s hidden underwater most of the time and usually performs as expected when we ask something of it.

But when was the last time you seriously considered your sailboat rudder? Do you have a plan if it fails? Here’s a look at various designs of sail rudder, along with the basics of how it works and why it’s there.

Table of Contents

How are sailboat rudders different than keels, how does the rudder work, wheel steering vs. tiller steering, full keel rudder sailboat, skeg-hung rudders, spade rudder, variations on designs, emergency outboard rudder options, looking to sail into the sunset grab the wheel, steer your sail boat rudder, and get out there, sail boat rudder faqs.

sailboat rudder visible at low tide

What Is a Boat Rudder?

The rudder is the underwater part of the boat that helps it turn and change direction. It’s mounted on the rear of the boat. When the wheel or tiller in the cockpit is turned, the rudder moves to one side or another. That, in turn, moves the boat’s bow left or right.

When it comes to sailing, rudders also offer a counterbalance to the underwater resistance caused by the keel. This enables the boat to sail in a straight line instead of just spinning around the keel.

Sailboat hull designs vary widely when you view them out of the water. But while the actual shape and sizes change, they all have two underwater features that enable them to sail–a rudder and a keel.

The rudder is mounted at the back of the boat and controls the boat’s heading or direction as indicated by the compass .

The keel is mounted around the center of the boat. Its job is to provide a counterbalance to the sails. In other words, as the wind presses on the sails, the weight of the ballast in the keel and the water pressure on the sides of the keel keeps the boat upright and stable.

When sailing, the keel makes a dynamic force as water moves over it. This force counters the leeway made by air pressure on the sails and enables the boat to sail windward instead of only blowing downwind like a leaf on the surface.

The rudder is a fundamental feature of all boats. Early sailing vessels used a simple steering oar to get the job done. Over the years, this morphed into the rudder we know today.

However, thinking about a rudder in terms of a steering oar is still useful in understanding its operation. All it is is an underwater panel that the helmsperson can control. You can maintain a course by trailing the oar behind the boat while sailing. You can also change the boat’s heading by moving it to one side or the other.

The rudders on modern sailboats are a little slicker than simple oars, of course. They are permanently mounted and designed for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

But their operating principle is much the same. Rudders work by controlling the way water that flows over them. When they move to one side, the water’s flow rate increases on the side opposite the turn. This faster water makes less pressure and results in a lifting force. That pulls the stern in the direction opposite the turn, moving the bow into the turn.

Nearly all boats have a rudder that works exactly the same. From 1,000-foot-long oil tankers to tiny 8-foot sailing dinghies, a rudder is a rudder. The only boats that don’t need one are powered by oars or have an engine whose thrust serves the same purpose, as is the case with an outboard motor.

Operating the Rudder on a Sailboat

Rudders are operated in one of two ways–with a wheel or a tiller. The position where the rudder is operated is called the helm of a boat .

Ever wonder, “ What is the steering wheel called on a boat ?” Boat wheels come in all shapes and sizes, but they work a lot like the wheel in an automobile. Turn it one way, and the boat turns that way by turning the rudder.

A mechanically simpler method is the tiller. You’ll find tiller steering on small sailboats and dinghies. Some small outboard powerboats also have tiller steering. Instead of a wheel, the tiller is a long pole extending forward from the rudder shaft’s top. The helmsperson moves the tiller to the port or starboard, and the bow moves in the opposite direction. It sounds much more complicated on paper than it is in reality.

Even large sailboats will often be equipped with an emergency tiller. It can be attached quickly to the rudder shaft if any of the fancy linkages that make the wheel work should fail.

sailboat wheel

Various Sail Boat Rudder Designs

Now, let’s look at the various types of rudders you might see if you took a virtual walk around a boatyard. Since rudders are mostly underwater on the boat’s hull, it’s impossible to compare designs when boats are in the water.

Keep in mind that these rudders work the same way and achieve the same results. Designs may have their pluses and minuses, but from the point of view of the helmsperson, the differences are negligible. The overall controllability and stability of the boat are designed from many factors, and the type of rudder it has is only one of those.

You’ll notice that rudder design is closely tied to keel design. These two underwater features work together to give the boat the sailing characteristics the designer intended.

The classic, robust offshore sailboat is designed with a full keel that runs from stem to stern. With this sort of underwater profile, it only makes sense that the rudder would be attached to the trailing edge of that enormous keel. On inboard-powered sailboats, the propeller is usually mounted inside an opening called the aperture between the keel and rudder.

The advantages of this design are simplicity and robustness. The keel is integrated into the hull and protects the rudder’s entire length. Beyond reversing into an obstacle, anything the boat might strike would hit the keel first and would be highly unlikely to damage the rudder. Not only does the keel protect it, but it also provides a very strong connection point for it to be attached to.

Full keel boats are known for being slow, although there are modern derivatives of these designs that have no slow pokes. Their rudders are often large and effective. They may not be the most efficient design, but they are safe and full keels ride more comfortably offshore than fin-keeled boats.

Plenty of stout offshore designs sport full keel rudders. The Westsail 38s, Lord Nelsons, Cape Georges, Bristol/Falmouth Cutters, or Tayana 37s feature a full keel design.

A modified full keel, like one with a cutaway forefoot, also has a full keel-style rudder. These are more common on newer designs, like the Albergs, Bristols, Cape Dorys, Cabo Ricos, Island Packets, or the older Hallberg-Rassys.

full keel rudder

A design progression was made from full keel boats to long-fin keelboats, and the rudder design changed with it. Designers used a skeg as the rudder became more isolated from the keel. The skeg is a fixed structure from which you can mount the rudder. This enables the rudder to look and function like a full keel rudder but is separated from the keel for better performance.

The skeg-hung rudder has a few of the same benefits as a full keel rudder. It is protected well and designed robustly. But, the cutaways in the keel provide a reduced wetted surface area and less drag underwater, resulting in improved sailing performance overall.

Larger boats featuring skeg-mounted rudders include the Valiant 40, Pacific Seacraft 34, 37, and 40, newer Hallberg-Rassys, Amels, or the Passport 40.

It’s worth noting that not all skegs protect the entire rudder. A partial skeg extends approximately half the rudder’s length, allowing designers to make a balanced rudder.

skeg-hung rudder

With higher-performance designs, keels have become smaller and thinner. Fin keel boats use more hydrodynamic forces instead of underwater area to counter the sail’s pressure. With the increased performance, skegs have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Nowadays, rudders are sleek, high aspect ratio spade designs that make very little drag. They can be combined with a number of different keel types, including fin, wing keels , swing keels, or bulb keels.

The common argument made against spade rudders is that they are connected to the boat by only the rudder shaft. As a result, an underwater collision can easily bend the shaft or render the rudder unusable. In addition, these rudders put a high load on the steering components, like the bearings, which are also more prone to failure than skeg or full keel designs. For these reasons, long-distance cruisers have traditionally chosen more robust designs for the best bluewater cruising sailboats .

But, on the other hand, spade rudders are very efficient. They turn the boat quickly and easily while contributing little to drag underwater.

Spade rudders are common now on any boat known for performance. All racing boats have a spade rudder, like most production boats used for club racing. Pick any modern fin keel boat from Beneteau, Jeanneau, Catalina, or Hunter, and you will find a spade rudder. Spade rudders are common on all modern cruising catamarans, from the Geminis to the Lagoons, Leopards, and Fountaine Pajots favored by cruisers and charter companies.

water in sailboat rudder

Here are two alternative designs you might see out on the water.

sailing catamarans have spade rudders

Transom-Hung or Outboard Rudders

An outboard rudder is hung off the boat’s transom and visible while the boat is in the water. Most often, this design is controlled by a tiller. They are common on small sailing dingies, where the rudder and tiller are removable for storage and transport. The rudder is mounted with a set of hardware called the pintle and gudgeon.

Most outboard rudders are found on small daysailers and dinghies. There are a few classic big-boat designs that feature a transom-hung rudder, however. For example, the Westsail 38, Alajuela, Bristol/Falmouth Cutters, Cape George 36, and some smaller Pacific Seacrafts (Dana, Flicka) have outboard rudders.

outboard rudder

Twin Sailing Rudder Designs

A modern twist that is becoming more common on spade rudder boats is the twin sailboat rudder. Twin rudders feature two separate spade rudders mounted in a vee-shaped arrangement. So instead of having one rudder pointed down, each rudder is mounted at an angle.

Like many things that trickle down to cruising boats, the twin rudder came from high-performance racing boats. By mounting the rudders at an angle, they are more directly aligned in the water’s flow when the boat is healed over for sailing. Plus, two rudders provide some redundancy should one have a problem. The twin rudder design is favored by designers looking to make wide transom boats.

There are other, less obvious benefits of twin rudders as well. These designs are easier to control when maneuvering in reverse. They are also used on boats that can be “dried out” or left standing on their keel at low tide. These boats typically combine the twin rudders with a swing keel, like Southerly or Sirius Yachts do. Finally, twin rudders provide much better control on fast-sailing hulls when surfing downwind.

Unbalanced vs. Balanced Rudders

Rudders can be designed to be unbalanced or balanced. The difference is all in how they feel at the helm. The rudder on a bigger boat can experience a tremendous amount of force. That makes turning the wheel or tiller a big job and puts a lot of strain on the helmsperson and all of the steering components.

A balanced rudder is designed to minimize these effects and make turning easier. To accomplish this, the rudder post is mounted slightly aft of the rudder’s forward edge. As a result, when it turns, a portion of the leading edge of the rudder protrudes on the opposite side of the centerline. Water pressure on that side then helps move the rudder.

Balanced rudders are most common in spade or semi-skeg rudders.

Sail Rudder Failures

Obviously, the rudder is a pretty important part of a sailboat. Without it, the boat cannot counter the forces put into the sails and cannot steer in a straight line. It also cannot control its direction, even under power.

A rudder failure of any kind is a serious emergency at sea. Should the rudder be lost–post and all–there’s a real possibility of sinking. But assuming the leak can be stopped, coming up with a makeshift rudder is the only way you’ll be able to continue to a safe port.

Rudder preventative maintenance is some of the most important maintenance an owner can do. This includes basic things that can be done regularly, like checking for frayed wires or loose bolts in the steering linkage system. It also requires occasionally hauling the boat out of the water to inspect the rudder bearings and fiberglass structure.

Many serious offshore cruisers install systems that can work as an emergency rudder in extreme circumstances. For example, the Hydrovane wind vane system can be used as an emergency rudder. Many other wind vane systems have similar abilities. This is one reason why these systems are so popular with long-distance cruisers.

There are also many ways to jury rig a rudder. Sea stories abound with makeshift rudders from cabinet doors or chopped-up sails. Sail Magazine featured a few great ideas for rigging emergency rudders .

Understanding your sail rudder and its limitations is important in planning for serious cruising. Every experienced sailor will tell you the trick to having a good passage is anticipating problems you might have before you have them. That way, you can be prepared, take preventative measures, and hopefully never deal with those issues on the water.

What is the rudder on a sailboat?

The rudder is an underwater component that both helps the sailboat steer in a straight line when sailing and turn left or right when needed.

What is the difference between a rudder and a keel?

The rudder and the keel are parts of a sailboat mounted underwater on the hull. The rudder is used to turn the boat left or right, while the keel is fixed in place and counters the effects of the wind on the sails.

What is a rudder used for on a boat?

The rudder is the part of the boat that turns it left or right

water in sailboat rudder

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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Using the rudder

Changing direction on a dinghy or yacht bears little resemblance to steering a car. The rudder is likely to be the primary control when you want to change direction, but it must be used with secondary controls, such as the sail trim, and the boat has to be balanced.


A dinghy rudder assembly has four main parts: the rudder blade, rudder stock, tiller, and tiller extension. The blade is attached by hinges to the stock, which is in turn attached to the transom of the dinghy. The tiller is attached to the stock and enables you to turn the blade from side to side. The tiller extension lets you steer while sitting on the sides of the boat. Turning the blade causes it to act like a brake as turbulent water builds up in front of it. Most of the time, only small rudder movements are needed to change direction, and the faster the boat moves, the more sensitive the rudder becomes.

Fishing Vector From Above


If sailing a straight course, balance the boat and sails so the rudder feels neutral (see opposite). Rectify any excess weather helm (see p.69) by lowering the rudder blade fully.


To steer into the wind, push the tiller away only slightly. You can help the boat to turn by pulling in the mainsail and letting the boat heel to leeward.

Boat turns to leeward

water in sailboat rudder

steering away from the wind

To turn to leeward, pull the tiller very slightly so that the rudder does not act as a brake. To help the turn, let out the mainsail and let the boat heel to windward.

gently does it

The rudder blade is vertical when sailing, but it can be lifted for bringing the dinghy ashore. The rudder stock holds the blade in place and allows it to swivel from the up position to fully down. Tiller

Tiller extension

Rudder stock

Rudder blade

Pics Yacht From Steering Position


Most larger yachts use a wheel connected to the rudder by cables to control steering. Unlike a dinghy rudder, the blade is sited beneath the hull and often sits behind a fixed fin called a skeg. This helps direct water flow over the rudder blade, helping to keep the yacht balanced when the blade is turned.

The response of a rudder depends on the speed of water flow over the blade. At slow speeds, a yacht may lose steerage; if it stops altogether, the rudder will have no effect at all. When motoring, the phenomenon known as "prop walk" (see Maneuvering under power, pp.192—193) can have a major effect on the rudder when going astern.

Sailing Prop Walk


Sailing straight ahead in very light winds, the wheel can be centered. If the boat is heeling, it will tend to head into the wind and you need to steer slightly away from it.

Turning the wheel to the right turns the boat to starboard, which here is toward the wind. Pulling in the mainsheet will encourage the boat to turn.


Turning the wheel to the left turns the boat to port, which here is away from the wind. If the boat is heeling, let out the mainsail to allow the boat to turn.

Continue reading here: Sail trim

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Readers' Questions

How a tiller should be attached to rudder of sailing dinghy?
Place the tiller in its proper position on the rear of the boat, typically aligned with the rudder blade. It should fit snugly in the rudder post, which is the round bar that sticks out of the bottom of the boat and is held in place with a mounting bracket. Secure the tiller to the post using two stainless steel clamps. These need to be tightened with a wrench but should not be over-tightened. Attach the tiller arm to the tiller using two pins and a pair of cotter pins. The pins should fit securely in the holes in the tiller arm, and the cotter pins should be inserted into the holes on the sides of the pins to hold them in place. Connect the tiller to the rudder blade by running a line from the tiller arm to the rudder blade. The line should be snug but not too tight. Secure the line to the rudder blade and tiller arm by tying several knots. Check the tiller and rudder connections to make sure they are secure, and that the tiller is moving freely and the rudder blade is not obstructed in any way.
How does a rudder work on a ship?
A rudder is a device that is used to steer a boat or ship. It is usually located at the back of the vessel and is controlled by a helm. The rudder is used to deflect the water, causing the boat to turn in the opposite direction. When the helm is turned to the right, the rudder is pushed to the right. This causes the water to push the stern of the boat to the left, turning the bow of the boat to the right. The reverse is true when the helm is turned to the left.
How to steer a sailboat?
Secure the tiller so that the boat is on a course that will take you in the direction you want to go. Make sure that the mainsail is properly trimmed to help the boat maintain its desired course and speed. Keep an eye on the sails, the rudder and the wind to ensure the boat is sailing in the right direction and speed. Use the tiller to make minor adjustments to help keep the boat on course. If the wind changes direction, make sure to adjust the sails and the tiller accordingly. Keep an eye on the compass to ensure you’re on the correct course and make any necessary adjustments.

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Water in Rudder

  • Thread starter Sailfree
  • Start date 22 Feb 2012
  • 22 Feb 2012

Well-known member

Last year after lift out rudder seemed to be continually draining water. I think its where the GRP sheathing meets the stock as this joint must work. What would you do? Its a Jeanneau 43DS. I am assuming the inner rudder frame attached to the stock is SS. I can drill, drain, dry out and reglass and try to strengthen top connection but cannot help but feel it would be a waste of time and if rudder is flexing on shaft sufficient to leak it will continue to do so. I am sure that to thoroughly dry out the rudder I will have to split off one half of the GRP sheaths. Boat is 7yrs old. Fill with closed cell foam? Any advice?  


Active member

My Bav did the same... Drilled a small hole near the rudder post and placed it upside down. After 2 weeks, I sanded blasted the entire rudder then filled the hole and epoxied the entire thing. My rudder is hollow with a SS frame. GL  

I have had the same problem on two boats with hollow rudders, a Westerly and a J. As you surmise the water gets in where the stock enters the blade. The concensus of opinion I have received is that "they all do it" and to largely ignore it. Whatever you do the joiunt will work and water will get in. All I have done is drill holes in the blade to let the water out, foul smelling it is too! Then plug the holes and relaunch. This winter I noticed that the J's rudder hada crack at the top so I have put a glass and epoxy strap over the top to hold the two halves together. I am not sure what the corrosion effects would be on the frame within the blade. Something to worry about.  

You need to find out how it is getting in. Could be cracks in the bond between the two halves or more likely where the shaft goes into the moulding. The latter can be solved by grinding out a groove and epoxy in an O ring. Other cracks ned to be ground back and filled. Probably have to accept there is no complete cure as the minutest crack can let in a lot of water over time. Might even be worth drilling and tapping for a drain plug at the bottom to let the water out each year.  


Sailfree said: Last year after lift out rudder seemed to be continually draining water. I think its where the GRP sheathing meets the stock as this joint must work. What would you do? Its a Jeanneau 43DS. I am assuming the inner rudder frame attached to the stock is SS. I can drill, drain, dry out and reglass and try to strengthen top connection but cannot help but feel it would be a waste of time and if rudder is flexing on shaft sufficient to leak it will continue to do so. I am sure that to thoroughly dry out the rudder I will have to split off one half of the GRP sheaths. Boat is 7yrs old. Fill with closed cell foam? Any advice? Click to expand...



Roberto said: A few years ago I copied a set of instructions from forumite oldsaltoz (IIRC): in essence, empty/dry the blade, then grind a little of laminate around the shaft, put a couple of o-rings or other type of elastic seal, then laminate again around it. If he does not show up here send him a PM, his instructions were very detailed. I'll try to dig into my archives but cannot promise anything. Click to expand...


Well this is what I did on my last boat. Doubtless a very bad idea that will weaken the whole assembly and incur the wrath of experts all round etc etc. I rejected the O-ring and the slather-it-with-epoxy routes... If you are dexterous I would suggest machining a groove 3mm x 3mm around the contact area at rudder top (Dremel and wee cutting discs and a wee hand chisel constantly resharpened on a grinder) to create a square trench then fill this with one of the polyurethane sealants, whose adhesion, tenacity and modulus of elasticity will outweigh the torque flexure between blade and shaft. NOTE: If 3mm depth takes you right through the grp and into the foam core then you will have to build up what is questionably an absurdly thin top section of laminate. As always, the nagging worry with doing nothing is the effect of anaerobic water lying against the stainless tangs within, I suppose.  

my rudder was as yours and I tried several remedies including drilling drain holes, epoxy coating and stripping the surface gelcoat and applying new. I was not to concerned about the drips when hauled out but the osmotic blisters did not look good and they usually reappeared after two seasons, This time I am paying for the job and they have cut away one side of the rudder and removed all the foul smelling degraded foam, they will then rebuild the rudder with new "memory" foam (not sure what that is), seal the joint properly where the shaft enters the at the top and rebuild the removed part. Surprisignly there was no strengthening web in the rudder so I suppose in time it would have deformed with only the shell holding the shape. A web is being fitted retro fitted. The old rudder might have gone on for ever but it might have deformed at any inconvenient time. I'm glad it's being sorted.  

A very common complaint. I would be tempted to leave it and monitor the situation. If the welding has been well done and you are sure there is no mild steel in there (has been known, you should be fine with your young boat) you will probably be ok for a few years yet. If your boat happens to be the oldest in the fleet, or you are planning some serious offshore stuff, it might be worth considering your plan of action in the next couple of years. My boat has had similar treatment to Biscay36 above. Cutting out windows ard adding extra tangs really needs to be done with reference to the original drawings so you first plan of action might be to try and get hold of them - might be easier said than done. The GRP work, closed cell foam/resin filling and making good is a DIY job if you feel inclined. Beware though, that rudder will be very heavy.  

  • 23 Feb 2012
Blueboatman said: Well this is what I did on my last boat. Doubtless a very bad idea that will weaken the whole assembly and incur the wrath of experts all round etc etc. I rejected the O-ring and the slather-it-with-epoxy routes... If you are dexterous I would suggest machining a groove 3mm x 3mm around the contact area at rudder top (Dremel and wee cutting discs and a wee hand chisel constantly resharpened on a grinder) to create a square trench then fill this with one of the polyurethane sealants, whose adhesion, tenacity and modulus of elasticity will outweigh the torque flexure between blade and shaft. NOTE: If 3mm depth takes you right through the grp and into the foam core then you will have to build up what is questionably an absurdly thin top section of laminate. As always, the nagging worry with doing nothing is the effect of anaerobic water lying against the stainless tangs within, I suppose. Click to expand...


There's an earlier thread here which may be of interest. I had water in the rudder of my Seawolf 26 and eventually the tangs failed so I had to open it up to repair it. I used a modified O-ring method to seal the stock originally suggested by Oldsaltoz and the rudder is now dry. Pictures of the repair are here .  



In part your action might depend on how well the rudder was constructed in the first place. I took on a 1978 Rival 34 a couple of years back with a wet rudder and minor evidence of osmosis. I opened up a couple of inspection holes and was pleased to find no evidence of corrosion, in part because the whole tang / stock area had been encased in a resin / filler mix from new and which I very carefully made good again. I did add some o-rings and epoxy on the way out. Who knows how long it had been wet for but the initial construction had clearly been robust.  

Glassing in an O-ring will NOT work. Yes it will seal against the rudder stock because it will be a tight fit on that but you cannot get a tight fit between the fibreglass and the O-ring so water will just flow past. An O-ring has to be compressed to form a seal. The best way as suggested by Blueboatman is to grind out a trough in the glass around the rudder stock and fill this with sealant. You can use Sikaflex but I would suggest CT1 as it sticks to anything even when wet, is flexible and can be used satisfactorily underwater. This flexible seal is necessary to absorb any slight movement between the rudder stock and the main blade. The CT1 will stick to both the glass and the SS. Fibreglass/epoxy/whatever does not stick to SS, however once you have the flexible seal in place you can glass over it if need be for neatness. Personally I would leave it open for future access.  

CharlesSwallow said: I drilled a few holes in the blade and pushed my endoscope in. Click to expand...
Boo2 said: Endoscope, huh ? There's one here at a fair price is that similar to the one you use ? I have had a surveyor's recommendation to inspect my rudders' armature before going far offshore and was looking at cutting one of the skins off but a small hole + an endoscope sounds like a much better idea. Any recommendations for kit or process much appreciated... Boo2 Click to expand...
  • 16 Mar 2020
RivalRedwing said: In part your action might depend on how well the rudder was constructed in the first place. I took on a 1978 Rival 34 a couple of years back with a wet rudder and minor evidence of osmosis. I opened up a couple of inspection holes and was pleased to find no evidence of corrosion, in part because the whole tang / stock area had been encased in a resin / filler mix from new and which I very carefully made good again. I did add some o-rings and epoxy on the way out. Who knows how long it had been wet for but the initial construction had clearly been robust. Click to expand...



I'd be very careful when considering the repair to a rudder which has salt water in it. SS is only corrosion resistant in the presence of oxygen. If it has been left in stagnant salt water over a long period, the tangs are likely to be corroded, especially where they are welded to the stock, because it is difficult to control the composition of the weld, and the weld will probably be more likely to corrode. This will ultimately lead to rudder failure. The exception to this is when the SS within the rudder has been fully encapsulated in epoxy resin, protecting it from any water ingress, as per post #12. Over the years I've seen a good number of rudders being repaired because the welds have failed. I'd fix the tiller or wheel and then push and pull the rudder with all the force I could muster to test it. Not an infallible test, but at least it will tell you if a failure is imminent.  

  • 19 Mar 2020
Ian_Edwards said: I'd be very careful when considering the repair to a rudder which has salt water in it. SS is only corrosion resistant in the presence of oxygen. If it has been left in stagnant salt water over a long period, the tangs are likely to be corroded, especially where they are welded to the stock, because it is difficult to control the composition of the weld, and the weld will probably be more likely to corrode. This will ultimately lead to rudder failure. The exception to this is when the SS within the rudder has been fully encapsulated in epoxy resin, protecting it from any water ingress, as per post #12. Over the years I've seen a good number of rudders being repaired because the welds have failed. I'd fix the tiller or wheel and then push and pull the rudder with all the force I could muster to test it. Not an infallible test, but at least it will tell you if a failure is imminent. Click to expand...

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water in sailboat rudder

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New Rudders

Replacement Sailboat Rudders and Centerboards

How Does A Sailboat Rudder Work

Sailboats steer by means of the rudder, a vertical, blade-like projection mounted either on the transom (the flat surface of the stern) or under the sailboat. In both cases the rudder works by deflecting water flow: when the helmsman—the person steering,—pivots the rudder, the water hits it with increased force on one side, decreased force on the other. The rudder moves in the direction of lower pressure. As the rudder goes, so goes the stern, and the boat turns.

During turns the boat pivots around a point near its center—roughly at the mast on a sloop. The stern moves one way, the bow moves the other way, as the boat changes direction. In very close quarters it’s important for the helmsman to remember this, and make allowances for the swinging stern to avoid colliding with other boats, docks, buoys, etc. Quite a few sailors make this mistake, but often not more than once.

Tiller vs Wheel

Most smaller sailboats (under 30 feet or so) use a “tiller” to turn the rudder. This is basically a stick made of wood or, sometimes, aluminum, attached to the top of the rudder. The tiller provides leverage to turn the rudder against the strong pressure of the water moving across it. This pressure can be substantial, therefore even on a small sailboat the tiller is up to three or four feet in length; in strong winds the helmsman may often wish it was even longer. Larger boats generally use a wheel, attached to the rudder by cables and a steel “quadrant” to provide sufficient leverage. While steering with a wheel takes less effort, a tiller is better for beginning sailors, since it provides instant response and feedback: if the sails are trimmed incorrectly, the skilled helmsman will feel it through the tiller. Because of this, some expert racing sailors prefer a tiller, even on large sailboats.

The continuous stress and pressure on the rudder underscores why sailors should practice regular rudder inspections and maintenance. If you need a rudder repair or a replacement rudder or centerboard for your sailboat, please contact us today.

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  • Boat Maintenance

Building a Faster Rudder

Boost performance with a bit of fairing and better balanced helm..

water in sailboat rudder

We’re cruisers not racers. We like sailing efficiently, but we’re more concerned with safety and good handling than squeezing out the last fraction of a knot. Heck, we’ve got a dinghy on davits, placemats under our dishes, and a print library on the shelf. So why worry about perfection below the waterline?

The reason is handling. A boat with poorly trimmed sails and a crudely finished rudder will miss tacks and roll like a drunkard downwind when the waves are up. On the other hand, a rudder that is properly tuned will agilely swing the boat through tacks even in rough weather, and provide secure steering that helps prevents broaching when things get rolly. The difference in maximum available turning force between a smooth, properly fitted rudder and the same rudder with a rough finish and poor fit can be as much as 50% in some circumstances, and those are circumstances when you need it the most. It’s not about speed, it’s about control.

It Must Be Smooth

Smooth is fast. That’s obvious. But it makes an even bigger difference with steering. Like sails, only half of rudder force comes from water deflected by the front side of the blade. The rest results from water being pulled around the backside as attached flow. How well that flow stays attached is related to the shape of the blade, which we can’t easily change, and to the surface finish of the blade, which we can.

Remember the school experiment, where you place a spoon in a stream of water and watched how the water would cling to the backside of the spoon? Now, try the experiment again as a grown-up, but with a different set of materials.

Try this with a piece of wood that is smooth and one that is very rough; the water will cling to the smooth surface at a greater angle than the rough surface. Try piece of smooth fiberglass or gelcoat; the water will cling even better because the surface is smoother. Try a silicone rubber spatula from the kitchen. Strangely, even though the surface is quite smooth, the water doesn’t cling well at all. We’ll come back to that.

Investigators have explored this in a practical way, dragging rudders through the water in long test tanks (US Navy) and behind powerboats.

Building a Faster Rudder

If we are trying to climb to windward, it’s nice to get as much lift out of the rudder as practical, before drag becomes too great or before it begins to stall with normal steering adjustments. If the boat has an efficient keel and the leeway angle is only a few degrees, the rudder can beneficially operate at a 4-6 degree angle. The total angle of attack for the rudder will be less than 10 degrees, drag will be low, and pointing will benefit from the added lift. If the boat is a higher leeway design—shoal draft keels and cruising catamarans come to mind—then the rudder angle must stay relatively low to avoid the total angle (leeway + rudder angle) of the rudder from exceeding 10 degrees. That said, boats with truly inefficient keels but large rudders (catamarans have two—they both count if it is not a hull-flying design) can sometimes benefit from total angles slightly greater than 10 degrees—they need lift anywhere they can get it.

How can you monitor the rudder angle? If the boat is tiller steered, the tiller will be about 0.6 inches off center for every degree or rudder angle, for every 3 feet of tiller length. In other words, the 36-inch tiller should not be more than about 2 inches off the center line. If the boat is wheel steered, next time the boat is out of the water, measure the rudder angle with the wheel hard over. Count the number of turns of the wheel it takes to move the rudder from centered to rudder hard over, and measure the wheel diameter. Mark the top of the rim of the wheel when the boat is traveling straight, preferably coasting without current and no sails or engine to create leeway.

The rim of the wheel will move (diameter x 3.146 x number of turns)/(degrees rudder angle at hard over) for each degree of rudder angle. Keep this in the range of 2-6 degrees when hard on the wind, as appropriate to your boat. It will typically be on the order of 4-10 inches at the steering wheel rim. A ring of tape at 6 degrees can help.

How do we minimize rudder angle while maintaining a straight course? Trimming the jib in little tighter or letting the mainsheet or traveler out a little will reduce pressure on the rudder and reduce the angle. Some boats actually sail to weather faster and higher, and with better rudder angles, by lowering the  traveler a few inches below the center line.

On the other hand, tightening the mainsheet and bringing the traveler up, even slightly above the center line on some boats, will increase the pressure and lift.

Much depends on the course, the sails set, the rig, the position of the keel, the wind, and the sea state. Ultimately, some combination of small adjustments should bring the rudder angle into the appropriate range. Too much rudder angle and you are just fighting yourself.

Building a Faster Rudder

  • Turn this rudder just 10 degrees and the end plate is lost, reducing the amount of lift generated.

Building a Faster Rudder

  • This rudder might as well be transom hung, the way that the end cap just disappears.

Building a Faster Rudder

  • Stern-hung rudders, and spade rudders with large gaps between the hull and the top of the rudder will lose their lift at the “tip” of the blade near the surface.

Surface roughness affects the lift from the rudder in two ways. A rougher surface has slightly lower lift through the entire range of angles, the result of a turbulent boundary layer instead of smooth flow over the entire surface. More dramatically, rougher blades stall at lower angles and stall more completely. The difference between a faired rudder with a polished finish and a rudder carrying a 10-year accumulation of rolled-on antifouling paint can be as much is 35 percent (see “Rudder Savvy to Boost Boat Performance,” above).

What can we do? If your rudder is a lift up type, don’t use bottom paint. Fair the blade within an inch of its life and lay on a gloss topside paint as smoothly as possible, sanding between coats. If you use a brush, stroke the brush parallel to the waterline, not along the length of the blade.

Which is faster, a gloss finish or one that has been dulled with 1000 grit sandpaper? Opinions go both ways, and we believe it may depend on the exact nature of the paint, which leads to the question, “Should we wax the blade?” The answer is a resounding, no.

Wax is a hydrophobic (readily beads water), like the silicone rubber spatula you tested, and as a result, water doesn’t always cling as well. Thus, whether the paint should be deglossed or not depends on the chemistry of the paint, but in all cases the final sanding should be 1000 grit or finer.

If the rudder stays in the water, antifouling paint is required. Sand the prior coat perfectly smooth. There should be no evidence of chips, runners, or any irregularity at all. Using a mohair roller, lay the paint on thin, and apply multiple coats to withstand the scrubbing you will give your rudder from time to time.

Even if you use soft paint on the rest of the boat, consider hard paint for the rudder. Sure, it will build up and you will have to sand it off periodically, but the rudder is small and no part of your boat is more critical to good handling. Take the time to maintain it as a perfect airfoil.

Close the Gap

Ever notice the little winglets on the tips of certain airplanes? As we know, those are intended to reduce losses off the tip of the wing. The alternatives are slightly longer wings or slightly lower efficiency. At the fuselage end of the wing, of course, there is no such loss because the fuselage serves as an end plate. The same is true with your rudder.

There’s not much you can do about losses from the tip; making the rudder longer will increase the chance of grounding and increase stress on the rudder, rudder shaft, and bearings. Designers have experimented with winglets, but they the catch weeds and the up-and-down motion of the transom makes them inefficient. However, we can improve the end plate effect of the hull by minimizing the gap between the hull and the rudder.

In principle it should be a close fit, but in practice the gap is most often wide enough to catch a rope. Just how much efficiency is lost by gap of a few inches? The answer is quite a lot. A gap of just an inch can reduce lift by as much as 10-20 percent, depending on the size and shape of the rudder and the speed. A gap of 1-2 mm is quite efficient, but normal flexing of the rudder shaft may lead to rubbing.

If the gap is tight, the slightest bend from impact with a submerged log can cause jamming and loss of steering, though in my experience once the impact is sufficient to bend the shaft, a small difference in clearance is unlikely to make much difference; the shaft will bend until the rudder strikes the hull. Just how tight is practical depends on the type of construction, fitting accuracy, and how conservative the designer was in their engineering.

Carbon shafts, tubular shafts, and rudders with skegs flex less, while solid shafts generally flex more, all things being equal. Normally a clearance of about 1/4-inch per foot of rudder cord is practical, and performance-oriented boats often aim for much less. If you can reach your fingers through, that’s way too much. Hopefully the hull is relatively flat above the rudder so that the gap does not increase too much with rudder angle.

Practical Sailor’s technical editor Drew Frye is the author of the books Keeping a Cruising Book for Peanuts and Rigging Modern Anchors. He blogs at his website, sail delmarva.blogspot.com .



How happy to see good technical information about the science of boat speed and control. This information is valuable to everyone, but the “mainly just cruising” cohort usually doesn’t get enough in an easily understandable form. I always suggest some club level racing as the best way to learning how to sail, but many prospective racers have been put off from the sport or haven’t had good opportunities to join the fleets. Technical seminars are generally either too advanced for beginners to understand properly, and the beginner classes are frequently too basic to inspre those who would benefit from a deeper knowledge base in the science of sailing. Good on you, Practical Sailor, for your technical stories hitting the “sweet spot,” getting this information to those we’ll benefit most.

Great article. How about considering modifying a rudder to make it a hydrodynamically balanced rudder. I did it to my boat and the difference is outstanding. If I remember correctly 7% of the rudder area is forward of pivot center. It is a skeg hung rudder that now turns like it’s a spade rudder.

I’m “skeg hung” also. Would you be so kind as to posting a link or providing info as to you accomplished this feat. Thanks!

A very clear explanation of some quite complicated hydrodynamics – thank you! I am surprised by the US Navy results showing benefit of sanding further than 400 grit. Most other experimental data suggest there is negligible advantage in going beyond about 360 grit. Is the original reference publicly available? On Michael Cotton’s comment, a couple of points: Firstly, the amount of balance (i.e how far back you put the stock in the blade) has no impact on the hydrodynamic performance of a spade rudder. What it does do is change the feel of the rudder; a well balanced rudder will be easier to use, thereby probably allowing the steerer to sail the boat better. For a skeg rudder, the hydrodynamic impact of changing the balance depends very much on how the skeg/blade combination is configured. Secondly, 7% of rudder area forward of the stock is not enough for most rudders. The position of the centre of pressure is dependent on a lot of factors (aspect ratio, rudder angle etc.), but it is usually at least 15% back from the leading edge on a spade rudder, more often 20%. A balance somewhere between 10% and 15% is likely to give just enough feel without too much weight. However, rudder balance is still a bit of a black art, it really does depend on the rudder geometry.

the statement that one doesn’t want a silicone/silane coated ( super-smooth, hydrophobic: silicone-silane is just the example I am choosing, since it is now in use as a massively-speeding hull-coating, ttbomk ), as it *induces* flow-separation…

looks to me like conflating cavitation with flow-separation.

People have no problem teflon/ptfe-coating aviation-wings, as a means of *preventing* flow-separation.

the super-slick shape of a Cirrus’s composite wing, if made super-smooth/polished & super-slippery, “air-phobic”, as it were, *improves* its performance, not detracts from it….

Flow is always 1. laminar, then 2. turbulent, then 3. flow-separation.

unless the angle-of-attack ( AoA ) is small-enough to prevent separation.

The Gentry Tufts System, for *seeing* when a separation-bubble begins, on a sail, is brilliant ( Arvel Gentry was a fluid dynamicist, & realized that once one has a *series* of tufts, from luff on back, about 1/4 up the luff, one can *see* the beginning of a flow-separation-bubble, & tune the sail to keep it *just*-beginning, because *that* is MAX lift. Wayback Machine has his site archived, btw )

The aircraft designer Jan Roskam wrote of a DC-10 crashing because pebbled-ice as thick as the grit on 40-grit sandpaper had formed on the upper wings…

obviously, engineered to require laminar, there, but having turbulent, cost all those lives.

iirc, it was Arvel Gentry, or “Principles of Yacht Design”, that stated it takes a ridge of about 0.1mm, only, to trip the flow around a mast from laminar to turbulent…

Given how barnacles & such are generally 100x or more as thick as that, when removed from a hull, I think laminar-flow is something that exists only for the 1st day or so after launching!

I now want to see experiment showing polar curves for rudders coated normally, uncoated, & ailicone-silane coated, to see if it is the coating that induces separation-bubbles, or if it is AoA exceeding functional angle, for that surface & foil,, while the boundary-layer is in specifically turbulent flow, as opposed to the ideal laminar, as aviation’s results indicate…

just an amateur student of naval-architecture & aircraft-design ( Daniel P. Raymer’s “Conceptual Aircraft Design” is *brilliant*, btw ), who happens to study this stuff autistically, as that is the only way to make my designs become absolutely-competent, is all…

I got a pearson and the rudder broke. Can I just replace with a outboard rudder mount it off set for room for outboard need info.

You could but it will not work very well. How badly it would perform is difficult to say. It might be just poor or disastrous. Things really need to be balanced on sail boats.

Polished rudders stall at low angles of attack and ask any hobie cat racer.

Pi is NOT 3.146

3.1416 maybe

Yup, 3.1416. Typo.

Before 2005 , when I fully retired and went cruising 10 months per year, I changed auto pilots, the hydraulics of which reduced the maximum rudder angle. “Someday” had always been difficult to steer in marinas, so I added 30% more rudder area to the Gulfstar 41′ by deepening and following the existing angles. (the pivot was unchanged, as all added area was aft of that.) It increased rudder effort noticeably, but not excessively, improved motor maneauvering and allowed being able to hold a close line better. Noticeably, it caused a lot more stalling of the rudder whenever it was turned very much. A recent tangle with a Guatemala fish net damaged the extension, which I had intended to be sacrificial. I cleaned up the separation somewhat, but have not replaced the extension. The boat again now requires more steering correction when heading at all upwind, but the rudder does not stall as easily.

This is not a scientific study, just my personal non-scientific observations. The added rudder area was quite low, and the fairing quality was…well! modest.

I’ve seen data suggesting ~ 400 grit is best, and I’ve seen data suggesting polished is best. They were both smart, respected guys that I would not second guess. My conclusion is that other factors, such as the specific foil profile and the type of coating, are involved. Let’s just agree that many layers of rolled bottom paint with a few lumps and chips is sub-optimal! We’re talking about cruising boats.

Thanks for great article. I’m convinced enough to go sand my bottom paint off the lifting rudder of my Dragonfly Tri.

Absolutely! No lifting rudder should have bottom paint. My Farrier rudder was sanded fair and painted with gloss white.

Dagger boards and center boards that retract still need antifouling, since they do not lift clear of the water, but because they are in a confined space with little oxygen or water flow, fouling is very limited. Because the space is tight and paint build-up can cause jamming, sand well and limit the number of coats. For my center board I go with two coats on the leading edge (exposed even when lifted) and one coat on the rest.

I do remember a comment directed to cruisers a few years back suggesting that a faster cruiser would be more likely to get out of the way of dirty weather, especially with modern forecasting. I reckoned that this concept would gain traction, but I haven’t seen it. Can anyone weigh in on this opinion?

As interesting as the article reads, I wonder how it helps a prospective buyer of a used boat. Pictures will not do, and neither will taking several boats out of the water to examine them; it’s too expensive. It would be more helpful to indicate which boat manufacturers have the type of rudder the author recommends. After all, the buyer usually cannot be expected to change a rudder prior to buying it; it is also expensive. By the way, these types of very sophisticated articles are seen when it comes to hulls, keels, or rigging but without identifying the boats that carry the wrong equipment. If a specific rudder or keel configuration is not the proper one for efficient sailing, the author ought to state which boats carry the proper ones so that the buyer will concentrate on the whole (the boat) rather than the part.

I was describing the opportunity to improve the existing rudder. As I think back, I have modified the rudder of every boat I have owned in order to improve efficiency. The first two got small changes in balance and improved trailing edge sharpness. On the third I tightened the the hull clearance and changed the section. On my current boat I adding an anti-ventilation fence to improve high speed handling. https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2ZGPzKdj_tE/WyF9G2mHtLI/AAAAAAAAOwE/r6zgQEr4vkcDB4ciMLcgboFdazDAseDBgCLcBGAs/s1600/ian%2Brudder%2Bfence.jpg None of these tasks was overly difficult, and none was undertaken until I had sailed the boat for a season and learned what balance she liked and noted her habits.

For me, I buy a boat based on reputation, a test sail, and in most cases, a survey. As you imply, it is the whole boat you are buying. Does it have good bones? Do you feel happy at the helm? Then comes the fine tuning. I’ve been told that I sell a boat when I run out of things to tweak.

wow, so now case reports/medical reports/evidence don’t count as “evidence”, but certain remedies, even if they are cited in medical journals but do not work in the real world, count as evidence to you?? Maybe we need to redefine evidence based on your philosophies.Anyway, i’ve wasted enough time here. goodbye.

Weight 2.5 tonnes

Do you have any articles on the ideal cross section shape for an outboard rudder mounted 50mm from the transom vertically The yacht is a 26 ft trailer sailer weight 2.5 tonnes

The most common choice would be NACA 0012. http://airfoiltools.com/airfoil/details?airfoil=n0012-il

There are many ways to build a rudder, including laminated solid rot-resistant wood and fiber glass covered foam with a metal armature core. For the DIY, laminated wood is probably the most practical.

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The Types of Sailboat Rudders

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Full Keel Rudder

On a sailboat , as the rudder is moved to one side by means of the tiller or steering wheel, the force of the water striking one edge of the rudder turns the stern in the other direction to turn the boat. Different types of rudders have different advantages and disadvantages. The type of rudder is often related to the boat’s type of keel.

Rudder on Full-Keel Sailboat

As shown in this photo, the rudder of a full-keel boat is usually hinged to the aft edge of the keel, making a continuous surface. The engine’s propeller is usually positioned in an aperture between the keel and rudder.

Advantages of Full Keel Rudder

The primary benefit of this rudder configuration is the strength and protection provided to the rudder. It is hinged at top and bottom, well distributing the forces on the rudder. Rope (such as lobster pot warps) or debris in the water cannot snag on the rudder.

Disadvantage of Full Keel Rudder

Because the sideways force of the water on the rudder is entirely behind the rudder’s pivoting point at its leading edge, putting all the force on one side of the rudder, it takes more energy to move the rudder. This is one reason why larger boats seldom have tillers—because it can require much force to “push” the rudder out against the water streaming past the keel.

Spade Rudder

Most fin keel boats have a spade rudder, which extends straight down from the aft hull section. The rudder post comes down through the hull into the rudder itself, allowing the entire rudder to rotate to either side, pivoting around the post.

Advantages of Spade Rudder

The spade rudder is self-standing and does not require a full keel or skeg for its mounting. The rudder post inside the rudder can be moved aft from the leading edge (see next page on Balanced Rudder) so that the force of the water is not all on one side when the rudder is turned. This requires less energy to steer than with a keel- or skeg-mounted rudder.

Disadvantage of Spade Rudder

A spade rudder is more vulnerable to debris or objects in the water, which may strike the rudder and exert a force on the rudder post, the only structure supporting the whole rudder. Even the force of water when the boat “falls” off a wave can exert damaging stress on a spade rudder. If the rudder post is bent, the rudder may jam and become useless.

Balanced Spade Rudder

Note the clear air space at the top of the leading edge of this balanced spade rudder. The rudder post is several inches back from the front of the rudder. When the rudder is turned, the leading edge rotates to one side of the boat while the trailing edge rotates to the other side. While the turning action on the boat is the same, the forces on the helm are more nearly balanced, making it very easy to steer.

Skeg-Mounted Rudder

Some fin keel sailboats have a skeg-mounted rudder like the one shown. The skeg offers the same advantages as a keel mounted rudder: the rudder is protected from objects in the water and has more structural strength than a rudder mounted only on the rudder post.

It also has the same disadvantage: because it is not “balanced” as a spade rudder may be, with water forces distributed on both sides, it requires more force to turn the rudder.

Outboard Rudder

An outboard rudder is mounted outside the hull on the boat’s stern, such as shown in this photo, rather than below the hull using a rudder post or hinges to the keel or skeg. Most outboard rudders are turned with a tiller rather than a steering wheel since there is no rudder post to which to gear a wheel.

Advantages of Outboard Rudder

An outboard rudder does not require a hole through the hull for a rudder post and thus is less likely to cause trouble if damaged. The rudder can often be removed or serviced while the boat is still in the water. Hinges at the top and bottom of the rudder section may provide more strength than a single rudder post.

Disadvantages of Outboard Rudder

Like a spade rudder, an outboard rudder is vulnerable to being struck by or caught in objects or rope in the water. Unlike a spade rudder it cannot be balanced in the water flow, so the force of water is always on one side of the pivot point, requiring more energy for turning the rudder.

A rudder is often related to keel shape . 

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater sailboat designs for every type of cruising

water in sailboat rudder

Which yacht is the best for bluewater boating? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht , or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions, so what is the best bluewater sailboat?

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

Article continues below…

water in sailboat rudder

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All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. We have a full separate feature on the best bluewater multihulls of all time and here we mostly focus on monohulls. The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list.

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing .

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

The new flagship Allures 51.9, for example, is a no-nonsense adventure cruising design built and finished to a high standard. It retains Allures’ niche of using aluminium hulls with glassfibre decks and superstructures, which, the yard maintains, gives the optimum combination of least maintenance and less weight higher up. Priorities for this design were a full beam aft cabin and a spacious, long cockpit. Both are excellent, with the latter, at 6m long, offering formidable social, sailing and aft deck zones.

It likes some breeze to come to life on the wheel, but I appreciate that it’s designed to take up to five tonnes payload. And I like the ease with which you can change gears using the furling headsails and the positioning of the powerful Andersen winches inboard. The arch is standard and comes with a textile sprayhood or hard bimini.

Below decks you’ll find abundant headroom and natural light, a deep U-shape galley and cavernous stowage. For those who like the layout of the Amel 50 but would prefer aluminium or shoal draught, look no further.

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a Category A ocean going yacht at this size with a lifting keel, hence the hull had to be very stable.

Enjoyable to helm, it has a practical, deep cockpit behind a large sprayhood, which can link to the bimini on the arch. Many of its most appealing features lie in the bright, light, contemporary, clever, voluminous interior, which has good stowage and tankage allocation. There’s also a practical navstation, a large workroom and a vast separate shower. I particularly like the convertible saloom, which can double as a large secure daybed or pilot berth.

Potentially the least expensive Category A lift keel boat available, the Ovni will get you dreaming of remote places again.

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

water in sailboat rudder

There’s no shortage of spirit in the Windelo 50. We gave this a sustainability award after it’s founders spent two years researching environmentally-friendly composite materials, developing an eco-composite of basalt fibre and recycled PET foam so it could build boats that halve the environmental impact of standard glassfibre yachts.

The Windelo 50 is an intriguing package – from the styling, modular interior and novel layout to the solar field on the roof and the standard electric propulsion, it is completely fresh.

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

I would argue that this is the most successful new production yacht on the market. Well over 50 have already sold (an equipped model typically costs €1.6m) – and I can understand why. After all, were money no object, I had this design earmarked as the new yacht I would most likely choose for a world trip.

Indeed 55 number one Sanya, was fully equipped for a family’s world cruise, and left during our stay for the Grand Large Odyssey tour. Whereas we sailed Magic Kili, which was tricked up with performance options, including foam-cored deckheads and supports, carbon crossbeam and bulkheads, and synthetic rigging.

At rest, these are enticing space ships. Taking one out to sea is another matter though. These are speed machines with the size, scale and loads to be rightly weary of. Last month Nikki Henderson wrote a feature for us about how to manage a new breed of performance cruising cats just like this and how she coaches new owners. I could not think of wiser money spent for those who do not have ample multihull sailing experience.

Under sail, the most fun was obviously reserved for the reaching leg under asymmetric, where we clocked between 11-16 knots in 15-16 knots wind. But it was the stability and of those sustained low teen speeds which really hit home  – passagemaking where you really cover miles.

Key features include the swing helms, which give you views from outboard, over the coachroof or from a protected position in the cockpit through the coachroof windows, and the vast island in the galley, which is key to an open plan main living area. It helps provide cavernous stowage and acts as the heart of the entertaining space as it would in a modern home. As Danish judge Morten Brandt-Rasmussen comments: “Apart from being the TGV of ocean passages the boat offers the most spacious, open and best integration of the cockpit and salon areas in the market.”

Outremer has done a top job in packing in the creature comforts, stowage space and payload capacity, while keeping it light enough to eat miles. Although a lot to absorb and handle, the 55 offers a formidable blend of speed and luxury cruising.

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.

Read more about the Contest 50CS and the new Contest 49CS


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft , a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.


Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.

Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.


Photo: David Harding

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion, but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week .


A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.


Photo: Voyage of Swell

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race . Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.


Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.


Photo: Peter Szamer

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.


Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT


Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

Best bluewater yachts for performance

The Frers-designed Swan 54 may not be the newest hull shape but heralded Swan’s latest generation of displacement bluewater cruisers when launched four years ago. With raked stem, deep V hull form, lower freeboard and slight curve to the topsides she has a more timeless aesthetic than many modern slab-sided high volume yachts, and with that a seakindly motion in waves. If you plan to cover many miles to weather, this is probably the yacht you want to be on.


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Besides Swan’s superlative build quality, the 54 brings many true bluewater features, including a dedicated sail locker. There’s also a cockpit locker that functions as a utility cabin, with potential to hold your generator and washing machine, or be a workshop space.

The sloping transom opens out to reveal a 2.5m bathing platform, and although the cabins are not huge there is copious stowage space. Down below the top-notch oak joinery is well thought through with deep fiddles, and there is a substantial nav station. But the Swan 54 wins for handling above all, with well laid-out sail controls that can be easily managed between a couple, while offering real sailing enjoyment to the helmsman.


Photo: Graham Snook

The Performance Cruiser winner at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year awards, the Arcona 435 is all about the sailing experience. She has genuine potential as a cruiser-racer, but her strengths are as an enjoyable cruiser rather than a full-blown liveaboard bluewater boat.

Build quality is excellent, there is the option of a carbon hull and deck, and elegant lines and a plumb bow give the Arcona 435 good looks as well as excellent performance in light airs. Besides slick sail handling systems, there are well thought-out features for cruising, such as ample built-in rope bins and an optional semi-closed stern with stowage and swim platform.


Outremer 51

If you want the space and stability of a cat but still prioritise sailing performance, Outremer has built a reputation on building catamarans with true bluewater characteristics that have cruised the planet for the past 30 years.

Lighter and slimmer-hulled than most cruising cats, the Outremer 51 is all about sailing at faster speeds, more easily. The lower volume hulls and higher bridgedeck make for a better motion in waves, while owners report that being able to maintain a decent pace even under reduced canvas makes for stress-free passages. Deep daggerboards also give good upwind performance.

With bucket seats and tiller steering options, the Outremer 51 rewards sailors who want to spend time steering, while they’re famously well set up for handling with one person on deck. The compromise comes with the interior space – even with a relatively minimalist style, there is less cabin space and stowage volume than on the bulkier cats, but the Outremer 51 still packs in plenty of practical features.


The Xc45 was the first cruising yacht X-Yachts ever built, and designed to give the same X-Yachts sailing experience for sailors who’d spent years racing 30/40-footer X- and IMX designs, but in a cruising package.

Launched over 10 years ago, the Xc45 has been revisited a few times to increase the stowage and modernise some of the styling, but the key features remain the same, including substantial tanks set low for a low centre of gravity, and X-Yachts’ trademark steel keel grid structure. She has fairly traditional styling and layout, matched with solid build quality.

A soft bilge and V-shaped hull gives a kindly motion in waves, and the cockpit is secure, if narrow by modern standards.


A three or four cabin catamaran that’s fleet of foot with high bridgedeck clearance for comfortable motion at sea. With tall daggerboards and carbon construction in some high load areas, Catana cats are light and quick to accelerate.


Sweden Yachts 45

An established bluewater design that also features in plenty of offshore races. Some examples are specced with carbon rig and retractable bowsprits. All have a self-tacking jib for ease. Expect sweeping areas of teak above decks and a traditionally wooded interior with hanging wet locker.


A vintage performer, first launched in 1981, the 51 was the first Frers-designed Swan and marked a new era of iconic cruiser-racers. Some 36 of the Swan 51 were built, many still actively racing and cruising nearly 40 years on. Classic lines and a split cockpit make this a boat for helming, not sunbathing.


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

The JPK 45 comes from a French racing stable, combining race-winning design heritage with cruising amenities. What you see is what you get – there are no superfluous headliners or floorboards, but there are plenty of ocean sailing details, like inboard winches for safe trimming. The JPK 45 also has a brilliantly designed cockpit with an optional doghouse creating all-weather shelter, twin wheels and superb clutch and rope bin arrangement.


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

For sailors who don’t mind exchanging a few creature comforts for downwind planing performance, the Pogo 50 offers double-digit surfing speeds for exhilarating tradewind sailing. There’s an open transom, tiller steering and no backstay or runners. The Pogo 50 also has a swing keel, to nose into shallow anchorages.


Seawind 1600

Seawinds are relatively unknown in Europe, but these bluewater cats are very popular in Australia. As would be expected from a Reichel-Pugh design, this 52-footer combines striking good looks and high performance, with fine entry bows and comparatively low freeboard. Rudders are foam cored lifting designs in cassettes, which offer straightforward access in case of repairs, while daggerboards are housed under the deck.

Best bluewater sailboats for families

It’s unsurprising that, for many families, it’s a catamaran that meets their requirements best of increased space – both living space and separate cabins for privacy-seeking teenagers, additional crew or visiting family – as well as stable and predictable handling.


Photo: Nicholas Claris

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories has been the Lagoon 450, which, together with boats like the Fountaine Pajot 44, helped drive up the popularity of catamaran cruising by making it affordable and accessible. They have sold in huge numbers – over 1,000 Lagoon 450s have been built since its launch in 2010.

The VPLP-designed 450 was originally launched with a flybridge with a near central helming position and upper level lounging areas (450F). The later ‘sport top’ option (450S) offered a starboard helm station and lower boom (and hence lower centre of gravity for reduced pitching). The 450S also gained a hull chine to create additional volume above the waterline. The Lagoon features forward lounging and aft cockpit areas for additional outdoor living space.

Besides being a big hit among charter operators, Lagoons have proven themselves over thousands of bluewater miles – there were seven Lagoon 450s in last year’s ARC alone. In what remains a competitive sector of the market, Lagoon has recently launched a new 46, with a larger self-tacking jib and mast moved aft, and more lounging areas.


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

The FP Helia 44 is lighter, lower volume, and has a lower freeboard than the Lagoon, weighing in at 10.8 tonnes unloaded (compared to 15 for the 450). The helm station is on a mezzanine level two steps up from the bridgedeck, with a bench seat behind. A later ‘Evolution’ version was designed for liveaboard cruisers, featuring beefed up dinghy davits and an improved saloon space.

Available in three or four cabin layouts, the Helia 44 was also popular with charter owners as well as families. The new 45 promises additional volume, and an optional hydraulically lowered ‘beach club’ swim platform.


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

The French RM 1370 might be less well known than the big brand names, but offers something a little bit different for anyone who wants a relatively voluminous cruising yacht. Designed by Marc Lombard, and beautifully built from plywood/epoxy, the RM is stiff and responsive, and sails superbly.

The RM yachts have a more individual look – in part down to the painted finish, which encourages many owners to personalise their yachts, but also thanks to their distinctive lines with reverse sheer and dreadnought bow. The cockpit is well laid out with the primary winches inboard for a secure trimming position. The interior is light, airy and modern, although the open transom won’t appeal to everyone.

For those wanting a monohull, the Hanse 575 hits a similar sweet spot to the popular multis, maximising accommodation for a realistic price, yet with responsive performance.

The Hanse offers a vast amount of living space thanks to the ‘loft design’ concept of having all the living areas on a single level, which gives a real feeling of spaciousness with no raised saloon or steps to accommodation. The trade-off for such lofty head height is a substantial freeboard – it towers above the pontoon, while, below, a stepladder is provided to reach some hatches.

Galley options include drawer fridge-freezers, microwave and coffee machine, and the full size nav station can double up as an office or study space.

But while the Hanse 575 is a seriously large boat, its popularity is also down to the fact that it is genuinely able to be handled by a couple. It was innovative in its deck layout: with a self-tacking jib and mainsheet winches immediately to hand next to the helm, one person could both steer and trim.

Direct steering gives a feeling of control and some tangible sailing fun, while the waterline length makes for rapid passage times. In 2016 the German yard launched the newer Hanse 588 model, having already sold 175 of the 575s in just four years.


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

Jeanneau leads the way among production builders for versatile all-rounder yachts that balance sail performance and handling, ergonomics, liveaboard functionality and good looks. The Jeanneau 54 , part of the range designed by Philippe Briand with interior by Andrew Winch, melds the best of the larger and smaller models and is available in a vast array of layout options from two cabins/two heads right up to five cabins and three heads.

We’ve tested the Jeanneau 54 in a gale and very light winds, and it acquitted itself handsomely in both extremes. The primary and mainsheet winches are to hand next to the wheel, and the cockpit is spacious, protected and child-friendly. An electric folding swim and sun deck makes for quick fun in the water.


Nautitech Open 46

This was the first Nautitech catamaran to be built under the ownership of Bavaria, designed with an open-plan bridgedeck and cockpit for free-flowing living space. But with good pace for eating up bluewater miles, and aft twin helms rather than a flybridge, the Nautitech Open 46 also appeals to monohull sailors who prefer a more direct sailing experience.


Made by Robertson and Caine, who produce catamarans under a dual identity as both Leopard and the Sunsail/Moorings charter cats, the Leopard 45 is set to be another big seller. Reflecting its charter DNA, the Leopard 45 is voluminous, with stepped hulls for reduced waterline, and a separate forward cockpit.

Built in South Africa, they are robustly tested off the Cape and constructed ruggedly enough to handle heavy weather sailing as well as the demands of chartering.


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

If space is king then three hulls might be even better than two. The Neel 51 is rare as a cruising trimaran with enough space for proper liveaboard sailing. The galley and saloon are in the large central hull, together with an owner’s cabin on one level for a unique sensation of living above the water. Guest or family cabins lie in the outer hulls for privacy and there is a cavernous full height engine room under the cabin sole.

Performance is notably higher than an equivalent cruising cat, particularly in light winds, with a single rudder giving a truly direct feel in the helm, although manoeuvring a 50ft trimaran may daunt many sailors.


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

A brilliant new model from Beneteau, this Finot Conq design has a modern stepped hull, which offers exhilarating and confidence-inspiring handling in big breezes, and slippery performance in lighter winds.

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 was the standout performer at this year’s European Yacht of the Year awards, and, in replacing the popular Oceanis 45, looks set to be another bestseller. Interior space is well used with a double island berth in the forepeak. An additional inboard unit creates a secure galley area, but tank capacity is moderate for long periods aboard.


Beneteau Oceanis 473

A popular model that offers beam and height in a functional layout, although, as with many boats of this age (she was launched in 2002), the mainsheet is not within reach of the helmsman.


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

The Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey range has a solid reputation as family production cruisers. Like the 473, the Sun Odyssey 49 was popular for charter so there are plenty of four-cabin models on the market.


Nautitech 441

The hull design dates back to 1995, but was relaunched in 2012. Though the saloon interior has dated, the 441 has solid practical features, such as a rainwater run-off collection gutter around the coachroof.


Atlantic 42

Chris White-designed cats feature a pilothouse and forward waist-high working cockpit with helm position, as well as an inside wheel at the nav station. The Atlantic 42 offers limited accommodation by modern cat standards but a very different sailing experience.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

All of the yachts in our ‘expedition’ category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of boat to take on a true adventure. Each Bestevaer is a near-custom build with plenty of bespoke options for owners to customise the layout and where they fall on the scale of rugged off-grid adventurer to 4×4-style luxury fit out.


The Bestevaer range began when renowned naval architect Gerard Dijkstra chose to design his own personal yacht for liveaboard adventure cruising, a 53-footer. The concept drew plenty of interest from bluewater sailors wanting to make longer expeditions and Bestevaers are now available in a range of sizes, with the 56-footer proving a popular mid-range length.

The well-known Bestevaer 56 Tranquilo  (pictured above) has a deep, secure cockpit, voluminous tanks (700lt water and over 1,100lt fuel) and a lifting keel plus water ballast, with classically styled teak clad decks and pilot house. Other owners have opted for functional bare aluminium hull and deck, some choose a doghouse and others a pilothouse.


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The Boreal 52 also offers Land Rover-esque practicality, with utilitarian bare aluminium hulls and a distinctive double-level doghouse/coachroof arrangement for added protection in all weathers. The cockpit is clean and uncluttered, thanks to the mainsheet position on top of the doghouse, although for visibility in close manoeuvring the helmsman will want to step up onto the aft deck.

Twin daggerboards, a lifting centreboard and long skeg on which she can settle make this a true go-anywhere expedition yacht. The metres of chain required for adventurous anchoring is stowed in a special locker by the mast to keep the weight central. Down below has been thought through with equally practical touches, including plenty of bracing points and lighting that switches on to red light first to protect your night vision.


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

The Garcia Exploration 45 comes with real experience behind her – she was created in association with Jimmy Cornell, based on his many hundreds of thousands of miles of bluewater cruising, to go anywhere from high latitudes to the tropics.

Arguably less of a looker than the Bestevaer, the Garcia Exploration 45 features a rounded aluminium hull, centreboard with deep skeg and twin daggerboards. The considerable anchor chain weight has again been brought aft, this time via a special conduit to a watertight locker in front of the centreboard.

This is a yacht designed to be lived on for extended periods with ample storage, and panoramic portlights to give a near 360° view of whichever extraordinary landscape you are exploring. Safety features include a watertight companionway door to keep extreme weather out and through-hull fittings placed above the waterline. When former Vendée Globe skipper Pete Goss went cruising , this was the boat he chose to do it in.


Photo: svnaima.com

A truly well-proven expedition design, some 1,500 Ovnis have been built and many sailed to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. (Jimmy Cornell sailed his Aventura some 30,000 miles, including two Drake Passage crossings, one in 50 knots of wind).


Futuna Exploration 54

Another aluminium design with a swinging centreboard and a solid enclosed pilothouse with protected cockpit area. There’s a chunky bowsprit and substantial transom arch to house all manner of electronics and power generation.

Previous boats have been spec’d for North West Passage crossings with additional heating and engine power, although there’s a carbon rig option for those that want a touch of the black stuff. The tanks are capacious, with 1,000lt capability for both fresh water and fuel.

If you enjoyed this….

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Saturated rudder

  • Thread starter Aarrrgh!
  • Start date Nov 2, 2021
  • Forums for All Owners
  • Ask All Sailors


1982 Merit 25 rudder is saturated due to a very difficult-to-seal joint where the stainless steel rudder shaft (tube) enters the top of the restored and finished wood-core (Balsa?) rudder body that was re-fiberglassed 5 years ago at a body shop that services many boats. This is the first haul-out, and trailer to home since I launched her 5 years ago, and she has been a great day sailer and racer, and has been kept at Lighthouse Landing (marina) on Kentucky Lake. Any tips on how to seal the stainless tube where it enters the top of the rudder would be greatly appreciated.  


Pictures would help a lot. Jim... PS: Double posting the same question does not help.  


Another source of water entrance into the rudder is through the top of the shaft (assuming it is a tube) - if not already done, you can seal the top with spray foam from a can.  


Your rudder interior is very likely hi-density foam. The SS post should have some sort of internal grid sometimes known in the trade as the "rakes" that either key into cross-drilled holes in the post or are welded to it. You may have to take the rudder home and drill some drain holes in it, or also separate the two halves and replace (or totally dry out) the foam and them glass it back together. The M-25 is still a popular one design racer and overnighter. Active fleet in my area. There may be an owners' group on line. How is your fore deck? Hope it's not springy and soft from moisture intrusion.  

Don S/V ILLusion

Don S/V ILLusion

As FastOlson said, the internal grid structure is either drilled or more likely welded to the rudder post. Drying and sealing it does absolutely nothing to repair any corrosion resulting from moisture at the joints/welds thereby affecting the structure and integrity of the rudder. it is essential in this situation that the rudder be open up and inspected. Not doing so can result in an unwanted surprise often at the worst time.  

dmax said: To seal the rudder shaft's entrance into the rudder, chisel/grind out the fiberglass around the opening to create a bevel, fill the bevel with 5200. Here's a cross-section view of the bevel (black is the rudder shaft, red the rudder): View attachment 199791 Click to expand
dlochner said: This is correct, except for using 5200. The sealant needs to be flexible to accommodate the differential rates of expansion between the fiberglass and the SS rudder post. 5200 is an adhesive and is not flexible enough. 4200 or LifeCaulk (polysulfide) is a better choice. Both of these are quite flexible with good adhesion. Something like Silicone or 3000 will be very flexible, but will not have sufficient adhesion and may pull away from the post or the rudder. Click to expand
dmax said: Worked fine for me. Description of 5200 from the 3M site: This high-performance polyurethane adhesive sealant becomes tack-free in 24-48 hours, and completely cures in 5-7 days with no shrinking. The seal is extremely strong, retaining its strength above or below the waterline. Stays flexible–allows for structural movement. Stress caused by shock, vibration, swelling or shrinking is effectively absorbed. Has excellent resistance to weathering and salt water. Click to expand


Don S/V ILLusion said: As FastOlson said, the internal grid structure is either drilled or more likely welded to the rudder post. Drying and sealing it does absolutely nothing to repair any corrosion resulting from moisture at the joints/welds thereby affecting the structure and integrity of the rudder. it is essential in this situation that the rudder be open up and inspected. Not doing so can result in an unwanted surprise often at the worst time. Click to expand

I agree, both times I've encountered water in the rudder I've elected to go with a new one from Foss Foam.  


Ruddercraft.com also has them, although not necessarily at a price you will like. Chip V.  

WOW! All great comments! I will double check with the resident repair "Wizard" at my marina. He's in and out throughout the year, but I know that he's up there pretty regular this week winterizing the out-of-towners' tubs. Thanks for all the input! Sail On! "Aarrrgh!"  


Amazing where things go when no one reads "wood" core (balsa?) So @Aarrgh! is it wood core or foam? The inner workings are completely different. I've built both types and never had an internal grid in a wood core rudder. Folks are we reading what is written, or just jumping to conclusion due to our own experiences. @Aarrrgh! be careful of "Wizards".  

LeeandRick said: Amazing where things go when no one reads "wood" core (balsa?) So @Aarrgh! is it wood core or foam? The inner workings are completely different. I've built both types and never had an internal grid in a wood core rudder. Folks are we reading what is written, or just jumping to conclusion due to our own experiences. @Aarrrgh! be careful of "Wizards". Click to expand




Even if you dry it out throughly, you are still left with either a rusted and rusting internal structure if it's foam or rotted and therefore decayed wood core if it's actually wood.  

After letting it drain, rather than applying air pressure, it would better to apply a vaccum - seal up any extra holes (can use butyl to temproarily seal them) and pull from one or more holes. If you can put the rudder under 30 Hg of vacuum, any water will "boil" at 70 degress F and be removed as vapor. But as Don said, this doesn't do anything to fix any rot or corrosion - you might want to cut an inspection port in the rudder to actually see what's going on.  

dmax said: Another source of water entrance into the rudder is through the top of the shaft (assuming it is a tube) - if not already done, you can seal the top with spray foam from a can. It was sealed with what appears to be silicone or urethane caulk, which I had to drill a hole into, to add to the drainage that was coming from around the rudder / tube entry. Click to expand

No need to guess at the core material or its condition. Drill a ¼" hole through the skin and into the core. The tailings will tell you what's in there and give a clue as to condition. Black mushy stuff is rotted wood. Tan powder probably foam. Sawdust, is obvious. The hole can be filled with some thickened epoxy.  

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'Flying over water': Why this electric car-boat vehicle will move like a plane

The trident ls-1 is expected to reach speeds of up to 95 mph on land and drive directly onto the water. the first models are planned to be sold by december 2025..

water in sailboat rudder

Flying cars are no longer a thing of the future, and neither is the need to choose between commuting on land or sea, at least for those who live by the water.

Poseidon AmphibWorks, a company based in San Diego and Miami, plans to revolutionize the car-boat vehicle by delivering a what it says will be a tranquil experience, whether you're on a busy freeway or in a bustling bay. Since most existing amphibious vehicles move over water as bumpy as a jet ski, CEO and founder Steve Tice said he sought to create a vehicle for the day-to-day commute.

Since 2021, Tice and amphibious vehicles expert Andy Langesfeld have been working on the Trident LS-1. As a hydrofoil, the vehicle features blades, or vanes, that elevate the body of the boat for a smoother ride. Hydrofoils remove 60% of the drag oversea and make steadier turns because the hull is out of the water, Tice said.

The Trident LS-1 will be the world's first hydrofoil electric car-boat designed to prevent seasickness caused by a vessel's erratic motion on water, according to the company.

"People that couldn't even ride in small boats will finally be able to ride without any motion sickness. So basically flying over the water," Poseidon AmphibWorks founder Steve Tice recently told USA TODAY. "Because gravity is still pushing you through your rear end, you still feel like you're on an airplane. When you make a turn you don't feel strange, it feels natural."

AP VR Set: People mocked AirPods and marveled at Segways, where will Apple's Vision Pro end up?

Three-wheel car-boat fits four people

The electric three-wheel vehicle will reach speeds of up to 95 mph on land and drive directly onto the water along a launching ramp, Tice said. For those who live near water, the Trident LS-1 will use multi-modal transportation for getting to the office or having a weekend fishing trip.

The vehicle features three permanent seats, including a center driver seat and two rear ones, as well as an additional fold-down center seat, Tice said.

Drivers will be able to park the 7 foot-long vehicle in their garage, a key requirement for the engineering company. The vehicle also removes the need for a tow vehicle, which runs the risk of falling into the water while releasing a boat, Tice said.

Tice said the company decided the vehicle would run on three wheels to avoid adding extra weight while maintaining the stability of any four-wheeler. He added that the car-boat will have all necessary safety feature from air bags, a tubular aluminum roll cage and multiple cameras.

'Basically flying over water'

As a hydrofoil, the Trident LS-1 is a car-boat that moves like a plane. While not made for high surf, the vehicle ensures riders avoid all the ripples of 1- to 2-foot waves.

"You're basically flying over the water at about 3 feet," Tice said.

When driving on land, Tice said the hydrofoil's vanes, or blades, retract into the vehicle so they can't be damaged by road objects like rocks. When moving on water, users have control over much of the vanes are deployed, depending on the depth of the water.

Tice said it's also a "vey maneuverable boat" that uses thrusters that turn on a dime, allowing the vehicle to stay in one spot over water for fishing or head toward any direction.

Princess Cruises: 'Love Boat' theme cruise setting sail later this year

Vehicle to be sold in $100,000 to $130,000 range

The Trident LS-1 is expected to be sold directly to the consumer at $100,000, Tice said.

Poseidon AmphibWorks will work with a number of dealers who will provide service and local support for around an additional $30,000.

With proper boat registration and a driver's license, anyone will be able to take the car-boat for a spin.

"You don't need a special license," Tice said. "We are certainly going to train people. We don't want them to crash this thing."

The company said the vehicle will appeal to a number of markets, including people who live on the coast, near waterway rivers or on islands. He added that it will also appeal to RV owners who can eliminate the burden of having to tow two vehicles, as well as yacht owners who don't want to steer their home to shore to buy groceries. He also said it makes the perfect starter boat for electric car owners.

The company is looking into commercial taxi uses, delivery services and military interest, Tice said.

Trident LS-1 joins league of car-boats

Car-boats are not a thing of the future and the Trident LS-1 is far from being the first.

The Amphicar was built in Germany in the 1960s. The small but heavy amphibious vehicle reaches speeds of 7 mph on water and 70 mph on land.

In 1999, the first WaterCar vehicle was introduced, and in 2007 it earned the Guinness World Record for being the fastest amphibious vehicle at 60 mph across water and 127 mph on land.

Other amphibious vehicles include the Amphi-Ranger , Gibbs High Speed Amphibians , the Hobbycar and the Dutton .

Prototype to be completed later this year

The creators have not started building and are currently finalizing the plan for the prototype, expected to be finished by the end of the year, Tice said.

"By December 2024, we will have a prototype in the water here in San Diego," he said.

By then the company plans to begin accepting deposits for the vehicles. Around December 2025, the company will sell to California customers so they can be helped at their San Diego location in case of service. Tice said non-California customers should also be able to pick up a Trident-LS1 in California at that time and hopes the company can ship to out-of-state customers by June 2025.

"It's not a vehicle for everybody," he said. "But if you're within a distance of a body of water that you'd like to recreate at or wish you could, there's your first boat."

British recover bell from U.S. destroyer sunk by U-boat in WWI

Bell from the uss jacob jones to be returned to washington navy yard after a century under water.

water in sailboat rudder

The crew of the USS Jacob Jones spotted the German torpedo coming at them from 1,000 yards away.

The American destroyer was steaming alone in the Atlantic, 25 miles from Bishop Rock, off the southwest coast of Britain, unaware that it was being stalked by a U-boat, an enemy submarine.

Someone yelled, “Torpedo!” The ship tried to veer out of the way. But the torpedo struck home, blew up, and the Jacob Jones sank in eight minutes, taking 64 sailors down with it.

It was 4:21 p.m. on Dec. 6, 1917, eight months after the United States entered World War I. The Jacob Jones became the first U.S. destroyer to be lost to enemy action, the Navy says.

Last month, at the behest of the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, a British government diving unit retrieved the ship’s bell from the wreck, almost 400 feet below the water’s surface, where it had rested for more than a century.

Plans are to return the bell to the command at the Washington Navy Yard as soon as this spring. It will go to the command’s underwater archaeology lab for conservation.

“We’ve been told the clapper is still in place,” and that the bell rang during handling, Alexis Catsambis, head of the Underwater Archaeology Branch, said last week.

The British Defense Ministry’s Salvage and Marine Operations raised the bell — which still bears the imprints “Jacob Jones” and “1915” — on Jan. 15 with the grabbing arm of an underwater robot, the ministry and the history command said.

“The ship is a war grave,” retired Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox, director of the history command, said on Feb. 12. “This is just an opportunity to remember the sacrifice of those sailors.”

“What they did escorting the convoys is basically what won the war,” he said, referring to U.S. ships that helped guard cargo vessels loaded with goods for U.S. allies in Europe.

The wreck was found in 2022 by private divers from the British Darkstar technical dive team. “Finding the USS Jacob Jones was the sort of thing that fills the dreams of most divers,” Dom Robinson, one of the divers, said in an email last week.

“We were also acutely aware of the history and how many young sailors had died on the wreck but were pleased that we … finally located their resting place,” he said.

The 80-pound brass bell was on its side when they first spotted it in the dark water. “We flipped it upright so we could read the name and confirm the identity,” he said.

The divers filmed and photographed the discovery, and garnered extensive publicity. Cox praised the Darkstar team for its care but was alarmed by all the attention. The Navy usually does not disturb a wreck site, he said, but this case was unusual.

“The bell was laying out there and had this kind of ‘take me’ stamped on it,” Cox said. “Just about every wreck from World War I, World War II [in waters around Britain] has had anything valuable stripped from it.”

“Bronze, brass, especially,” he said. “It’s gone.”

He added, “We didn’t want to take the chance of someone running off with the bell.”

The command had originally planned to investigate the wreck with partner organizations this summer, said Catsambis.

“We wanted to visit the site, and document it, and get some good imagery of it,” as well as recover the bell, he said on Feb. 13.

Then, the command heard that the British Defense Ministry was testing a new underwater robotic vehicle, he said.

“And they were able and willing to lend a hand, which I think is a particularly fitting part of the story, seeing as Jacob Jones was there doing the same 100 years ago,” he said.

The bell is in the custody of Wessex Archaeology in Salisbury, England, about 90 miles southwest of London, awaiting its return to the United States.

The Jacob Jones was built at the New York Shipbuilding Corp. in Camden, N.J., and was launched on May 29, 1915, according to the Navy. After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the destroyer began escorting convoys and rescuing survivors of ships torpedoed by enemy submarines.

On Dec. 6, the destroyer was en route from Brest, France, to the Irish seaport of Queenstown, now Cobh, when it was attacked by the German submarine, U-53, which had already damaged or sunk 70 ships during the war.

The sub fired a single torpedo.

The destroyer’s crew spotted it streaking toward them, occasionally breaking the surface as it closed in. Officers ordered full speed ahead and turned the ship hard to try to get out of the way. Lt. Cmdr. David W. Bagley, the skipper, later reported:

The torpedo … jumped clear of the water at a short distance from the ship, submerged fifty or sixty feet from the ship and struck approximately three feet below the waterline. …

I attempted to send out an “S.O.S.” message by radio, but the mainmast was carried away, antennae falling and all electric power failed. …

The ship sank about 4:29 p.m. (about eight minutes after being torpedoed). As I saw her settling rapidly, I ran along the deck and ordered everybody I saw to jump overboard.

The ship sank stern first and [twisted] slowly through nearly 180 degrees as she swung upright. From this nearly vertical [position], bow in the air … she went straight down.

The frigid water was soon filled with American sailors struggling to survive.

Many of the 110 men on the ship had been killed when the torpedo exploded. Others were trapped below deck and went down with the wreckage. Some were pulled under by the suction of the sinking vessel. Still others died of exposure on life rafts and their bodies were dropped into the ocean, Bagley reported.

About 20 minutes after the sinking, U-53 surfaced a few miles away. It slowly approached to within 800 yards, picked up two badly injured U.S. sailors, then submerged. (The two sailors survived.)

The sub’s commander, Hans Rose, radioed the approximate location of the sinking to the U.S. base at Queenstown and asked to be given an hour to get out of the area, according to accounts of the incident on the history command’s website.

Rose was a daring commander. By the end of the war, he had sunk or damaged 91 ships and had earned the Pour le Merite decoration, also called the Blue Max, for gallantry, according to the uboat.net website.

In the summer of 1916, before the United States entered the war, Rose steered U-53 into the harbor of Newport, R.I., for an unannounced visit.

He paid courtesy calls to Navy officials and hosted visitors aboard his submarine. His boat was photographed with the crew standing on deck.

One of the other ships in the harbor that day was the USS Jacob Jones.

After World War I, a second destroyer named Jacob Jones was built at the same New Jersey ship yard. During World War II, it conducted scout and escort duties similar to its namesake a generation before.

At dawn on Feb. 28, 1942, according to the Navy, it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Delaware.

water in sailboat rudder


  1. What Is A Rudder On A SailBoat And How Does It Work ?

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    water in sailboat rudder

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    water in sailboat rudder

  6. The Types of Sailboat Rudders

    water in sailboat rudder


  1. Water in rudder

    #2 · Oct 14, 2010 You should fix the problem. Water ingress into the rudder will lead to crevice corrosion of the rudder stock and webbing that supports the rudder if it is stainless steel. It will lead to corrosion of an aluminum rudder stock and webbing as well.

  2. What Is a Sailboat Rudder? An Overview of Its Function and Design

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  3. Draining Water from Rudder

    #1 · Nov 2, 2013 I've read and heard of people drilling a small hole at the bottom of their rudder to allow any abosrbed/ingressed water to drain while the boat is on the hard. The hole is filled with MarineTex or the epoxy before splashing. Does anyone really do this? If so, what are you experiences? Josh Sort by Oldest first M Minnewaska

  4. Know Your Rudder

    Apr 10, 2012 In sailing magazines, articles about rudders are almost never really about rudders. They are about being rudderless. Such stories make for exciting reading, but I don't want to know how to steer without a rudder—I want to know how to make sure I won't ever need to.

  5. Ultimate guide to boat rudders

    09. 2023 Navigating a boat requires a complex interplay of various components, and one of the most crucial elements is the rudder. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of boat rudders, exploring their functionality, importance, and role in steering a ship to smooth sailing. What are boat rudders?

  6. 4 Rudder Types for Sailboats

    June 15, 2022 A rudder is an ancient piece of technology that people still use to steer sailboats today. Modern sailboats use many different types of rudders. If you turn the rudder to the left, the stern will turn right, and vice versa. You can use either a steering wheel or a tiller to move the rudder.

  7. What is a Sailboat Rudder?

    Table of contents Identifying the Rudder Rudders are connected to the sailboat using a hinge or a shaft. The rudder is always located in the water behind the boat, but some rudders have part of their structure exposed above the waterline.

  8. All About the Rudder on a Sailboat

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  9. Using the rudder

    A rudder is a device that is used to steer a boat or ship. It is usually located at the back of the vessel and is controlled by a helm. The rudder is used to deflect the water, causing the boat to turn in the opposite direction. When the helm is turned to the right, the rudder is pushed to the right.

  10. Possible water in rudder

    #1 I have just taken my 1991 Hunter 35.5 legend out of the water over the weekend. on closer inspection it looks like i have a wet spot on the lower part of my rudder. I know most if not all rudders do have moisture but wondering if these needs maintenance.

  11. Know-How: Rigging Emergency Rudders

    There are five main ways that a rudder can break and cause a boat to lose steerage. 1. Rudder stock failure: The rudder stock sometimes fails when bending stress in the stock exceeds the strength of the material. With a spade rudder, this usually occurs just below the lower rudder bearing, at the point of maximum bending load.

  12. Water in Rudder

    #1 S Sailfree Well-known member Joined 18 Jan 2003 Messages 21,454 Location Nazare Portugal Last year after lift out rudder seemed to be continually draining water. I think its where the GRP sheathing meets the stock as this joint must work. What would you do? Its a Jeanneau 43DS. I am assuming the inner rudder frame attached to the stock is SS.

  13. PS Advisor: Water-logged Rudder

    Each year, the rudder on my 1986 C&C 35-3 has to have water drained from it. It is my belief that water gets in from the shaft/stock entrance to the rudder, but with the rudder in place, access is restricted. ... Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported ...

  14. How Does A Sailboat Rudder Work

    How Does A Sailboat Rudder Work. Sailboats steer by means of the rudder, a vertical, blade-like projection mounted either on the transom (the flat surface of the stern) or under the sailboat. In both cases the rudder works by deflecting water flow: when the helmsman—the person steering,—pivots the rudder, the water hits it with increased ...

  15. Building a Faster Rudder

    In other words, the 36-inch tiller should not be more than about 2 inches off the center line. If the boat is wheel steered, next time the boat is out of the water, measure the rudder angle with the wheel hard over. Count the number of turns of the wheel it takes to move the rudder from centered to rudder hard over, and measure the wheel diameter.

  16. The Types of Sailboat Rudders

    On a sailboat, as the rudder is moved to one side by means of the tiller or steering wheel, the force of the water striking one edge of the rudder turns the stern in the other direction to turn the boat. Different types of rudders have different advantages and disadvantages. The type of rudder is often related to the boat's type of keel ...

  17. What Is A Rudder On A SailBoat and How Does It Work

    A spade rudder is a vulnerable rudder, especially to debris or objects in the water which can hit the Rudder and exert a force on the rudder rod, which is the only structural support. Even the water pressure when the sailboat falls off a wave can have a significant impact on the rod and create high stresses.

  18. Waterlogged Rudder

    2 > Tags rudder, water « The best way to attach a tubular radar reflector to a shroud. | Shower Drain cup needs replacing - Beneteau Oceanis 400 (1996) » I have mentioned on a few threads that we are looking at buying a blue water sailboat to head into the South Pacific to live.

  19. Rudder Awareness

    Drain: When sailboats are hauled out of the water, the rudder often drips long after the hull is dry, something that is noticed by far too few owners. Water inside a rudder is the enemy. It is corroding the metal framework and delaminating the blade; in freezing weather it will shatter things.

  20. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

    The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list. As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the...

  21. Saturated rudder

    May 9, 2020 27 Merit 25 Lighthouse Landing Nov 2, 2021 #1 1982 Merit 25 rudder is saturated due to a very difficult-to-seal joint where the stainless steel rudder shaft (tube) enters the top of the restored and finished wood-core (Balsa?) rudder body that was re-fiberglassed 5 years ago at a body shop that services many boats.

  22. Electric car-boat designed for smooth ride. How much will it cost?

    The Trident LS-1 will be the world's first hydrofoil electric car-boat designed to prevent seasickness caused by a vessel's erratic motion on water, according to the company. "People that couldn't ...

  23. British recover bell from U.S. destroyer sunk by U-boat in WWI

    The frigid water was soon filled with American sailors struggling to survive. Many of the 110 men on the ship had been killed when the torpedo exploded. Others were trapped below deck and went ...