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All broke up




Late news from the Neuse:

Back in early June during a club race with the Oriental Dinghy Club my
rudder broke off ... completely!   Luckily, it did not float away.

We were on the last weather leg about 50 yards away from the leeward mark
and doing quite well, thank you, when suddenly there was no "feel" to the
tiller.  Juan Mo' Time went into a tail spin ... totally out of control in
20-25 knot winds.

All was not lost (although the race was) since we could get home on the
outboard, I thought.  However, the gas tank was a bit low and we had about
five miles or so to go dead to weather.  One of my crew came to the rescue
then he told me that his boat was berthed next to a mutual friend in Pierce
Creek at about the halfway mark.  We limped into the creek and tied up next
to Skip's boat and I called Claire to come pick us up at the Whipple's
house.

An examination of the rudder revealed water soaked foam in the center.  It
had snapped right at the bottom of the cheek blocks.  Aha!  I thought ...
dry it out, drill a couple of holes with a long half inch bit and put some
re-bar in the holes, a bit of WEST system epoxy, seal it up and go back
sailing again.

It worked fine for the Whortonsville Summer Sailabration (see picture "Ahead
of the Fleet") in very light airs ... so light that the race was cancelled.

Then came the really big interclub regatta August 3 and 4.  Fifty plus boats
from five clubs!  We were in the cruising division B with seven other boats.
I started out with full main and the 155 genoa.  That proved a bit much so
we dropped to the 120 and gave the weather leg a try before the start.
Still overpowered!  Take a reef in the mail ... hard to handle, but doable.
The breeze was building to what proved to be up to 28 knots!

After winning a good start we opted to sail on starboard almost to the gybe
mark then take a port tack back toward the weather mark.  We crossed on port
tack a starboard boat whose anchor was partially overboard.  OK, we're on
the starboard layline for the first mark.  We tack.  Making the line quite
nicely and it looks like we are going to cross ahead of the rest of our
division.

Crunch!  It's that sinking feeling again, or more accurately lack of feel on
the tiller.  Sure enough, the rudder has broken again!  This time, however,
we have enough gas to get back to Oriental Harbor and race headquarters.  I
don' know how many SJ23 skippers have had to steer the boat with the
outboard, but let me tell you, it ain't no fun!  To make the long story a
bit shorter, we got back on a broad reach, tied up, had lunch and a couple
of brewskis.

The repair hadn't held.  Back to the drawing board.  Drill out all the foam
that can be reached.  More re-bar.  This time fill with epoxy and saturated
micro fibers ... a work still in progress.

I am also looking at building a new rudder.  Originally I thought that
epoxy-glueing two pieces of 5/8" quality marine plywood then shaping and
epoxy/fiberglass coating would be the way to go.  I called our local marine
designer, Aussie Graham Byrne, who keeps a stock of French plywood.  He
quickly dissuaded my plywood idea in favor of building a "quarter-sawn"
blank by cutting clear 2x4's into 1.25" strips then turning them end for
end, epoxying up then shaping the blade.  This project is not yet started,
but I'll keep you up to date complete with pix.

Has anyone else in the on-line club had similar experience with rudders
breaking or building new ones?

Without direction in Oriental,
Mick Roberts


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