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"Kick-up" Rudders?

Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 11:42 am
by mike
Is it correct that the lower lines for the rudders need to be cleated to secure the rudders firmly in the down position? And if so, how are the rudders supposed to come up if you hit an obstruction? (I thought I read somewhere that this was a feature)

A few weeks ago, not paying close enough attention to the depth, I got into some shallow water... before I realized what was happening, I heard and saw the rudder lines straining on the cleat (which is what is prompting this question).

Is there a mod to securely hold the rudders down while giving them the ability to yield when pushed by an object or the bottom? Bungee cords?


Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 12:03 pm
by craiglaforce
Yes they need to be cleated down or they will overstress the rudderhead brackets.

I simply replaced the hold-down lines with 2 lengths of HEAVY bungee line about 10 feet long each. You can make a loop in the one end and use a couple of hog rings (the biggest size that West Marine carries) to hold the loop. then just thread it up through the fairleads. I secure mine with 2 of those plastic zig-zag type cleats. These just make the line bend sharply left and right and it holds well with the bungee. I bought the cleats at a walmart 6 years ago. They probably still have them.

Now they really do kickup when you hit ground. I have actually sailed breifly in about 16 inches of water to get back into the deeper water. (inadvertant and it does overstress the steering when they kickup if you are not very gentle with the steering wheel).


Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:32 pm
by Erik Hardtle
I usually leave them uncleated when down, (because I beach alot) but I have the bolt tightened just enough to provide some friction yet still loose enough to pull up.

Rudder Lines

Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:39 pm
by Bill at BOATS 4 SAIL
I wrap the rudder line in a circle around the cleat, instead of a figure 8, just enough to keep it down. When it hits something, it kicks up.

Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 4:33 pm
by Duane Dunn, Allegro
There is a simple wrapping technique that works well. String your lines so the hold down line passes through the hole under the cleat between the two bolts.

To lock down, pull the line tight through the hole, then take what is the tail of the slack lift up end and wrap it around the cleat under the horns 2 or 3 times (not the hold down line as it exits the hole in the cleat and not the crisscross wrap normally used on a cleat.). There should still be a loop of the hold down line free and loose. This binds the hold down line under the cleat providing enough friction to keep the rudder down, yet if you really hit something the line can run back through the hole in the cleat letting the rudder kick up.

Also, if you are cleated down hard and hit something the theory is that the lower black bulls eye on the transom will tear out (don't ever replace it with a mettal eye one). It's suppose to be the weakest link in the system and the easiest to repair.

Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 7:22 pm
by Sloop John B
I installed the typical hardware store three foot bungee into the loop on the hold down side. From the bottom of the rudder and stretched up through the transom eye to unite with the faithful nylon line.

In the past, hitting sand or mud would simply stop me in my tracks. Each time I did this, I recognized that I was out of the channel, taking an inadvertent shortcut, or otherwise screwed up.

The insertion of the 'three foot bungee' into the rudder down arena has saved me considerable embarrassment.

The rudder is forced up upon encountering the bottom and glumes down as soon as the 'problem' is over, and hardly anyone notices.

My initial solution was to wrap as some of you have suggested. In doing so, I found that the steering became very hard, and then to notice that the rudders were free and horizontal with the water.

Bungees are the only way.

If you should insist on shortcuts and screwing up over rocks and coral, use your good bungees, and get an order in for some new rudders and centerboard for your next cruise.

Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 8:04 pm
I have cam cleats for mine with what I believe is standard line.
On my 3 rd trip out on the boat last year, leaving the docks heading
out to the lake with the rudders down. The rudders must have hit the
bottom. I could hear the noise but not identify what was going on.
When I finally decided to change direction and head into the wind
the steering was hard and would not turn. The rudders had kicked
up and I could not turn the boat. I was quite upset but everything
was ok.
Every trip was a learning experience like that. My son says I never
relax until I get home and then I am "tard".

No damage.

Rob H.

kick-up rudders

Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 8:49 pm
by Francis
Sloop John, I cannot quite picture what you are saying on how you did your set up on the rudders. Can you explain it for me one more time on how you did this. Hopefully I can picture it in my mind this time. I was up at lake Powell a couple of years ago and crossing a shallow area my rudders hit bottom and sure enough, my rudder kicked up and also took out my plastic pad eye. It did do its job, but it sure sounded like the bottom of the boat cracked instead of the plastic eye. It was easy to replace though.

kick up cleats

Posted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 7:41 am
by BK
Duane, such a simple solution to the rudder kick up problem. This should be in the mod section. I bought 2 auto-release cleats at $20 each that are made in the UK and was going to install them in the next few weeks. I bought them through email, I hope I can return them. Anyone want to buy them? They are for quater inch line though. Our Mac 26x rudder line is half inch. I was going to splice in a quater inch line at the cleat.

auto release cleats

Posted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 4:00 pm
by Erik Hardtle
I bought those same cleats from West Marine.. they were made for small boats with small lines... you might be able to return them at WM.

Auto Release Cleats

Posted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 6:27 pm
by Jack O'Brien
I think the Mac rudder line is 3/8", not 1/2".
I have the Auto Release Cleats and 1/4" line which works quite well.

These cleats have the advantage (over bungees) of allowing the rudders to stay up when you hit something rather than continuing to scrape across the obstacle.

The bungees have the advantage of pulling the rudder back down into position after clearing the obstacle, rather than staying raised which makes steering hard and/or could damage the steering if you force it.

Although I am happy with the Auto Release Cleats, and have no plan to change them, if I were starting from scratch I would do the bungees and save some money.


Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2004 8:57 am
by BK
I tried Duane's method of tieing down the rudders yesterday just to see if the rudders will stay down like that and I hit a large patch of seaweed, the rudder came up so this works. I would had to lift the rudder anyway to remove the seaweed.
BTW, I went out yesterday for the first time this season and I forgot to put water in the ballast. I sailed in light 5MPH winds for over an hour with no problems. Has anyone sailed in higher winds than that with no ballast?

Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2004 9:39 am
by TonyHouk
Bk and Others,
I usually go out all the time without ballast. Unless the winds exceed 20 mph. I won't put in the ballast. I just reef the main and genny instead. Happy sails, Tony

Posted: Sun Apr 04, 2004 5:22 pm
by Dimitri-2000X-Tampa
I bought about 12 feet of 3/8 bungee from WM and put 6 foot on each rudder for the bottom eye. I just tied it into the regular line using a bowline and knotted it after going thru the rudder...with no hog rings...about the fastest mod I ever did. Its held fine ever since I tied it there last summer shortly after I got the Mac. It works great, rudder comes up if I ground it and then goes back down when getting back into deeper water. I wonder how long the bungies will last in the Florida sun though, have a feeling I'll be replacing them every couple of years.

I'm not quite as brave as Tony. With the kids on board, I won't put the sails up at all without ballast. If I am by myself, I'll go up to about 10 mph winds before I fill the tank. And of course, the breezes on the Florida coast can whip up pretty darned fast..regular sea breeze can ramp up from 5 to 20 in a few minutes.