Let's talk rudders

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by RichardH, May 6, 2008.

  1. RichardH

    RichardH Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Messages:
    138
    I'm wondering.. is it a faux pas to use a rudder of your rudder equipped sea kayak for touring/paddling in nice, big straight paths? I notice lots of people buying boats with rudders and leaving this giant wind catching device sticking up near the back of their boat rather than using it in such conditions, and then they wonder why their boat reacts to weather so strangely. I'm sure there's lots of opinion on this... Right now I'm deploying it whenever the wind picks up to control weathercocking, but maybe I should be fighting it out with paddle control? I don't really know what the pros and cons are yet.

    -Rich
     
  2. greg0rn

    greg0rn Paddler

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Victoria
    My rudder is on most of the time. No more correcting strokes, nor fighting with the wind and waves.

    I feel that my kayak was designed with rudder engaged in mind. It simply balances the boat well in most conditions, acting like a skeg.
     
  3. GordB

    GordB Paddler

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Messages:
    168
    Location:
    Ladner, BC
    Sounds as if your using it for it's intended purpose.

    Practice with it but do not become, as so many are, dependent on it.

    If that puppy breaks when you need it most your skills may have become so rusty you are unable to control your boat.

    Gord
     
  4. DarrenM

    DarrenM Paddler

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,732
    Location:
    Victoria BC
    Whats a rudder?
     
  5. greg0rn

    greg0rn Paddler

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Victoria
    Darren, here is one:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. waverider

    waverider Paddler

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2006
    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    langley
    GordB wrote: Practice with it but do not become, as so many are, dependent on it.

    If that puppy breaks when you need it most your skills may have become so rusty you are unable to control your boat.


    I agree with what Gord wrote.
     
  7. andreas

    andreas Paddler

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Messages:
    1,163
    Location:
    Victoria BC
    rudders are for chickens and old folks :lol: :wink:
     
  8. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Messages:
    9,305
    Location:
    Beautiful BC
    How many rudders actually break? I've got one on my double and it's always worked just fine. For that matter, the vast majority of boats on the water have rudders -- I wonder how many of them break? Probably not many.

    While I do advocate learning to control a kayak without a rudder (only one of my single kayaks has a rudder) but really, I've never heard of anyone experiencing a rudder failure. I'm sure it has happened on occasion but I think the reality is that rudders on kayaks built with modern materials are quite dependable.

    My advice Richard, learn to control your boat without the rudder -- in all conditions that you paddle in. But use the rudder if it makes the going easier -- there's no disgrace in doing something easier if you have the means to do so.

    Just my 2 cents.

    *****
     
  9. rider

    rider Paddler

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2005
    Messages:
    1,743
    Location:
    Coquitlam,BC
    Man, i just love hearing people say something like " those rudders have too many moving parts, that makes them prone to breakdowns".........I wonder if these people have ever heard of a thing called the automobile,and how many moving parts they have while still being utterly reliable.
    I may not be a big rudder fan but i'll give them that they're functional and generally highly reliable.
     
  10. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    940
    Location:
    Lynnwood, Washington, USA
    I have a ruddered boat, but I've used the rudder only a few ocations.
    I would say... "I keep my rudder just in case the sea becomes more than
    my boat controlling skill can handle", rather than "I practice the boat control in case of the rudder or skeg malfunction".

    Broken rudder?
    A piece connecting the cable to the body of the rudder got broken on my old tandem kayak once. Since it is way back there, I did not know it happened till a friend of mine said so. We fixed it using some duck tape.
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,631
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    "Bawk! Bawk!" said the chicken. "Heh heh. Heh heh," said Beavis. "Now where are those teeth? I'm sitting down, so I must be eating or defecating," said the old guy.

    I am soooo busted. And soooo rudder dependent.

    Well, maybe not.

    My main hull is so broad and devoid of keel when lightly loaded it takes enormous lean to make it turn ... enough lean that in a hot cross wind (not related to the bun), turning upwind exposes beaucoup hull to wind effect ... so much it is hellish hard to get it around. Thank god I learned about bow rudders.

    About 10 years ago I got twisted into a knot about being "rudder dependent" and locked it down for the hundred miles of river between Portland and Astoria ... which Crazy George and I did one wet, cold, June week. The boat was heavy with gear, food, water, and beer. Heavy, it does leaned turns like a dream, and I never missed the rudder.

    I like my rudder, but I guess I don't really need it.
     
  12. elmo

    elmo Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Victoria BC
    Rudder cords jammed in guides twice since I bought mine. The cord seems to swell.

    I don't use rudder much because I'm treating my current poly boat as a training dinghy for the day I paddle Baidarkas or Greenlanders.

    Self-rescue without a paddle float, cowboy re-entries, chubby and high rear decks and sharp knife shaped pointy things aimed at my crotch don't mix well for me. :roll:

    Personal choice...

    Besides, I get to learn all kinds of cool strokes I might need someday.

    daniel
     
  13. Kasey

    Kasey Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Messages:
    764
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    I'm afraid the main time I use my rudder is when I am paddling in line with a friend chatting and the water is quite calm...my boat just doesn't know where straight is if it's calm and empty. :oops: I just get tired of fighting with it if I'm trying to chat! I also use it with a cross wind to decrease the windcocking.

    I did have my rudder cable break last summer. The rudder was up so I was just using the footbraces - I was practicing edged sweep strokes and my teacher/friend Rodney was saying "Push, push harder (with my foot)....nothing is going to break!" and then the rudder cable broke! :? The problem when that happens on the water is that you now have no footbraces. We beached and fixed it with duct tape (me too sushiy!) and later fixed it properly. I now carry the parts to fix the cable..either mine or someone else's - thanks Dan!

    The main concern I have with the rudder is that when I do engage it my boat doesn't respond to different strokes like I'm used to. I do worry that when I have the rudder down I am handicapped. Unfortunately I forget that it is down and can't figure out why the boat isn't responding. Does having a skeg down create less of a handicap? I keep thinking it would and I toy with the idea of a skeg boat.
     
  14. mikec

    mikec Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Messages:
    601
    Location:
    Sept-Îles, QC
    a skeg, much like a rudder, is a mechanical device whose purpose is to allow your boat to track straighter and to reduce weathercocking in beam and quartering winds/seas.

    leaving a skeg down will definately make it much more difficult for the boat to turn, you have to edge the boat quite agressively in order to get the section of hull at the stern out of the water enough to get the skeg out from the waterline.

    what many people don't realise about skegs is that they can actually help you turn downwind if the hull is well designed. partial skeg deployment will allow starighter tracking, while full deployment with a beam wind will actually turn you downwind as the pivot point of your boat changes quite a bit with the stern being anchored in the water instead of the anchoring effect happening further forward.

    while i paddle skeg boats exclusively for a few reasons, i don't harp on rudder boats when people ask me about which is better, it all boils down to personal preference and what you will be doing with your boat 99% of the time. there are pros and cons to both systems.

    Richard, certainly i would encourage you to develop your stroke repetoire without the use of your rudder, it will make you a safer, more well rounded paddler. think of your rudder as your "holy shit handle" if you get in for more than you bargained for! that being said, the rougher the water gets, the less and less efficiently a rudder performs as it spends more time out of the water than in it when you are on top of waves.

    mike = prefers well designed boats that don't need a rudder OR skeg
     
  15. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Messages:
    3,042
    kasey, unfortunately you obviously have sliding footpegs that slide the whole footpeg in order to steer the yak. And when you brace against these 'footpegs' you put all that stress right into the rudder cables and back to the rudder.

    That's a lot of strain (and repetitive strain) for a poor tiny cable, poor tiny cable fittings, and little rudder housing and pivot to handle without getting wobbly, stretchy and breakable in much shorter order than necessary.

    so when you upgrade next, buy a set of seadog rudder pedals to replace the 'unfootpegs' that you have. They are easily adjusted fore and aft for your size and others as well as allowing rigid bracing and toe control for steering and removes all excess stress in the rudder and cabling system - less stress, more time before fixing.

    other options:
    • seadog as they are cheap
      -sealine more expensive, but do the same thing.
      -seaward also, but much less adjustable
      -prijon also - not as adjustable either.
      -make your own w/ kayaksport pedal applied to yakima footbraces.

    *****

    and all the others rudder comments are right on. like rider says, they are mechanical devices that can fail, but so are paddles, arms and kayaks - you just make allowances.

    i personally like the idea of the variable geometry that a rudder gives (vs a skeg - as a rudder can be a skeg), under hull location(s) so always in water in waves etc, and underhull retraction so no windage, no damage caused in towing and rear or front deck scrabbling/rescue.



    and all that in a hull that is 'poorly' designed enough in one direction to almost require the geometry change in some conditions so that the hull can be better oriented in other directions.

    like why have variable geometry in a hull that is so well designed that it doesn't really need it? i'd much rather have it in a hull that behaves like a dog without one so that it can behave more interestingly in other situations or vice versa.



    .
     
  16. Jill

    Jill Paddler

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    Messages:
    240
    Location:
    Mission
    Never used a rudder, or tried one but lately have been thinking of making one. I have the most annoying paddles when the wind is blowing from behind and from the side. I am constantly correcting and after a couple of hours of this it gets quite tireing. Would a rudder help with this ?
     
  17. elmo

    elmo Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Victoria BC
    Is there such an animal Mick :?:

    daniel
     
  18. Chris_Hvid

    Chris_Hvid Paddler

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Messages:
    120
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia since 1955
    Hmm...strangely enough, I thought the purpose of a rudder was to prevent my boat from turning when I have a pound of salmon gear, flasher and lead weight dragging behind the right side of my boat, off Otter Point. And to let me use my "Gustbuster" golf umbrella for sailing. That must have been what the designer of the rudder was thinking, surely!

    But it is nice to help with weathercocking too.

    The main faux pas is when I forget to lift it up when I land, which happens a lot with a ruddering dependent person like me.

    I do prefer leaning the boat too, to turn it - hard to be a purist about rudders, given their myriad applications.
     
  19. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    Messages:
    529
    Location:
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ahhh... rudders. There are only a few kayaks with hulls that need neither rudders nor skegs; and I'm lucky enough to own three of the models Mariner has made over the years (Express, Coaster and Escape). But people have used rudders on Mariners and who am I to criticize them for it?

    I have a Nimbus Telkwa HV for my expedition boat and it's almost as good as a Mariner when its rudder is up (but not as fast, even when light), although for long distance paddling I like to concentrate on cadence and let my feet do the steering (not my hips). My paddling style comes from years of white water so I brace my knees under the deck instead of against the pedals.

    As to whether one needs to practice without a rudder or else become dependent upon it, I say "hooey". I just spent two days paddling with a 7 year old girl who learned to steer with her hips and paddle after only a few sessions. It was a joy to watch her instinctively edge the Coaster to get it to turn faster into the wind. If a 7 year old can figure that out, then I think any adult with a broken rudder can.

    Do rudders break? Well, sure. But so what? I think way too much is made over rudders and that using one is a matter of taste; not lack of skill.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Doug_Lloyd

    Doug_Lloyd Paddler

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    526
    Rudders are better than skegs for protracted correctional navigation (long crossing, etc), it doesn't matter what anybody claims. They also allow for completely efficient symetrical paddling - that's why racers use them. Again, end of story - don't care what the Broze Brothers say, or anyone else. Nice for kayak sailors and photographers. Can't argue here. Medical issues (chronic connective tissue problems) - a rudder helps, surely does! Newbies should be banned from using rudders. You should be confident in your self-rescue/re-enter and roll, in case you ever have to get out to right a jammed rudder. Harsh eh? Then don't get a rudder. I've done it in a tide race (don't use your rudder in a tide race, moron). Oh, I'm the moron.

    However, that mechanical maintenance issue has bit me hard twice now. One when my cable connector came apart in heavy seas off Brooks at Cape Clerke, and once when a rudder broke on a friend's kayak and I had to tow him for 6 hours west of Cape Caution in a shoulder-season gale/net-ebb fiasco. Did I mention the issue with the moron, too?

    Alternatively, I can't tell you the number of times I've seen frustrating skeg cable field repairs induce grown men to tears, as tiny Stainless Steel puncture wounds sunk deep into the ends of their cold, prune-like digits :roll: and endless forays out through surf and then back in to clear skeg box jams. Chris Duff had it right around NZ with his un-skegged, surf-saavy NDK Explorer. And, he retained hull integrity as well.

    Stuff Mike says is good. Skeg boats are typically derigeur these days. But I'm sure Ecomarine sells more ruddered boats. I say, disable the rudder for a year or two, then start using it in directionally challenging conditions where it helps save energieis for expeditioning-like pursuits. If it packs it in during use, no problem. I do think skeg boat owners shoud do the same thing. There's alot of skeg-dependent paddlers out there. That's like reverse-sexism for us rudder users.

    If I've made redundant comments already made previously please forgive me, I didn't read other posts. Only read my own. Just kidding Elmo. Have fun with it all - neat to see you growing comfortably into the sport.

    Oh, did I mention I'm opinionated? :eek:

    Best overall conventional rudder? Seaward. Solid bro. Great uphaul system too (see the Cosma). These boys do it right.

    And hey, just got a killer deal on a used Global Navigator rudder for $50.00. Pulls up over the stern, no 270 degree flip needed. For my wife's kayak. She has calcific shoulder tendonitis. How the heck do you spell that, tenysinovitis? I, on the other hand, have rotator cuff syndrome, so love/hate my rudder. And that German godess of sea kayaking, black-slithered Freya? She's going around Australia in an Epic, with, yeap, a rudder. Don't hang on to that stern comin in through 25 foot surf though on the western coast of AU. The pruny digitis will be floating around there in that case.

    Doug L