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Alden Caravelle Rudder

May 4, 2015
Can anyone share with me experiences with Alden Caravelle Rudders or construction details? I have a at lease two areas where if you tap with a small hammer or just your fist reveal to be hollow 6” to 8” diameter. I assume it has delaminated internally in these areas? What have others experienced with the UK/Danish built boats, I assume the Challenger rudder while a different shape rudder may have of had similar issues? It does not appear that my rudder is flooding while in for the season. This was found on my prepurchase survey 5 years ago, nothing has changed since then. However, prior to future Bermuda races over the next years I do plan to drop the rudder and open it up. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Lloyd
May 25, 2012
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
well, i do not know what is in aeolus's rudder. but, maybe 30 years ago i noticed water drips from rudder area day's after pulling the boat for the season. the boys at P.J.'s claimed that 85% of all fiberglass rudders of all modern vessels have water in then, something about the seal between the hinge and the glass. so, i asked them to drill a small drain hole on the side of the rudder at the very bottom. then the put in a small bronze plug. every year the plug is pulled to check for water. every year after my 5 month season i get water. usually about 1/2 oz. yep, 1/2 a shot glass is max. not much. i leave the plug out for the winter. put in at launch.
because every other system on aeolus is so overbuilt, i think it is fair to assume that rudder is too. i do grab it every year and try to shake, push - pull it, no play. i look at the quadrant, cables, pulleys. all seem good. i have tightened the cables a little over the years. never too much.
these boats are built like ice breakers. what can i say. possible the strongest , highest quality toys ever built. well, maybe tonka trucks are as good.


Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Sorry, no help from Challenger owners. Designed in 1958 the Challengers were built with wooden rudders. Quite a bit changed in materials and methods from 58' to 64' when the Caravelles were designed.

Rudder reassembled 2.jpg

The way I discovered problems with this rudder was when, with the boat hauled and the wheel locked, forcing the rudder back and forth, I could see some movement where the wood meets the bronze stock. Sure enough, one large drift was broken and anther, about to let go. You might test similarly and check carefully at the joint between the rudder shaft and glass rudder. If there are internal problems the metal frame inside may reveal, it's moving inside.
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