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Broken rudder...shield?

Jun 5, 2010
989
Hunter 25 Burlington NJ
I don't want to suggest that all boat designers are the same, or that John Cherubini (Sr.) didn't test a bunch of prototypes in all conditions before going with this chosen skeg design, but... I recently read a nice blog by boat designer Robert Perry about a famous and successful commissioned design of his. The owner contacted him to tell him that he needed advice because the rudder skeg had broken off. Perry's first question was "How did it steer without the skeg?" and the owner said "Better!" So they left it off and went with a pure spade rudder! :)
The astute will observe that Bob Perry disagrees with much of what my dad did, a sore point in this family of boatbuilders and one which I, and others, have taken up with the media often over the years. I won't go into reasons for this quasi-rivalry and shall leave it to Hunter owners as to which side of it I take myself.
:snooty:
 
Jun 5, 2010
989
Hunter 25 Burlington NJ
I don't want to suggest that all boat designers are the same, or that John Cherubini (Sr.) didn't test a bunch of prototypes in all conditions before going with this chosen skeg design, but... I recently read a nice blog by boat designer Robert Perry about a famous and successful commissioned design of his. The owner contacted him to tell him that he needed advice because the rudder skeg had broken off. Perry's first question was "How did it steer without the skeg?" and the owner said "Better!" So they left it off and went with a pure spade rudder! :)
Reasonably, for a balanced rudder, you have two options: the skeg and the balanced blade (spade). In both the general idea is to provide 18% of the total area as that before the rudder post. On a spade rudder, this portion actually goes the wrong way, which can add to steering problems especially if the boat is heeled hard over (it will try to lift or bury the stern) and especially if the rudder is angled backwards, such as on my friend's older Pearson and others (upper end of rudder post being forward of the lower end). Olin Stephens criticizes the angled-post spade rudder setup intelligently (as he does with everything else) in All This And Sailing Too.

The spade rudder is also vulnerable to damage and, when damaged, falling off the boat due to its being hung only by the rudder stock, which has to do too many contradictory jobs: to stay straight, to hold the weight of the rudder, to withstand torsional loads, and to keep out water. Its best advantages are a quickness in steering, preferred by small-keelboat racers (making the boat more like an unballasted dinghy) and simplicity of construction (by cheap-boat builders). That said, the Star, perhaps the most wonderful small keelboat ever, has a skeg-hung rudder (sort of).

I would prefer my H25 to have a skeg; but the boat was co-designed by Bob Seidelmann who was, indeed, one of those small-keelboat racers (the Star in fact). ;)

For all sorts of reasons, the better setup is the skeg-hung rudder. It steers more reliably at high angles of heel, is stronger, and is vastly easier to handle when reversing under power! It is somewhat more expensive to build; but, once installed, is easier to maintain and even to repair. In my view it's even more streamlined and thus faster; and it virtually eliminates the likelihood of collecting lobster-pot strings, to which the spade rudder is just about designed to be vulnerable. In my opinion the spade rudder is not meant for serious ocean voyaging; and few serious ocean voyagers will disagree.

I submit that Mr Perry's suggestion that the boat with the skeg-hung rudder, steered better without the skeg, is only of anecdotal value. Technically the boat should be harder to steer, especially at speed or even at very low speed (fluky conditions). I don't mean that it's harder to turn the helm. I mean that, without either the skeg or the balanced leading edge, the rudder can stall, creating drag but no steering effect. Being raised by my dad who used to teach, 'Steer with authority', I expect the boat to go round when I put over the tiller and I don't see a skegless, unbalanced rudder helping me do that.

But I allow that much of the evidence for and against may be ultimately anecdotal after all. :banghead:
 
Jun 5, 2010
989
Hunter 25 Burlington NJ
Like I don't have enough to say--

Rick Moore has some interesting photos of his 'shark-attacked' rudder on his Ambient Real Life series, in which Sophisticated Lady shows one (or more!) of the inherent liabilities of a (large) spade rudder on an ocean-cruising boat.


The rudder bits begin in this video at about 6:50.

This guy always has good things to say, being a true salt who uses his boat for business and pleasure and has learned the important lessons about maintenance (as well as about having fun).
 
Sep 13, 2016
4
Hunter 30 Marina del Rey
I have the very same issue: the bottom of the skeg broke and leaves the rudder unconstrained at the bottom. I don't think the skeg is a structural part, but sure enough it prevents the rudder from whipping in case of sideways forces. My question is: can the skeg be removed with the boat into the water?
 
Oct 6, 2007
660
Hunter 1982 H30 Cherubini Chicago (Burnham)
I have the very same issue: the bottom of the skeg broke and leaves the rudder unconstrained at the bottom. I don't think the skeg is a structural part, but sure enough it prevents the rudder from whipping in case of sideways forces. My question is: can the skeg be removed with the boat into the water?
The skeg is attached a bit like an external mounted keel; bedded in sealant and through bolted to the hull below the waterline. I think you need to haul out to safely, and correctly, make that repair.
 
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Sep 13, 2016
4
Hunter 30 Marina del Rey
I definitely have to haul it out to do the repair. My question may be wrongly posted: I want to remove the skew while the boat is in the water and then see if I can repair or I have to replace it. I don't want to order it when the boat is out because it takes forever to deliver. So, I just would like to know if removing it while in the water could cause any damage, like leaks or others.
 
Oct 6, 2007
660
Hunter 1982 H30 Cherubini Chicago (Burnham)
I definitely have to haul it out to do the repair. My question may be wrongly posted: I want to remove the skew while the boat is in the water and then see if I can repair or I have to replace it. I don't want to order it when the boat is out because it takes forever to deliver. So, I just would like to know if removing it while in the water could cause any damage, like leaks or others.
Ah ha. OK...... First, Hunter seems to have changed the skeg design from year to year, and I don't know what model year your boat is. Mine is an '82.

If I were to have tried this with my '82 H30 in the water, I would first need to remove five 3/8 inch diameter lag bolts from inside which mechanically hold the skeg to the hull. The skeg would then be hanging to the underside of the hull; held in place by whatever sealant/adhesive Hunter used 1982, or in my specific case, whatever sealant/adhesive the previous owner used plus the layer of fiberglass they put over the joint in a misguided attempt to strengthen it. I would then need to cut though that fiberglass and the sealant/adhesive underwater to release the skeg. Upon release, the skeg would likely sink to the bottom if not somehow restrained, I would immediately have five open bolt holes in the hull below the waterline to quickly plug before the boat sinks.....and they likely started leaking well before the skeg was free from the hull. :yikes: Personally, I would not do this.

Instead, if I had a 12 month sailing season like you, I would get in the water a swim mask and/or and underwater camera (selfie stick?), or hire a knowledgeable diver, to assess the condition of the skeg. If replacement is required, I would ask myself if I can get the accurate measurements underwater that would be needed to order a new skeg.
 
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May 2, 2017
2
Hunter Cherubini 30 Green Bay
I have not seen a post with a picture of what is inside the skeg so I pulled mine off and cut it open. I just bought a 1980 Cherubini that had every thru-hull gooped up with silicone. It had bent shaft and no packing left in it, loose skeg and bad mast step. There is a large block of wet wood in the skeg that the lag bolts are supposed to bite into. It is set in place with some type of mortar like resin covered with a thin layer of fiberglass. I am thinking I will install a large slab of aluminum then drill it and tap threads and use some stainless bolts and toss the lag bolts for a solid long lasting fix.....
IMG_0066.JPG
IMG_0065.JPG
 
Aug 22, 2019
1
Hunter 30 Better Together Richmond Hill Ga
Aiy-yi-yi-yi-yi! You're lucky the whole shootin' match didn't fall off!

Come to think of it, what IS holding it up? --beats me!

You say there is no metal bar stock along the after edge of the skeg? That definitely sounds like a dodgy PO repair. Hunter would have done it right if for no other reason than that my dad was there. They were sued over a H30's rudder breaking off and 'causing' 3 deaths, a case that was dismissed as pilot error; but their fix (if by 1977 it had not already begun on the production floor) would have been to include the metal bar stock in the skeg. In fact, by design, the whole skeg is really just a fiberglass, foam-filled fairing around the stainless-steel structure of the mounting flange, stiffening bar, and heel blade.

Cheapest fix:
Repair the 'glass structure as-is and risk the same thing happening again. Good luck with that.

Better fix:
The whole rudder and skeg assembly needs to be removed (lifting the boat or digging a hole in the dirt to let the rudder shaft be lowered). The skeg won't come off easily-- it's bolted on inside the 'glass. I did this very same job on a Raider at CY-- they're done the same way. You'll need to have a stainless-steel framework made and set into the existing skeg. I can get you some drawings to facilitate this (these are easier to come by than the pretty sail plans, people; because resolution doesn't count. I have them right now in my parlor). The strengthened skeg needs to be refit to the rudder and new 'glass done to the bottom (which is the easy part). There is a trick to reassembly (bolting on the skeg); but it can be done on an otherwise finished boat.

Needless to say this is a good time to consider new steering cables, refurbing the quadrant (actually a disc), and everything else, because you'll have it all apart. Again, I did this on the R33 and it was less hassle than it promised to be at first.

Consider also pinning the rudder pintle, below the skeg's blade, to keep it from bouncing up... which is much more like what I would have expected to happen in such a case. In fact I wonder if that is not precisely what happened, and somehow the rudder came down, its pintle missed the hole, and the skeg worked loose and broke due to misalignment. The 'glass would let go before the rudder shaft yielded to it. Did you ever experience grinding or tightness in the steering?

If you're anywhere near me I'll be happy to come have a look at it.

I am still completely in a daze how it took this kind of hit (or corrosion) without the rudder becoming mangled or lost completely. Sheesh.
Hi DianaOfBurlington -

Thanks for all of the great inights in this thread! On my 1976 Hunter 30, I recently had a hard grounding on a breaker headed out to sea in heavy surf. My rudder shaft is bent and will be replaced. I’m missing a chunk of my skeg, it sheared off in the middle of the thru hole for the metal shoe and the shoe is long gone. See pic for the ‘before’ state. I’m interested in following your ‘better fix’ solution and creating a metal framework. Could you help me with the design details needed for this repair? Thanks so much for your help!
Jeff
 

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