Soaked C&C rudder?

May 16, 2015
42
C&C 37 128 Portland
Hello, good sailing folk. My first real post here--excited to dive in. I started shopping seriously about five years ago, and having crewed on C&Cs in the 90s, I was smitten with those boats. Research on cored hulls scared me though, so I focused on Ericsons and Catalinas for a while. LSS, I'm back with Plan A and close to finalizing our purchase of an '85 C&C 37. The boat's been exceptionally well cared for and sensibly upgraded over the last 17 years under a single owner. And with the boat out of the water for a couple of weeks for blister repairs and shaft overhaul, the hull surveyed dry yesterday. I just gotta keep it that way!

Here's the rub: surveyor said his moisture reader "pegged" on the rudder, top to bottom, but noted no evidence of leaking or damage. He did notice a different but consistent sound when tapping, guessing this was due to the foam core as opposed to the balsa in the hull. Seems odd that the moisture reader would max out so thoroughly with no visible signs of intrusion or egress found. Of course, surveyor could have missed an entry point at the top around the bearing. I've read up on the various approaches to draining/repairing a foam-cored rudder and am prepared to take that project on next year.

So a couple questions to get started:
1. would a rudder be able to contain that much water for so long without leaking?
2. wouldn't the stress of steering with this big soaked rudder be hard on the bearing and other parts and also affect performance?

I'm a few hours away and can't see the rudder for myself until later this week. Would like to go in as educated as possible.

Thanks, and looking forward to your responses.
 

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dmax

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Jul 29, 2018
502
O'Day 35 Buzzards Bay
Water can and often does enter the rudder through the rudder post (e.g. rain water from above) which would show no signs of entry. The other typical entry point is at the junction of the rudder post and the fiberglass.
1) Yes - speaking from experience, a rudder can contain an enormous amount of water. Usual approach is to drill a hole in the very bottom, additional holes can be drilled at strategic spots.
2) Yes - in the water, a soaked rudder wouldn't be that heavy (it's filled with water after all) but the boat was designed to include the normal bouyancy of the rudder. Replacing a wet rudder will result in the stern floating higher, how it was designed.
 
May 16, 2015
42
C&C 37 128 Portland
Makes sense demax, thx. That may account for some partial lapping at the engine exhaust below the transom.
 

dmax

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Jul 29, 2018
502
O'Day 35 Buzzards Bay
I've replace two wet rudders - makes a big difference. If this rudder hasn't delaminated, you may get away with draining out the water and storing it in a warm space for a while to really dry it out. Even better, you could apply a vacuum (in the warm space) to accelerate the drying. Take some core samples and see if the foam is still ok. It's also possible to replace the internal foam - I gave it a shot but the foam in my O'Day rudder was like concrete and wasn't coming out. This video is very interesting, shows how to replace the foam (he makes it look so easy:)):
 
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RitSim

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Jan 29, 2018
248
Beneteau 411 Branford
Portland Maine or Portland OR? A couple dangers from water on the inside of the rudder - freeze damage or long term corrosion of the metal rudder supports. I had a C30 rudder that I knew had leaked. There were a few areas on my rudder where I could hear that he skin was delaminated. Also I had small cracks on the bottom of the rudder. I was able to see water by looking down the rudder post.

I'd bring a mirror, bright flashlight, and plastic faced hammer to sound out the rudder skin. If it is sunny, you can use the mirror to reflect the sun down the rudder post. Check the bottom edges for cracks. If its your boat, you could drill a 1/8" hole in the bottom to see if water drains out. Caulk, seal or see below for alternate repair

My remedy was to take the rudder home for the winter. I cut open the delaminated areas and found that most was a manufacturing defect (not enough foam) and not freeze damage. The rudder bottom cracks were opened and left to dry out. I did take the opportunity to buy 6" and 4" fiberglass tape (I did not cut strips from cloth so no loose threads to deal with) Added the tape to the front, rear and bottom edges of the rudder. If you go this way, use the fact that epoxy resin does not stick to saran wrap. So you can add the forward edge and rear edge tape/resin and then tightly wrap the rudder to keep the glass/resin in place. However, take a lot of care to have NO wrinkles in the saran. Remove the saran after the resin cures and sand to feather the edges and smooth the surfaces as needed.
 
May 16, 2015
42
C&C 37 128 Portland
I live in Portland, Or for now but the boat’s in Anacortes, Wa. It’ll be in the water tomorrow until fall 21, so no danger of freezing. Great suggestions for next haul. Thanks!
 
May 16, 2015
42
C&C 37 128 Portland
I've replace two wet rudders - makes a big difference. If this rudder hasn't delaminated, you may get away with draining out the water and storing it in a warm space for a while to really dry it out. Even better, you could apply a vacuum (in the warm space) to accelerate the drying. Take some core samples and see if the foam is still ok. It's also possible to replace the internal foam - I gave it a shot but the foam in my O'Day rudder was like concrete and wasn't coming out. This video is very interesting, shows how to replace the foam (he makes it look so easy:)):
Good stuff. Surveyor didn’t think there was delam, but I’ll be investigating further. Thx for great vid!