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On Water Workarounds for a Broken Rudder Cable (and a Broken Rudder Pedal)

* Temporary Fix When Broken Cable Occurs While Paddling Rob Mousley Article (Rob discusses most of the technique described here except he does not mention adding deck mounts or well nuts)

* Note that each steering cable connects the side of the rudder mount arm on the same side as its controlling pedal. If you are attaching bungee from a mount in front (closer to the cockpit) of your rudder post, hook it to the rudder post crossbar side opposite to the pedal that still has a good cable. If you are attaching from a mount closer to the boat rear than the rudder post (e.g attached to the stern handle or with a loop around the stern end) then hook the bungie to the rudder post crossbar side on the same side as the pedal that still has good cable. If you are not too rattled to remember, when one side first stopped working you probably started to steer toward the side that was still good. You will be able to tell right away when you start paddling again whether you have hooked to the side you wanted to hook to or not*

One version which uses a deck mount (well nut)

  1. Bungee w/ Hook - hooked to one side of the rear rudder mount steering arm. Paddlers who equip themselves to use one of these bungee techniques often just leave their rudder arm cover off for quicker access when a cable breaks. Make sure that the hook you attach to your bungee can easily be hooked to your rudder arm on either side. To deploy bungee - typically paddler will have to get in water or have a fellow paddler attach the hook to the rudder mount steering arm. Using a hook that has been tested beforehand for ease of use will speed your recovery of steering, just as not using a cover over the rudder mount also accelerates deployment of this fix. Every thing you do to speed/ease this process will be that much more important in difficult conditions
    1. Deck mounted bungee - you can use a bungee on the broken cable side to restore steering that can be all be done with the remaining pedal with a good steering cable (* if you have installed this setup all before you launch *):
      1. Use/Add Deck Mounts or you can look for marine grade well nuts on the Internet or at your local hardware store - properly installed these are quite strong
      2. Bungee attached to stern handle (if your boat has one) - Carry a bungee cord a little shorter than the length from your stern handle to the crossbar on the rudder post. Attach the bungee cord to side of the rudder post that remaining good cable is on. Attach the other end to your stern handle. You will be able to steer using your foot on the pedal with the remaining good cable.
  2. Bungee looped around boat rear - (for boats without a deck mount or a stern handle) another option is to carry a bungee cord with a hook on one end and looped on the other end that can be looped/anchored around the boat rear (instead of attached to a mount installed on the boat deck). Such a loop should be sized such that it cannot slip enough to lose tension.
  3. No rudder mount arms? Currently on many OCs and Vega Surfskis the rudder post and rudder lines are all attached to the rudder cover which turns. You can add loops to each side of such a cap to provide attachment points that will work just like the rudder arms work for this fix. If you screw something through such a cap, make sure you provide for clearance on the underside so the cap can rotate and not impede your steering.
  4. Jammed Pad - between the rudder and boat, aligning the rudder parallel with your boat so the rudder acts like a skeg or keel and at least contributes to going straight and reducing side slip and/or unwanted turning. Steering will then be primarily accomplished with your paddle (practice is not a bad idea). Carry such a pad on your boat or person and Test!! your choice/configuration of pad to make sure it will keep your rudder in a fixed position in rough conditions. After the pad is in place - Keep your feet off your rudder controls and steer with your paddle.
    1. rubber, silicon, something with a little flex and not so hard that it will damage your boat but sturdy enough to stand up to extended time in the water.
    2. Or a small piece of rolled up duct tape. The width of the roll should allow it to snugly fit between your rudder and your boat. If you lose steering, jam the tape between your rudder and your boat with your rudder in the neutral position.
    3. In a pinch you may be able to jam a visor or hat between your rudder and boat. It will slow your boat speed, but having an aligned rudder is still much better than one that is constantly turning your boat.

* Broken Rudder Pedal - if you have broken a single pedal in a way that makes it unusable this technique should allow you to still use the remaining intact pedal to steer - use one of the bungee setups above as if the cable is broken on the same side as the pedal is broken. Unless the broken pedal is somehow interfering with cable glide this should work just as the uses above for a broken cable.

broken_rudder_cables.txt · Last modified: 2021/03/06 20:56 (external edit)