Wood Rudders

 Seems that someone (who shall remain nameless) grazed a rock in the North Channel of Lake Huron and took a small chunk out of his mahogany rudder.  I temporarily repaired it with an epoxy patch to make it through the season but now it should come off for a proper fix.  Does any one know, in pounds or in "how many people it takes to safely lift it", how much the rudder weighs?

It’s weight may vary depending on how much water its absorbed. Ours is about 180 lbs(guessing) and a bit of load to carry around.

To unship the rudder we remove the locking block(don’t know if Sam M. used this method)screwed in place above the top gugeon that keeps the rudder from lifting off.

We then use a small tackle off the back of the boom(resting in the gallows) attached to a line through the tiller slot to lift it high enough for the pintle s to clear and lower it to the ground…then heft it onto sturdy saw horses.

I wonder how the wooden rudder compares to the weight of the newer fiberglass ones.


I removed IDUNA’s rudder as follows:

  1. Stacked 4x4 cribbage under the rudder, such that there was enough room to place a lever between the bottom of the rudder and top of the cribbage - two stacks of cribbage, one on each side of the rudder,

  2. Attached a block and tackle between the top of the rudder and stern taffrail,

  3. Removed the rudder’s top gudgeon, which prevents the rudder from lifting,

  4. The 1st mate, handled the block and tackle and I lifted the rudder out of the lower and middle gudgeons with the lever,

  5. Once the rudder was unshipped, I lifted the rudder with the lever and removed one piece of cribbage from one side of the rudder,

  6. By alternately pushing and lifting the lever, while removing one piece of cribbage from alternate sides of the stack of cribbage, the bottom of the rudder was lowered to the ground,

  7. Once on the ground, the 1st mate lowered the head of the rudder to the ground while I guided it.

Hope that makes sence.


We replaced Itchen’s somewhat waterlogged old foam core rudder with a nice new one last March while in Florida. It was a pretty straightforward task. After removing the safety blocks which keep the rudder from floating up off the pintles, I rigged a 3:1 handy billy from the backstay to the rudder head and just lifted it off and lowered it. Two people on the job is all you need. As for weight, it is a heavy lift for two people but easily managed with the aid of a tackle. WHen I bought the new rudder – through Sumio – he mentioned that the newer boats have a nylon bearing which slips over the pintle and fits in the gudgeon hole. Nice. I considered doing this retrofit but it would have entailed a somewhat tricky job of boring out the old gudgeons and getting everyting lined-up properly. Now that it is all back together and another thousand miles or so under the keel I think the original bronze to bronze unbushed setup is satisfactory, with very little friction. I’ve attached a couple of photos of the block & tackle operation.


Itchen rudder removal 1_015.jpg

Hi, Tom,

When we arrived in NZ and did our haulout, I replaced the nylon bushings in the rudder gudgeons. With a block and tackle, and a friend, there was little drama in making the switch.

Sumio told me that the rudder for Galatea had been sealed with a penetrating epoxy prior to painting, so I expect that the weight we lifted was pretty much wood only, and hopefully little moisture. Yours should be the same.

How do you plan to permanently repair the damage?

Galatea #117

Thank you all for the feedback…looks like at least 2-3 people to lug it around. I had already planned on block and tackle to lower it. Tom U… I’m going to route a nice square hole where the damage is…about a 1" cube shape and tight fit a new piece of mahogany. Thinking here is that I will avoid the differential shrink rate of the wood vs. the temporary epoxy patch and at least limit the chances of water sneaking into the wood.