First let me start by saying I am not trying to condemn, point fingers or stir the stink pot with this post. I am very happy with my Hunter 426, we spent a good deal of time and effort comparing manufactures and models before purchasing
our Hunter, what I do have is a problem that I am looking for advice/feedback/comments.
Last spring while putting a fresh coat of VC-17 on the bottom we noticed the rudder
was weeping water
around the rudder
stock to rudder connection, I had dismissed it as it had rained a couple of days earlier so we launched and sailed from Saint Joe to Michigan City never giving it a second thought, then in July while crewing
on another sailboat for the
Chicago to Mackinaw race
the weeping rudder came up in conversation, the skipper
and first mate concluded the rudder maybe full of water
and advised I go easy on my hunter for the rest of the season or risk possibly loosing the rudder. The thought of having to steer the boat with buckets or a drogue
didnít seem like a fun time (although every crew should practice the technique).
Preparing for the winter haul out
I made arrangements with the staff at Anchors Way marina to help with the removal
of the rudder. With the boat hanging in the travel lift
I gave the rudder some sounding knocks with my knuckles as did Adam the yard foreman, Yep itís full of water. The team at the marina knowing that with this size of rudder full of water it would be heavy so they used a fork lift
to lower the rudder out of the boat, it took 2 men
to keep it stable until it could be laid on its side, once on its side the water started trickling out, Adam estimated its weight at about 300+ lbs. We loaded it in my truck as this would be my
After getting the rudder home, I laid it on its side and proceeded to investigate the rudder stock connection. What I thought was fairing compound between the rudder and rudder stock was more like caulking (soft and pliable), with a screw driver and putty knife I was able to
remove most of it and the water started running out. I left it like that for several days with towels soaking up the water, I bet about 2 to 3 gallons came out. Then I installed an eye bolt in the ceiling so I could stand the rudder up right and get a better look at it and get the rest of the caulking removed, once cleaned up there it was the root of my trouble,
VOIDS in the adhesive
between the rudder stock and the rudder housing (See attached Pics), I laid the rudder back on its side and more water came out.
Ok now I know what the trouble is so letís formulate a plan of action, first Iíll drill some ľĒ holes in the top and bottom of the rudder, then stand it back up put some mild heat of about 100 to 150 deg and drive off
the remaining moisture then mix up some west systems epoxy
fill in the voids and holes and be ready to go rightÖÖ.WRONG..!!!!!
Here I am 2 months later and I still have water coming out, I took a small air compressor
and blew low pressure air (about 10 to 15 psi) in the holes I had drilled and water came streaming out of the rudder stock connection and the other holes that I had drilled (See
OK Iíve got to get the water of this thing before I make any repairs
, so I turn to the internet
of things and start reading the forums
for information on drying out a rudder. Then horror set in when I read the posts about ďHunter Rudder FailuresĒ, this made me think back to July of 2012, the wife and I were sailing back to Michigan City when we were caught
in near gail force winds and seaís 10 to 15 ft, I know you blue water
guys are saying 10 to 15 foot no big deal, but the difference between blue water
and Lake Michigan is that the waves are not big slow rollers but rather steep sides and the interval between them is short,
that night ours were about 10 seconds or so apart. Any how it was 8 hours zig zagging back and forth motor
sailing, at times the wave crests would push the bow around and we would roll spreader to spreader, you see where Iím going here, with the rudder full of water 300+lbs
swinging back and forth under the boat I canít help but wonder if the composite rudder stock is stress cracked inside the rudder and no way to determine its condition. Any how we made it into Michigan City our Hunter 426 with-standing her trip nicely, we however were worn out and
Back to the rudder stock, after reading some of the forum posts about the rudder failures and they seemed to fail a few inches below the top of rudder it got me thinking so I grabbed my tape measure and went to the garage, the rudder and stock combined are about 96Ē (see Pics)
and the failure point as indicated in some of the posts was about 2Ē below the top of the rudder, about 45Ē down from the tip of the stock. Now Iím not a Marine
Architect but I have worked in heavy industry engineering for 35 years and have witnessed many fatigue failures
over the years, so based on the size of the rudder and stock Iím guessing a water logged rudder could be a recipe for disaster.
After 3 months of trying to dry out the rudder it seems to me my best bet would be to contact Foss Foam and ship my rudder to them for repair or replacement.
Iím leaning on replacement; your comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.