• March 29, 2012 5:16 PM
    Message # 872061
    Deleted user

    During a survey on our 1975 Westsail 32, the surveyer claims that the rudder is "Water Saturated" and shows "signs" of delaminating. All I see is some gelkote cracking.

    Question: What is inside of a '32 rudder? Hollow ? Foam? Anything?

    and if in fact it is filled with water, does it matter?


  • March 29, 2012 6:11 PM
    Reply # 872090 on 872061
    Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Here is a start on the answer - members can view it in the FAQ area here.

  • March 30, 2012 9:05 AM
    Reply # 872531 on 872061
    My rudder is full of water. To be honest, I don't think it makes much difference as long as its not delaminating or falling apart. I suppose it makes the rudder heavier and thus less responsive also putting more load on the tiller pilot when trying to change course ..but how much? I don't think it makes a heck of a lot of difference.
  • March 30, 2012 10:10 AM
    Reply # 872600 on 872061
    Deleted user

    Waterlogged rudders seem to be a common condition with the W32's.  The rudder has about 20 through-bolts where water can gain entry.  If you search the archives (Jack Web's site) you will find several threads discussing the rudder issue. Wether it's a problem is debatable. In warm climates it's probably less of an issue, or a non-issue, considering that there are a lot of 30+ yr old rudders out there still functioning.

    If you haul out for the winter in a frozen climate, the water inside will expand as it freezes and can split the rudder open. I think this accelerates the delamination process, although the rudder is so overbuilt that it still works. If you are hauling out where it is likely to freeze, it's probably a good idea to have a way to drain out as much water as you can before it freezes.  The foam holds a lot of water and is near impossible to dry out. I had my rudder split open in my shop for 6 months over the winter 2 years ago.  I finally just removed the soaking wet foam which weighed about 100lbs.

    Split rudder after a winter freeze:


    I've decided to build a new rudder:


  • March 30, 2012 11:27 AM
    Reply # 872670 on 872061
    Deleted user

    Gitana has been through 35 Canadian winters and all I can see on the rudder are surface gelkote cracks on both the leading edge and the aft. Surveyer says it's full of water but why doesn't that drain out after 6 months on shore? How far up would I have to drill to create a drain hole and then plug it up just before launching?

    Would love to hear from Bud on this one.

  • March 30, 2012 12:17 PM
    Reply # 872710 on 872061
    Deleted user

    My rudder (1976) had mostly green foam that was very water absorbant, which is why all the water didn't drain out or dry out. The cracks you have, in addition to letting water in also allow a lot of it to escape. If one were to seal the visible cracks, water would likely still get in somewhere and it would need to be drained before a winter freeze. Maybe best to leave it be since it has withstood 35 winters.

  • March 30, 2012 6:58 PM
    Reply # 872947 on 872061

    The rudders were supposedly made from closed cell foam, so if some water did get in it would not saturate the core, but lay between the core and the skin.  There is nothing else inside the rudder other than foam and a fiberglass skin.  The skins were layed up in each half of the mold, the mold clamped together, and foam injected.  When the rudder was removed from the mold, the seam flashing was ground off, and the seam sealed with polyester resin.  Better to use epoxy resin on any repairs, as it sticks better.

    A series if small holes should help any water that has entered to drain out, then seal the holes with epoxy resin or caulking before launching.

    Freezing during winter storage could possibly crack open the seam on the edges of the rudder.