PS Advisor January 2009 Issue

PS Advisor: Water-logged Rudder

Quick-fix prescriptions won’t cure the problem.

Each year, the rudder on my 1986 C&C 35-3 has to have water drained from it. It is my belief that water gets in from the shaft/stock entrance to the rudder, but with the rudder in place, access is restricted.

From speaking with other boaters, I’ve found it to be a common problem. The initial concern is of water freezing inside and splitting the rudder, but I also have the longer-term implication of possible internal, and unseen, corrosion.

For now, I drill a couple of holes in the fall, and epoxy them before launch. Is there a fitting that could be implanted in the rudder, with a screw to be easily removed for drainage?


Harold Higginbottom
Blue Mist, C&C 25
Celtic Spirit, C&C 35-3,
Hamilton, Ontario














You definitely are not alone in having this problem.



Practical Sailor

Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo describes his own soggy rudder woes in "Keep a Close Watch on

Photo by Ralph Naranjo

The builder of this boat assumed the metal in the skeg would never see water. Oh, but it did, and that spells trouble for the boat owner.
Marine Metals" in the February 2007 issue. In his case, a subcontractor’s use of dissimilar metals in the rudder stock led to total rudder failure on his Ericson 41.




work in the short term, alleviating the symptom, but it is not a long-term fix for the actual problem.






Another quick fix is drying out the cavity and injecting epoxy, if the metal armature is still in good shape. Putting a drain plug on the rudder can be done, but due to the thin fiberglass skin, it will sit above the surface.

Drilling the same spot each fall and epoxy patching it in the spring makes sense. There are some who leave the drain hole open year-round, knowing that the water gets in anyway. But here’s the gamble: How corrosion-resistant is the hidden structure welded to the stock?




C&C 35 rudders have a history of corrosion issues linked to water intrusion. All rudders are designed to keep the welded internal web structure protected from water contact, but most fail to do so.

In this case, having welded gussets on the stock in a wet, corrosive environment will eventually lead to problems. In fresh water, the deterioration is slowed but not eliminated.

One step would be to research the history of your C&C 35’s sister ships with such rudder problems. Also monitor any rust stains, and if possible, acquire a construction detail plan that shows how the web was added to the rudder stock.

Because you live in an area where below-freezing temperatures are common, not draining the water will lead to further deterioration. However, draining the water is like bailing faster: It may




Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

New to Practical Sailor?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In