RUDDER SKEG REPAIR: Getting Ready for Spring

Lunacy hull

IT’S HERE! Spring, I mean. Though there is still snow in the forecast up here in New England, and even in Annapolis, from which I returned last night after holding forth at the World Cruising Club Ocean Sailing Seminar over the weekend. I have an awful feeling I will actually succeed (for once!) in getting Lunacy launched in early to mid-May this year… and there will then be a HUGE BLIZZARD the day after she splashes.

We are forging ahead regardless, so I stopped by Maine Yacht Center last week to see how the old girl’s rudder-skeg repair is coming along.

The welder was on site and stuff was happening! I love it when that happens. You’ll recall this is actually the second time we’ve made this repair. Last time, over four years ago, there was a small crack at the back of the skeg and we just focussed on fixing that. This time we’re taking a more global approach.

Skeg weld

In addition to repairing the crack that has reappeared at the back of the skeg, I also asked the welder to lay on extra metal all the way around the base of the skeg.

Skeg fillet

And then I asked that fillet plates be welded on to either side of the skeg. Here you see the welder holding one of them in place. The idea, of course, is to spread the load imposed on the root of the skeg.

The skeg doesn’t fully support the rudder. Most of that job is done by two big bearings on the transom. But there is a rudder heel at the bottom of the skeg that connects it to the rudder, and the rudder is quite deep. The skeg is also a very high-aspect structure, with a short root, and is simply welded on to the bottom of the hull. Side loads from the rudder are evidently transmitted to the right-angle joint at the base of the skeg, and that I reckon is what keeps cracking the weld at the back of the joint.

Jean-Claude, owner one of Lunacy‘s sisterships (there are in fact five of them), advised me that he solved this problem (you can read his comment to my last post on this subject) by building a new skeg that comes up eight inches into the hull of his boat and is tied into the interior framing. Which sounds very strong, indeed, but also quite expensive. I’m hoping by adding structural support outside the hull I can save some trouble and money.

Note: there will also be end-plates welded on to the back of the fillets to keep wildlife from inhabiting the voids.

Keel drain plug

Here’s another mini-project involving metal. Two surveyors and various service managers have complained over the years about the simple wood plug I use to secure the drain hole in Lunacy‘s keel. The plug has always worked well enough, but at last I let the guys at MYC fabricate an aluminum plug to take its place. There are two, actually–one on the inside and this one on the outside–so now I can stop worrying about teredo worms chewing up the soft pine plug that used to live down there.

After fussing around with my boat, I took a quick tour of the MYC shed and found a few other interesting projects going on:

Canting keel

This is the canting keel from Rich Wilson’s Open 60 Great American IV, which is currently being refit at MYC to run in the next Vendee Globe.

Jeff's boat and Dragon

In the foreground here you see part of the bridgedeck and the house of a home-built high-performance cruising catamaran that MYC’s service manager, Jeff Stack, has been creating in his spare time. In the background that’s Mike Hennessey’s Owen Clarke Class 40 Dragon, which will soon get splashed so it can compete in this year’s edition of the Atlantic Cup.

Toothface 2

And this is Mike Dreese’s Akilaria RC3 Open 40 Toothface 2, which is also being prepped for the Atlantic Cup.

Lunacy may be a funky boat, but you can see she does keep good company.

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