Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Rudder Repair in Kavieng, PNG

Feb 19-Mar 4 Kavieng, Papua New Guinea

One of the most urgent things we needed to do once we reached Kavieng, PNG on Feb 19, was figure out how to repair our port rudder, which had a soft-ball sized dent mashed into the leading edge by a log.

The Log We Hit Enroute to the Ninigos in January

Dave is great with mechanical things, but considers himself a little weak when it comes to fiberglassing. So we enlisted Jon Hacking from our buddy boat Ocelot to help him do the repairs. Fortunately, between the 4 boats, we managed to scrounge up the necessary repair materials.

The first step was to get the rudder out of the water. This we opted to do by dropping the rudder (carefully) while in the water. We consulted with the St. Francis Owners Group for advice. One person said the rudder would float, another said it would sink. So we got Soggy Paws into as shallow a water as we could manage (not very shallow where we were anchored). We also tied a line around the rudder, so someone on board could hold onto it. Then I got in the water, Dave loosened the bolts, and down she came.

Disconnecting the Rudder Arm Prior to Dropping the Rudder

Loosening the Bolts Holding the Rudder

Fortunately the shaft wasn't bent (which would have jammed the rudder stock from coming down the tube). A little wiggling back and forth on my part, and the rudder dropped a couple of inches. I took another breath, pulled harder, and the rudder came right out.
Sherry Pulling Rudder

Rudder is Out!

The rudder didn't float, but it wasn't too heavy for me to hold up in the water, and we had the security line on it.

Our Ding from a Big Log

The ding looked pretty bad. Dave and Jon took the rudder ashore to a small covered shed that Nusa Island Resort kindly let us use. The first step was to grind out the ding, rinse it well in fresh water, and let it dry for a few days.

Once it was dry, Jon and Dave started building the ding back up--first with some foam, then with putty and fiberglass/epoxy. We had a little bit of old bottom paint to finish it up. The repair was kind of crude, but it fixed the hole, and we're back in business.

Dave and Jon Working on the Rudder

I was worried about getting the rudder stock up into the tube, but it was no big deal. We had everyone from our little flotilla helping out in one way or another.

Putting the Rudder Back In

(follow up note: When we hauled out in July 2019 to do some other bottom repairs, the rudder looked fine, though the old bottom paint wasn't doing much, so we repainted the rudder)

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