Don’t put off the maintenance

A number of years ago I noticed that the rudder gudgeons on the Hobie Cat were bent. How I noticed is beyond me since the rudders moved freely and there didn’t seem to be any conflicts with anything. But, notice I did. So I proceeded to try and correct the issue by bending the gudgeon back into alignment, which didn’t work.  In fact, my attempts at realignment were all completely ineffective. I figured the best course of action was “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Of course the gudgeon was effectively broken, but I figured that the metal gudgeon was secure and not going to fail and none of the other pieces associated with the rudder were having noticeable issues, so all was good and so qualified as “not broken” and thusly “not fixed.”

Wrong.

Rudder pin and gudgeon, hobie cat, hobie 14
Old and new rudder pin and gudgeon

Fast forward a few years and Asya and I are out on a lake enjoying an afternoon sail. We both hear a loud Crack and both instinctively looked at the stays to make sure one of them didn’t fail. None had, the trampoline still seemed solid, so that wasn’t it, all the tiller connections were still intact… we were at a loss for what it could have been. But, then I noticed the weather helm had dramatically increased, so I checked rudders and found the problem. The pin that secures the port rudder had broken into three pieces. It’s definitely not comforting seeing your rudder hanging off the boat at a precarious angle but luckily it stayed attached and we didn’t run into a bigger problem. I gingerly brought Hobie back to the beach and jumped off to inspect the damage. Remember the bent gudgeon? It was still intact, but the nylon rudder pin that was bent into the bent gudgeon had broken just above it where the pin started to curve heavily.

Our day of sailing was over but I was relieved to figure out that the fix for the issue would be rather straightforward. Simply replace the bent gudgeon and the broken pin. Easy-peasy.

Rudder casting, rudder gudgeon, hobie cat, hobie 14
Rudder casting reattached after the new lower gudgeon and rudder pin were installed

So, the moral of the story? When you notice a problem don’t put it off for three years, because while it may be holding at the time, and may indeed hold for a long while, failure is inevitable. So don’t put off the maintenance unless you have a definitive plan to get back to the issue and fix it properly.

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