Rudder Downhaul, 3rd times the charm

After loosing my rudder downhaul line on an oyster bed in Port Townsend, I came up with the great idea to epoxy the line in place (in the rudder) for a bomb proof attachment.  Problem was, the epoxy oozed out and stiffened the line where it exited the top of the rudder.  This caused the line to rub in the rudder head assembly, preventing smooth raising and lowering of the rudder.

So, I did what I probably should have done all along.

DSC00423I drilled the hole bigger than what the plans called for and secured the line with a figure 8 knot.  My first attempt left very little wood to support the line, so I filled with thickened epoxy and tried again.

DSC00424This smaller hole was drilled horizontally until it met the bigger hole.  This preserved more wood/epoxy for the line to pull against.

DSC00425The knot lies flush with the rudder for smooth movement of the rudder.

This approach is far superior to my last approach (epoxied in place) in that the line is now replaceable and fully serviceable in the field.  

Center Board Retrieval Line and Touch Up

DSC00429With my boat up off the floor, I was ready to install my center board retrieval line.  I used a forsner bit to drill a neat straight hole up into the forward bottom edge of the center board.  I drilled approximately 1″ into the board.  I used a nail to apply unthickened epoxy into the drilled hole.  Then I thickened the epoxy and added the line.

DSC00433I’ll cut the line to a finish length after I test it during a capsize drill.

DSC00434With the boat up off the trailer, I also touched up some areas of excessive wear from the trailer bow pads.


I’m now ready to apply my high gloss finish to the top side (remember, my first matte finish failed miserably and needed to be all scraped off).  This was a bit of a disappointment, but heck, now I know how to refinish the boat.  Honestly, I had no choice but to refinish it.

Rudder Downhaul Fix

After loosing my rudder downhaul line on an oyster bed off Marrowstone Island, I knew I needed a more secure fix.  Well, how about epoxy?


Line lead into the rudder, taped off ready for epoxy.

DSC00423I don’t think this will be coming out again.  I’ll now clean up the overage and reattach to rudder head assembly.


Disadvantages:  Will require a drill bit to replace the line.  Hardly replaceable in the field.

Advantages:  Uber secure, not much to go wrong.

Tiller Arm Installed

While waiting for my rigging to arrive, I installed the tiller arm in Shackleton.  This was a really fun step to complete.  After climbing in and checking the position, I believe the arm will work well for sitting or standing.   Time will tell.DSC00417DSC00422I left a slight protrusion of the tiller out the back of the rudder head for visual effect.  The pin is 3/8″ x 2 3/4″ and fits beautifully.DSC00423 John Welsford designed the tiller cut out through the transom perfectly.  Check out the 1/8″ clearance when the tiller arm is thrown fully to port.DSC00424And to starboard.DSC00425The arm comes through the cut out with a good safety margin above and below as well.DSC00427Finally, with the rudder completely to port, it still clears the outboard motor bracket.  How did I get this lucky?

Now if that rigging would arrive

Center Board Trailer Support

I didn’t want the center board to be hanging on the uphaul line as I bounced down the road trailering Shackleton.  So, I looked things over and decided to build a center board support to take the weight off the uphaul line.DSC00410I took a left over piece of 3/4″ okoume plywood and made a few notch outs to better fit the trailer.DSC00408Then I found some old leather I had laying around.  DSC00411I made a 6″ x 8″ cut out.DSC00413This is approximately where I want the leather to fit over the wood.DSC00414I used stainless bolts to secure the support to the back trailer cross member.  I used fender washers for a good purchase.  The notch outs allows to board to fit flat and rest on the trailer side member.  I then screwed the leather to the top of the plywood support with smooth pan head screws.DSC00415This photo shows the center board in the down, unweighted position, resting on the leather pad (I could have positioned the pad even further forward, but it picks up the center board just fine).


I plan to drop the center board down onto this pad when trailering with Shackleton.  Note that even if I forget to raise the center board when launching Shackleton, the boat will still slide right off the trailer, as the board rest on top of the trailer cross member and butts up to the roller.  Not a hard modification and makes me feel a lot better about the highway miles I’ll be traveling.

CB Line Modification

When I attempted to tie my uphaul line to the center board, I clearly didn’t have enough room for the knot.  

DSC00055DSC00056I decided to drill out a larger hole to accommodate the knot and prevent it from rubbing against the CB case.  I used the plywood as a guide, clamping it against the CB to hold the forsner bit in place.

DSC00057I drilled into the CB approximately 1/2″.

DSC00061The line fits with ease.DSC00062Uphaul line knot (figure 8) with tail tucked in.  Now I began to wonder if I removed too much material…is it strong enough?  DSC00063Hole with 1/8″ round over bit applied to top edge.  DSC00069Then it hit me…why not epoxy the line in place? 

DSC00035While the epoxy was still green, I cleaned up the edges and took a little off the top for a flush fit.


  1. I didn’t want the knot rubbing against the CB case, so something had to be done.
  2. I had concerns about water intrusion into the CB where the lead line came into the knot area.
  3. I had concerns about the weight and leverage of the CB on the drilled out knot area.
  4. I’ve learned if  anything strange can happen to me, it will.
  5. I didn’t want the uphaul line to have any chance of coming loose.
  6. I feel like this solution minimizes all of these concerns.
  7. I plan to build a trailer support for the CB to rest on while traveling (I believe towing Scamp with the CB up is the culprit for CB line wear), so I really don’t plan on needing to replace this line very often, if ever.

But wait, how will I replace the line?  Easy peazy, lemon squeezy.  Give me 3 minutes with a forsner bit and I’ll have the line and epoxy entirely removed, ready for a new one.

I feel good about the security of the line and the water integrity of the holes drilled.  Sometimes what looks to be a mistake can turn out better than before.  This baby is not coming loose.

Pintles, Gudgeons Rework

As earlier mentioned, I was unhappy with the friction in the rudder after my first attempt at installing the pintles and gudgeons.  After thinking things over, I decided to drill out the holes, fill them with epoxy and try again.  Well…Success this time!DSC00002

I started by marking the center line and using a square to mark the horizontal location of the gudgeon holes.  It now moves freely from side to side without friction. DSC00003Based on Simeon’s recommendation, I purchased the Racelite heavy duty pintles and gudgeons from Duckworks Magazine.  They are well build, solid and simple.  Just what Shackleton ordered.  DSC00002When installing the rudder downhaul line, I realized I didn’t have room for a knot and washer to secure the line into the rudder.  It just wouldn’t fit in the epoxied hole I had to work with.  So, I grabbed some artificial sinew and doubled the line over on itself.  This fits nicely in the hole and secures the downhaul line.  DSC00001The rudder uphaul line was secured with a simple knot.DSC00005I color coded the lines:  green for downhaul and red for uphaul.  I also chose red for the CB  uphaul line.  My reasoning for the color coding was:  ‘Green for smooth sailing, drop the CB and rudder’  and red for ‘quick, raise the foils before we run a ground’.

 I’m so glad I took the time to get this right.  So many times we hurry ourselves and are never quite happy with the end results.  I’ve owned sailboats in the past that had issues I could not solve.  With Scamp, I’ve tried to make this boat mine and never hurry or short change the process.  I could not build one of these boats if I were in a hurry.  I have no idea when I’ll be done, but when I complete the boat, I want to be happy with the build.  This means a great deal to me.  Details mean a great deal to me.  The overall construction quality of the boat means a great deal to me.  

Glossy vs Satin Finish

Rethinking my finishDSC00004There was a time when I liked the high gloss look of beautifully finished wood.  My rudder was finished with high gloss marine varnish shown below.DSC00001Over the years, however, I’ve come to appreciate and even favor a more satin finish.  Even though my rudder was completely finished, I decided to apply a satin finish over the high gloss to tame things down a bit.  DSC00004To me, the satin finish is a softer, more appealing look…more hand rubbed in appearance.  I am much happier with this finish.  DSC00005I applied the satin finish directly over the high gloss (after lightly sanding).


  1. High gloss is a hard finish that is said to offer the best wear and UV protection amongst clear finishes.
  2. High gloss offers a show stopper look.
  3. High gloss shows every last spec of dust in the finish.
  4. High gloss shows hard water spots.
  5. High gloss magnifies imperfections.
  6. Satin finish looks more hand rubbed.
  7. Satin finish hides imperfections.
  8. Satin finish hides hard water spots.
  9. Satin finish applied over high gloss finish seems to offer the best of both worlds, if you like a more subtle look.


Finishing Rudder Head Assembly

I chose to finish all inside areas of the rudder head assembly prior to glueing on the outer cheek panels.  DSC00001DSC00002DSC00006DSC00009I used small wooden blocks to keep from denting the wood with the clamps (even light pressure will dent this plywood).


DSC00012When cutting off the protruding dowels, I placed duck tape on my Japanese hand saw (just under the teeth of the saw).  This allows the saw to glide over the wood, cutting the dowel flush with the surrounding plywood, without skinning the plywood.DSC00013Preparing for final coat.DSC00001 I’m using Rust-oleum Gloss Hunter Green #7738.  I’ll now glue in the brass bushings.

Why build your own sailboat?  Because you can 

Finish Work for Centerboard and Rudder

After several weeks building the Centerboard and Rudder, the foils kit is now complete.DSC00002 I chose to finish the CB with graphite epoxy.  I also was not overly concerned about the finish of this foil as it will be under the boat, receiving very little UV and rarely ever seen.  It received to layers of glass over the entire foil.  Each layer of glass received two layers of epoxy and then two additional layers of graphite epoxy.  All the edges of this foil have four layers of glass wrapped around the edges.  It looks and feels very substantial.  The bushings are finished flush with the outside edges to better distribute the forces of the foil to the large fender washers I built.  DSC00001 My wife and father thought it would be a shame to paint the Rudder.  The shape of this foil and natural grain of the wood is so beautiful, they simply wouldn’t let me paint over it.  I like the tradition of all foils being white, so I had mixed emotions about this.  DSC00004After seeing the Rudder finished with 3 coats of Interlux Schooner’s varnish, I was really glad I finished it bright.  The Schooner’s varnish flowed out extremely smooth and has the appearance of being sprayed.  I am very impressed with this expensive ($35.00/quart) varnish.  I did notice that if it ever sags or runs, it doesn’t seem to want to cure.  After 3 days of not curing, I used light pressure on a scraper to remove excess around the rudder uphaul hole and edges to remove excess.  I then let it set up for another day to finish curing before sanding and refinishing.  The Rudder has two layers of glass over all surfaces.  All edges received four layers of glass.  I finished both foils by placing them horizontally on my bench and working on each side, one at a time.  This system worked well for me.

DSC00001 DSC00002 DSC00004 DSC00005I’m very happy with these foils.  They represent a lot of time and effort.  It is so satisfying and rewarding to see them complete and ready for installation.  I now consider myself worthy to order the Scamp kit and begin the next phase of this build.  If anyone is considering building a Scamp, I would encourage you to give it serious thought.  I am totally loving this experience.