BAD rudder experience?

Most Modern Surfskis & OC-1s
Have a cam to prevent the cables from locking up due to oversteering.

I also rig my surfski rudders to snap back straight after I release my foot. And a few OC-1 manufacturers have also rigged their rudders to snap back straight immediately once pressure is released from the foot pedals.

And you’re right…
I probably would not try a long multi-day paddle without a rudder. Corrective strokes wear you down and without a rudder, you will feel it at the end of the day and perhaps increase injury risk a bit.

Rudders, as I said, are like automatic transmissions. One can live without them without a lot of hassles (most of the time). I admit, I would probably rather have a working automatic than a broken clutch cable in SF (as I did once) in my '71 bug, but I did get really good at synchronizing the engine and transmission on those hills :). Still, there are conditions (such as when my left leg was virtually useless due to back injury) where an automatic is preferable.

During day paddles (which are now the majority of my outings), it just isn’t something I want to deal with. Were I to take up crossings or have to clear a shipping channel in currents, wind, etc. (such as the channel islands here in CA.), I would feel compelled to have a rudder on the boat.

Personally, though, I just don’t like them.


Thanks Jack L
I was beginning to wonder if any “experienced kayakers” used rudders. I do know there were a couple of times when having it was a godsend and without it, I would have been correction-stroking my guts out. I think I will keep it after all. I am well aware there are some boats that do well without them and these owners suggest “ditching my boat for one like theirs” but I LOVE my sea kayak and will enjoy it as it was built. I will just will pay better attention to maintenance and upkeep of the rudder controls.

I agree that rudders should be designed to snap back to center - I think it’s a baseline safety consideration. It’s worth trying to rig bungee to do that on a sea kayak.

I have a rudder on my Mad River Monarch and am glad it is there. When the winds snap up stern quartering on a big body of water , and perhaps you need to get to shore quick being able to devote your energy to going forward is a good idea.

For a while I hated rudders and gave them up after one rudder cable broke in the middle of Muscongus Bay.

I don’t believe for a second that use of a rudder marks a newbie who doesn’t know how to steer. That is an assumptive error on the part of the watcher.

different bad
One time in those 30+ north winds in the Sea of Cortez, in a lee cocking boat, the working rudder was much worse than no rudder. It anchored the stern allowing the bow to blow off, making it near impossible to hold course.