Homemade Canoe Rudder, How Would You?

I want to set up a rudder on my Disco for sailing when Fluke and I do the run from Penobscot Bay to Portland, ME this summer. We’re going to have portages and some upstream and downstream work so it has to be light and most importantly removable to be stored. I’ve got a few ideas and bounce some off of a canoe guru today. Just want to see what others can envision for something like this.

My biggest obstacle is that I don’t really want to put any type of lugeye in the boat, I don’t mind drilling holes in my boat mind ya, to hold the rudder in place. I haven’t really found anything on the web for this and the homemade rigs I’ve seen are pretty cumbersome.

I have a sail rig utilizing my 12’ pole, an 8’+ boom and is a triangle as well as a Spirit Sail for when I don’t want to setup the big sail. I’m not looking to put in foot controls, just a tiller.

Any inventive minds out there that like DYI projects?


Hardware source

I might be able to help and then again…
I might not!

I don’t know what you mean by “lug eyes”,

but I have two stainless steel rudder brackets that came off a Penobscot that was rigged for sailing.

They are straps that are formed to fit the stern, and bolt to it. I am quite sure that they could be straightened enough to fit a OT Disco.

they are made for a 1/4" shaft.

Each strap has two holes per side.

If you would like I’ll mail them to you or I can have “the bride” take a couple of pictures and e-mail them to you to see if they would work.



How about mounting a couple of eye bolts with eye bolts on the rudder spaced the same distance apart. You set the rudder eye bolts on top of the ones on the canoe and drop a rod through the bolts. Simple, strong, cheap, light.

No Gudgeons!
You don’t want hardware on the end of your Disco. It will get smashed when you pole into a rock!

This shows a common removable rudder mount.


This is my Explorer setup.


I glued a couple of blocks under the deck and drilled a hole for the rudder pin. KISS

If you go here and sign up you can look at the photos. http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/sailing_canoes

There’s one called “Granges Boat” that has a nice clamp on rudder mount.

I’ll be interested
in how your solution works out. I was thinking about a demountable rudder system for my Magic & Spirit Sail combo. And like you, I am not interested in foot controls - just a tiller.


I have a related goal, to develop a
drop-skeg for our whitewater tandem boat, a very rockered 15’ Mad River Synergy.

When we travel, we usually take the Synergy so that I can indulge my whitewater addiction in various parts of the continent. We also use the boat tandem on small to moderate sized lakes and easier rivers, but like nearly all tandem whitewater boats, the Synergy is very cranky about tracking when paddled tandem.

I want to develop a skeg that will attach to and pivot on the gunwales, within a yard or so of the stern, and drop on an arc into the water. The skeg will have a drop-stop to limit its downward travel, but the skeg blade will be designed so that if it bangs into anything, the skeg will momentarily bang upward without catching on the bottom or being seriously damaged.

Some whitewater tandem hulls are narrow enough, and low enough in wetted area, that they will cruise at a useful speed, IF there is a way to keep the boat from veering off track just because of little variations in what the paddlers are doing. I’m hoping that, if I can develop an effective skeg, we will get a lot more lake and flatwater use out of the boat when we’re traveling.

Thanks, folks, for sharing the rudder attachment info. Some of it I might be able to apply to the skeg design.

What I’d probably do

– Last Updated: May-05-08 6:11 PM EST –

I'm not obsessed with things being neat and tidy, but I dislike stuff that's cobbled together. I'd make the whole she-bang from metal, with the possible exception of the rudder itself. The method I'm thinking of would probably weigh about three pounds if made out of appropriately-sized steel stock (steel is great material because it's easily welded), and much less if made from aluminum (unfortunately, only "pros" can weld aluminum). What I envision is like this:

The rudder itself would have a vertical pivot shaft within a housing that's about about 12 inches high, positioned directly behind the center of the stern, with the bottom end right at the waterline. This would just be a round rod inside of a tube, with a stopper at the top and bottom to keep the center rod from shifting up and down.

The part that attaches to the boat would consist of two sections of angle stock, one on each gunwale, located just forward of the rear deck plate. Each of these would also be roughly one foot long. These angle-stock pieces would have one leg of the angle on top of the gunwale, and the other leg on the outside, so 1.5" x 1.5" angle stock would be a good size (if steel, the thinner the stock metal the better). They would attach by bolting through the gunwale. I'd connect the two gunwale mounts with one, perhaps two, cross pieces, in the manner of thwarts (two would be better than one, but one would probably be enough).

The connection between the gunwale mounts and the pivot housing is next. For that, I'd use either square stock or angle stock (1" x 1" if aluminum, 1/2" x 1/2" if steel), with one pair of connectors going from the rear of each gunwale mount to the top of the pivot housing, and another pair going from the front end of each gunwale mount to the bottom of the pivot housing. If the construction material is as light as possible, placing a diagonal brace between each pair of gunwale-to-rudder connectors would be a good idea.

The final touch would be to mount the vertical pivot housing to a matching vertical bracket, rather than directly to the four connectors leading to the gunwale mounts. The pivot housing would attach to that matching vertical bracket with a horizontal pin at the top, and just a wrap-around piece of low-strength coil spring at the bottom (you could also substitute a weak "shear pin" for the spring). That way, if you hit a rock while underway, the pivot housing would tilt up like an outboard motor, rather than wrecking something.

Okay, 2nd method. Lighter, simpler.
Take two lengths of angle stock 1.0 to 1.5 feet long. Mount one on each gunwale such that they meet at the top of the stern. At the meeting point of those pieces, built a pivot from three pieces of sheet metal. The center piece is firmly attached to the two pieces of angle stock. The other two pieces are above and below, and firmly attached to the pivot rod which controls the rudder. This won’t make a very strong pivot, but it should do. On the pivot shaft below this plate assembly, build a “break-away” feature which allows the rudder or rudder shaft to tilt up if the rudder hits something. Alternatively (and better, since break-away effectiveness would not be compromised by steering angle), atach the steering-pivot assembly to the two gunwale brackets with some kind of hinge joint, held down at the free end by a weak spring (the lower end of the spring could attach to a hold drilled through the stem of the boat, as is used for “Tugeyes”.