Monday, 5 March 2012

Lookfar's new rudder

I purchased a new rudder for my canoe project from our on line auction site.
It was listed as a brand new, unused, 30 year old, laser rudder, just what I wanted!

Pictures say it best:

I had to modify the anodized aluminium cheeks by cutting away a section from the leading edge under the upper pintle to allow for clearance of the cast nose molding of the canoe.

I cut 30mm off the Coleman, cast aluminium, nose molding to allow the closest possible fulcrum point to the stern of the canoe. I then drilled a perpendicular hole one oversize from the pintle pin. The hole drilled to one side is for the control line that keeps tension on the rudder blade in the down position. The line is secured by a cleat forward, close to my sitting position, on the gunwale.

The lower Gudgeon is from a wrecked rudder off my old X Class yacht from the 1960's, from my "just in case it might come in handy one day" box. As you can see I bent the cheek plates around to the shape of the canoe stern. I bolted the assembly with 1/4" stainless steel machine screws, washers and nuts to the Ram X plastic hull. I shaped a pine block to fill the void created by the offset, female, gudgeon flukes. The black compound you see is a polyurethane "dubbin" adhesive used by the car industry to glue in car windshields, it's the toughest, meanest adhesive/sealant known to man.

The lovely mahogany tiller is from an old P Class yacht which I kept from a restoration project on my son Robert's 3rd sail boat in the 1990's ( again from the same "handy" source). The tiller did not fit perfectly into the rudder head stock to begin with so some slight modification was needed for it to fit snugly.

The tiller extension is from a window cleaners, telescopic extension handle.
I connected it to the tiller with a small stainless steel swivel, one end of which I bent out flat to create a saddle to bolt the assembly on to the underside of the tiller. This keeps the extension tube low, under the up sweeping curve of the tiller.
The cheek plate on the extension tube is cut from one side of a spinnaker pole fitting from a small sail boat, just the right diameter dish section to allow bolting to the side of the tube.

The tiller is secured in place with a stainless steel locating pin drilled to fit through both the folded stainless steel cap of the tiller stock and the tiller itself. I always retain small items like these with a little lanyard so as not to loose them.

How does it handle you ask?

I launched Lookfar last night on the high tide. There was a 6 knot southerly, I sheeted in the tiny sail, dipped the starboard lee board, pulled on the rudder blade control line and the little canoe came alive, perfectly balanced, a delight to sail.
The rudder has transformed the handling of this little sailboat. Upwind no rudder is needed but downwind the hull wants to wander so the rudder helps to make the hull track straight. The new rudder makes a big difference to tacking and gibing control as well.
My old friend Mitchell says of my Lookfar project, "It's funny how the simplest, cheapest, smallest, closest to the water boats often provide the best boating." He should know, he showed me how!

Thanks for reading my blog.



  1. Hallo Harmen,

    Nice work !! I built a Tamanu last year -
    in the style of Hawaiian outrigger canoe.

    I used the rudder like Paraw sailors do.
    It is very comfortable.

    Unfortunately the comment area in my blog does not work longer. I don´t know why...???

    If you want to send an answer please do to:

    Best regards from Hamburg /Germany Klaus

  2. Hi Harmen -- I'm glad to see you enjoying this canoe. Are your twin leeboards asymetric? Your sailing geography is heavenly! I am also going to build a little monohull sailing canoe pretty soon -- a version of an English duck punt. Dylan Winter has been showing videos of his sailing in very thin water, and evidently these little things are a nice vacation from other boats. I like the idea better than a kayak, since you can also paddle or row these 3x15 foot craft. I just ordered enough extra plywood with my Tamanu plywood and figure I will efficiently build pieces of them them concurrently. --best regards -- Wade

  3. Hi Wade

    Good to have a message from you.

    Too bad you don't live a little closer! I have a friend with another of these Coleman 15 ft canoes for sale. It is set up for rowing paddling, sailing and motoring.

    My lee boards are the old ogive section steering blades from Toroa's previous incarnation. They work just as well in their new location, lifting my little canoe very nicely to weather. My uncle has been building a variety of models of Dutch fishing boats. He was a master boat builder in the Netherlands after the war. I learned from him that the Dutch have a very long tradition of using asymmetric lee boards!

    Today or tomorrow I take delivery of a nice new sprit sail which will give me a bit more room in the canoe for tacking and gybing. The little Opti rig has been a cheap way to discover if this set little up was going to work or not.



  4. Harmen, perhaps you have been following Dylan Winter on the Wooden Boat Forum, who has been documenting his plywood version of a "West Mercea Duck Punt." If not, this punt is about 15 feet long, 34 inches wide, 12 inches deep, flat bottomed, double ended (more or less), and has 2 or 3 inches of rocker set aft a little. He sails it with an Opti rig and steers with an oar as the natives do there. So far he has flimed it sailing along English canals and in rivers and estuaries, totally enamored of its ability to sail in 3 inches of water and to make it to windward without boards. He makes a compelling case for this most simple of sailing machines, though surely boards wouldn't hurt sometimes. I am tempted to try your uncle's asymmetric leeboards as a better way to get to windward on my outrigger. --carry on! -- Wade

  5. Hi Wade

    Thanks for the link and your comments.

    I have been completely oblivious to what the rest of the world is doing re sailing duck punts (or any other internet publication for that matter) so no I was unaware of what Dylan White was doing in England.

    I simply had my dad's old canoe and I was gifted the Opti rig. They just begged to go together. I'm astonished at how good a sail boat this little canoe is.

    I cant imagine sailing to windward effectively without lee boards though, this little canoe goes sideways faster than it does forwards without them.

    Always good to know you are out there looking,thinking and doing Wade.




Toroa by Harmen Hielkema & Mike Toy.

Header Photo: Toroa at Rawene by Julie Holton.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of my father Roelof Hielkema who instilled in me the willingness to learn.
These pages are intended to inform and add to the growing body of knowledge concerning the Canoe Culture of the Pacific, past, present & future, from the Tupuna, the Ancestors of the Pacific cultures to the people of the world.

These pages contain Images and text relating to our two proas, Toroa & Takapu, some history relating to our experiments & experiences.

The dissertation that I posted on this blog in April 2008 "Takapu The Proa" was written by me in 1997 in response to an assignment that I was set whilst studying for my design degree. The dissertation covers many issues that a proa enthusiast may benefit from reading about.

Waka define culture as culture defines waka

Waka reflect the individuality and uniqueness of a society which in turn is governed by the geography, geology, topography, climate, location, resources, isolation, origin, flora, fauna, flotsam, jetsam, etc.

Waka are our link to the past, they have shaped our present and define our future.

Waka are the vessels of knowledge, physical and mental development, freedom of bondage to the land, key to our inquisitiveness, expressions of our ingenuity and courage, our love of shape and form, the seat of our power.

Waka are the source of our material culture, from which all processes are derived.

Waka are who and what we are.