Small boat kick-up rudder - Glen-L Boat Plans

Small boat kick-up rudder

Rigging Small Sailboats

Chapter 6

…..deck fittings

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Some comments on winches have been made previously. The variety and type of winches available to the sailor is enormous, but for the small boat sailor, winches usually are restricted to the smaller sizes used to control the jib and Genoa sheets. Winches can be used for the halyards, boom vang, and mainsheets, if desired. On small boats the cost is usually prohibitive, and the extra power gained is not required, as these lines can be handled by the crew or by other means, such as tackles, equally well.

Rigging Small SailboatsFIG. 6-10 – The rudder is connected to the boat with gudgeons (the fittings on the boat) and pintles (the pin fittings on the rudder). They allow the rudder to swing freely in order to steer the boat


Small sailboats usually have rudders which are called “outboard” rudders because they hang onto the aft end of the boat in full view. Boats which have rudders under the hull and the rudder stock passing through the hull bottom are said to have “inboard” rudders, but these are usually associated with large boats. The ordinary small boat rudder is attached to the boat with fittings that also allow the rudder to pivot or turn. These fittings are called GUDGEONS and PINTLES. These are arranged in pairs, with the gudgeons usually being attached to the boat, and the pintles fastened to the rudder. The pintles are strap-like fittings with the rudder fitting between the straps, and with a pin at the forward edge which fits into the “eye” of the gudgeons (see Fig. 6-10). As with most fittings, many sizes and types are available. Often gudgeons and pintles come in pairs which have a long pintle and a shorter one. These types make it easier to put the rudder on the boat, as the long pintle will be in position first, thereby acting as a guide for the short one. If both pintles are the same length, both must fit into the gudgeons at the same moment, which is frustrating at times, especially when trying to place the rudder in position when afloat. Because many small boat rudders are made of wood, the tendency is for these to float up and out of the gudgeons, of course, making for an immediate loss of steering and much embarrassment. A device called a RUDDER STOP can be used to prevent this from occuring. These are standard marine hardware items very simple in nature.

Rigging Small Sailboats Rigging Small Sailboats
FIG. 6-11 – This special factory-made kick-up rudder fitting incorporates the rudder gudgeons and pintles. The fitting mounts to the transom of the boat but allows the rudder to be removed. This fitting is normally used on small boats only. (You can order an updated version of this part in the Glen-L Store).

For small sailboats which land on the beach, it is desirable to have the rudder “kick up” when approaching shallow waters. Special “kick-up” rudder fittings such as shown in Fig. 6-11 are available, which also have the gudgeons and pintles attached as an integral unit, and perform this function. With a little effort, you can make your own “kick-up” rudder similar to the detail shown in Fig. 6-12.

Rigging Small Sailboats

FIG. 6-12 – One method of making a kick-up rudder using wood. When the pin is removed, the rudder will automatically come up when hitting the beach.

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Rigging Small Sailboats                                  

FIG. 6-13 – This tiller extension was made by merely cutting the tiller in half at the forward end and fastening it with a bolt. A more convenient type uses a swivel connection in lieu of the bolt for universal action. The line shown is a rope traveler which can be adjusted in length and is secured to the jam cleat on the deck.


The rudder is controlled by a handle called the TILLER. Sometimes the tiller passes through a hole in the transom (back of the boat), but usually it is located above the aft deck area and pivots up and down so the crew can move about easily. The length of the tiller is best determined in actual use, so it should be made longer than necessary. It’s much easier to cut off a long tiller than to add length to a short one. A device recommended for easier control, especially when tacking or sailing to windward, is a TILLER EXTENSION or “hiking stick,” an example of which is shown in Fig. 6-13. When sailing to windward in a small boat, the boat usually heels considerably and the crew must lean out to windward (or “hike out”) to counteract this. In order to hang onto the tiller in this position, an extension is required, fixed to the forward end of the tiller and preferably fitted with a universal-type joint. Naturally, the length of such a unit is best determined in actual use, so it is best to get a long one which can be cut, instead of getting one too short which can’t be added to.

The next WebLetter will start Part II …how to install the rigging.


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