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September 19, 2009

Sailboat Rudder Types – Full, Spade, Skeg, Outboard

Filed under: Yachting — Tags: , , — Richard Jordan @ 1:27 pm

The four rudder types are: full, spade, skeg, and outboard. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.

A full rudder runs the entire length of the hull

A full rudder runs the entire length of the hull

The full or full keel rudder lies at the aft end of a full length keel. The keel-rudder streches along the entire length of the bottom of the hull. The full rudder is safe and nearly invulnerable to damage. The leading edge of the keel protects the rudder from flotsam. The full rudder is quintessential of offshore cruisers like Wetsails and Cabo Ricos. Even grounding may not cause damage. The boat will sit comfortable on its side until the tide returns and floats the boat back up.

A spade rudder meets the water on both edges for easy turning action.

A spade rudder meets the water on both edges for easy turning action.

The spade rudder lies at the aft separate from the keel. A spade rudder is easy to turn because the water rushes both against its fore and aft edges – great for using a tiller. A spade rudder is also fast as the wet area less than a full keel. The boat racing along with less resistance. Spade and partial spades are becoming the most popular rudder type. The Hylas 70 has a partial spade rudder as well as early 54’s.

A skeg rudder is the most popular with the swiftness of a spade and the safety of a full

A skeg rudder is the most popular with the swiftness of a spade and the safety of a full

A skeg rudder is more modern in performance and safety. It is the most popular and common type of rudder on production boats these days. The rudder is fast and looks like a spade keel. Except, the skeg rudder has a fake keel which extends from the hulls aft and protects the fore edge. Most Hylas yachts have skeg rudders.

Outboard rudders are seen on smaller boats. They simply hang over the stern of the boat. For example, racing prams use outboard rudders. They are easy to fasion as emergency rudders. You can make one out of a handlerail and cabin door.

A rudder is either full, spade, skeg, or outboard. Each type has its benefits. The most important part is make sure she is in good condition and have a spare.

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  • Black Fox

    Ahoy Mateys, it’s Fox Axel the Pirate. I’ve got a swashbuckling yarn to tell ye. Me was drifting along way out at sea. Me had lost me steering while pillaging a friendly ship. The knaves canon knocked me rudder off. Me had nought to to turn to. The authorities would hang me, the villainous lot. But, me was getting desperate out of grub and rum, nothing to sage me drunken pirate ways. I had lost me last vestige of sanity.

    Finally, me saw in the distance a giant whaler coming. The big ship sailed straight at me. “Ahoy mateys!” me spake. The freighter came near, too near. Shiver me timbers. The goulish crew must be drunk out of thee minds. Me could not steer away. She rammed straight slicing me ship in twain. Down to Davy Jones’ locker we went. Take care with ye rudders mateys – the Pirate of Monkey Isle.

  • Black Fox

    Ok ye swabs ave a told me to finish me story. Ere dis da rest. As the freighter tore away leaving me to perish in the sea. I climbed on a board of driftwood from me sinkin’ ship. I passed out adrift, alone. When I came to, I found meself shipwrecked on a deserted island. I stumbled around and ran into, who of all? Big Red, me pirate enemy! Aye, I’m shipping as mate with his goulish fleet until I can betray and kill him. Aye, hope Big Red ain’t reading dis here blog. Black Fox the Pirate.

  • Big Red

    I am ye swab. I am too sharp for some ere fool like ye. I ain’t gots no book learning, but me hast carniving ways from many years below the mast. Iffen ye be trying to betray me, I am a gonna get ye.

  • Johnson

    Thank you for sharing this article.It’s quite easy to understand the difference.

"In February 2012 I bought a 42’ Brewer yacht through the brokerage services of JY&S, after looking at boats in various US ports with various brokers. Richard Jordan proved to be very knowledgeable, hard working, and offered customer service above and beyond the call. I have no hesitation in recommending this brokerage." - JM, SV Trio Con Brio