Broken rudder and hole in boat

It never truly feels like an adventure until things go wrong. Last night Jeremy’s rudder cable detached so our first task of the morning was to dream up a fix. We started investigating and realized that not only had the cable detached from the rudder, but the line the cable runs through was full of seaweed and other muck. To top it off, the way to reattach the cable requires a crimping tool which we do not have. We have a way to reattach it but that method leaves the cable too short. Luckily, we do have the pretty fantastic combination of our two minds. We ended up cutting a loop off our cooking whisk and using the wire to clean out the muck. We then completely pulled the rudder line out and reversed it so that we could use rope to tie the rudder to the end that still had its loop intact. We reattach the other end using soft clamps from our repair kit and a Leatherman, add some rope to make up for the shortening and test the rudder a few times.

Repairs done! Away we paddle! All is good- the tides are with us, we feel strong and capable, we plow through the miles. We reach our destination early and are excited to have some down time. But as we carry the boats up the beach Jeremy feels something on the keel of my boat.

Hole in the keel of boat

We turn it over to find a quarter size hole in the keel. This is quite surprising as I haven’t had any hard hits to my boat. I had a skeg taken out of my boat and replaced with a rudder before we left. It looks the fiberglass used to patch that hole was not done properly. There is a thin layer, then an air pocket, then another thin layer. Well, there used to be two thin layers, now there is a hole. The inner layer is intact so no water was able to enter my boat which is good.

We knew that repairs like this might be necessary, and we researched the best solutions for field repair. We had brought Marine-Tex, an epoxy putty made for boat repairs such as this.

We clean out the hole so the putty will adhere well, knead the epoxy and apply it. We’ve used many epoxies before but neither of us has used this exact kind before so while we’re pretty confident it will work, we are a bit tense. Just as promised, the putty heats and then hardens within a few minutes.

Patched hole

It looks like we’re ok. As I have been many times before, I’m grateful we always carry a well stocked repair kit (and a whisk) on remote trips. Broken rudders and holes in boats are scary things, but preparedness and a little ingenuity have gotten us a long way.

Our repair kit

Below is the contents of our repair kit with an x in front of things we have used so far:

X Marine-Tex
X Leatherman with pliers
X Scissors
Zip ties
X Small roll of gorrila tape
X Soft cable clamps
Small fiber glass light curing repair patch
Needle and thread
Extra buckles
Small piece of sand paper
X Tear-aid patch
X Aqua seal
Tent pole splint
Small tube of super glue
Stove field repair kit
Safety pin
X Paracord


  1. Nice repair kit. BUT no spare bolts and nuts? Short thick screws, with multidriver, equipped with tiny hand drill/bits for bolt width. Bell wire is a must.


  2. Problem solvers! Anna I continue to be amazed at your ability to solve problems. Apparently Jeremy has the same affinity. Since childhood you were taking things apart to figure out how they worked; from your tricycle bell to your bike, to your jeep and you got all of them back together with no spare parts. You are a natural leader. Your brother tried taking his bike apart and oh my….. so many spare parts! So glad your resourcefulness worked and you are able to finish your trip!

    Love reading your posts.


  3. Would throw in a speedy stitcher. Knowing how to fix and be creative is necessary. Constantly checking, and knowing how to fix rudders if you them is very important.


  4. Good thing you had a cooking whisk! ha. We also carry: Spare deck bungee, whipping twine, spare nut/blot/screws, denso tape, cable, bit of hard foam, zipper glide, few grommets, Mini vice grips coated in light grease, and wrapped, wipes, nails, some of that white tape that helps stick twisty things(bolts etc).


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