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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.
February 15, 2013
The cutter “Ideath” was never supposed to have four gudgeons and pintles on her rudder. Like double the hinges on a door where half would do, they speak to extra heavy use. “I built her for sailing on a lake,” says owner Randy Mims. “I figured when I retired I would build the perfect offshore cruising sailboat.”
He never imagined the gaff rigger would log enough coastal and offshore miles to stretch around the world.The gaff cutter IdeathRandy Mims
If Randy had known from the start, he might have built Ideath’s rudder stronger. But how was he to know the boat he’d built to take him lake sailing would one day face the open ocean? Then it happened.Ideath’s sturdily attached rudder. The gudgeons and pintles are secured, respectively, to hull and rudder. She has more of them then when she was launched.
Randy was sailing Ideath far offshore, on passage. He noticed the rudder head making the wrong motion. Instead of turning smoothly on its axis, the top of the rudder was moving side to side. Randy quickly diagnosed the problem. The rudder was attached to the hull with hinge-like gudgeons and pintles. One of the gudgeons, the part attached to the vessel’s stern, was working loose. Randy was in danger of losing his rudder. A tow home was not an option. He had to come up with a solution. Fast.
With a length of rope, he stabilized the top of the rudder so it wouldn’t work side to side. With another, he frapped – that is, twisted around and around – extra lashings to the rudder.
Then he steered Ideath to shore.
Randy has always tried to be as self sufficient as possible. He sails with plenty of food, water and spares aboard. Luckily, he had the parts he needed on hand. Now he just had to figure out how to affect the repair.Ideath’s cabin – port side. Built-in storage includes places to secure everything from a portable spotlight to a large fisherman’s anchor. The mesh bags store a series drogue that steadies the vessel under gale conditions. On the table is a copy of “Wooden Boat” magazine with featured Ideath in its January/February 2011 issue.Plastic bottles store Ideath’s water. Randy says if the vessel’s drinking water was contained in a single tank, a leak could leave him waterless at sea. Individual bottles minimize the chance of that happening. In addition to municipal water, he augments his supply with rain.
Finances were tight. Instead of heading for a boatyard, where Ideath could be hauled ashore for repair, he would fix her in the water. He had an extra gudgeon on board, the part needed to fix the rudder. He just needed to find a place to repair his vessel.
He found what he was looking for in a patch of marsh abandoned by a marina developer. The developer had dredged a square opening in the swamp. Randy says it was, “ten feet deep all around”, plenty for Ideath’s 4-foot draft. The challenge now was to raise Ideath’s stern high enough to repair the rudder.
Years before, Randy had been given a supply of inner tubes. In an offshore emergency flooding, they were to be inflated to keep the vessel afloat. He dug a few from storage, tied them under Ideath’s stern and filled them with air. The vessel’s stern cleared the water. With a cordless drill, he drilled holes to attach the spare gudgeon. Rudder firmly re-attached, he resumed his voyaging under sail.
No, this wrestling with gudgeons and pintles offshore and in swamps never was part of the plan. Not for this boat, anyway.