Sailboats To Go » rudder on outboard

The "Motor Rudder" from SailboatsToGo

Steering with your outboard (turned off) while under sail power.

Problem:   You want to sail your Zodiac or similar hard-transom inflatable boat but you don't want to remove your outboard motor.

Solution:   Attach our rudder to the outboard.

We have to credit one of your customers with this solution.  Eugene S. of Michigan invented this for his Sea Eagle 9.2 which he sails on Lake Huron with our sail rig.

First, you need one of those large stabilizer plates that bolts onto your motor's anti-cavitation plate.   These things are well worth having anyway, since they help keep the bow down when motoring, yielding gas savings, better visibility ahead and greater speed (we are told).    Here is a source for them:

As of this writing (April 2006) the one for smaller outboards is $59.

Second, you need us to provide a short rudder head and a stainless-steel square U-bolt.   $29 plus shipping.

Third you drill a couple of holes in your stabilizer plate and bolt the short rudder head to it with the square u-bolt.   Done!   Now you can steer with your outboard when sailing (with the outboard not running).  And you can swing the rudder out of the water for motoring.

Fourth (optional) attach a rope to the blade to help you pull it up.


Both motor and rudder are in full up position for transporting.

(We'll provide big pictures if you order the product)

(Current rudder blade looks different, but idea is the same).

Rudder is in full down position relative to motor.   Motor is tipped up so rudder doesn't hit floor of the garage, but if motor were tipped down, this would be sailing position.
Closeup shows how rudder head is attached to stabilizer plate by u-bolt.  

Motor is down for motoring and rudder is up out of the water.  Rope makes sure it stays up.



Here is Eugene's narrative:

"The maiden voyage with my 2004 Sea Eagle 9.2 SR inflatable sport boat, your Sailboats To Go rig, and your rudder attached to my Mercury 9.9 outboard motors stabilizer fin was a resounding success! Everything worked perfectly and I had no vibration problems with the rudder up while motoring along at 18 MPH. No other additions or modifications need to be done. It works perfectly as shown in the pictures I emailed you.

The stress on the rudder under full motor power was very light with no danger of cracking the plastic or bending the hardware. The plastic nuts did not vibrate loose and a top bracket to further steady the rudder while in the up position is not needed.

I trailered the boat inflated with everything attached from my campsite in Harbor Beach, MI to the boat launch (4/10 of a mile) and slipped the boat into mighty Lake Huron. The sail was down, leeboards up, motor down, and rudder up as shown in the previous pictures I sent you. Once we got out of the very shallow harbor (where no regular sailboat could go) I full throttled the engine and quickly got up on plane. My GPS read 18 MPH with my wife and I on board. I motored about a mile out from shore and cut the motor. I then tilted the motor full up so I could reach the rudder and loosened the plastic handled nut and pushed the rudder to the full down position and put the motor back in the water. The wife lowered the leeboards and I raised the sail and the boat took off under sail. Getting the boat to steer exactly where we wanted to go was effortless. I set the steering drag on the motor to hold the rudder where I wanted it and tied the sail to a fixed position and sat back and enjoyed the ride. The boat tracked dead straight moving at a 90 degree angle to the wind. The wind was light but moving us well.

We sailed north (with the wind in from the east) for 5 miles to our favorite restaurant. Once we got close I dropped the sail, raised the rudder and leeboards, and motored in to the restaurants dock. After dinner we motored out and sailed back to camp. Half a mile from the camps dock we went back to the motor and drove her right back on the trailer and returned to camp. Lots of other campers came up to look at the rig and asked us questions for over an hour. Some were concerned about taking such a small boat on a Great Lake but I assured them it was very stable and much safer than an aluminum boat. I also mentioned that with the motor pushing it along at 18 MPH you can get to shore and out of trouble quickly. I expect you will be getting a few more big water buyers now that they can have a motor backup...

Thanks again for all your help. The sail rig is great fun on the big water. Unfortunately the wife got sea sick on mighty Lake Huron. She still loved it and wants to go back out next weekend. This time she will bring the Dramamine. She will have her sea legs before you know it!

...I'm impressed with the quality and versatility of your kit. You obviously put a lot of R&D in it."

-- Eugene S., Michigan

Do It Yourself Option

Here's a fixed motor rudder devised by another sailor (you would have to make your own). He sails his inflatable in Japanese waters and reports his rudder works fine and doesn't upset the handling when motoring:

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(978) 263-7598  (Direct Line to Owner & Manager Jim Luckett)
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