Rudder/Motor Steering System
designed by Arlyn Stewart

Select this link to see my modified final design.

Although most people like to sail their sailboats, there comes a time when using an outboard motor is a welcomed accessory. When the wind dies and the bass boats are playing chicken with you or when you are trying to get your boat to the ramp and the SEA-DOOs are using you for a racing buoy, it would be nice to have a little extra help from your "iron" sail.

Although some sailboats are designed with an outboard in mind, most are not. If a sailboat is designed to mount the motor in front of the rudder, then steering with the tiller is a lot easier since the rudder is behind the propeller. But with most sailboats, the motor is an added accessory which is mounted either to the right or the left of the rudder on the transom (either directly or with a motor mount). The engine is parallel to the rudder.

When trying to steer the boat when under power, the helmsman has one of three options.

The best of all worlds is to turn the motor and the rudder together with one hand on the tiller. There are kits available to do this, but Arlyn Stewart designed the following method. His option was to install a soft link (cords) instead of a hard link (rods).

Here is how he did it:

  1. Install an eye strap on the aft of your rudder.
  2. Install a line from the aft corner of the motor to the rudder by using a sister clip that cleats to the eye strap on the rudder and is adjusted so that the motor and rudder are in line.
  3. And finally, positive load the motor with a bungee cord from the other aft corner of the motor to the transom quarter, a stanchion base or stern pulpit.

That's it. The positive load is not enough to torque the rudder much and it makes it very easy to install and setup.

Simply hook sister clip to the rudder when you desire it to be used and let it dangle the rest of the time. The positive load also keeps your motor parked to one side when its not in use. Raising or lowering the motor is not affected when the sister clip is not connected.

Why did he do it? Here is what Arlyn said, "When loading my boat onto the trailer, I often have to deal with a cross wind. The high freeboard makes it very difficult to motor directly onto the trailer. (no courtesy docks) So, I motor into the wind slowly and make a hard turn onto the trailer at the last moment. This requires more turn than the rudder at such slow speeds could alone provide as well as the fact that the center board is raised. It also requires that I have excellent visibility to watch the trailer. It will also help greatly with docking as the stern can be pulled to the dock or the bow pushed to the dock after making one line fast. It will keep the prop off the rudder. This is a very simply and cheap method that I have used for three years with no surprises."

A great idea that I plan to try on the "Widget".

If you want another idea, the following are pictures of how a Hunter Owner uses a solid rod: