Designing & Building the Rudder and Motor Bracket
by Captain James R. Watson
Above: The plywood sharpie is the latest in a long line of boats that Captain James R. Watson has built over his lifetime. Here he is at age 12 with a plywood dinghy he built himself.
Building the rudder
The sharpie’s main reason for existence for over a hundred years is its fine operation in shallow water. However, the conventional sharpie rudder is notorious for causing squirrelly steering, often becoming totally ineffective when the craft heels more than 20°. Most sharpie sailors simply accept the handling aggravations of the conventional rudder in trade for its wonderful steering ability in the shallows. I decided to resolve the traditional faults in steering by installing a special rudder and steering system that has evolved and is used on some contemporary boats. This system will yield maximum control over a wide range of wind and sea conditions while retaining the sharpie’s shallow water virtues. Continue reading