Monday, August 14, 2017

Pace 18 Rudder Repair

A few months ago I bought a used Tiderace Pace 18, model year 2012. It's a brilliant boat - though long, it edges well, and I hardly ever need the rudder, but it's been nice to have when I do need it.

Unfortunately, while the boat and mechanicals are in overall great shape, after a couple months of use, I found myself unable to retract the rudder from the cockpit. This had been working just fine, and is normally done by pulling on a rope with a toggle on it.

A jam cleat holds the rope in place when the rudder is up, and gravity takes care of deploying it when I need it down. To bring it up, I just pull the rope, and the SmartTrack rudder system comes right up. Everything was fine, until it wasn't.

It took a couple of examinations to determine the problem, and ultimately it's easier to show before I try to explain.

This is what a good rudder assembly is supposed to look like. Note the arched piece at the top.

Good Rudder.

This is what mine looked like. In fact, you can't see from this angle, but it looked more like two offset half-arches. In this photo, you can make out a white fracture line where the plastic was already starting to bend.

Bad Rudder.

Before we get into the assembly/disassembly process though, there was a minor detour in getting the right part. Essentially, you can't buy just that little arched piece. You don't have to buy an entire ne rudder kit (nearly $200), but you do have to by the control sub-assembly.

When I first ordered it, I said it was a Tiderace Pace with a SmartTrack rudder system. My friendly regional kayak parts supplier  (Tom) sent me a replacement - and only after taking it apart did I notice that the Pace uses a "compact" sub-assembly, and by default I'd gotten the "original". 

They're kind enough to print it right on the tin, so to speak.

Compact vs. Original

I thought I might make it work, but even the mounting bracket is a different size - off just enough that you can't mix and match.

Thankfully, Tom was able to find the correct part and send it to me. We managed to overlap each other's efforts to - at one point I wrote SmartTrack asking about the right part, and had some correspondence that went something like this (I'm paraphrasing).

Kayak Cowgirl: Hey there, I'm looking for the correct rudder assembly a 2012 Tiderace Pace 18. I asked my friendly region kayak parts guy to help me out, but thought I'd ask around as well.

SmartTrack: Oh yeah, Tom contacted us already and we shipped it to him. 

Sure enough, the right part arrived a day or two later, not to mention an earlier email from Tom.

I'd been dreading taking this apart, because the mechanical complexity of rudders kinda scares me. However, replacing the part pretty easy. First, since I'd taken it apart previously, when I had the wrong part, I already knew what to do. Second, even that first time, since the control cables and pedals were fine, all I really had to do was detach the control cables from the sub-assembly, and change the foil from one to the other.

The cables are kept on with a simple pin and cotter pin arrangement. The pin goes through the wings of the sub-assembly and a round attach point on the cable, and the cotter pin holds it in place.

Controls Assembled.

To take them apart, you have to carefully (very carefully, if you're working over a plank-decked floor directly over water) take the cotter pin off like a key ring, then pull the pin loose.

Once you do that, removing the sub-assembly is as easy as pulling out the long vertical pin, which you can make out in the first pictures.

I also had to move the foil - my only replacement part was the sub-assembly that the rudder foil sits in. That was pretty easy. Another, larger cotter pin holds in place an adjustment knob that fastens on the opposite side, sandwiching the arm of the sub-assembly.

It's pretty neat. It turns out the spring is adjustable. With the adjustment knob on, you can tighten the coiled spring pictured below, to add a little pop to your deployment.

Ultimately, the hardest part of this whole process was threading the deployment cord through the new part. You can see above that the end of the cord gets tucked in a hole, tied off in a wee knot. To thread it, I had to undo the knot, and that took some pliers and an f-tonne of patience. I have a marlinspike knife, but doubt even that could have gotten in to such a tiny knot.

Annnnnnd . .. that was that. Once I threaded the deployment cord, I tied a new knot and threaded it into the foil. The blad was mounted, the sub-assembly was mounted, I put back the control pins, and tested a couple of deploy/retracts from the cockpit. Perfect. Like butter.

I can't want to paddle the Pace again. I've been favoring the Gemini, which is better for teaching, but I've got some journeys planned that will definitely be Pace-perfect.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Baretto Point August 2017

It was another week of watching the weather: would it hold? Would we have our window?

Predictions of one system after another came and went. Eventually, Saturday looked like a day of officially a chance of thunderstorms, but unlikely. My confidence was bolstered by my fellow kayak blogger at Wind Against Current telling me about a trip she was considering.

The day would be muggy and overcast, but we were a go! I took four other members of my local paddling club, mascot "Turtles" out to Baretto Point, in the Bronx.

If you don't know the area, basically our club is located on the Hudson river in Inwood, the northernmost part of Manhattan, New York City. we would go down the Harlem river, cut through a narrow creek separating Randalls Island from the Bronx, and paddle a couple of miles past the Brother islands to land at a small beach.

My Companions - fellow Turtles KW, IC, VT, and GH - all picked their boats, kitted out, and after a short briefing, we were on our way.

We paddled against a little current on the Hudson, finally getting some assistance once in the Harlem.

Paddling the old "Spuyten Duyvil Creek".

VT reflecting a perfect pose in an Avocet.

Proceeding towards High Bridge.

By now, the Harlem is pretty familiar. Please, read the rest of my blog to see how much. It's a narrow canal about seven miles long, with a lot of bridges. Most of the bridges passed under on a circumnavigation of Manhattan are on the Harlem river.

On our way down, we saw a small boat crossing the river back and forth. As we approached, we feared the worst - but it turned out to be a surveyor ship! Just taking measurements.

Proceeding down the Harlem.

After arriving at the Bronx Kill, we encountered our first set of challenges. Seems I was a little aggressive on timing the tides for this trip, so se soon ran aground in mud. I hopped out of my boat and was able to drag my fellow turtles to deeper channels, but in short order we encountered a more robust obstacle.

About a third of the way into the kill is a narrowing of the passage that forms some nice moving water features at certain tidal cycles. Now, though, it was too low to paddle - and too rocky to drag. We all got out and lifted boats over rocks.

Our second portage.

Very low water.

That wasn't so terrible, but I began to worry about the end of the kill. The first time I came out here, we'd come to a drop where the creek dried up. Sure enough, we had one more portage ahead of us. At the small pedestrian bridge connecting the Bronx to Randalls Island, we hopped out and had to carry the boats the farthest distance yet - about twenty yards to water we sort of walk-paddled over.

KW saw a small crab scurry away. We'd disturbed his little spot!
Our third portage.

A familiar portage.

Well, that chore done, we gathered up at the end of the kill and faced our next challenge - crossing water between us and North Brother Island. There was no traffic, nothing on radio or visually, so crossing was straightforward - we attained with current, then ferried over towards the old power plant.

Onward past North Brother Island.

North Brother Island.

The old ferry terminal.

Passing a marker.

We proceeded clockwise with the current, until we were in a good spot to cross to Baretto Point. Our goal was just to the east of a barge that held a swimming pool, and we aimed for the barge - apparently named "The Floating Pool Lady".

The Floating Pool Lady

We got a lot of friendly waves from the lifeguards and swimmers, until we tried to land. Suddenly the lifeguards were yelling at us, saying there was diesel on the rocks, it was slippery, we couldn't land there.

That's new. And weird. But, not implausible. Fortunately, I'd spied another little beach-like feature a little further down - a pebble beach below the high tide line. At the low tide we were at, we had a decent-sized spot for lunch.

Narrow Beach.

I knew the tide would be coming in while we were lunching, so I had everyone move their boats up to the highest point short of climbing rocks. It was a good thing, too. In the photo above, we'd been there about half an hour - an when we landed we'd had another eight feet or so of shoreline.

The wreck.

There were lots of interesting things on this beach - including half of this car, missing its drivetrain. I had to wonder, where was the other half? All the big pieces must have been pulled before it became a beach relic.

We also had a good view of the Manhattan skyline, an the bridges and islands between us and our home island. We watched as thicker clouds rolled in from the south - a portent of the humidity we'd feel on the way back. It got breezy enough that a couple of Turtles put on jackets.

Watch the clouds roll by . . .

Time for group photos!


Turtles and K.C.

As the tide rose and we approached our return launch time, we got in our boats and hit the water. The current was a bit against us, but not for long. We paddled hard past the southern end of North Brother island, where I checked on a familiar landmark: a TV an chair on the water's edge.

A familiar sight.

We came back towards the Bronx Kill.

Back into the Bronx Kill.

We saw something in the water that we hadn't seen earlier. It wasn't moving with the current, so something held it in place. It was near our former surveyor-friend's work area . . .but also near some construction. Perhaps it was some detritus that came loose and caught something beneath.

Not moving .  .  .not her earlier.

Sharing the waterways.

There was little traffic the entire day, but not entirely devoid of traffic. The Manhattan II, and a Circle Line boat near the end, were the only commercial vessels we encountered. Several pleasureboats, and from our lunch spot we saw a barge. Otherwise. . . not much.

Passing Yankee Stadium.

We didn't hear any ball-playing.

We made our way back up the Harlem.

Rounding back up the Harlem.

We were friendly to the passers-by.

VT had an evening date, and we realized she'd be set behind schedule if she went all the way back to the boathouse. Fortunately, she lives at 218th street, so we dropped her off at the Columbia dock in the Harlem, and I towed her boat the remaining mile or two home.

The Henry Hudson Bridge.

We saw some boys jumping off the cliffs in the Bronx into the river. This is a time-honored tradition, somewhat famous from early Leonardo Dicaprio film, "The Basketball Diaries", as well as a documentary here and  NY Times article there. This was the first time I saw it live, though.

Keep in mind, these kids have to cross railroad tracks and then climb this cliff. It's not for the faint of heart! We heard taunting from across the river.

Boys dare-jumping.

So much culture. . .

So apparently, there's a vessel called "Naval War College", and whoever was piloting it that day referred to the Spuyten Duyvin bridge as "railroad swing bridge".

The Spuyten Duyvil Station.

Onwards towards the Palisades, we passed the Spuyten Duyvil bridge and felt a welcome wind on the Hudson. Most of the Harlem had been muggy and stuffy; the breeze freshened us up.

Approaching the Palisades.

In short order, we arrived back at our boathouse. We unpacked, cleaned up, and made our goodbyes. Of course we'll nearly all be back the next day to volunteer with our club's public program! But all the same, it was a good trip, at just under 18 nm roundtrip. Good on my fellow paddlers - all women - for making it out that day.