I'm glad your trip is progressing and you are getting closer. My question on the rudder material was to get an idea of what I might run into when I removed all the paint on our bottom. We are done with that part of the project and found the rudder to be fiberglass and probably foam.
This project was and is the most dirty, toxic and roughest piece of work I have ever done. I will not do this again to any boat I own. We have the boat down to the bare hull now and Latitude Marine will sandblast the keel, zinc primer spray it, apply two sprayed coats of epoxy barrier coat and spray on two coats of bottom paint. The epoxy and bottom paint both get appled in 8 mil layers so our hull should be in fine shape for many years.
The hardest layer to remove on our boat was a red layer that must have been some kind of epoxy because it resisted almost everything we did to get it off. 80 grit did nothing, 60 grit barely scratched it, 36 grit was painfully slow. It came down tomusing my Makita buffer/grinder and 16 grit to get it off. Hand scraping was next then sanding with 40 grit to get final removal.
Full tyvek/hazmat suits, hoods with forced air and gloves was the only way to do this and survive the toxic dust. 7 layers were removed and probably 4 to 5 contractor wheelbarrows full of heavy paint dust.
There is a Willard 30 in the yard there drying out its hull because of the number of Blisters prevalent. It has been there about a year and hopefully will get healed up and back in the water again. Nice looking boat named Tortuga.
Here is a link to a web album with photos documenting the various stages of removal for anyone curious about what we did.
Not sure why the # sign did not get hyper linked but it is part of the address.