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Old 03-08-2017, 07:48 PM   #1
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Rudder position indicator?

I've heard different comments about the value of a rudder position indicator.

I don't have one, so I'm clueless.

How valuable are they?

Can I assume they would be simple to install and relatively inexpensive?
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Old 03-08-2017, 07:56 PM   #2
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Worth every penny.
Most auto pilots have them built in.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:03 PM   #3
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Right, typically a required part of an auto pilot, and the AP displays all show rudder position.

I find them really useful for docking where you might otherwise lose track of where you have the rudder positioned.

If you decide to install one, you might want to think ahead to a possible AP, and install a compatible rudder indicator.

Installation can be a bit tricky. The rudder arm and the rudder sensor arm need to be parallel and move in unison. You might find that fabrication is needed to mount the rudder indicator in the correct location. Or you might get lucky and already have a spot. And the rod that couples the sensor with the rudder arm needs to be attached to the arm. That typically involves drilling and tapping for a little ball post.

You can pick your favorite AP vendor, download their installation manual, and read the part on installing the rudder sensor to get a good idea what's involved.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:39 PM   #4
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+1 for usefulness. My wheel is 7.5 turns lock to lock. When maneuvering I'd have little hope of quickly knowing where it was without the rudder indicator.

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Old 03-08-2017, 08:40 PM   #5
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On smaller boats like ours, and particularly "directed thrust" boats (outdrives/outboards), I do not find them useful. We are continually moving the drive(s) to do what we need, so it's easy to keep up with what's going on. The pace of manuvering is quick.

On boats such as what the other gentlemen have and larger, I do find rudder indicators very useful. As LOA increases there is often a bit more task saturation, and the pace of manuevering is slower. You might be getting distance reports from someone on the bow and stern, dealing with a pilot or radio call, watching the set/drift, and looking at traffic, while managing multiple screws and thrusters. A quick glance at the angle indicator to confirm your rudder (thruster/pod/etc.) position is useful.

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Old 03-08-2017, 08:41 PM   #6
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A rudder angle indicator can be had for $50 and comes with gauge and sensor. A rudder position sensor typical for an autopilot application will cost $200+ just for the sensor. The former will work just fine. The latter will be of much better quality but overkill for a non-autopilot application.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:47 PM   #7
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I love my rudder position indicator. I find it's most useful when doing tight maneuvers around the dock.

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Old 03-08-2017, 08:55 PM   #8
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Mine is in the auto pilot. Use it a lot and love it.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:19 PM   #9
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I usta want one.

I have hydraulic steering so black tape on the right place on the helm is useless.
I have a three turns systen. At some point it occured to me that if I turned the helm all the way over either way and then instantly back 1.5 turns the rudder will be dead ahead. That's what I do when I want to back straight up or go straight ahead. And in a flash I can adjust for any rudder position.

The above works for me w 3 turns L to L but goes south fast w slower steering systems. And on a following sea when the sea grabs my stern (like the T grabs the P (couldn't resist)) and pushes me toward a broach just a half a turn at the helm and a serious jab at the throttle will get me smartly out of just about anything. And all the while my attention is not taken from my boat and the water.

Works for me. But still there are times I'd like a rudder pos indicator.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Willy View Post
I usta want one.

I have hydraulic steering so black tape on the right place on the helm is useless.
I have a three turns systen. At some point it occured to me that if I turned the helm all the way over either way and then instantly back 1.5 turns the rudder will be dead ahead. That's what I do when I want to back straight up or go straight ahead. And in a flash I can adjust for any rudder position.

The above works for me w 3 turns L to L but goes south fast w slower steering systems. And on a following sea when the sea grabs my stern (like the T grabs the P (couldn't resist)) and pushes me toward a broach just a half a turn at the helm and a serious jab at the throttle will get me smartly out of just about anything. And all the while my attention is not taken from my boat and the water.

Works for me. But still there are times I'd like a rudder pos indicator.
Yes, with 3 turns I can see that working just fine. But with 7 to 10 turns, it's a lot harder.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:29 PM   #11
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Useful for docking, especially when it gets busy. Easy to accidentally leave some lock, and start wondering why the boat is doing something odd.
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Old 03-08-2017, 10:20 PM   #12
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When I park my car I always leave the wheels dead ahead. No surprises when I back up in a hurry.
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Old 03-08-2017, 10:40 PM   #13
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Mine is in my autopilot and there is sort of one at the docking station. With 7 turns lock to lock, I couldn't imagine being without it. Most of my tight maneuvering is done with the AP jog buttons, so the angle indicator is essential.

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Old 03-08-2017, 11:54 PM   #14
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Our Simrad autopilot (AP28) is connected to our Simrad NSE12 MFD which allows the rudder indication to appear at the top of the screen, making it far more useable than having to look down at the AP.

It is invaluable for docking maneuvering, both approaching and departing. ith 6-7 turns lock to lock, there is no time for wheel spinning to determine rudder location.

An added benefit, which has proven itself on more than one occasion, is to check on the system functionality before leaving the dock.

By spinning the wheel before departure, the movement of the rudder indicator tells you if the rudder is actually moving when the wheel is turned.
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Old 03-09-2017, 01:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seevee View Post
I've heard different comments about the value of a rudder position indicator.



I don't have one, so I'm clueless.



How valuable are they?



Can I assume they would be simple to install and relatively inexpensive?


I use it all the time. Since I have a hydraulic steering system I can't tell rudder position by wheel position as I could with the cable steering of my sailboats.

Mine is an indication on my autopilot display and I also have a digital indicator on the data bar of my chart plotter.
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Old 03-09-2017, 02:14 AM   #16
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I join the crowd that finds the rudder position indicator very useful. When pulling out of a slip it is invaluable, also when lifting anchor in a tight anchorage. At sea a piece of tape on the wheel will work well as there is little reason for major wheel turns.
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Old 03-09-2017, 06:48 AM   #17
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I have one as part of my autopilot, but I never use it. If I am maneuvering in tight quarters I don't have time to look at a display I pay attention to my surroundings instead.
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Old 03-09-2017, 06:52 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Willy View Post
When I park my car I always leave the wheels dead ahead. No surprises when I back up in a hurry.
You are supposed to turn them towards the curb if you park on a hill so if the brake fails your car won't run down the hill. It's in the book.

I thought I needed a rudder position indicator when I first got my boat. Turns out, I don't. Turn the wheel all the way to one side, back three turns and it's straight ahead. That's for when I'm stopped. When moving, I just turn the wheel to make the boat go the direction I want it to go. I don't need to know the position of the rudder,
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:27 AM   #19
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With single screw and 6.5 turns lock to lock, the rudder indicator on the AP gets looked at all the time. Docking especially, but even making a turn. Go to 5deg, wait for turn to start, then to about 2deg and let turn finish, then to neg 5deg to stop turn, then back to zero.

If no display on AP, an electric gauge kit is available that is modest cost.

When running a boat with twins, or with fast steering, I don't really need it. With twins I usually leave rudders centered when docking unless needing to crab. The display is still handy but not as handy as on a single.
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:36 AM   #20
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Wow,

A lot of good opinions, and seems like the bulk of folks favor having one.

Seems like there's a few fairly inexpensive ones out there that are worth considering (in the few hundred range). Anyone buy one, without the need for an autopilot? Install issues and satisfaction?

I'm not planning for an autopilot for my small boat, but a rudder indicator could be in the cards.

I must say, there's certainly been a few times when I wish I knew where it was, especially docking. And there certainly isn't the time to swing the wheel and count turns.
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