| MANUAL FOR MARINER KAYAKS WITH RUDDERS
General tips and cautions:
The Feathercraft Surf Rudder:
Do not over tighten the shock cord tensioner on the loop of nylon cord used for raising and lowering the blade. Leave a little slack in the cord to let it slide around the tensioner more easily. Remember this is just the opposite with the "Big Wheel".When lifting or lowering the rudder pull forward on the rearmost of the two grabknots. The rudder blade is harder to lift from the water initially and then can suddenly come swinging around over the top to land on the back deck with a loud bang. Although we try to mount the rudder on Mariner kayaks so that the blade will not touch the back deck when at rest, it might still hit the back deck if swung hard enough when misaligned with the holder. To prevent this hold the second cord loosely so you can catch its grabknot to arrest the blade's momentum once it is over the top. From there it is a simple matter to pull easily on the knot while applying friction to the other cord to lower the blade into place. Make sure your rudder pedals are even so that the blade will come to rest in the holder. Learn to raise the blade without looking back over your shoulder. Looking back is an awkward and unstable position. Worse yet with one hand pulling the lifting cord your paddle is not instantly available for bracing.
The nylon cord will shrink the first few times it gets wet and dries. We expect this to happen and allow for it in advance. Do not change the cord length (or move the cord tensioner's attachment point) until this shrinkage has had a chance to occur.
On Mariner kayaks we add a jam cleat on the deck near the grabknots. This jam cleat is not necessary in everyday paddling but allows you to fix the rudder in the up or down position when that is desirable. The rudder should be fixed into the up position whenever you are entering or exiting though surf (no matter how small). The Feathercraft rudder is among the strongest available but the blade could be bent or broken if it is down when the kayak broaches sideways in surf or it hits the beach. If you are planning to play in the surf it is best to remove the rudder altogether (although many paddlers just duct tape it in the up position). We also suggest cleating the rudder in the up position when transporting the kayak by car. If you are shipping the kayak it is best to remove the rudder from the stern of the kayak. Simply unscrew the rudder hold down located just in front of the rudder, detach the cable connectors, and lift out the rudder assembly.
Although we do not recommend rudders we want our customers who choose to put up with them to have the most trouble free kayak we can provide. Fraying and breaking of the rudder cable is a common problem with most rudders. Cable breakage is most likely near the point of attachment to the rudder since this is where the cable flexes the most. We have taken several steps to minimize this problem on your Mariner kayak. An attachment that is free to pivot minimizes the work hardening of the cable strands that eventually results in cable failure. Rudders are most likely to fail at a critical time, such as during a rough crossing when they are under greater than normal stress. We want to give our customers every edge. Our system is not perfect so it is prudent to inspect the rudder system often and fix any problem immediately before it progresses far enough to cause rudder failure.
Sliding Seat Conversion
To allow the sliding seat/footbrace unit to move to the rear loosen the tether cord that holds the seat from moving back. With the rudder system the tether around the back of the seat holds the seat from sliding to the rear when you are pushing on the rudder pedals. A slip knot on either side of the cockpit can be loosened and retied to adjust the seat position or the trim of the kayak. The seat is free to slide forward without loosening the tether adjustment. Simply pull or push it forward from near the bottom center of the seat. Pushing the seat forward makes loading the back of a kayak (without a rear bulkhead) a breeze.
Tilt the kayak (not yourself) toward the outside of the turn by gripping the deck under the coaming with the knee. Most novice kayakers get this wrong and try to lean into the turn. Leaning into the turn can speed the turn up slightly, but with most kayaks this turn isn't nearly as quick as tilting the kayak to the outside of the turn. We have purposely enhanced the lean to turn ability of our kayaks so it would be a shame to cripple your turning speed to use a rudder. For example, when moving at cruising speed, it takes me a minimum of ten seconds to turn a Mariner XL 180 degrees (if I tilt the kayak strongly to the outside of the turn and use only forward sweep strokes to the outside). It takes me twenty two seconds without leaning the Mariner XL but otherwise using the same technique (see the Paddling Guide for times of our other kayaks). Combining wide sweep strokes with a strong tilt is the quickest way to turn most kayaks. With the cables crossed a rudder won't slow a turn down much if at all. With standard rudder cables that aren't crossed it is not easy or secure to tilt the kayak much this way.
Here is how to practice. At first just lean a little unless you want to risk getting wet. As your bracing skills increase (and once you have learned the point where your kayak capsizes) increase the amount of lean. Tilt the kayak with your knee, but try to keep your center of gravity above the kayak by bending at the waist so your body remains vertical. Mariner kayaks stand above the crowd in how far they can tip before capsizing so once you've learned this technique with be careful when trying it in other companies kayaks.
One further tip: after making a sweep stroke you can securely maintain the kayak's tilt even while bringing the paddle blade forward for the next sweep stroke. At the end of the sweep stroke lift your elbow up and forward to bring your forearm nearly vertical. This is the low brace position. Swing the blade forward for the next sweep stroke by just skimming the water's surface in the low brace position. If you maintain the lean between strokes our kayaks will keep turning as long as they have forward speed without using any additional paddling effort.
Another situation where crossed rudder cables have a big advantage is in steep following seas. In this situation when you start to surf the tendency is for the kayak to broach sideways. Although the broaching tendency of Mariner models is far less than other kayaks on the market, it can still happen. Mariner kayak's broach with a slow "carved turn" not the more typical wild sideways skid. Crossed rudder cables can allow you to lift the down wave knee to hold the kayak level or leaned into the wave and simultaneously angle the rudder. This way when the rudder returns to the water it can help return the kayak to its course.
If you try this with a standard rudder your downwave knee is pushing the pedal forward and is not in a position to grip under the deck to hold the kayak level. When the rudder renters the water it can trip the kayak. This may result in a capsize because the knee is not available to counteract the tripping force. This is especially true if your kayak is skidding to the side like many (non-Mariner) kayaks do while their rudders are hanging over the back of a steep wave flailing helplessly in the air. Is it any wonder most kayakers panic when they feel their kayaks start to surf? Instead of taking advantage of the increased speed potential and the fun of a fast ride they must slow down for fear they might be involuntarily surfed and broached again.
Carrying the Rudder End of Your Mariner
1992 & 1998