How to Replace Broken Hobie Island Rudder Pin while out on the water is not that hard to do at all. In the rear hatch should be at least 2 spare rudder pins. These pins are held in place by steel rings and are easy to remove. It is important that you check that you have at least 2 spare rudder pins onboard before you go sailing at all times. They are easy to break if the wrong type of force is applied to the Hobie Island Rudder System.
Before we get into thew how to guide it is important to understand how they break and why they break. They are designed to be weaker than the parts that hold the rudder system together with the idea being that the pin breaks before any other component which would be much harder to replace on the water. The 2 main causes of breakage are hitting an underwater object with the rudder locked down and using too much force to keep the boat steering in a straight line in strong breezes.
In 6 or 7 years I have owned Hobie Islands, I have never broken a rudder pin on the water myself. I have broken a pin when I left the rudder down in shallow water and tried to push the boat backwards but apart from that I have broken steering handles before the pin has broken. It simply comes down to being gentle on the steering and de-powering the Hobie Island in strong winds.
When the power of the wind is transferred to the hull of a boat it exerts a force. If there is too much force the boat will try to sail into the wind and you have to counter act the effect with the rudder. We call this weather helm, if there is too little force applied to the hull, the Island will tend to want to sail away from the wind, this is called lee Helm. In the case of weather helm, you will be using the rudder to keep the Island sailing straight and this is when you can break the rudder pin. Always de-power the sail by rolling it in one full turn at a time till the boat is comfortable. More sail does not mean more speed.
So now we understand why they break we need to know that it is very easy to fix the broken rudder pin out on the water. The easiest way is to lift yourself out of the seat, turn yourself around so you have the rear of the Hobie Island and straddle the hull with your feet in the water.
Before we go any further, you may need to loosen up the rudder steering and control lines as they may be too tight to allow you to line the rudder up when replacing the pin. On my last replacement, I did not need to loosen mine off but if you do, follow this guide.
If you open the rear hatch, and place your hand inside the hatch and to one side, you will feel a plastic hook with tubes running through it. These are the rudder control lines and you can simply unclip them and let them fall down. They are on both sides of the hatch and you need to release both sides. When you do this you will be creating slack in the lines which will make the Hobie Island Rudder Replacement much easier.
You can then open the hatch and remove one of the spare rudder pins. Close and lock the hatch shut so you don’t allow more water into the hull. Shift yourself further to the rear of the Island and grab the rudder which will be sloppy and floating around, there will be a number of small steering lines here, simply push them aside for now. insert the new rudder pin into the top hole whilst lining the rudder up with the Gudgeon (the black plastic part attached to the Island). Once it is lined up, push the rudder pin all the way through making sure it is penetrating the bottom of the rudder. You do not need to install the wire spring clip at the bottom of the pin. The next job is to move the rudder control and steering lines into the groove on the top of the rudder pin. finally if you released the rudder control lines from the side of the hatch, put them back into their correct place as you will have too much slack in the steering lines. Close the hatch and resume sailing.
Keep in mind that in over 6 years of sailing Hobie Islands, I have never broken a rudder pin while sailing. If you are breaking them then you are probably being too hard and fast on the steering, de-power the Island and it will sail better.
The rudder pins themselves do wear out and I would suggest you change them every 12 months.