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by Paul Moffitt - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - USA

I built a new boat in the spring of 2012 in about three months. It was a project of love that sort of sprang from nothing. The previous spring I had just finished building a Piccup which I think is Jim Michalak’s most popular design.  I will save the particulars of the Paulsboat and its genesis for another article. In short, it is a sailing canoe with a Yawl rig.  You can see that the mizzen is inboard of the rudder. The rudder has horns that are attached to ropes that are in turn attached to pedals for steering.

When I started thinking about this project and how the steering would work all I knew was that it would take a lot of trial and error. I started looking for how built pedal steering solutions. I also sent out emails to friends of mine who might know of a solution. Low and behold Chuck the Duck got back to me and said he had it all taken care of! When I was ready to rig the boat and start and figuring out the steering he sent me these foot braces!

Those little flag thing sticking out the bottom lock the foot braces at different distances from the seated occupant. Well, I didn’t need that feature. I wanted the foot braces to move back and forth. Though I had not tested the boat yet but needed to attach them to the boat somehow so that I could move them later as I fine tuned the balance of the boat. They come with these mounting studs:

My father, Bill Moffitt, had the bright idea of using Titebond III glue and fiberglass tape to attach the studs to the boat as temporary method. It actually worked really well. I have never used the tape and glue method before but had read about it on various forums and it really isn’t that bad. It obviously is not nearly as strong and using epoxy but that is the point sometimes.

I mounted the braces as best as I could given where I thought my weight would be and what would be comfy.

Then I went to the Eastern Messabout at Elk Neck State Park for some test sailing and the maiden voyage.  I had to make a couple of adjustments to the rudder but the steering and foot pedals could not have worked better. The place where the red rod/flags used to run I used to run the rope through. It is a basic push-push system. Push the pedal on the side to which you want to turn. The first 30 minutes was disorientating but after some practice it came naturally.  I came away from that weekend with three things I wanted to change.

First, I wanted to make it a push-pull system.  Second, I wanted to move the foot pedal assembly forward. And third, I found that pushing on foot pedals all day makes the seat you sit in move backwards so I wanted to attach the stadium chair I was using to the boat as well.  I ordered some more studs from Chuck.

Moving the pedals forward was easy. I cut away and sanded the tape off and the glue didn’t really stick to the stainless steel so I was able to reuse the stud mounts.

The new stud mounts I got I used to mount my K-mart stadium chair to the bottom of the boat. This kept me from sliding away from my pedals and also gave me some extra back support. You can see them in the picture above. Also I don’t know if you can tell by the finish of the epoxy with filler is glass smooth. I used wax paper over the un-cured epoxy.

Here you see 8 studs. The four on the bottom are for the seat and the four on the bilge panels are for the pedals.

Here you can see how the ropes get attached and how I installed pulleys on the forward bulkhead so the system becomes push as well as pull.

Here you can see how the rope comes through some fairleads to the horns on the rudder. I ended up moving the attachment points closer to the center of the rudder in order to give my self a sharper turning radius.

All in all I think this was a very successful use of the pedal's I got from Duckworks. The money spent on them is well worth it for your project considering how much time it saves compared to manufacturing something yourself.

And here you can see me sailing in the OBX. This picture was taken by George Broadlick the day after I had a capsize.  But that is a different story.

Thanks for reading along, and as always I can be reached with questions at

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