It is interesting that in their design of the Quest, rather than using an in-house version, Hobie chose to go with an independent rudder design, that of the Navigator Rudder System by Global Outfitters. This rudder has been around for about three years now. See the review in the Dec. 2002 issue of SeaKayaker Magazine:
My local dealer, The Wilderness Way, here in Tallahassee just happened to have a factory-rigged Quest on the floor with this optional rudder installed. If you were to buy the basic rudder independently and install it yourself, the cost for the Navigator is about $125. The identical Hobie Quest version goes for about $150, and that includes the factory installation.
1. The “traditional” kayak rudder design (other than the Hobies) is the “over-the-stern” type with a blade that rotates 270 degrees from vertical, up to horizontal, and then flips up and over to stow on deck, as in the Wilderness Systems' Tarpon 140. In the background of this pic you can see the Quest Navigator rudder.
2. The Quest/Navigator rudder, on the other hand, moves in only a 90 degree arc, and is manually pulled forward directly up on deck by means of a long rudder retraction line that extends forward to in front of the seat. This pic shows the Navigator rudder in the normal underway, down position.
3. Here the rudder has been retracted almost completely to the stowed position on deck. As the Sea Kayaker review states, the rudder sort of “slithers” up on deck as it goes thru its 90 degree rotation from full vertical to full horizontal.
4. This a view of the top of the rudder in the down, underway position. Note the slack black cord or line towards the top of the pic. This is the rudder retraction line that is used to raise and lower the rudder. I labeled it as “main” just to differentiate it from the other lines present. Note also that the retraction line comes around thru the rudder blade and attaches by means of a metal pressure clamp to a short strip of bungee line or cord. You pull the main rudder retraction line forward with your hand, and the rudder blade itself is rotated up 90 degrees and forward in one smooth motion, while stretching the bungee cord to which the retraction line is attached. In this way, the bungee cord stores the energy needed to return the rudder to the fully down position when the retraction line is released from the jam cleat. You are actually pulling the rudder blade itself up and thru a rotating plastic sleeve that is a part of the fixed portion of the rudder assembly that is actually attached to the stern. This whole rig is neat, clean, very easy to operate, and takes minimal strength and energy on the part of the paddler to get the rudder up on deck. This is in contrast to some of the more traditional rudder assemblies that may require a good deal of effort to manually rotate the blade thru a 270 degree arc without the blade slamming down hard into a chock, handle, or on deck at the end of the rotation.
5. The rudder retraction line runs from the rudder along the starboard side to a jam cleat just to the right, and slightly behind the seat. This is a close-up of the jam cleat where the rudder retraction line is held in place by the cleat's internal ridges. A simple pull on the retraction line, and then a push down into the cleat is all that is required to lock the retraction line in place. The rudder can thus be locked fully down, part way up, or completely up, depending on how far forward the retraction line is pulled.
6. When the rudder is retracted on deck, note the rudder retraction line is now taut, and the bungee cord is stretched. This stores energy that will pull the rudder aft and, along with the weight of the rudder itself, will return it to the vertical underway position when the retraction line is released from the jam cleat.
7. The rudder is controlled from the cockpit using the foot pedals. The rudder control lines are attached to the hull just forward of the foot pedals, and then threaded up thru the various small sheaves on the pedals.
8. Note how the port and starboard rudder control lines run from the foot pedals aft to enter the hull, and from there aft to exit the hull just forward of the rudder assembly itself, as shown in pic #6. Only a very slight foot/toe movement is thus required to activate the rudder and turn the boat.
9. CRITIQUE AND SUGGESTED CHANGE: All in all, a very neat, clean rudder assembly from the inventor of the Navigator. There is no major change that I can detect between Hobie's version and the original design. However, I do have one criticism of the Hobie version that should be very easy to correct. The rudder bungee seems to be a tad too short, and does not permit the rudder to be retracted as fully as possible. If one were to add about 6-8 more inches just to the bungee portion itself, this would allow one to retract the rudder much more completely, so that only about 2-3 inches of it was sticking out from the rotating sleeve, as opposed to about half of the rudder, as at present. Thus, there would be less chance of the retracted rudder being banged around during loading, unloading, launching, and returning. Note how far the rudder extends out past the rotating sleeve in the last pic below. This is not just an isolated occurrence on the particular boat that I photographed. All of Hobie's pics on their Web site of the Quest underway with the rudder retracted show a similar problem, although perhaps not as extreme. Now Hobie may have their reasons for doiing it this way, but IMHO, it seems to be mainly a function of the bungee simply being shorter than it could, or should, be on the production boats. Just my $.02 worth.