Turning up at the slipway with the boat, the crew, the oars, the beer money and no rudder is acutely embarrassing but surprisingly common. We did it at the Cowes crossing a few weeks ago (assumed it was in the back of Mabel when it wasn't) and someone had to schlep back to fetch it.
Last year Langstone Cutters went all the way to Venice to discover on the pontoon that they had left the rudder of one of the Teifi skiffs at home. They lashed up a rudder from some bits of wood that were lying around and some screws that seemed to have become somehow detached from the deck of the pontoon. It was not a thing of beauty but it worked.
Today, I brought our pilot gig Heart of Hayling to the marina only to find that the yoke that connects the steering lines to the rudder had gone missing. Disaster!
One of our members rootled round the undergrowth and found a bit of wood that slotted nicely into the rudder, forming a rather good tiller.
However, we never got the chance to try it out because the bloke who had taken the yoke home to fit new steering lines turned up before we could cast off.
A pity really - it would have been interesting to see how well it worked.