You may have heard that Lake Erie has algae and weeds. The Algae is not a problem near the Detroit River, our water is actually very clean as it is being brought down by the current from beautiful Lake Huron and our friends in Sarnia. The weeds can be spotty, but sailing with them is completely manageable, especially later in the year when the CCR takes place. That said, building a weed stick is a good idea because there are a few floaters here and there in September. It is always better to be prepared and not have to use it then not have it and get something hung up on the rudder.
So what happens if you get some of these on your rudder and keel? The keel is easy, raising and lowering the board will clear them. For the rudder, we recommend a weed stick. This is a home made long stick with a piece of cloth or sponge attached at one end that a crew member can lean over the back of the boat with and run down the leading edge of the rudder to clear all debris with.
Where do you get one of these magical devices you ask? (Assuming you don't have a boat hook) Answer is very easy... Go to West Marine and search for boat hooks. I recommend something like this one: www.westmarine.com/buy/west-marine--floating-telescoping-shorty-boat-hook--8243123?recordNum=1
I like these West Marine boat hooks as they have plastic hooks with rubber tips that wont scratch your rudder. You will also need to get a microfiber cloth and some duct tape. Tape the microfiber cloth in a bunch over the hook and now you have a weed stick. The cloth will conform to the shape of the leading edge of the rudder.
Methods will take some practice... but lean over the back of the boat and put the cloth covered hook over the front of the rudder. Grab the boat hook pole and push the hook down the front of the rudder to clear all the weeds. Presto, clean rudder!