adding a rudder to a tempest?

I have experienced some severe weather cocking problems on Lake Superior with a following quartering wind with a fully loaded 17’ Tempest. While I struggled with edging, sweepstrokes, and using a longer windwardard side on my greeland paddle, my paddle partners with rudders paddled with little effort.

I tried the skeg in various positions but had difficulty. I am usually a pretty strong paddler and was very frustrated by the experience.

It has been suggested that I was loaded to heavy forward, or unbalanced.

I really like my boat and wonder if anyone has successfully added a rudder to a Tempest.

Consider the trim/balance issue first…
…before contemplating anything as drastic and dastardly as putting a rudder on that fine skegged boat! Of course, my opinion doesn’t really count, as I’m an unrepentant rudderless (and skegless!) paddler! :slight_smile:

Seriously though, I’ve paddled a friend’s Tempest 170, loaded with quite a bit of stuff, in decent sized wind waves, and if the trim is good, it does seem like a very well behaved boat.


Try the 165

– Last Updated: Aug-02-09 6:00 AM EST –

If you can fit in the 165 give it a try. (and the seat can be moved back to make the 165 more friendly)

I found the smaller Tempest to be much more manageable in those conditions.

Please forget about the rudder.

Trim balance.
What I found to be effective. Stand over the boat before loading and pick it up off the ground by the cockpit, remember where it balances fore and aft empty. After loading I adjust the the load to balance about the same place. If I know I will be going upwind most of the way I will adjust for slightly nose heavy and the reverse for a downwind day.

  • 1 for addressing trim first
    Putting a rudder on a Tempest is major surgery. If the boat handles OK empty for you, then trim is your issue. The skeg should be able to handle weathercocking, especially with the hull loaded and running lower in the water than empty.

    My trick for assuring good trim is to attach a compass with an inclinometer on it to the deck (Aquameter sailor II), set the boat in the water, and pack it until the inclinometer reads the same packed as unpacked. Works every time, and no trim issues.

get a ruddered kayak
or be more aware about trim. That said if you are paddling a Tempest with a broken skeg you’re going to be in for a rough time of it.

If you want rudder,
get a ruddered boat instead of making major surgery on a skegged boat.

There’s a lot to be said about having a rudder on a boat. For one thing, it’s a lot more forgiving if you by mistake had the trim off in a big way (we’ve all done it once or twice). But you will also find you lose a lot of other characteristic of what you like about the Tempest.

You could carry a spare euro paddle
It may offer more “bite” under those conditions.

Others have recommended a balanced weight approach to address weather cocking, and this is a good idea. If you find that it still is not enough to help with weather cocking on really windy days just put a little more weight in your stern compartment than in your bow. This will dig the stern and skeg a little deeper and raise bow to catch the wind a little more. Don’t go too far with this technique as you will find a very stern heavy kayak will run downwind and be hard to control just as much as a badly weathercocking one.

Paul Caffyns ruddered nordkapp
Paddlers are allowed to have preferences that include putting rudders on skegged boats that some find heretical.

It would be far from a trivial undertaking, and probably one you’d have to pay to have done if you lack the 'glass skills. Selling the boat and buying a ruddered one might make more sense. Before doing so it may be an idea to try different trims and possibly looking to see if your paddling technique could be improved.

if you really, really like the boat
it’s features and fit, you could add a rudder, or have someone do it for you. as others have said, try everything else first before you go that route as it is major surgery as mentioned. but don’t rule it out, it may be the right way to go, but you’ll have to live with that boat and really like it for a long time. i suspect that it would cost you a few hundred dollars and many hours of work to get it right and look good, or pay someone as much as 5-600 to do it right.

a rudder on a tempest?
if he were dead, Steve Scherrer would be turning in his grave!

Trim and boat volume

– Last Updated: Aug-03-09 2:13 PM EST –

By and large the Tempest doesn't have a reputation as a severely weather cocking boat, so I agree with the idea of starting with your trim. (Most weather cock some, and I've used that habit in higher winds to make it easier to turn home. So it's not all bad if it does.) Or you are a person suited for a Tempest 165 but paddling the 170. That'll leave the boat much more a victim of the wind, because you won't be sinking the hull to its intended depth.

The reason I have that thought is that personal experience in two quite different boats, both mine.

One is the NDK Explorer Lv which isn't really - the hull is too big for me and the bow wants to stick up if it is loaded to oft-recommended proportions (60% behind the seat, 40% in front). When I anticipate wind I trim the bow a little heavier than that to keep it down a bit and reduce it acting like a sail.

My other boat, a P&H Vela, is properly sized for me in terms of volume but has a stern end that just fades away. The boat tends to be bow tight. So when I think I'll get wind in the Vela, I load the stern a little on the heavy side to make it harder for the wind to push that end around.

Seat position fore/aft
Did you get the hung glass seat or did you install a foam seat?

I fiddled around with fore/aft position for a couple of days, then glued mine in a little farther forward than the “standard” position. (Google Jonathan Walpole’s long thread on seat position in Exp LV for light paddlers.)

The bow does not stick up (as it did in the Romany LV I used for a few days 2 years ago). The boat tends to weathercock, as I expected. I figure I can adjust trim when loaded, but I wanted it to weathercock rather than leecock, when unloaded. But I can make it start to turn downwind by leaning way back, which turns out to be pretty neat cuz it’s almost effortless. I’m surprised at how much it’s affected by shifting my weight around–didn’t expect that in such a long kayak.

Try the simple solution first
Adjust the trim next time. No point in making a drastic change when it’s not necessary. If you really want a ruddered kayak, I agree with the others that it’d be better to sell the Tempest and buy a different kayak, with the rudder as standard equipment.

thanks for your advice
I want to thank you all for your advice. I really like the way the boat performs and fits in general, and I will try the trim first. I sometimes feel that it takes more skill to paddle the skeg boat than the ruddered one. I don’t want to loose a goood boat for one bad day on the water

It does take more skill
That’s part of the fun!

Even though it sounds like trim was the problem that day, I’ll add one thing. I noticed (both with my Tempest 165 and the Explorer LV) that warming up thoroughly reduced the effects of wind. I think this is due to getting better torso rotation and therefore power, after a good warmup. (From years of cycling, I am a big proponent of good warmups).) I also found that doing roll practice FIRST made everything in my body seem to work better when paddling after that.

I an no expert at kayaking but
I can tell you i originally purchased a Tempest 170 against the expert advice of Steve Sherer. It did not feel right at all for me once in the water and i am not a lightweight 100 lb person. It just sat up too high in the water where the hull was not designed to sit at, thus offering more wind resistance/wrong weight displacement. I got to finally try a tempest 165 and it is like night and day - fits perfectly and a totally different paddling feel.

if I was…


what they said. you need to load it heavier in the stern. if you still want a ruddered boat sell the T and buy a ruddered boat.

Many folks do paddle the T in most conditions w/o a skeg, it isn’t a deal breaker BUT you have to have it trimmed properly!

steve ( one of the Tempest designer)