Caribou Question

Are there certain wave and or wind directions that would definitely recommend the use of a skeg on a Caribou or is this a boat-design that would be perfectly happy without a skeg?

Not real happy without a skeg…
The fist ones did not have a skeg then it was added. Some will say it is OK without one as the hard chines will compensate to some extent.

The skeg will reduce weather cocking and is a big help downwind and in a rear quartering sea.

It needs a skeg
I did a week long trip with a friend in Maine and he was in a heavily loaded Caribou. One crossing required a two part tack as he couldn’t maintain a straight course without a skeg in the strong crosswind we had. It required too much work to keep the kayak on a lean for that long.

There are other production kayaks that you wouldn’t want to paddle in wind without a skeg or rudder

Use it
I have a 1998 'Bou that I bought new, and it didn’t come with a skeg. I used it for a number of years as my primary boat, and found a great way to compensate - ballast it. Basically, I put all my stuff that I carried with me in the rear hatch. That worked fine.

When I bought a second kayak, that didn’t need a skeg, the Caribou got one installed, and I’ve never regretted doing it. I still use the skeg as sparingly as possible, but when a wind comes up quartering from behind, or I’m surfing waves, the skeg gets used.

Caribou needs skeg
I have a 92 Caribou. Unlike many other boats, this one does need a skeg. But so what? The Caribou skeg design is non-obtrusive, there is no problem using 1/2 skeg quite a bit.

The skeg counters weathercocking
Most kayaks tend to turn their bow toward the wind.(some, much more than others) A fully deployed skeg will cause the boat to turn down wind. If you were going directly into the wind, you would never need the skeg. When paddling in a cross wind, a partially deployed skeg will keep you on course. The exact amount of skeg to use must be determined as you paddle. It’s called trimming the skeg. Your Caribou is not terribly prone to weathercocking, so it’s not very critical. If you are broaching in a following sea, the skeg can help prevent that.

I hope this helps.

1998 'Bou
I too have been paddling this boat since buying it from a rep at the end of the 98 season.

Have tried the ballast approach but it seems too heavy in the water and loses it’s responsivness.

I’d like to have a skeg installed rather than trade out the boat, but, I think this installation needs some real expertise.

Has anyone done this who can give some input.

I may call Lincoln in Freeport (ME) and see if they can tackle this problem.

Thanks in advance.


Permanent skeg
I have a Caribou with skeg but my previous boat was an Arctic Hawk which I found difficult to control in following wind and sea conditions. I shaped a small plastic skeg and fastened it to the keel with 3M 5200 and this seemed to work quite well. The maximum depth of the skeg was only about 2 inches and, of course, was not retractable but the 5200 provided enough flexibility to keep the skeg from breaking off when paddling onto a beach.

I’ve done it
I put a Tideline skeg in my '98 Bou. It took a little planning and a lot of cojones to cut a hole in a perfectly good boat, but I’m glad I did it.

I would recommend having a pro do it if you have ANY reservations about doing it yourself. Confidence is 90% of the deal when installing a skeg in an existing boat. Mine leaked the second time I took it out (My fault - missed part of the fillet on the rear of the skeg box because I couldn’t see back there) and unfortunately, I was playing in a tidal race two miles offshore when I found that I was taking on water. No harm done, and I just duct taped over the slot until I could repair the fillet.

If you’re even moderately handy with tools, it’s not a hard job, but you have to get it right the first time.

and if you don’t get it right
the first time the experience will get it right later.