Drilling the skegs

Playing catch-up on winter projects…hey, it’s still winter here because it’s snowing again, after a nice morning and early afternoon.

I am going to drill a tiny hole in each skeg and put an un-jamming cord in. The question is, “High-speed rotary drill or high-torque cordless drill?”

Also, is fishing line adequate for the cord?

I would use my cordless, just because
it has a better chuck. Choose a sharp bit. I think braided fishing line would be OK, with the ends burnt to prevent unraveling.

Hammer and nail, then…

– Last Updated: Apr-26-09 7:12 PM EST –

... some yarn or kite string.

Sorry, were you serious? Hard to tell when you are talking about a 2 second job involving a tiny hole and bit of cord.

If you need the elite expert level advice, best give make model and year of kayak, detailed skeg description including operating method, blade shape description, blades size, blade material, whether you paddle salt, fresh, or a mix, what sort of shoreline compositions you are likely to encounter, temperature ranges, etc...

Isn't there a Nigel So and So DVD on this?

How about you just use whatever you have handy that will work? Maybe start with small hole/cord and see how that works. Change up if needed..

Sorry, just found it funny. I'm sure a lot of people who have done this will chime in with options and their reasoning for same.

You’re not going to know it’s jammed…
until you are in the water trying to engage it. At that point, you’ll want/need for another boater to come along side, reach beneath your boat and give the cord a tug. They are never going to feel or find something as small as fishing line. Besides, the fishing line’s likely to work it’s way back into the skeg housing, never to be found. Use a small gauge marine grade nylon rope.

W/ respect to your drilling method, the skeg is thin regardless of it’s material, use water tool allows you the greatest amount of control.

I use
fairly heavy braded nylon fishing line, run it through the hole and knot the doubled line several times about 1/2 nich apart. I leave about 4 inches hanging down.

my method
i would only use a Dewalt drill, with a titanium drill bit, specified for hardened steel. go with a dacron 1mm braided marine grade cord for optimum performance.

in order to offer more practical advice
perhaps we should first ask, how do you envision yourself using this cord through the skeg? in what conditions? how long have you been paddling, what is your skill level?

This static climbing line
It’s the right gauge, has enough thickness that a hand can find it and even comes in attractive colors. I like it for my tethers too.

A thicker line it is
I thought that fishing line would be less likely to snag junk due to its smoothness, but on second thought it’s really hard to see in the water, and you make a good point about it possibly ending up inside the skeg opening, out of reach.

Then don’t read my threads
I am completely serious. Since I have the choice of either tool and don’t have a strong preference for either, it doesn’t hurt to ask the question of those with experience doing this. Which apparently you do NOT have and are trying to hide.

STERLING 4mm Accessory Cord
is what I’ve used on each of our boats. It doesn’t really matter as long as it can be felt under the boat in order for a fellow paddler to pull the skeg free. If your boat has a slider skeg, it also helps to put an indicator mark somewhere above the waterline so your companion can find the skeg quickly. This is less important with rope skegs because skeg location is pretty obvious.

Skegs bite, Rudders RULE!
(This along with my Sponsons post, will be my sole contributions for the day…thank GOD there are those of you who post truely worthwile information, so when I’m not pot stirring, I learn things!)

Touchy, touchy!

– Last Updated: Apr-28-09 1:59 AM EST –

Hiding? *L* Yeah, OK I'll fess up. I have never drilled a hole in a skeg blade or tied a string to it. Doesn't change earlier comments. This ain't rocket science!

You really need tool advice to make ONE little hole in what I have to assume is a thin piece of plastic (since you haven't said)? OK, fine: Use a brace or electric hand drill (cordless is fine) and a brad point (lip and spur) bit:

"Conventional twist drill bits do tend to wander when presented to a flat workpiece. For metalwork, this is countered by drilling a pilot hole with a spotting drill. In wood, there is another possible solution, that used in the lip and spur drill. The centre of the drill bit is given not the straight chisel of the twist drill, but a spur with a sharp point and four sharp corners to cut the wood. The sharp point of the spur simply pushes into the soft wood to keep the drill bit in line.

Lip and spur drill bits are also effective in soft plastic. Conventional twist drills in a hand drill, where the hole axis is not maintained throughout the operation, have a tendency to smear the edges of the hole through side friction as the drill vibrates."

In a plastic skeg blade I could "get 'er done" with a few twists of a pocket knife in less time than it would take to get the tools together to drill... Just sayin...

Hey, if you use colorful cord or add a bead or something shiny maybe fish will hit it and randomly clear the skeg for you!

Given your meticulous approach I expect an exceptional outcome. Be sure to fully document this project detailing your methods and choice of materials with detailed photographs and post it here to be archived as a definitive reference for those with similar need in the future...

As you’ve probably realized…
…it doesn’t matter what drill you use. Heck, if it’s a plastic skeg, you can heat a nail with a torch and poke a hole through it. Just make a hole and install some cord. Braided is probably best, but it really doesn’t matter. This is definitely a “form follows function” job.

Just about any bit will work
I used a 1/8 in bit and ran a nylon zip tie through it. It was all I had lying around at the time. It is a pain in the crack to get a bit of gravel up there.

I usually have to scull on my side and ask a buddy for a kayak enema.

My experience…
Of 3 years of owning a skeged boat, I’ve only had it jammed ONCE!

Here’s my take:

  1. Prevention is 100 time better than the cure. So,

  • a) Launch stern first when in doubt.
  • b) Or float the boat completely by walking all the way into knee deep water.
  • c) Test deploy the skeg immediately after launch so you can land to fix it if you realize you have a problem you can’t fix on water!

    Reason? See number 2 & (particularly) 3.

  1. If the jam was not very tight, you can easily have your partner reach under the stern and pull the skeg down with his fingers, or pry the skeg loose with a knife (hand him the knife if he doesn’t have one). Not any harder to do than pulling a tug line.

  2. If the skeg was REALLY jammed, like that one time I had it? No amount of tugging and pulling would work. The only solution was to land (I noticed the problem when “test deploying” the skeg a few feet from the beach). When I turned the boat over, I could see a bunch of tiny little stones wedged in the housing in such a way it’s obvious no amount of on water tugging, even with tug line, would have possibly free the skeg. Good thing I didn’t forced it. It took a good few minutes for me to slowly picked the stones out of the housing!

    Another time, my trip leader had a stuck skeg. Although he had a tug line, I tugged at it and it didn’t even budge a bit! Several of us tried to free it with all the possible means without landing but to no avail. Fortunately, we were only 1/2 mile from our final landing so no point to bother. So he had to suffer the 15 mile cross wind on that final leg of the journey…

    In short, I’m not too sure of that tug line’s usefulness based on my own experience.

How bout chain? Just kidding.

I’ve found it helpful
I’ve pulled others’, had my own pulled to clear minor jams. And when wearing gloves in colder water, I can’t get a good hold on a sliver of skeg - I need the line.

I would reach
for the cordless, pilot hole, and be done with it.

The cordless drills usually have a more concise center rotation so it’s less likely to wander off center when starting the hole.

But, either drill would be fine for a small hole in plastic.

I have to disagree
First off, pulling on a loop of line is a LOT faster and easier than poking around with a knife, it doesn’t require any extra equipment (the knife) and you don’t have to worry about dropping anything.

Although I have seen one skeg that was hopelessly jammed due to the shape of the rocks that were in the skeg box - they rotated when the skeg was pulled and wedged it - in all but extreme cases, a tug on the loop will free the skeg.

Most jams I’ve examined were due to packed sand and small gravel, which likely would have washed out on their own eventually. I’ve occasionally cleared such jams on my own while on the water simply by simply rapping on the hull with my paddle.