Kayak going in circles. Why?

For mine, I did not want to permanently install a skeg to my whitewater kayak. While the skeg helps with tracking, the boat is pretty slow as it plows through flat water. My wife can quickly and easily move faster than me in her rec kayak (Dagger Zydeco 9). I wanted to be able to quickly remove the entire skeg and baseplate and still use my boat on whitewater.

I cut four inch long slits in the base that the fin slides into to thread the tie down straps through. I used a dremel tool with a cut off wheel to cut the slits but the flexible plastic was pretty easy to cut. I imagine a sharp exacto knife or a hammer with a large flat blade screwdriver would do just as well.

I attached a photo showing where I cut the slits as well as with it installed.

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3 Answers:

  1. The hull of your boat is designed for shallow running water. It has a flat profile with little or no keel to keep it going straight, keels are not needed when moving on a running stream and can be a hindrance in shallow water. They are necessary in open water to propel the boat forward as you paddle and keep it tracking straight. With the hull you have on that boat, your paddle strokes and the wind can push your boat in any direction other than straight ahead. You go around in circles because there is nothing to make you go straight.

  2. There are two ways to deal with this next time. You will have to learn how to constantly correct the boat with your paddles, or get a boat with a hull designed for open water. There are hull designs that are more of a hybrid that will work well in both conditions but in general you need a hull around 12 feet or longer with sealed flotation and a some portion of the hull with a keel or hard chines. Reading reviews on paddling.com can give you an understanding of what to look for.

  3. You can’t just add a skeg to a Kayak. Unlike rudder systems, skegs are an integral park of the original hull design. This is a clue that your boat would not benefit from a skeg or the hull would be designed for it. You could try adding a rudder system but they are expensive and do not work on all hulls. It would be better to spend the money on a second boat for open water or a hybrid design. Edited: I see now that you can add a strap on “skeg” (true skegs can be raised and lowered from the cockpit) but I stand by the above nevertheless.

Don’t get discouraged, you are certainly not the first paddler to learn about differing boat designs by spinning in circles. It is very common and many paddlers have multiple boats within the first few paddling seasons.

I see you are getting a lot of comments about having the wrong boat, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. I have friends who are a family of four (two older adults and their two 20-something kids). They all four have the same boat and one spare, so five Perception Dancers, an older white water boat very similar to yours. The kids experienced some frustration when they were younger, in trying to get the boat to go straight, but now they are good at it. They sometimes let their friends paddle one of the boats, and the friends all have trouble. The answer for you is this: it just takes some time and experience to make these boats go straight, but it is definitely possible.

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Yes, that’s the predominant comment. I just need to learn to be a better paddler. Thank you and all comments are appreciated. I’m still learning and I appreciate everybody’s input.

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I did all the research on how to apply the skeg and basically it came down to silicone. It’s dry now and pretty firmly on there. I’m sure if I hit a log just right or an oyster bar, I’ll end up one day with it gone.

Your kayak bottom looks a lot like my River runner dimensions bottom. I’m no super duper paddler so being able to take off the skeg when I need to is enough for me. I don’t worry about drag.

Thanks! I do have a qcc 600 for open water, but I was taking this one out for a test run. I was just trying to go somewhere nearby where I wouldn’t have to paddle upstream. I was shocked after sea kayaking for Miles without any problems, other than muscle cramps, to find that I couldn’t make this one go straight! I knew the wind was a problem because I’d encountered that with the qcc, but this was so far beyond anything I’d ever experienced, I was dumbfounded.

Since Florida doesn’t have to deal with Rocky streams, I put the removable skeg on it and will save it for kayaking on calm Rivers. Haven’t had it out since I put the skeg on it. My group does mostly ocean kayaking. But at least now I have something to take down 17 runs on the Hillsboro River with it s fallen trees and giant alligators.

Any idea what will happen if you hit an obstruction with the fixed skeg?

It’s a semi flexible skeg, so I think it will deflect. But I think if I hit something hard enough, it could come off & then I’ll just be dealing with it as designed.

rwo feet of a 2x4 tapered to the aft shape of the hull will provide the same design of wilderness systems crusing kayaks and not stick on beaver dams.

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If I knock off the skeg I have just put on, I’ll give that a try. The skeg I have just installed is removable, but I can’t think of a situation where I would want to take it off except for transport and probably not even then since it’s a tupperware kayak, I would probably just load it hull up.

So basically you’re saying create a 2’ fin at the back. I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.