NDK Rope Skegs???


I am looking at a couple of used NDK boats. Both are the same model boat and have rope skegs, but one appears quite different from the other from the pictures I have seen.

The first has a rope skeg like on my Avocet—the rope comes up out of a hole in the top of the rear deck, runs along the left side of the kayak’s rear parallel to the deck line, and then is fixed by a cleat just to the left rear of the cockpit.

The other boat, however, appears that the rope comes out of a hole in the deck just to the front left of the cockpit, runs through a pulley on the top of the deck, and then is attached to a cleat to the front of the cockpit.

Can anyone tell me about the second design. I am not sure if I have it correct, but that’s the way it looks from the picture. This one would seem to be in perhaps a more convenient location, but I would think there would be more friction on the rope.

Any experience with these designs?



First one
Rope comes up to the left rear of the cockpit, that’s what Jim and I have on our NDK boats. (often is the indication of a boat ordered by Maine Island Kayak, BTW). Nothing special to say about it but that it works, and is nice in that the pulley is really out of the way of everything else.

I know there are fans of the that front mount rope skeg out there, but I’ve never paddled a boat with it.

either one
is fine. Front is easier to reach; rear is requires less force. My experience is that fiddling with the amount of skeg drop on a rope system is a PITA compared to a slider. Mostly it ends up being either up or down.

NDK Rope Skeg
The second skeg is the front rope skeg. There is just too much friction in the system for it to work smoothly.I think NDK has dropped the front one in their line.The rear rope skeg is easier to use. I love the simplicity. I use knots in the skeg rope in front of the cleat to tell how far the skeg is deployed. I use it very little due to the Explorer not being effected by weather cocking much. But when I do I have learned to trim it easily. With a rope skeg never have to worry about kinked cables!

Rear and front rope skegs
Both of our NDK boats and our Valley boat have rear cleated rope skegs.

The simplicity of the rope skeg is great. Easily repairable without special tools etc…

I also understand that NDK has discontinued the front rope skeg because of too many problems.

Have both
I have two Explorers, one with the front rope skeg and one with the rear rope. Both work but as mphelps and wilsoj said the rear rope works better when raising it due to less friction in the system. When lowering the skeg, both work fine.

Having said that, the skeg can be easily raised with the front rope if you know how to do it. Pull the rope as tight as you can and cleat it in the front cleat. If the skeg is not completely raised, reach back behind the cockpit and grab the rope and pull it up the rest of the way. Works every time. There are a few things I even like about the front rope skeg better. I find it easier to lower in rough water and to see how far down it is. Also, on rare occasions I’ll whack my elbow on the rear cleat. When it comes to raising the skeg, however, the rear rope set-up wins hands down.



I have
all three styles and in my book, the wire skeg wins hands down. Easier to deploy, retract and you can tell how far the skeg is down.

If (when) I get a kinked cable, I plan to replace it with a solid wire like Necky uses.

NDK Rope Skegs???
I have a wire skeg in my Tempest and a rope skeg in my Pintail. I think both have pros and cons: With the wire skeg, I know how far down it is from the position of the skeg control. With the rope skeg, I need to calibrate the rope with an indelible marker. But - if I run aground (heading roughly perpendicular to shore) while surfing, the rope skeg will just retract and take tension off the rope while the wire skeg will try to push the cable in and likely kink the cable. Also, the rope skeg is easily repairable; when I got the used Pintail I immediately replaced the skeg’s control line and bungees. However, there is friction where the skeg line makes its 90 degree bend going through the deck and it doesn’t immediately drop down, so I may replace the skeg line with a lower-friction rope or route it through a bit of plastic tubing or both to decrease the friction at this point.

Rope skegs basically suck…
…regardless of the brand of boat, though AFAIK, only VSK (formerly VCP) and NDK use these horribly outdated systems. It seems to me that they’re just another example of the well-documented British tendency toward masochism. The often-touted “field serviceability” of rope skegs is a joke, as the damned things never work right in the first place. What good is “field serviceability” when the best you can do is return it to the same state of non-functionality that it had from the beginning???

Who’s brilliant idea was it to design a skeg system that you can’t see without turning around in the boat??? (It must be the same guy that came up with the idea of the Chimp Pump.) It makes things very interesting in rough water. Forget about NDKs “Rube Goldberg” front rope design; there’s a reason that they no longer offer it. For NDK to drop something out of their line, it MUST be truly horrible!

Seriously, cable skegs are dramatically better. A well designed cable skeg is far more functional and if it fails in the field, you can change the cable in about 10 minutes (assuming that you carry a spare). I have yet to encounter a kinked cable that was so bad that it could not be straighted enough that the skeg could be retracted. The potential issue of kinking if the skeg hits the bottom is easily avoided by using a skeg cable that’s slightly undersized for the housing it runs in. That reduces friction in the system to the point that the skeg will simply retract if it hits something. Keeping it clean and lubricated helps too (once or twice per season is plenty) and it’s no more work that screwing around with bungee tension and notched, crusty skeg ropes.

Spare Cable
You can duct tape a spare cable to a bulkhead. Be sure to cap the ends so they do not fray. My slider assembly needs a fine Allen wrench so that has to be in the repair kit as well.


Rob G

Wire skegs done right…
… are not particularly susceptible to kinking?

What’s right?

Well, Valley used to have wire skegs that kinked if you looked at them cross-eyed, or more seriously, with even the smallest bump on the bottom of an unretracted skeg. I know, I fixed an Avocet skeg kinked that way.

But now they have redesigned their skegs to make them virtually kink-proof. How? First they made the cable thicker and, of course, the channel too. That helped a lot, but did not completely eliminate kinking. Then in 2005 they found that the key was making the channel – the plastic tube and all openings – sufficiently loose relative to the wire that the wire moved freely inside. The gauge of the cable did not particularly matter as long as the channel was right for that thickness.

The 2005 Aquanaut had a really freely moving skeg, perhaps a bit too free, as it would “deploy” all by itself while on top of the car. But for 2006 they seem to have the balance between friction and freedom down right.

So, bye-bye and good riddance to even the thought of a rope skeg for me, at least as long as I’m buying Valley boats.


you could just cut the skeg out of you boat like me and shed weight and gain storage. Most of the boats I’ve paddled that I needed to use the skeg on I for the most part haven’t liked. I just cut it out of my Calypso.

What’s your lubing/cleaning process? Thanks.

i’ve never done so and was just wondering the same thing. how do you do it Bryan?

Necky wire skegs
DO NOT KINK. They have had zero kinks in several thousand sold boats. I own one and you are not gonna kink that wire! I’ve retrofitted Impex and Valley boats to this wire as well. Necky will sell it I believe for about $50. I’ll never have a rope or stainless cable skeg again. It’s a really reliable system. They clearly pay more up front for their expensive kink free, corrosion free wire, but that is offset by no kinked cable warrantee calls.

necky cables
You won’t kink necky cables, but there really

stiff to move. Tried 1 in pintail & it was really


necky happens to run them right across the hatch opening. wonder what geinus at r&d thought that one up.

But only on the rear hatch opening… :slight_smile:

well until kayaks have canting keels and need a forward skeg to keep lee way I would hope the stich to just the back hatch :wink:

Yep, if you are a goober who cant pack a kayak the straiter routed necky wire will tip you over for sure! I had to straighten the routing of the tubing on my Impex and Avocet to make it work, and yes, I have to place my stuffsacks around the wire, which has been zero trouble, but the dude above is correct, that is the one and only legit issue with the wire. That’s a compromise I’ll take and I for one think the Necky R&D guys did a terrific job of solving a common problem. Hey, it was even a BRIT who did it!!