Not enough skeg?

My first Brit style kayak (Valley Aquanaut Club RM)had a rope operated skeg that went down an “unusual” 90deg when fully extended and was almost like a centreboard on a sailboat. It was just plain awesome in high winds.

I took my new Valley Etain 17-7 out this weekend and I found the skeg was not doing the magic I was expecting in windy and wavy conditions. The fin type skeg is slide cable activated and has a smaller surface area. Unlike my old Valley, I cannot get the boat trimmed to turn into the wind and I had one or two broaches when running with the waves.

Is this “normal” for kayaks with smaller surface area skegs? (Yes, obvious question but why)

Would adding weight (water jug, etc) in the stern help in these conditions?

Boats designed to need a skeg should weathercock (turn into the wind) when the skeg is UP.

Putting the skeg down should reduce the weathercocking and allow you to turn the boat away from the wind.

If you can’t turn your boat into the wind at any skeg setting then your trim is stearn heavy.

Move the seat forward if possible. If not possible then you need to add weight to the bow.

seat movement
as mintj said, moving the seat will make a big difference in the wind. I moved my tiderace xplore seat 1" forward and it loosened up the stern nicely.

Is question for waves or wind?

– Last Updated: Apr-30-13 10:18 AM EST –

You mention broaching in waves as a concern. Are you primarily concerned about the effect of the skeg in wind, or waves, or was the broaching in waves a sidebar?

As above, pull skeg completely up and the boat should weathercock just fine if the weight distribution isn't off.

broaching vs weather cocking
You say you couldn’t get the boat to turn into the wind, and it sounds like you suspect that this has to do with a smaller skeg surface area. All else being equal, a boat with less skeg exposed will weathercock MORE. So if you want the boat to turn into the wind, raise the skeg. If you raise the skeg all the way, and the boat still won’t weathercock a bit, then you may need more weight in the bow (or if you have a big deck bag on the foredeck, get rid of that first).

If the boat is weathercocking and you want to balance the boat to the wind, so that it doesn’t weathercock or leecock, lower the skeg just until the boat tends to remain on course as you paddle forward at your regular speed.

Broaching is a separate issue from weathercocking, and I think it varies some from boat to boat. Many boats, in my opinion broach less downwind if the skeg is raised, because the stern is loose for making corrective strokes. On the other hand, a boat may weathercock with the skeg up, making it difficult to maintain a course that is somewhat across the wind. Experiment and see what works for you.

Speed matters too

– Last Updated: Apr-30-13 1:32 PM EST –

You can, for a given size skeg in the water, only balance the boat to not turn up against or away down away from the wind at a given paddling speed.

Keep in mind that the center of rotation will move forward towards the bow as you paddle faster, so you will need more skeg to keep it balanced as you paddle faster (assuming it weathercocks and you do need to lower the skeg to counteract that). As the others said, if it still wants to go upwind with a full skeg, then you need to change the trim or add a permanent skeg or replace yours with a bigger one increase the overall skeg area. A rudder is also an option, of course, if that suits you - I think rudders are great to cover long distances with less effort or for racing.

Nice job by mintj. A trimmed sea kayak doesn’t really need a skeg at all.

Perhaps little to do with the skeg.
Several have pointed out that your inability to turn into the wind would be the result of too much skeg deployed. So if you described it correctly, it may simply be the new hull that you need to come to terms with. Perhaps your stern gets pushed around a little more easily in the Etain, and deploying enough skeg to prevent that leaves you with an unbalanced hull in the wind should wind be involved. On a differnt day, different conditions, all may be well. I remember somewhere Valley wisely pointing out that they’re not claiming to make a better hull - just a different one. Maybe just time to start handling the kayak like an Etain instead of handling it like an Aquanaut. Seems a little odd, but I think a person kind of gets in a groove with their kayak over time. It would be quite odd for the Etain to be better than the Aquanaut in every way, and vice versa.

Or would edging the kayak into the wind
to lock it in, and executing sweep strokes work?

Hey! So it seems this thread is pretty old but hopefully this reaches someone!

I just bought an Valley Etain 17.7 RM and I have noticed similar behavior with weathercocking. In moderate wind (7-10 knots), I’ve had to edge significantly and sweep stroke frequently to stay on course and not creep up wind. My skeg is all the way down, of course. Is this degree of edging and sweeping normal? Based on the comments above I think I should consider trimming the boat. How much? Since I can’t move the seat, where should I add weight?

Thanks for your help!

Replying to UncleBaggy: Add the weight at the rear.