ok...i have this new kayak,now what?

-- Last Updated: May-20-09 11:51 AM EST --

ok...i posted last week that i have a new p+h scorpio lv-16'.7".happy happy i said. well i just signed up for a paddle refinement class...10 days from now.in the mean time i'm working on trying to make this boat behave without the use of the skeg.hmmm, not sure how much is me and how much is the boat. i'm sure it's both. hope i didn't just drop alot of bucks for the wrong boat! i'm using it on small lakes and want to venture out to some bigger lakes that have rough water.some day trips on the big rivers etc... and an occasional trip to the sea.i understand about the rocker shape etc.. of the boat. i don't want to rely on a skeg all the time i want to learn about paddling the boat right 1st. but on a quiet lake am i going to have to use the skeg no matter what? any advised would be appreciated.

Learn to paddle
without the skeg. That’ll force you to learn different strokes, leaning, edging etc.

My 18’ artisan has a skeg and I rarely use it. Does come in handy when the wind kicks up.


You should only have to use the skeg if your in a crosswind. I have a Swift Saranac 146 w/skeg and the only time i use it is when the wind kicks up a bit.


– Last Updated: May-20-09 3:03 PM EST –

"in the mean time i'm working on trying to make this boat behave without the use of the skeg."

What kind of behavior are you having trouble with?

I just paddled a Scorpio LV at a demo day and thought it tracked much straighter than my own boat.

Jeez, already questioning the “boat”!


You know how the old saying goes…

RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT…you’re in the (kayak) ARMY now!You’re right behind a (paddle) PLOW. YOU’LL go straight you…

It ain’t the boat.

add wind from the side…add skeg.


Just pay attention in class
As above, it isn’t the boat. You just need to learn to paddle. Yes in crosswind a skeg can make life easier, but even my relatively skeg-dependent Vela spends most of the time with it retracted.



Just keep saying to yourself:

We don’t need stinking skegs!

Remember as a kid trying something umpteen times before you could do it perfectly without even thinking about it? All the while you called it play and having fun? Why as adults do we think just because we are going to do something for 15 minutes it should be perfect, automatic and simple?

Here’s your homework; Go Play!

You could be in the office with a stack of yearly review paperwork or some other unfun task like that.

If you want some guidance before the Paddle Stroke Refinement Class take a portable dvd player out with you on the dock and pop in Nigel Foster’s Sea Kayaking Series DVD #2 & 3 to watch snippets while afloat so you can put them directly into practice.

Don’t put the dvd player on deck! Saw someone do that with a jet ski. Didn’t work and he hit a piling to boot.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


Some things to try…
Just go out and paddle in circles trying to use your whole upper torso and pushing on the foot pegs so you are not arm paddling. Make sure you are hanging onto the paddle evenly, so that you are not getting more leverage on one side than the other. Try to give equivalent force to strokes on both sides, then practice dynamic range in force, on each side adjusting power 1 to 10. Pay attention to how your weight is distributed in the kayak and that you are not leaning to one side a bit. Learn to do stern rudder strokes. Aim at a point on the horizon (or the other bank I guess) and practice keeping the nose on average pointing at the target. It just takes practice. You’ve bought a fine boat it should serve you well.

Couple of Tricks

– Last Updated: May-20-09 1:07 PM EST –

Make sure you have the paddle extended equally to both sides - maybe a bit of surgical tape to mark your proper hand positions. You can check frequently to make sure your kayak is properly trimmed port and starboard; rest your paddle on the cockpit coaming, and then check for equal blade-to-water distance on both sides...

Focus on a spot on shore (house, pole, tree, rock), and aim for that - apply more power left or right to keep a straight course as needed. Keep using the 'spot' focus trick until you find yourself correcting automatically...

Bottom line - it all comes down to seat time, and perhaps some instruction. Your boat will certainly track well enough to handle calm waters with no skeg - it's a matter of working at it until you develop the 'autopilot' sense for for making continuous micro-adjustments of your course...

first step is done
…you signed up for a class. Great move.

I’d recommend you purchase an instructional video (others here are much more informed than I to make a specific recommendation). That way you can also learn independently and after you have the class, use it to reinforce and recall what you’ve learned. You’ll get it, it’s not rocket science. So have fun!

Small water before big water
Most boats take a little getting used to. Find a calm lake and really concentrate on nice even strokes on both sides. Try to see if you are edging a little one way, etc. If you have a buddy used to long boats see if he has the same problems.


Using some skeg is no big deal, don’t sweat it. Try your skeg only half down, that should be enough to keep you tracking straight. Some boats seem to crave at least some skeg, others don’t need any. There is no noticeable decrease in performance with using a bit of skeg. If you want to do a big turn, lift the skeg, then put it back when you are done turning…

keeping it straight?
i find something to focus on across the lake (the water is like glass)i try to pull the paddle gently,taking it out at the hip and keeping close to the boat.i’m trying to be relaxed and am (i think) keeping my hips straight and turning at the waist. the yak swings to the right and then it swings to the left. i’m trying really hard to concentrate on the paddling thing and looking in the direction i want to go. i tried this boat on a really windy day…so he had me drop the skeg,then i have no trouble. i’m signed for a paddle refinement class on the 30th. very frustrating. before this i just had the pungo…i know that’s a whole different ball of wax, so maybe it’s just hard to think about how i have done things in the past. know what i mean?

Starting off
Any time i take someone out with me who has never kayaked before is to remember a few things to start with.

Paddle closer to your boat and you go straight, paddle farther out and you’ll turn.

From when you put the blade in by your toes, from your toes to your waist makes you go forward, from your waste back will turn you.

And when you want to stop/slow down/ turn hard, drag your paddle behind you on the side you want to turn to.

I know it’s not “that” simple, and there’s a hell of alot more to it than that, but that will get you started.

some skeg
i was thinking this might be the case…i’m trying my best to learn w/out the skeg 1st though. a friend is going to try and get out with me this wkend and see if she can help. i know it will take alot of hours to get it…but i want to be relaxed and have fun in the meantime.and learn of course.

have vhs
and i have been trying to call a guy that can copy them over to a disc…the vhs player died.people just won’t call back though.so i really don’t want to purchase more disc…when i can have these converted. i’ll keep calling him.