Rudder 'Cable' Question - Smart-Track

I have a Point 65 ‘XP’ that has a skeg, but the boat is also outfitted for a smart-track rudder.

The foot controls and cables are all in-place and ready to go, but I’ve just never felt the need to actually mount the rudder. However, I have an up-coming trip that may require many miles of paddling in heavy crosswind and seas… the rudder could mean the difference between a comfortable day and a miserable day. The rudder is going give me a little insurance. So, I need to get this thing installed and ready to go.

Here’s my question…

The existing ‘cables’ are actually small diameter, low-stretch chord. While they are in good shape, should I replace this with proper stainless-steel rudder cables? I’m not sure if I should trust the chord.

Original, stock ??? I thought
Smart Tracks were 1/16" SS.

If the cord does not look frayed up or degraded from UV, its probably o.k…

That said,

If its an unknown always better to replace.

Do not use any shrink tubing or tape over the new nico presses and thimbles.

The chord/cables did come OEM on the boat, not sure if that was the standard for Smart-Track at the time or perhaps it was a Point 65 ‘thing’.

If its an unknown always better to replace.

Just stick with the skeg. You’d be surprised that in high winds and bigger waves, the skeg will keep you on track or by moving it up and down you can change your heading. I typically paddle without a rudder, I use one when I plan on sailing.



– Last Updated: Mar-17-10 6:18 PM EST –

Eric - Everything you say makes perfect sense. I actually have the rudder in the bag, I've just never installed it. I just assumed that the rudder was a smart-track. Yes, the spectra lines are great in that I have just kept them in place. They are simply tied-off at the stern. I'm sure that the p65 rudder will do just fine.

Andy - Agreed, the skeg alone is just fine with me. I've been paddling that way for a year now without issue. However, the XP is not what I would call a rough water boat. Later this year, I will be attempting a 30 mile crossing through an area noted for high winds. That day will be followed by 3 or 4 additional 20-30 mile days. The rudder is an insurance policy only. The boat is already rigged for it and I already have the rudder, cost is $0. I want to make the long crossing as effortless as you can make a 30-mile crossing. I do not want to be overly tired or sore on one side or the other during the following days from having to make corrective strokes all day on day 1 should strong cross winds develop.

hmmm… from what you describe
it appears that your skeg is not working properly, if you say that you will need a rudder for cross winds?

I thought that a skeg was designed for correcting the kayak’s heading in a cross wind…

The XP not being capable of rough waters?

A friend of mine paddled one from Victoria to Tasmania, on the Bass Straight, for a couple of weeks

That stretch of water is probably one of the most feared sea kayaking destinations. Very strong currents, huge winds.

All without a rudder.

What would I know though, I no longer paddle with a rudder and would not know what I really miss :slight_smile:

Some even Sail without a rudder!
Still I use my rudder once or twice a year and am glad to have it. It really great when I’m very tired and it is really windy. I switch to a single blade and put the rudder down and get a nice rest while still paddling onward.

I sail without a rudder
after swapping a ruddered boat for a skegged one I thought my kayak sailing days were over.

Not so:

The XP is plenty capable, but it would certainly not be on anyone’s top ten list for rough water boats. I have been happily paddling this boat in all conditions for quite a while now. The fact is that it’s a big boat and gets a little difficult in very high winds.

Please re-read my post… I already have the rudder and the boat is already outfitted for it. Why wouldn’t I use it if it could save me from a bit of fatigue and soreness on the very first day of a multi-day trip. It’s basically just a little insurance in case conditions get really bad. The intended trip is very exposed and I am going to take any measures that will increase my chances for a fun, safe and successful trip.

Don’t even listen to the BS about
the skeg vs the rudder.

I have always said that I believe a rudder is a great safety device.

I can paddle with mine up all day long, but there have been many times in high quartering winds where I have been with people with skeged boats that wear them selves out correcting while I am enjoying a straight ride with far less work.



The “rope” should be fine

– Last Updated: Mar-18-10 9:25 AM EST –

On my Rapier 18 Valley used some rope on what I think is the same type rudder (which I promptly replaced with a smart track rudder assmbly with only minor file work on its insert to make it fit). I kept my pedals and rudder lines and that setup has been working just fine. I do not see signs of wear on my ropes but I have not used them that much either.

When tying the ropes to the rudder, make sure there are no shapr edges at the knots - I used thick metal (non-corrosive) wire to make some loops for them instead of using the rudder shoulder holes directly. May be your rudder comes with some hardware to tie to. The SmartTrack came with what looked excessively bulky hardware meant for steep cables, so I did not use these and made my own metal loops for the rope.

Having a skeg is your insurance IMO. For the trip, when you load the rear of the boat a bit more, you probably should not have weathercocking issues - you can move the load about the boat as your trip progresses to adjust the balance.

A rudder in high winds and waves is better than skeg for maintaining direction with no effort required. The skeg works just fine but if you do not want to zig-zag you still have to correct. If you do not correct constantly, you can still go generally in the desired overall direction with skeg only, once you get the proper trim, but your boat will zig-zag. That's not a problem and you do not have to struggle to correct every time, just you will travel a little more miles than with a rudder... I'm not talking 1 foot chop - the skeg is just fine there. When you get taller and steeper waves, that's when a skeg shows its limitations - the exposure of the boat to the wind changes constantly depending on where you are on the wave and the boat just can't be balanced all the time. A rudder allows you to constantly adjust the direction with no effort so you can either maintain your heading or you can zig-zag on purpose to catch waves to surf. A skegged boat would require constant edging and corrections to do the same or would make its own path if not corrected.

My feeling exactly… Thanks JackL

Good stuff
Thanks Kocho, good advice. I’m going to work on some sort of linkage between the actual ‘rope’ and the rudder assembly to avoid any sharp edges.

I mounted everything up last night and couldn’t believe how easy it was. Everything appears to work well.