Rudder conversion to skeg

-- Last Updated: Feb-25-09 5:29 PM EST --

Not being a big fan of rudders (used to paddle kayaks with them but switched) I purchased a great kayak that unfortunately was fitted with one.
The hull shape was perfectly suited for a skeg but the manufacturer decided that, to appeal to a wider audience, the kayak was fitted with a rudder.
After removing it and finding that the kayak would weathercock slightly (good!)I decided that I needed a skeg.
After pricing ready made kits available to me I find out that they are too expensive (for such a low tech item) and the hardware was not up to my standards.
I decided to give it go myself and a week later the kayak was "converted to the skeg religion".
For a detailed account of my fabrication :


that’s awesome. good job! that’s alot of technical work.


Great - what wire?
What is the source for the skeg wire?


Well done
One question - it appears that the skeg wire/cable is epoxied into the blade. Why did you choose to do that instead of using SS or brass set screw approach?

skeg wire
the wire is the simplest 3 mm (nominal, I guess it translated to 3/16 in US and A measurements :slight_smile: stainless steel rigging cable that you would find at just about any marine chandlery (at least here in Brisbane, Australia)

Interestingly enough the wire slides extremely smooth inside the housing, way smoother then Impex or Valley skegs. Maybe is the high quality housing.

Cutting the wire is best done with a Dremel where you can round the end to then easily insert into housing.

I think it’s bogus when kayak manufacturers insist that you get the skeg replacement cable from them. Unless it’s some specialized cable, most of them are just simple stainless steel generic jobs.

Mind you, some users would have a hell of time just trying to fit that cable to the end of the skeg blade…

Thanks! (n/m)
no message

skeg wire attachment
Good question.

I looked at the alternative of a set screw to hold the wire.

My skeg blade is only 5 mm thick polycarbonate (Lexan)and trying to drill and have a set screw into such material would be rather hard. The cable is almost as thick as the blade.

Often polycarbonate will start to star crack if drilled and then loaded with a screw.

I noticed several manufacturers using the glass-in cable method and adopted that one myself.

If my skeg blade would be thicker or made out of carbon (considered) maybe I could have done the set screw style attachment.

Makes sense - one of the pics shows cable being inserted in the slot - it is barely recessed, showing that thickness are quite similar.

Don’t kink it :wink:

this is a solid set-up. If you do need to replace it’s fairly ez to twist then drill out the old cable and replace with new. I’ve done it more than a few times on Impex, CD and Dagger skegs.


Please show
how your cable and control box are installed together, and how the connections are made. Thanks, so far a great learning tool!

skeg control box_beta

– Last Updated: Feb-24-09 7:43 PM EST –

I have posted the control box image at
This control box is not the final one (hence not posted on my blog).

On a different note:
I have posted the same info on an Australian forum and despite my post being viewed many times (there is a counter) no comment has been made nor questions asked.
I can only presume that the Australians are way smarter than the Americans and obviously know everything ;-) or there is a sentiment of jealousy and not willing to admit that somebody else has shown them something that they did not know :-).
While I have lived in USA (7 years) I learned that you guys are a bit more open and less envious of others (generalization here).
Thank you for your support and appreciation.

Are you cripming …
the cable to the rod before the rod enters the control box? Could you give us a full length view of your skeg blade? I’m building my first wood boat and a homemade skeg/box is very interesting? Does it matter how far back you mount the skeg? Does it depend on conditions you like to paddle the most? I’ll be on Lake Superior a lot with this boat. Thanks for the great info Dog.

skeg blade

– Last Updated: Feb-25-09 5:32 PM EST –

will vary according to boat design.
Put it this way: I have an Impex Assateague and two Curritucks. They have the same skeg.
In conditions where I need 3/4 skeg deployed on my Assateague I only need 1/3 on the Currituck.
Different kayaks will behave differently.
The Assateague has a higher deck and therefore more windage making it weathercock more.
The Currituck has a lower profile and is not affected by the wind as much.
The skeg that I built for my SeaBird NorthSea is oversized. I knew that the kayak tracked rather straight and was not weathercocking as much as the Assateague however since my skeg was a prototype I did not want the risk of building one too small and then have to redo the whole thing, including removing the skeg box from the hull (a major job).
My theory is: rather too large and deploy less then too small and wishing for a larger one (skeg, I mean :-)
In saying that the blade size is smaller than the Impex one. The shape is also different. More like a Valley one. The skeg box takes less room inside the kayak.
I positioned my skeg as far back as I could but still be able to work through the rear hatch.
The further back the skeg is on a hull the more pronounced will be the effect of deploying it ("pivot point" leverage, so to speak).
It would be nearly impossible to calculate the size of the skeg and location for a given hull.
If you know somebody with the same kayak that you are building, try to test paddle it in a beam wind and see if weathercocks and how much.
If you need very little effort to keep the boat going where you want then the skeg will need to be only small.
I am not a boat builder (yet :-) but I know that the location of the cockpit (and seat) alone will make a world of difference on a kayak.
Ever noticed how some kayaks have an adjustable seat (not just the backband) and how you can move the seat forward or back? an inch in seat position can make a fair bit of difference in some kayaks.
To answer your question: how long is a piece of string? too many variables to really say the skeg should be this big for your kayak.
However, unless the kayak you are building is going to be a real dog (I certainly I don't wish that on you, quite the opposite) any "medium" size skeg will probably do.
I took a gamble with mine. I did not know if the kayak will real work or not. Fortunately it does work very well.
You could also do a search and enquire with other owners of your kayak design (assuming that is a known design) and see what they say about weathercocking.
I will however make a diagram with measurements (metric, since I live outside US and A :-) of the skeg that I have designed and add it to the blog.

PS last night I removed the skeg control box and fabricated a new one to be located in a slightly better spot.
Luckily I kept the "cut out" of the deck and now I just have to match the color of the gel coat and fill the gap of the cut.
The cable is attached via a grub screw on the control knob through the "stiffening tube" onto the cable.
Details to come. Just like a good soap opera on TV: "all will be revealed next week"... :-)

Thanks again…
for the great information. Since I’ll be installing the skeg box to the hull of my new boat before the deck is attached, I can literally put it anywhere. I thought it quite important to place it near the hatch for maintenance reasons, and not too close to the stern so the fin is out of the water in heavy seas, like a rudder is at times.

I’m still looking at installing Patrick’s skeg/box, of ONNO Paddles. It is such a beautiful thing. It’s like a piece of art work, as are his paddles, which I proudly own. I’m sort of afraid to construct my own box and skeg after seeing Patrick’s work, because he sets the bar so icredibly high! I still might try to do it myself though. It would be something to work towards I guess.

I’m looking forward to reading your additional materials on the subject of skegs on you blog, and again thanks for all the help.

Paul Lueders, aka agongos

skeg info updated and completed
Paul, thank you for your comment.

I have looked at ONNO skegs.

From the pictures his work looks absolutely top notch.

It’s not just the execution, he also puts a lot of thought into his design.

You will not save a lot of money by doing it yourself (if you want to calculate your time) but that’s not the point, or you would not be building a kayak but buying one instead.

All depends on how meticulous you are (read anal) and how clean can you work.

If you can answer yes to both: build the skeg yourself.

It might not be an ONNO but it will be yours.

If you want to make it look good, get some carbon cloth. Unless you are a total putz usually carbon comes out looking very high tech and very neat.

Clearcoat the thing and it will look very pretty.

I went for a polycarbonate skeg blade to allow some flex in case of misuse (landing accidentally sideways with the skeg deployed, like in the surf) prevents damage to the skeg box and hull.

A carbon blade will probably be more efficient if foil shaped (like ONNO) and OK in conditions where surf is not present. Or just be very careful.

Good luck.

My blog entry is now finished:

Went to your blog site, thanks. The picture of the skeg blade really helped me visualize how it sits in and out of the box. I’m still a little fuzzy on how the cable is connected to the rod in the control box, but I’ll look on my wife’s Currituck to see how Impex does it.

Thanks for all your help. I’ll keep in touch & let you know how it all turns out.


Just plain great!
Having done a skeg retrofit with a prefab system myself, I can say that I’m really impressed! A lot of planning and thought went into yours, and it’s obvious from looking at the results.

And it was also cool to see that you cut your slot with a Dremel tool, too. It took me 2 hours to muster up the courage to make the cuts, but when I did them, it was so easy that I was shocked.

Great stuff!

speaking of Dremel tool

– Last Updated: Feb-28-09 1:57 AM EST –

I killed mine (only a couple of months old) just as I was finishing the control knob.
Had to pull out the old file and some sandpaper...
My Dremel is made in Mexico. I believe the old ones where from US and A.
Are the old ones any better ?
Apparently the switch went belly up and it will take a little while to get it fixed (under warranty).
Mind you the Dremel was not cheap (AU $90)and the knock off ones are half price.

PS would this image help understand the wire/knob/control box set up?

I’ll have to check and see where mine was made. It’s only about 5 years old, so I’m guessing Mexico or China. They’re a wonderful tool to have.

Your slider cutout looks like a Valley/NDK setup. Very simple, and easy to swap out the wire. I thought my better half’s slider setup on her NDK was cheesy until I changed the wire in 10 minutes, and was able to adjust it anyway I wanted. Now I see the beauty of it.