Rudder option for Elie Straight 120

Hello to all. We recently bought three new kayaks for the family. My wife and I got Elie Strait 140 XEs which come with Elie’s rudder system. Unfortunately we bought my daughter a Strait 120 which does not. We love the boats and have already used them several times on the waters near our home in Maryland but it has quickly become apparent that our decision to purchase the rudderless Straight 120 for our daughter was ill advised.

I was finally able to contact the company today (customer service is through Pelican Sport and is horrible) only to find out that they do not/will not sell the rudder system separately for the boat. The boat hull design is the same as the XE model which comes with the rudder. CS only suggested I look elsewhere and even though I asked offered no alternatives.

With all that said I’m wondering if anyone has figured out an aftermarket rudder that works with Elie kayaks? I called REI where we purcahsed the boats and they stated that the BTS rudder system they sell is not compatible. Not sure if that is entirely accurate or not. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Allen

try a skeg
One cheap alternative that might do the trick for your daughter’s boat would be to try a strap-on skeg. My first Feathercraft kayak (a Kahuna) weathercocked horribly, zigzagging like a dog in a field full of fire hydrants, until I bought their $40 molded rubber skeg. It has 4 adjustable straps that attach to the deck perimeter lines. I’ve used it on hard boats too and it has the same effect of straightening out the tracking, even in current and crosswinds. I actually prefer it to a rudder because there is less drag. And being tough rubber it has never sustained any damage from scraping rocks or sitting on a dock (it just folds to the side). You can slide it around underneath until you find the position that works best. Hard to believe such a small item could make such a performance difference.

That said, Feathercraft also sells their excellent rudders individually if you wanted to look into retrofitting one onto the Elie. You will find Feathercraft’s customer service second to none, the antithesis of your experience with Pelican. Everyone at FC’s tiny shop in Vancouver goes out of their way to help with technical advice, as do their dealers, like Lyle Hancock of Folding Kayak Adventures in Colorado (though around this time of year he is usually out leading trips on the waters.)

The Elie Straits look like wonderful boats and I’ve been coveting one lately – I’ll be interested to hear how you like yours. How are the seats? My boyfriend has terrible problems with seat position in all of the kayaks we’ve tried for him and Elie’s seat looks very well-designed.

A couple kayaks similar to Elie 140 with comfortable and adjustable seats you might want to consider:

Delta 14.5: I think the seat slide forward and back, so you can set it right for you.

Nifty 430: the seat can tilt up and down

Lightspeed kayaks… not sure which model is compatible, but they use bicycle seat type gel in their seats

For the price of a rudder …
You three can have a kayak lesson. You will probably not want to invest in a rudder for a 12 foot boat after that -:wink:

That said, if you still want a rudder, and since you mentioned you are in MD, you may want to check with CLC (Chesapeake Light Craft) on the SmartTrack rudders they sell. They come with a variety of adapters and brackets and CLC can probably help you which one to get. Other shops sell these too. These are some of the best mass-produced rudders you can get. Toe control (vs. sliding pedals), solid construction, etc.

Maybe this?

– Last Updated: Jun-30-11 7:06 PM EST –

KS says it has fittings for just about any kayak... maybe worth a call to see if it is so for the Elie.

Kocho's suggestion is also on the money. If you are going to be out there as a family you should take advantage of your numbers and take a couple of lessons to get basics down like rescuing each other on the water from a capsize, and paddling in wind. I am guessing that you are within reasonable driving range of the offshore areas of Chesapeake Bay - most of Maryland is.

One other thing you may want to consider is expending the time to learn how to be safe towing someone. I am guessing your daughter is smaller than you adults, and no matter what will be blown around a bit more. So a person to person tow - like from a waist-mounted system - might be a real option to get you all home some days.

Later thought - you want to give someone money for something that is being made and exists, and they won't sell it to you.... and we wonder why the economy is in trouble.

the easy option
would be to just sell it and then buy the 120XE

if you bought th kayak from REI…
…they will take it back for a full refund, even used, and you could buy the ruddered version. (I know REI is one of the few US distributors so I thought there might be a chance you bought it through them – they really do honor that guarantee, with ALL goods.)

I guess one question that might help clarify offering a solution would be, what are the actual problems that are leading you to want to add the rudder?

Why won’t the sell a rudder system? That aside I’m sure that smart track has a rudder that will fit. If you are handy and have the will you can figure out how to get it to work. The hard part to the rudder is how it mounts on the rear. If smart track can make that work then the rest is pretty straight toward.

Ryan L.

Take the rudder off of one of the 140s and put it on the 120.