Rudder removal?

I have been w/w paddling for several years but only last yr bought an old necky arluk IV. I probably have put 300 miles on it. I have never used the rudder other than to see if it functions.

I am thinking of removing it and putting in a solid minicell footblock. Is there any good reason I should leave the rudder on the boat?

why not?
since you have the skills and you have established that the kayak performs fine without the rudder you would be increasing it’s performance by removing it?

What? you might ask…

The rudder not deployed creates a surface that ill effects the kayak when in a cross (beam) wind.

Remove the contraption and put some solid (not mushy) minicell as foot rest.

You will also minimize the volume or your cockpit when swamped with water.

Don’t want to open a can of worms
but I think most boats benefit from skeg or rudder in certain conditions. Of course, you can fight the boat, but that takes more energy than using the rudder or the skeg.

I am not talking a 2 hour leisurly or exercise or skills development paddle where that might be the goal or simply would not matter. Where it matters is if you race, or if you go on a longer trip.

I do not know how your particular boat handles, but all the boats I’ve had so far require significant non-negligible extra effort to keep on course if there is side wind or side chop and I want to keep moving at a respectable speed (if I go slow it is easier as they are more balanced then). But if I use the skeg or rudder it is much easier in these conditions even though there is some drag from it when deployed and some additional windage when the rudder is raised.

I have not yet made my mind about rudders as I’m just got my first boat with a rudder, but I know I would not want to be without a retractable skeg…

maybe keep the rudder, change the pegs
I have a Looksha IV. I almost never use the rudder, and I hate the spongy footbraces, but I wouldn’t remove the rudder because in heavy wind on a long paddle, it takes too much energy to maintain heading without the rudder.

I’d love to replace the boat with a narrower skeg boat, but if I can’t do that I will consider replacing the foot pegs with something fixed, like the gas-pedal type rudder controls from sea-dog. That way your feet are firmly braced, but you have the option of using the rudder when it’s necessary.

Careful about that

– Last Updated: Oct-09-08 12:15 PM EST –

I had the same thought briefly with my Squall - hated how the damned thing worked in wind or chop and much preferred to handle it other ways. But you should confirm if, as mentioned above, that rudder is part of the design in how it affects the boat's behavior in cross winds. Some boats are designed assuming that the rudder surface will be there to balance things out and have it weathercock as desired.

I never got to the point - I went to a new (skegged) boat and found a good home for the Squall so I never had this discussion with Current Designs. But you may want to check it out, especially given that the Arluk IV is not the most forgiving of Necky's line.

Although I prefer skegged boats, I still have one ruddered one. It has its good points as well as bad, but it can make life easier sometimes. If you keep it, definitely ditch the stock Necky footbraces in favor of Seaward or similar. They make a world of difference for bracing or pumping.

I did it.
My first glass boat was an Arluk III and after a few paddles I removed it. I removed it because I was learning to roll and I didn’t like the soft foot pedals and everytime I came up the rudder was undone and off to the side. I paddled fine without it and just re-attached it when I sold it. You may not be able to remove the cables if they have the crimped-on ends. I just coiled mine in the cockpit and used a few tie-wraps to keep it out of the way.

As a WW paddler, and as a one-time
sculler, I have found that I can control boats easily with paddle technique. Maybe it has to do with my great height and reach also. I have always imagined that if I got a longer touring kayak, something over 16 feet, I might find a rudder useful, simply because long craft don’t maneuver as easily with paddle alone. But if you’re finding the Necky Arluk will go where you want it to without a rudder, then why not remove it?

Thanks for the input. I know that in certain conditions the rudder would be useful but not sure I will ever need it myself. I just like the idea of less clutter/more spartan look on the boat plus a solid footblock.

As for someone who uses the rudder a lot is that mostly in high wind/following seas or other?

I can see that if I was ever in a position to ever just “set up and steer with my feet” that would be pretty cool.

Did you read the Mayor’s Club thread?
From one of the links posted there:

“We were doing 17km/h into a 20km/h wind,” said Oscar Chalupsky. “The current was pulling us along like crazy. But the rudderless kayaks were struggling in the conditions.”

Nowhere as bad as the weather there seem to have been, but I specifically went out paddling on the Potomac during the small craft weather advisory in Washington DC yesterday with 1-3 foot waves with occasional white cap and 15 mph with up to 30 mph gusts. But pretty much flat with only some confused areas with small clapotis. I was the only vessel on the water except for one large-ish passenger ship in what is normally a rather busy stretch of water. I can tell you that without a rudder these conditions would have required a lot of work to keep on course in anything but straight against the wind/waves even if not racing but just trying to get from point A to point B. If playing in one spot, well - it probably does not matter and you would not want the rudder then…

skegged boats require

Not everybody has it.

Not sure why state the obvious :wink:
Surely all these world-class surf-ski racers lack some essential skills necessary for paddling skegged boats, hence they use a rudder…

on the other hand
surf skiers aim is to go fast.

Surely all these expeditions to very remote places in seriously demanding conditions done in skegged boats account to something.

Many expeditions are however done in ruddered sea kayaks but very rarely in composite ruddered kayaks.

Well, possibly the reason for a ruddered kayak is the actual fact that they are out of plastic.

The choice for expedition worthy sea kayaks made from plastic with a skeg is very limited.

So what, if expedition is not my game? you might ask.

I believe I said it before:; it’s like driving stick versus auto. How can you explain to an automatic driver the virtue of a stick shift car.

It’s not for everyone but so aren’t sporty cars that require maybe a bit of skill to drive.

The actual learning curve for a skegged kayak is a bit steeper though.

And to come back to surfskis: well they are drag racing cars. Not very maneuverable on a windy road, but way faster then others on the straight course.

I seem to get off topic here a bit but since we started this comparison I might as well elaborate.

Look, I come from a ruddered sea kayak background. I have progressed from mere paddling to actual sea kayaking. I am an automatic driver that learned to handle a sporty car with stick shift. I know that sitting back and just enjoying a cruisy drive is not for me, but it seems to be the case for most that really don’t have the inclination to learn new skills.

Somehow I don’t hear often of kayakers that have progressed from skegged kayaks to ruddered kayaks, well at least not on my side of the ocean… :slight_smile:

If it was me, and I was strictly using

– Last Updated: Oct-23-08 6:46 AM EST –

it in WW, I would remove it in a heartbeat.
As much as I wouldn't have a sea kayak without a rudder, I never used my rudder in WW.
If it is deployed it will do nothing but screw you up.

On the other hand if you will be using it on flat water at various times, keep it on. They sure come in handy in a strong quartering wind.


A skegged boat needs less skill …

– Last Updated: Oct-23-08 11:19 AM EST –

... than a non-skegged one!

However, the original question of the OP was wheather to remove a rudder or not. My answer was that without it handling in ceratin conditions will be more difficult (unnecessarily so) than with it. That is by the way unrelated to skeg or no skeg, which you and I started...

Let's see how a skeg works:
--> not deployed = maneuverable, poor tracking, weather/lee cocking in most wind/waves when at speed (remember, the pivot point moves forward with increased speed, so your boat will be balanced only at certain speed all else being equal).
--> partially to fully deployed = less maneuverable, better tracking, little to no weathercocking or a bit of leecocking (depending on paddler's needs to balance of several factors such as speed, amount of skeg deployed, wind and waves direction, boat load and design, etc.)

I can only see from the above that a skegged boat actually requires *less* skill than a boat without a skeg. Because a skeg helps minimize your efforts to control the boat just like a rudder does. So if a skeg helps, it can't require more skills, beyond understanding how it works... Just the skeg does what a rudder does less effectively than a good rudder system.

The notion that these devices, or lack of either - can be compared as if all where appropriate options for all kayaks and all users is silly.

Some kayaks are designed for rudders - and would be nightmare’s without. Surf skis are a prime example. I seriously doubt anyone wants to be stuck handling a 20+ waterline round hulled kayak in all conditions without a rudder. Also, surf skis are meant to surf - ride waves/catch runs - and this is MUCH easier to do and maintain with a rudder. Same goes for making ant tight buoy turns while holding speed in any racing kayak.

Most skegged sea kayaks have less than 17" waterline lengths. Maneuverability is less of an issue (while simplicity/reliability is) and a skeg is a good option to deal with certain wind/wave effects and get more range of performance out of the hull. Rudder might work too (either can be stuck on just about anything), but might be overkill for many uses (while right for others) and many sea kayaks are not designed for optimal use/mounting, etc.

Very few - like my QCC 700 for example - fall in between. At 17.5+ foot waterline it’s at/over the upper end of what a skeg works optimally on. I’m happy with a skeg, but there are some days where I would trade. Not many though (but if my average speed were just a little faster - and my paddling more racing oriented - a trade would make a lot more sense).

Point is, this “choice” only applies to sea kayaks, and very few of these even fall into the range where it’s really a choice at all - and the designers have already made the choice in most cases anyway.

Your paddling needs/styles/preferences will determine the kayaks you paddle - and odds are you won’t have a choice anyway (and if you did - and were well informed - you end up same anyway).

If you want to generalize, and again this only applies to sea kayaks, then maybe something like this as a loose rule of thumb:

17’LWL - rudder

14.5’-17’ LWL - skeg*

Sounds like you have it figured out
You can always put it back later. Solid footbraces are great, particualy whole foot/whole bulkhead (with 15 degree tilt even better).

Do consider the suggestions to put in solid surface type rudder controls too. SeaDog or SeaLine OK - something like Pat at ONNO makes even better - but all overkill if you aren’t using the rudder.

Kocho, I follow your
explanation of the skeg operation however you might forget that most paddlers use a rudder to turn a kayak.

One of the most often questions asked from a rudder paddler to a skeg kayaker: how do you turn the kayak?

Therefore I would say that most ruddered paddlers don’t have the skill to the turn the kayak by sweep paddle stroke and edging the kayak.

I would account at least these two actions as “more skills”.

The original poster seems to have these skills (300 miles without rudder!) and he says that he is happy paddling the kayak with the rudder retracted.

He is a WW paddler that has learned the skill to handle a kayak without the rudder.

I buy that (n/t)

Rudder removal
This is my first touring boat I’ve been paddling some form of w/w since the late 70’s. I dont really have a problem with the rudder but just have not needed it yet.

The rudder surely makes the boat turn quickly but all my paddling so far has just been get in and paddle in at most 15/20 mph wind with some slight wave action.

I can see where the rudder could save you but not sure when I will encounter those conditions.

I’ve never seen any of the upgrades for the footpegs. Are they an easy/inexpensive upgrade and worth the trouble?