Skeg cable kinked

Tried to deploy my skeg cable the other day and the cable kinked right near the slider used to deploy. Must have gotten some gravel in the skeg box when I put in off the gravel beach. I have a WS Zephyr. Can I repair this myself?

Get new cable. Disassemble the old one. Replace. Put back together.

If you are the cautious type, try to get the instructions first.

You can try to take the old one out and straighten the kink as much as you can then reverse the cable so the kink is held inside the housing. That might work but probably won’t be as good as new.

Way to avoid same thing again?
I’ll be more careful about my put ins and try to be sure the skeg box is clean - other than that, is there anything I can do to prevent this? I can’t say I felt any significant or additional resistance when I tried to drop the skeg this time.

one tip
You may know this already, but you can avoid a lot of junk in the skeg box by launching stern first.

The new skeg slider design sucks
I have had an older version of the Zephyr 16, and now have a 2011 build model, nicely replaced by WS under warranty.

All the changes on the newer version are either better or equal, except for the change in the slider design. The older design had a metal rod that surrounded the skeg cable, so no cable was exposed in the skeg control slider area. It was fool proof.

The new design has the front of the cable in a plastic sleeve, so retracting it is fool proof. Deploying it - horrible!!!

The cable is exposed, it often takes two hands to deploy it the first time. One hand to put four fingers on the cable to keep it from moving outside the ‘slider box’ and the other one to try and make the slider move rearward. If I get it deployed, then it can be moved in and out easily (that time in the water) as long as I use the finger on the cable technique to deploy it.

I can see that this design change was made to eliminate multiple hand assembly steps at the factory. Unfortunately, it was also a serious degradation in functionality. WS needs to do a redesign that incorporates some type of sleeve over the cable on the stern side of the slider. It seems to me that this might not be all that difficult for them to do, but would require complete disassembly of the skeg cable and some other work to retrofit.

For folks that are familiar with the older design skeg, you need to see the new setup before you make assumptions based on what you are familiar with.

Skeg cable
Best way to avoid the gravel is to launch stern first, or better yet, put the complete kayak in the water before getting in.

I have had poor luck in unkinking the cable. Better to replace it. Watch out though, all SS cable is not equal. SS cable stocked by most marine supply places is not stiff enough. Go to a place that specializes in sailboat hardware and get the cable that is meant for sailboat rigging. It is much stiffer.

Good to hear

– Last Updated: Nov-17-11 6:15 AM EST –

it isn't just me. I was thinking that the design of this thing leaves something to be desired because there is no sleeve on the stern side of the slide to contain the cable. I ordered a new cable.

Re: stiffness - I wonder if stiffer is necessarily better. I see the logic. But it might also be that stiffer would be more prone to kinking and that the standard OEM cable which is softer might be less prone to kinking and have more tolerance to bending before kinking. I ordered an OEM replacement. But I'm considering a stiffer cable - not sure what to do. Perhaps a stiffer cable would give more feedback that the skeg is stuck when trying to deploy?

2-nd Desertdave’s comment

– Last Updated: Nov-17-11 5:58 PM EST –

The moment I saw one of these skegs and tried it in the store - it kinked on me on a brand new boat. To leave out the metal rod at the end (probably to save a dollar or two) seems a poor decision...

I wonder if it would be possible to saturate that segment of the cable with epoxy or similar so it becomes stiff... Worth a try, I guess, since it is already kinked. Just make sure you cover all other areas and that you don't squirt epoxy into the tube.

Good idea -

– Last Updated: Nov-18-11 7:38 AM EST –

I ordered a new cable but I might pull the old cable and mess with some epoxy on a section of the old cable to see how it works before I install the new cable. After this experience I think I will try to get in the habit of making sure the skeg is free and functioning properly right at the launch site before I push off and then again immediately after I push off. Also, its pretty clear that bow first off the beach/shore is not an option with this boat unless you plan to paddle without a skeg.

I did find two helpful resources on line - links here - AND The first link is the Confluence youtube video which is quite helpful.

Apparently there are two types of cable that will work - 1 x 19 and 7 x 7. 1x19 is stiffer. Confluence suggests that 1x19 is actually MORE prone to kinking and that 7x7 being more flexible is LESS prone to kinking. They provide 7X7 with new boats and recommend it. Either type can be used.

I also ran across one paddler's post somewhere in which he suggested setting up the slider so that it is pulled 1/3 of the way back in the housing when the skeg is fully retracted. He suggested this reduces the travel of the wire when deploying and minimizes the risk of kinking. You won't be able to fully deploy the skeg but perhaps that is not so great a downside if you can reduce of eliminate the kinking issue. In many/most situations full deployment isn't needed anyway.