skeg help!!

I bought a couple of inflatable kayaks. A friend and I are planning on taking them on a weekend river trip. The reviews I’ve read for this specific yak, people say the tracking is not very good. I want to make a skeg to add to the bottom.

How big should a skeg be for a decently fast moving river? I was planning on about 4" by 6" to track better. Would this be too big and make it too difficult to turn?

I was planning on using a type of press board or other wood. Is this the best thing to make a skeg out of of?

Please respond if you have legitimate advice. Please don’t tell me that I should buy new/better kayaks. I already have the yaks and the trip is soon so adding a skeg is my only option at this point.

Your other option …
Is to actually paddle the thing loaded to see if you need a skeg or not…

I’ve made semipermanent skegs out of scrap plastic that is easy to cut with pretty much any saw and cn be sanded to be smooth. Glue with marine goop glue…

how big was the skeg you made out of scrap plastic?

Regarding materials

– Last Updated: Mar-24-13 10:14 AM EST –

I second the idea of plastic. Press board or plywood won't hold up for long, unless it's sealed with varnish, or something. Sometimes when I need pastic stock, I go to Wally World, and buy a portable cutting board. They're pretty cheap, and come in at least 2 thicknesses. fThe thicker HDPE stuff is too thick, but cuts and drills great, for certain types of projects.

Not that you want to get this involved, but, for reference, when I built a skeg system for my last wood kayak, I used 5.2mm plywood, and fiberglassed both sides. The whole thing is sealed with epoxy and varnish.

Now that this has come up, I'm wondering why I didn't investigate plastic. Eh, looks, I guess.

WRT tracking not being very good... that may depend on the river and the goal. People may complain about tracking when they can't get a boat to go straight on flat, still water. But, not tracking well is considered a virtue for whitewater boats, with moving current, and not primarily motivating the boat with the paddle.

Edit: Another source of plastic stock is clipboards, from an office supply store.

Tracking and you?

– Last Updated: Mar-24-13 11:49 AM EST –

Perhaps I have not had enough coffee yet, but I find your post confusing.

You mention a fast moving river - exactly how fast? If it is fast enough, and you paddle decently, it should be fairly easy to track straight and catch a ride in the strongest part of the current. But if you want to cross current to get to an eddy or to shore, that skeg can quickly become your enemy. It will give the water more boat to push around. True WW boats do not have skegs or rudders, and most skegs on even sea kayaks are retractable. There is a reason - tracking devices can hand you more problems than help in some situations of wind and current.

Was your source of information a review by a new paddler, or by someone with major time in different boats? New paddlers generally can't paddle straight in current or wind - it is the nature of the thing - so any boat they paddle is going to be blamed for that until they sort out their own skill.

It sounds to me like you are considering one of two things, neither of which elevates a skeg to a top priority. One is a trip on a river with current that is unwise on overall skill and preparation level, and the other is a trip on a river that is doable but the skeg may be less important than other parts of the prep like handling on-water emergencies.

Try a strap on

:slight_smile: Could of had a V-8…



– Last Updated: Mar-24-13 8:28 PM EST –

Mine was on a 13.6. Foot long kayak and a piece that was about 2" deep and about 10" long worked great. Ends were tapered so the overall area was probably 1/5th less than that of a rectangle with these dimensions.

The plastic I used was just whatever I had lying around. I think I cut-up some tray that was about 2mm thick. You want something that is not brittle or easy to crack but instead more flexible. A thin cutting board would do, for instance. Just make sure whatever glue you use sticks to it. You can tape it in place with weather sealing or duct tape to figure out where you want it first.

You can experiment. If it is too big and placed too much to the rear you will get a boat that is hard to steer. I had mine a couple of feet from the rear, probably 1/3rd between the end of the boat and the rear of the seat. This way the boat tracked straight but with a lean I could actually do zig-zags without the paddle. If you have seen the videos of Sterling Illusion I think, showing off their unusually placed skegs, they too could zig-zag on flat water without the paddle being necessary to change direction.

Link to Video
Here is the Sterling video that I mentioned. With the skeg down the boat can zigzag