Skeg My Canoe- Back to the Drawing Board

I’ve been using the Trim Tab/Rudder/Skeg on flatwater for a while now and it does alow me to paddle switch pretty effectively.

Saturday I was out on the Merrimack and it was once again doing that job quite well.

Then I got to Haverhill and the wind was blowing up 12" waves and whitecaps down the mile long fetch.

Going upwind was just grunt work. No control issues there. But going downwind was where I thought having a skeg would really come in handy.

Great place to test my theory.

With the wind coming over my left shoulder I started surfing down. The Osprey had no problem staying with the waves so long as I kept paddling. But pretty soon she started turning and, with the skeg down I couldn’t bring her back. I tried adjusting the trim but if she didn’t turn one way she turned the other. Once she got just a bit of angle she wasn’t coming back no matter how I paddled. I criss crossed that river a few times trying to figure it out.

Finally I raised the skeg. She still wanted to broach but at least with no skeg I could bring her back. Can’t say it was easy but it was controlable.

What can I say? It seemed like a good idea.

I’m a rank beginner…
…but I don’t seem to have much trouble directing my Navarro Legacy (same design as your Osprey, right?) in the wind. When I’m not paddling tandem, I put some ballast in the stern and paddle from the bow seat or kneeling just ahead of it. Faced the same situation you described here about a week ago on a wide stretch of the Snake River (Swan Falls res, actually) and with the wind more or less to our backs simply used a little light “ruddering” when gliding ahead of the wind, and occasional corrective stroke when paddling downwind.

I’m finding this 13’ hull goes pretty straight when I do my part, but when I paddle it solo, a little strategically added weight (to my 165lbs) helps.

What I’d like to know from you - is how the sailing rig is working out for your Osprey. Did you buy a kit or make it yourself? Any special problems in using this type of canoe for sailing? If you already covered this, can you show me the thread?

Old Galt-Jensen Story
Mike Galt, of Lotus Canoes, used to tell this story about canoes and skegs.

Mike was doing a solo FreeStyle course, and one of the participants was in a Wenonah Solitude. After several hours of frustration, the student asked Mike to try the boat because she couldn’t get it to go straight. After some efort, Mike couldn’t either.

Later in the year and across state, Mike paid a courtesy call on Eugene Jensen. In Gene’s backyard was a stack of canoes. Mike noticed a surfboard skeg on a Solitude. He asked Gene what that was about.

Eugene replied; “that’s a surfboard skeg Mike, you 've seen them before.” Mike said, “Yeah, I know what it is, but why would you…?”

Gene came back with; “I can’t get the thing to go straight without it.”

Skegs are double edged swords.

Navaro Legacy?
My Osprey is a 15’ long 30" beam solo canoe.

I’m not familiar with the Legacy but from your post it sounds like a 13’ tandem? I’d guess they are very different boats.

I really like the Osprey but it seems to want to broach in a following wind. I think it’s the wind rather than the waves that cause this. I was hoping that putting a fin in the water at the back of the boat might counter the tendency. All it did in those conditions was make it harder to correct. Doh!

The sail rig is home designed and built. It sails OK but IMO a wider boat would sail easier and better. I’m a paddler first and don’t care to sacrifice paddling performance for sailing.

My mistake!
I read “Merrimack” and “Osprey” in two separate sentences of your post, and assumed they belonged together. So “Merrimack” doesn’t refer to your canoe - now I get it. The Legacy has no rocker and has a keel. No wonder the difference in the wind. I can see why you might want to try a skeg, but I wonder if it’s even possible to overcome the effects of rocker in the wind with just the skeg?

Your experiment interests me because I’m trying to come to grips with the possibility of a “do everything” boat as I progress in abilities - but the more I read, the more I understand I won’t be satisfied with only one canoe…

Nice looking Osprey, BTW, and WTG with the home brew sail rig!

Tommy, try a sea anchor. ;- )