skeg vs rudder

no, this is not about the eternal debate about which is better - this is a question to those who find age weakening them a bit - - i have a skeg boat, and it’s a jewel, but i’ve been finding this season that those constant course correction nudges are tiring me more than i like to admit - i’m in great shape, having become bored with retirement, and now spending 9hrs a day walking, and carring items, in one of the big box stores, but i do feel a tad weaker than 6mos ago - - anyone else finding the same, or am i just becoming an ol’ wimp =:-/ ?? - i, regretably, am going to demo a shorter (17’ vs 13 1/2’), lighter (38# vs 33#), rudder equipped boat today, but probably won’t make a decision for some days - - i’m just curious if some of you other aging (if you’ll admit it :slight_smile: )folks are heading in the same direction - - of course, i COULD always have 2 boats, but - - - i know i’ve skirted this topic before, but decided it was time to come clean !!! - john

skeg, rudder, and modifying a ww kayak
I’s an issue. I in fact have a Perception

Pirouette kayak which I bought recnetly, used, without doing much research. Nice

size, easy to lift but, a white water river kayak. I take it out on

smooth water and every 8 strokes or so it does a 360 turn, which is

amusing in its own way, but gets tiresome. I control it using the

(short) paddle that came with the vessel as a runnder. I hate to give

it up because it is so easy to manage. I’m wondering if some sort of

rudder devise or skeg might be attached. I bought it

because the price was right – the wrong reason I suppose. All this doesn’t help you with your question, I’m afraid, but it seems related.

i have added retractable skegs
to three ww boats, old style 13’ river runners. these boats are very versatile, tracking or spinning depending on the skeg.

Work on your forward stroke.
Granted an older, longer WW boat like yours seems to have a mind of its own sometimes but with a proper forward stroke you can make anything go straight. Check out this article:

maybe…maybe not
you may find the foot pegs on a rudder yak force your legs into uncomfortable positions. They take up space under there. I have a ruddered Q700 and the pegs force my heels to be on the floor most of the time as well. With nothing under the deck, I would guess you have more room to stretch and wiggle.

I still prefer rudders, though. Discomfort can be dealt with by more rest breaks.

Not a purist!
While not in the ‘geezer’ catagory yet - I have a 14’ kayak WITH A RUDDER. I use it whenever I’m getting set by a wind, and I track straight towards my GPS guided destination and it’s great. No guilt. I’ve never had a skeg boat, but I assume that in a offsetting wind condition you would still need to work one side of your body harder that the other, no matter what paddle stroke you use. I can tell you a rudder equalizes paddling effort AND gets you where you want to go. I do a lot of bay paddling and it can really help in less than ideal conditions, which is almost always. I also have a downwind sail rig and I pop that whenever the wind is running right as well - a rudder is vital for maintaining boat heading in that situation as well. Bottom line advice: stop agonizing and get the rudder!

I found…
The easier it is, the weaker you get.

The old use it or loose it thing.

If you don’t do it, you won’t be able to do it.

I race one or two days a year. The best part is the health benefit derived from trying to train for the race the rest of the year.

But then again, do whatever it takes to keep on doing… GH

Whatever works
The more I learn, the more I realize that everyone’s different, and there is no universal “best” solution. Personally, I haven’t liked the rudders I’ve tried, but if a rudder makes your time on the water more enjoyable then do it and don’t look back.

As for geezerhood, well – I used to think that car camping was for wimps, and the only “real” camping was backpacking. I still enjoy that, but Winnebagos are starting to look a lot more interesting…

“offsetting… stroke”

– Last Updated: Aug-25-04 12:15 PM EST –

Actually - a skeg balances for wind very well -allowing you to paddle evenly on both sides. In fact, that's really all it's there for.

Ability to control the amount of skeg easily and accurately as conditions change is key - and why I replaced my cord/cleat control with something I could more precisely dial in.

Personally I'd recommend skegged boats (and GPs) for geezers - as long as they take full advantage of not having a rudder by losing the footpegs in favor of bulkhead foam. Otherwise - you suffer needlessly (and probably don't even know it).

Otherwise - whatever. Both have their functions. I have a skegged boat and a ruddered boat, plus my girlfriend's kayak is ruddered. Our ruddered boat were designed specifically to have them and would not work well at all without. They need rudder 100% - while my skegged boat only needs the skeg occasionally - and to varying degrees.

Happy medium
>As for geezerhood, well – I used to think that car camping was for wimps, and the only “real” camping was backpacking. <

I arrive at the middle ground: kayak camping. You can almost bring the kitchen sink, ok, wash basin. And still have the solitude.

Long boats are for open water, like oceans and BIG lakes. Shorter boats are actually better for exploring marshes and narrow passages in rivers. As for rudder? Make sure you get a boat with a good solid footpeg!

Another geezer here.
I am 64 and would never consider a ruddder. My sea kayak has neither rudder nor skeg and while there are times when paddling gets tiring because of wind or waves I usually find it is not my age that is the problem but rather that my technique has lapsed – lack of rotation in my stroke, failure to edge the boat correctly, or not relaxing my torso and hips. Things would be easier with a skeg and I might get one someday but for the time being it is full steam ahead and keep the Ibuprofen handy. :slight_smile:

Just say no to drugs…
…I mean Rudderphobia. I don’t understand, it’s like the ancient Egyptians being opposed to the wheel and lever because it would throw off their block moving techniques for building the pyramids! :slight_smile: Sometimes when the chips are down and the wind is up - a rudder is real nice!

Not rudderphobia.
Experience. I have paddled boats with rudders and skegs. Except for racing the rudder has no advantage over a skeg and if you are unfortunate enough to get a rudder dependent boat with a push/pull system it can be hell to paddle.

skegs & rudders
I have two kayals, one with a skeg and one with a rudder. For me chosing which to use often comes down to where I want to paddle and how windy it is on that particular day. This is a personal decision that involves the individual, the environment, the skill level, and the type paddling you do. Basically a rudder more effectively helps you hold course with less overall effort in windy conditions. A skeg is a compromise that can be quite helpful. I find that a skeg is easier to use, and when retracted does not change the sail area of the boat the way a retracted rudder can. Overall neither is a clear winner, but I would give the nod to the rudder in most situations.


even better…
Ibuprofen and vicodin combo…works real well for me…and I prefer the stiff leg from the rudder to the constant leaning and kicking to keep a yak from weatrhercocking

How did you put a skeg in a poly boat? I’d like to be able to do that myself!

How is that better?
I don’t have either problem.

The question is rudder or skeg - not rudder or nothing. Skeg = no fighting too, AND no leg issues.

PS - how tall are you Jim?

rudders & skegs
I’d say it just about the reverse way.

Skeg handles a variety of conditions well - certainly more than enough for most paddling - and is much simpler and more comfortable for most paddling.

The only real drawback is most people have no clue how to use a skeg to adjust weather helm. A good explanation (with animation) for anyone reading along that’s new to this old discusion, or has never used a skeg in wind:

The only thing I’d give a rudder a slight edge on is racing, when a few extra percent of effort focused on forward stroke and fine tuning course while drafting can add up to a slightly faster time. In racing those things are worthwhile. For most paddling, it’s just not going to mater. (All this assumes same boat/paddler otherwise. Obvously some boats are designed specifically for rudders and would be dangerous without - but that removes them from this discussion).

old debate…
it’s true, lotsa folks don’t understand the function of a skeg. You can “dial out” any weathercocking with a skeg. Beginners should try incrementally lowering the blade til the boat runs true. I seldom need to lean or paddle favoring a side if my skeg is right.

Band-aid or Penicillin?
A rudder is a bit like a band-aid. It has its intended purpose: it corrects weathercocking to keep the boat going straight. In that capacity, it works just as well, but no better, than a skeg.

A rudder also cures lots of minor illness: from uneven forward stroke, poor or non-existing sweep stroke, inability to make minor course correction via edge control, to lack of mental capacity (to understand how a skeg works in wind). You push on the rudder, all those problems goes away and you get to merrily goes to your intened destination.

A skeg is more like Penicillin, it only works for one thing and one thing only: countering weathercocking. It works really well in that capacity with minimal side-effects.

But lots of people mis-understand the use of skeg just as they mis-understand the target of Penicillin. When I was a kid (many decades ago), many parents gave Penicillin to their kids whenever the kid had a fever! Well, the kid got better on he/her own, with or without the Penicillin! Same with skeg. Drop the skeg in hope of “stiffening up” your tracking? It seems to work some of the time (when there’s little wind). Other times, you ended up turning downwind FAST!!!

So, if you want to go straight in stiff wind? Both rudder and skeg will do equally well. But if you need help going straight or turn without edging, skeg won’t do you any good. You need a rudder.