silly question!!! what is a skeg? and what does it do?

A skeg
is basically a fixed unsteerable rudder that enhances tracking on recreational boats. They are particularly helpful on boats that are “short and wide” (like a Dagger Blackwater for instance).

ahh religion

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 11:00 AM EST –

Retractable underhull skegs are also used on some rough water boats to modify the boats tendency to weathercock (turn into the wind) or leecock (turn down-wind).

Rudders can also be used to accomplish the same things though in different ways. Generally there is a significant gap in thinking between those that prefer skegs vs rudder and those that prefer rudders vs skegs.

Skegs and rudders can become especially desireable when one must travel some distance in a strong beam (from the side) wind.

You have my vote for Mayor of Pnet!
“Generally there is a significant gap in the thinking between those that prefer skegs vs rudder and those that prefer rudders vs skegs.”

Masterfully said! (This court will now adjourn, to reconviene at the time of the next post and there will continue to be order and civility…or will there…)

Skeg is for touring kayaks
Flat water touring kayaks are designed for different uses. EVERY kayak is a design compromise, of many desirable features.

A skeg is a verticle fin that is set downwards, as needed, near the rear of a kayak. It is adjustable, so it can be set down the amount as needed. Normally this is used to offset the effects of wind blowing on the part of the kayak that is out of the water. There is notmally a control cable that goes to the paddler, from the skeg itself.

My Kayak has a design tendancy to want to turn into a strong wind. This can be a good thing, as a kayak that stays sideways to strong winds tends to want to be turned over. By the design ot the kayak wanting to be turned into the wind, I have a safety factor should I get into winds that are too much for me to control the kayak.

In lighter winds, I can put enough sked down, to just offset the wind. I can then easily paddle straight. I bring the skeg up, and can easily turn.

Another reason for the need of a skeg on my kayak, is that the kayak is designed to be easy to turn, even though it is 18’ long. By designing it to be easy to turn, it takes away some “built in” tracking ability. So I can use the amount of Skeg that I need to track straight as I need.

IMHO,… Rudders and skegs are on kayaks to cover for one or all of the following: Lack of skill of the paddler, a defiency in the design, or to offset the effects of Wind. In may instances, Skegs or Rudders are good!

Whatever works for you, is then best for you.

Happy Paddling!

A resource:

A resource:

Not so much…

“a deficiency in the design” as it is virtually impossible to design a boat that handles all loads, situations and conditions ideally. A rudder or a skeg is to help with control. On some boats a rudder is absolutely necessary others need only an occasional skeg depending on what the boat is designed to do. They only ones I have paddled that handle well with out either are some of the VERY hard chine boats but in that case the chines act as a control surface and you have to use them.


– Last Updated: Mar-17-06 7:56 AM EST –

I didn't mean a deficiency in design as a "Bad Thing", but indicating the purposeful compromise.

My Impex Assateague is almost 18" long, To make it easier to turn, a little rocker is in the hull design. This takes away some straight line tracking ability.

So in this case, the design deficiency of not tracking well by itself, is on purpose to make it easier to turn.

So the Skeg was added into the design, to help with tracking when needed.

Neat Stuff! :)

thanks for the input

As a hard chine boat paddler, I agree…
…with what you’ve said here about rudderless/skegless hard chine boats; that the chines are definitely to be used as essential control surfaces. One of the reasons I so much appreciate my hard chine boats is that they allow me to experience the most intimate connection between “body/boat/blade/water/weather/etc.” with the least amount of mechanical assistance.

Additionally, I appreciate the lack of extraneous mechanical devices that could fail…especially when they might be needed most. Finally, I just appreciate the clean lines of a boat without rudders or skegs.

Perhaps it’s just dumb luck that my sincere preferences in terms of boat (sea kayak) performance just happen to get along so nicely with my love of the more traditional approaches to boat design, and my individual sense of kayak aesthetics. :slight_smile:

My current boats/paddles:

CD Caribou; pre skeg 1997 (my very first boat)

S&G Arctic Hawk

Greenland Paddles

My next boat(s):

W. Greenland style SOF

Though I admit to having some pretty particular preferences when it comes to sea kayaks, in a pinch, I’ll enjoy being on the water in just about any relatively seaworthy object that floats! :slight_smile:

Finally, while it’s great to catch a wave in my long boats, there’s really no substitute for a nice surf boat when surfing shore break, so I’m thinking about getting one of these very soon. I’m also interested in getting into some WW river paddling (to enjoy the beauty of the canyons as much as for the fun of paddling the lively rivers). Each type of water has its specialized boat types, and within those parameters, we will each have our specific preferences.


Great minds think alike… :slight_smile:

mechanical devices
I wonder how much of the bare hull vs skeg vs rudder debate is driven by the disparate predilections relative to the tactile clarity of bare hull paddling vs the somewhat insulating but (arguably more) efficient rudders.

Chine or not…
…you can get the same performance with a boat with a rounded hull as with hard chines. Edging a boat will cause it to turn, regardless of the hull shape. Boats like the CD Gulfstream are good examples of how effective this is if the boat is designed right.

People have a tendency to apply distinct handling charactics to chines and other specific aspects of a hull design, but the reality is that boat handling is much more complex than that. Rounded and hard chine boats can - and do - overlap in their perfomance characteristics, depending on other aspects of the design. I believe that your boats handle as you say they do, but attributing their handling only to their chines is inappropriate.

“that enhances tracking…”

I thought that’s what the double-bladed paddles are for! You paddle on one side and then paddle on the other and the boat goes (mostly) forward!

No, a skeg is DESIGNED to balance the weathercocking tendency, even though a few beginners mistakenly use it to mask their inability to paddle straight.

Which recreation boat comes with skeg, btw?

when coming on shore
when coming on shore don’t forget to retract the skeg or it’ll be damaged.

I couldn’t agree more
I own both a Current Designs Gulfstream (round hull) and a Nigel Foster Shadow (hard chine)and both of them are very easy to turn by edging and both track extremely well when not edged.

I really can’t say one hull is better than the other. The Shadow feels “tippier” initially because it wants to sit on one chine or the other when you are not moving.

I think there is way too much emphasis put on whether or not a boat is hard chined or soft chined.

Draging a chunk of metal…
in the water behind you makes the boat more efficient?

Of course not
People who race kayaks are just idiots.

Couldn’t agree with you more. :slight_smile:

Well played, sir