Unjamming skeg

I seem to have jammed up my poly Nordkapp skeg. I guess there is either some sand up in the cable housing or a kink somewhere.

Any suggestions on how to fix it? Do I need to replace the cable (and if so, how?) Thanks.

often a pebble next to the skeg
Check if the actual skeg (not cable) is over to one side of the skeg box suggesting a pebble is pushing it over to that side. If so, then some blade (screw driver, knife, etc.) of appropriate width may be able to dislodge the pebble.

Often for minor cases of this having a very short pull string tied to a hole at the end of the skeg lets you just pull the skeg a bit and clear any debris. But other times you need to get more drastic to clear it.

If you tried to hard to use the skeg control you may have kinked the cable. Not sure the best repair, but it may involve a new cable.

grapefruit knife
awesome tool (!) if you’re unjamming on land. I found one w. a hole in the handle so it straps out of the way til I beach. I’ve rescued a few other people’s skegs w. it. Handy, light, and inexpensive.

I’ve had that happened to me…
The standard pratice is use pointy nosed pliers to pull the skeg out. Although a lot of times a knife works just fine, as described by others.

Whatever that’s in the housing jamming the skeg would typically fall out once the skeg is out.

DON’T EVER force the skeg control. That’s how cable got kinked.

Another idea
I carry a cheapo cooking whisk that I cut all but one of the loops off of, and bent it into a tight loop. Put the tool into the skeg box just aft of the blade, pull forward to catch the blade, and pull the blade out. Voila!

On your Valley skeg, drill a small hole in the tip,a nd tie some monofilament fishing line to it, or just plain string (Which is what I have in my Anas’ skeg), and pull that when needed.

This always makes me wonder.
I’m the sort of guy who has a minuscule amount of tolerance for bad designs, designs which are the result of goals not related to the function of the item in real-world conditions.

It would be reasonably easy to make a jam-proof skeg, though it would weigh about two additional ounces and might cost perhaps another $50, mostly in labor (translate that to an additional $200 to the buyer, which may be why this isn’t done). Such a skeg would pivot on bronze bushings or something similar, and would therefor have no need for a tight-fitting skeg box to maintain proper alignment. I betcha some do-it-yourselfer out there has already built such a thing.

Rope skegs; WD40; wire cable

– Last Updated: Jul-27-09 11:26 PM EST –

There's something to be said for rope skegs: they don't kink. Since I installed a Harken cam cleat on my Ellesmere it works great. Just replaced the bungee after 8 yrs of use.

For metal skeg cables, sometimes water in the housing (esp. saltwater) can cause rust that binds up the cable. WD40 judiciously applied into the cable housing tube can help lubricate the cable, either to get it working again or to pull it out & replace it. If you don't want to disengage the cable & housing, you'll need to find an opening, elevate it (i.e. get the kayak vertical), get on your handy-dandy stepladder, and squirt away. Judiciously. A little WD40 goes a long way. Give it time to penetrate.

Another little hint: if you're working with wire cable, seal the ends with epoxy first to avoid a frayed wire coming loose and jamming up 6' into the !*&%#!!! housing.

Alignment isn’t the issue
The problems is that no matter what size you make the skeg box, you WILL encounter sand/gravel/rocks that will jam it. The only difference that the skeg box makes is it determines the size of the objects needed to jam the skeg. OTOH, making the skeg box larger increases turbulence and drag. I really don’t see how you can make a jam-proof skeg unless you eliminate the box and pivot if off the side of the hull.

no pebble
Definitely no pebble next to the skeg. I’ve managed to work it by hand but it isn’t loosening up. I can’t see any kinks, though.

I like a bot knife for dislodging those - designed for taking bot eggs off horses legs and has a nice hook shape.

On this particular boat the box has quite a bit of clearance. It looks like the cable is kind of melted into the plastic of the skeg so I don’t know how it gets replaced.

I would have thought WD-40 would attract silt. Maybe graphite would help?

turbulence is a speed killer! make the box bigger and BIGGER rocks’ll jam it just the same + more turbulence.


Not a problem at all.

– Last Updated: Jul-28-09 5:13 PM EST –

A flexible rubber guard filling the gap on both sides of the skeg would be very effective at keeping out large gravel pieces without creating a large gap that creates turbulence (which I believe would be pretty minor compared to the squared-off below-waterline stern that many kayaks have to allow mounting a rudder, or like the submerged rudder control arms that still others have!). Also, a large gap around the skeg (sealed off by a flexible rubber guard) would allow easy insertion of fingers or tools to remove any chunk of gravel that somehow got forced in there. I do not believe that this is a problem that "can't be solved". This isn't rocket science. The world is full of machines designed to operate in the dirt without getting grit into sensitive moving parts. I am confident that someone a little less short-sighted with sufficient imagination could come up with a solution in no time.

or maybe a flared skeg
just amateur pondering… what if the width of the skeg flared near the very end (bottom) such that that part of the skeg just barely fit in the skeg box. No real drag since 99% of the skeg still has some good margin to the box walls. This might prevent all but small sand from getting in and that sand would be smaller than than most of the gap between skeg and box.

Okay, back to my real job.

one unit
If your skeg cable is molded into the skeg blade then the whole shebang gets replaced as one unit. Same with newer current designs boats.

I was afraid of that. Sounds like time to contact Valley.

Skeg fix
The easiest way to fix a skeg is not to have one. Learn how to control your boat w/o one…oh wait, that’s hard. I’d rather spend my time figuring out complicated solutions around fundamental boat handling.

I hadn’t heard of Valley starting to use skegs with the cable fused in. My boats and all the others I’ve seen use a set screw. If you want directions for Valley skeg & cable removal, I can email them to you. So can many other Valley owners here.

WD-40 & Silt
I don’t think so. The only place you’d possibly have a problem is at the openings on the very ends. I’ve used WD-40 this way on several kayak skeg cables and didn’t have a problem. This is, you understand, strictly inside the cable housing tube. If you want you can use mineral spirits to clean up the openings, but if the cable is binding it’s not going to be there; it will be in the middle.

This is off topic, but once again for you rudder/Skeg debaters, we have yet ANUTHER skeg jamming problem… L

no different than
hearing from a rudder cable/pedals/mechanism failing.

So, what’s so funny?

It’s not like one or the other are foolproof.

Any moving mechanism has and will jam.

Skegs will jam, rudders will fail.

Glass boats will be holed, plastic one will oilcan, and the list goes one.

Unless one obviously does not use his/her gear or babies the craft so much that nothing ever will happen.

I suspect you’ll find a kinked cable …
when you take it apart. I just replaced a skeg cable on an Avocet that I suspected was kinked because the boat was landed with the skeg deployed. No viewing angle or amount of light revealed the kink. It was only visible once the skeg had been removed. It took about 20 minutes to put in a new skeg wire. Valley does use a set screw to hold the wire in the skeg, but they may have also filled the hole covering the set screw with epoxy or some other glue. I have seen this on several other boats. If so, you just need to carefully drill out the epoxy.

I don’t think it wise to use WD-40 in the cable housing. WD-40 can attract grit and likely would seep out of the ends of the housing where it is exposed to dirt. I’ve been using a CFC free silicone based spray lubricant. It seems to work well and I haven’t noticed that it attracts dirt. I lubricate the ends of the housing about twice a year.