Use of Skeg

I’ve been doing demos of quite a few different yaks over the past year mostly for barrier islands, tidal marshes, rivers and lakes. This is my first skeg.

What is the best use of it (aside from leaving it in the up position which has already been suggested).

Thank you!

Multiple uses

– Last Updated: Sep-07-10 10:11 PM EST –

Uses are boat dependent. But the principles are all the same. A skeg anchors the stern. So when waves/wind are from the stern, directly or quartering, a skeg helps you maintain a down wind/down wave orientation without correction strokes. On flat water, a small amount of skeg makes it easier to track for some boats and saves correction strokes. On the other hand, going into the wind having the skeg down is often problematic. For boats that I have paddled it is easier to control the boat going into the wind with the skeg up. This is a simplified explanation but for most circumstances it works for me.

Control weathercocking
All skeg boats should weathercock (turn into the wind) at least a little. This is caused by the ‘looser’ stern being blown downwind.

Deploying a skeg all the way should allow the boat to leecock (turn downwind). The skeg provides lateral resistance in the water which makes the bow ‘looser’ relative to the stern, therefore allowing the bow to blow downwind.

Partial skeg (anywhere between up and fully down) allows you to fine tune whether you want the kayak to weathercock, leecock or track straight.

A skeg is also useful in following or quartering seas where the lateral resistance from the skeg will help stop a broach.

More info
The other posters have both offered good explanations of using a skeg (or a rudder, for the matter).

Here’s a more in-depth look at the problem, and some solutions:

A boat that responds well to a skeg will allow you to simply choose a landmark near your destination, slide the skeg up or down as needed to stay on that bearing, and merrily paddle toward it with little thought of corrective strokes, leans, or other course corrections.

Good luck!



The main thing is to realize about the skeg control is that it isn’t an on-off device…

Use just as much as you need to make the boat neutral.

On a Windy Day…
… you can also use your skeg to help you turn.

Want to turn upwind? Raise the skeg.

Want to turn downwind? Lower it.