Value of a skeg

velly good glasshopper.



no flame from Santas helper
but I’d rather be in an Express with no skeg than a Tempest 170 with no skeg on beam wind and rear quarter seas.

I think it gets more difficult to understand all the forces at work in high winds because they are usually accompanied by waves high enough to shield the hull of the boat from direct and uniform air flow.


Caribou or Esprit?
I have been playing with the thought of a new Caribou and a skeg to mellow it out is OK but I don’t think any boat should need a skeg or rudder all the time. When I paddled a WS Arctic Hawk, I cemented a fixed skeg [about 6 sq in] two feet from the stern and that cancelled out most of the weathercocking tendency. I’m about ten pounds heavier now so maybe that wouldn’t be an issue today. I was looking at a Northwest Esprit that’s been sitting in a garage, unused, for maybe 12 years or so. Essentially, a new boat. It looks a lot like the old Mariner Sprite and might also be a candidate for a small, fixed skeg. I’ve always liked the flare and excellent secondary of Mariner boats like the Coaster I once owned [and wish I still did]. I actually like the idea of a 16’4" for for less than a thousand compared with a 17’18" boat for nearly three grand [with tax]. Short and cheap has its pluses. John

a boat that ‘needs’ a retractable skeg (deployed) or rudder all the time is poorly designed. skegs AND rudders are tools that can make highly (or not so highly) maneuverable boats act differently in conditions.

You know the history of the Espirit? made in the same plant as Mariner by the same folks. John Abbenhouse (NWkayak) and Matt Broze (Mariner) were long time associates/competitors. You would do well with the espirit if that style of boat suits you, but permanent skeg? you lose much maneuvering. same with the Hawk. I paddled a Hawk for years and just learned to live with the looseness. wouldn’t of minded putting a skeg in one. that would be sweet for a non-traditional traditional boat. :wink:

checkin’ the net on Xmas morn!


i dunno,

I never noticed that my express doesnt turn well in confused waters. I never noticed how aweful it is in the surf. From my perspective, it turns quite a bit easier than your post suggest. I have heard people say that above 25 knots they are hard to paddle. That hasn’t been my experience.

I have watched a tempest go submarine in less than giant surf. Only way I can get my mariner to do that is in reverse. :wink:

Anyways it’s Christmas and I bear no ill will and I wish, like many others out there, that I had one of your designs under my tree. I would even take one with a skeg if I had to!

Respect the Broze guys a lot
Though I like bulkheads and skegs, I admire their boats as excellent balances of many variables. And that is all any boat can ever be…at best…

I did many a long trip in my Romany, which was an early skegless version. It was a fun little boat, but unerstanably lost a lot of playfullness when fully loade with me in it. Still excelled in big water A to B paddling though. I will say though at times I really wished it had a skeg. It’s at the end of a 50 knot day that “tools” become important!! Long grueling days in nasty conditions have a way of changing ones priorities and perceptions. But we all are in a constant state of change as we gain more experience.

oh yeah…
BIG contributors to the world of modern sea kayaking. I have known Matt for a looooonng time. Funny thing tho, once many years ago we were discussing design on Paddlewise and I ‘mentioned’ the reverse thing and his answer was ‘WHY would someone spend any time at all in REVERSE??’ ‘I didn’t design it to go in reverse’ and the clincher ‘it must be one of those BCU things’.

YIKES. my respect dropped a notch and my desire to build a boat that WOULD paddle well in REVERSE bumped up 2.

Call me weird (many have) but…I simply LOVE back-surfin’ wind waves in a blow. No skeg and ruddering at the bow. trick is keeping your nose (literally) pointed right AT the wind. it’s cold on the face but freakin’ exhilerating…and challenging. boat design has alot to do with this ‘trick’.

agreed on the R-16. I paddled one for a couple seasons and found the skeg a very useful tool, one that this ol’, lazy paddler didn’t want to have to deal w/o!

Happy Holidaze to you all!


yep it is worthwhile
but like a lot of designs there are compromises, the balanced Mariners are a good design for teaching folks boat control even if the windage/leecocking is a problem in very high winds. At which point the person who can discern that failing still has the skills to manage the situation.

Without a functioning skeg that Tempest will be much worse than the Express in 15-25mph winds.

I’m glad it’s there!
I agree with what you’re saying Flatpick. I don’t use my Explorer skeg 95% of the time but I’m sure glad it’s there for that other 5%. I could even paddle without it that 5% of the time but the improvement in handling and the reduction in work proves its worth. I also agree that a well designed kayak shouldn’t need the benefits of the skeg most of the time. I have seen some nice kayaks that were designed to operate without a skeg (Rockpool Alaw Bach) that didn’t seem to compromise their design. But even with the Rockpool, under certain conditions I’ve heard a skeg would be beneficial.



Don’t know about the 170 but I’ve had my Tempest 165 out in 30 mph winds with higher gusts (not much fetch, thankfully) and it was very close to neutral at all directions to the wind.

170- similar

– Last Updated: Dec-26-06 2:26 PM EST –

while the 170 does have more freeboard it's balance is nearly the same as the 165 AND 180. think Med/ Lg/ XL. a smaller/less talented paddler in a boat that's BIG will have more issues.

in initial testing these boats performed decently in winds up to 45-50 knots with the right pilot....w/o a skeg. they had to work w/o, this was a criteria. there are certain angles to the wind that were tough, but do-able. I would argue that the Mariner has similar kinds of issues, but w/o the benefit of an adjustable skeg is non-ajustable so... in these points of course/ wind it might prove to be a handful. and I'm talking about a handful of conditions that MOST folks avoid. (30 knots and up) and only a handful of folks who can enjoy! But given the choices in 30+ wind/seas of a boat that weathercocks or leecocks I'll always take the weathercocker. (spell check loves that one) if balanced/ leecockers are so good why has no one but mariner designed one? Now there are a few homemade and kit boats that do but I'm talking traditional composite boats used in 'mixed conditions'.


How about the other skegless design
out of Washington. What do you think of the NCs?

Paul S.

Tight quarters, too
Wow, here’s something an inland paddler can laugh about. I guess some people have never paddled into long slots barely wider than the kayak. Only way out is to back-paddle.

As with cars, decent behavior in Reverse is a very handy thing.


– Last Updated: Dec-27-06 8:18 AM EST –

but when going backwards don’t forget to RETRACT the skeg!!! Crack!!!! if the skeg box breaks/cracks you are in a HEAP of trouble!! I have done this with a rudderd boat, but thats an EASY fix as everything is above the waterline!!!