Just back from Baja Mexico and many glorious paddling days on the Sea of Cortez in my new Mystic kayak. Yes! I love my kayak - however - it weathercocks to the left which is very irritating and needless to say, hard on my left shoulder. Checked the skeg and it has a bit of a wobble in it. Is there anything that I can do about this?
trim or body position
If you have a skeg deployed it should hold the kayak in a straight line, regardless of wobble. If you were packed for a long trip and had lots of weight on the right side of the kayak then the kayak will veer to the left. Basically you can load a kayak so that the load will cause the kayak to edge from one side or another. Also check to see if you are sitting harder on your right side than you left. This sounds weird but it does happen. If someone strongly favors their right side they will tend to sit with more weight on their right side. In addition you might be slightly leaning to the right to favor your right hand.
Another very common problem is trim of the kayak. You might need to experiment with moving your weight (the seat) forward or backward. To experiment without cutting the seat out try putting small amounts of weight in the front hatch to see if it makes the problem better or worse. Then do the same for the rear hatch. Just make sure the weight stays on the centerline of the kayak.
so tell us about baja!
Forgive me, one of the destinations on my list. Did you go with an outfitter? Which one, and did you enjoy it?
Sorry, green with envy here. Hope it was as great as it sounds.
Baja was fabulous! This is our third time down in our motor home and the first with kayaks. We just did day trips. We have taken a 10 foot zodiac in the past. We are new kayakers but we know many of the beaches and the area well now so we had 8 wonderful weeks. We did not use an outfitter.
We covered many beaches on the Sea of Cortez side, not ready for the Pacific side of the peninsula although I can see that surfing with a kayak would be great fun! The water many days was flat calm, like satin and crystal clear. We had a veiw of fish as though we were paddeling on top of an aquarium. Beautiful tropical fish - angels, trigger, puffers, bulls eye puffers and lots we don’t know the names of. Who needs to snorkel!? It was really that clear.
We had only one day where the wind was scarry, it came up so fast - dead calm one minute and huge the next. Like hitting a wall, literally. We had never experienced wind like that before and we have been on the water lots. These sudden winds are called buffaloes down there. Needless to say we paddled quickly to shore taking on a bit of water with waves breaking over our bows. It was later that day that we were introduced to a guy who broadcasts the weather from his place on his VHF, its his hobby. So after that we listened to his report every morning before going out.
The bat rays were incredible, they leap out of the water 5 or 6 feet in the air in 4s or 5s, like a chorus line and land with a loud slap on the water. All day, 24/7 why do they do that??If you paddle out near them you can see hundreds (or more) “flying” under your boat and leaping in the air close to you very cool. Great pictures. Unfortunately our computer broke while we were down there and all our pictures were on it…if I am able to retrieve them off the hard drive I will post some.
Thanks for asking . . . =;)
means turning upwind which ever direction the wind is coming from, left or right. If you're consistently turning to the left, something else is going on. A little wobble in the skeg should not do that.
I suspect it's your body positioning in the boat and/or an uneven forward stroke. Just my guess.
Well the wobble isn’t so little - when its not deployed and looking from underneath I can see that it sits more over to the right side, definately not centered. And then the skeg itself has a wobble. I found that I was using a sweep stroke with my left and a very light paddle with my right in order to compensate for the weathercocking.
It may be that I wasn’t sitting properly as I found that after about half an hour I had a very acute pain in my right butt cheek radiating down my right leg. This may have indeed caused me to alter my sitting position. It would get so bad that I would have to get out at different beaches along our way to stretch several times before it would settle down and even so I wasn’t good for more than about 3 - 4 hours.
"weathercocking" means turning upwind. This is affected by the trim of the boat (where the balance point is with load). The skeg will help lock the rear/stern of the boat in place. Weathcocking happens because paddler is generally positioned more towards the rear half of the boat so the wind blows paddler and the stern downwind until the bow is turned into the wind. The deployment of the skeg helps minimize that. In some boats, if you drop your skeg fully, the stern will get some locked into place, that the bow will now get blown down wind. This is called "leecocking."
If you consistently turn to the left, it seems you are experiencing more of a tracking issue.
You suspect it's an offcentered skeg. The way to verify that is to go out on a windless day (eliminating "cocking" by wind) on flat water. Leave the skeg up. Paddle. If you go straight, then it may be the skeg. If not, it's your position and/or stroking technique.
Right equals left
If you were unknowingly putting more weight on your right butt cheek, the boat should turn left, given an even paddle effort on each side. When I started kayaking, I found myself going to one side, eventually discovering that I was not sitting quite centered in the boat. Little things make a surprising difference.
an extremely remote possibility that the seat is off center. I think pretty unlikely though - isn’t it integral with the cockpit coaming? Anyways, has been known to happen. I’m with Sing and aamapes on this one - most likely technique or possibly an off balance load. If you are right handed (not you Sing, I mean Auntie) you may be overpowering the stroke on your right or carrying the paddle farther back behind you instead of lifting the blade at you hip. Even with a light stroke on the right side if you carry the paddle to far back you might be pulling the stern toward the paddle (stern draw) which would cause the boat to veer to the left. Test on flat water on a calm day with an unloaded kayak without using the skeg.
How about your foot braces
I had my foot braces once click off on my Assataegue (one foot just an ich forward). It was not enough for me to notice it through feel immediately. However, it did cause me to veer to the right until I discovered the problem.
One small comment - you description of the whys of weather-cocking included a paddler centered too far aft. In my experience moving weight aft inhibits weather-cocking by “setting” the stern a tad deeper which would help it resist being pushed sideways by the wind. It’s common practice among the folk I paddle with to load bow heavy to go up wind and stern heavy to run downwind.
I think you comment about an uneven stroke is probably the more likely issue than weather-cocking if the OP’s boat is always going left.
Paddle straight ahead aiming at an obvious target, then try paddling with your eyes closed for 10 to 20 strokes. If your stroke is uneven you’ll know it as soon as you open your eyes.
one possible solution to weathercocking is to move (trim further back) the seating to lock in the stern more (minimizing use of the skeg).
I meant to say that with most kayaks, the seating is slightly aft of center. The paddler however is not far back enough to help lock the stern in but presents a “sail” to help begin sliding the stern leeward as that person is paddling in (usually very ) windy conditions.
Glad to hear from you!
I can’t improve on the above re weathercocking - just to note that I went thru an issue with that myself at one point. I finally realized that it was predominantly my paddling when I noted that over time I’d climb my hands off center and to one side of the paddle. Duh she said… and yeah if you start twisting out of position to compensate it’ll nail you sciatic nerve, which is the pain you describe.
Not sure that the off-center skeg can be a problem unless it is also holding a steady position that is not parallel with the keel of the boat. Island boats have a purposely off-center skeg set to one side a bit of the keel line (to save storage space), and the folks I know who have paddle one have never indicated that this alone causes any problem with tracking or enhances weather cocking.
So - assuming that the weathercocking thing gets solved - did the boat work for you in terms of handling conditions etc?
Wow, thanks for the trip report! Sounds as I had envisioned it. Now I really want to get down there!
Love my Mystic!
Its a great little boat, I really love it. Thank you so very much for your recommendation, I’m very glad I followed your advice. It fits me perfectly, I truly “wear” it as you said I would and other than the sciatic thing its very comfortable.
I found that I was also having to check where my hands were on the paddle as they often got off center somehow… I am learning. However, it goes very fast - much faster than my husbands boat (not that we’re racing but… I really didn’t want him to leave me behind…, truth be told I do like to be first)
I did find that the fit of the kayak was not so great when I practiced my wet exits in the lovely warm water. Since it fits so snugly I didn’t just drop out of it when upside down like the practice boats I used before we left so I kept feeling like I had to kick it to get out of it, consequently my legs got very bruised up! So, my long term goal is to learn to roll it. In the interim I will take it to the pool now that we are home and practice wet exits there. Maybe I’ll wear shin pads!
Thanks for the tips!
Some great information, I think the way I was sitting in the boat may well have been a factor with the tracking (not weathercocking thanks Sing) particularly enhanced with the pain that grew in my right butt and leg as I adjusted how I was sitting to compensate for the pain, which sounds like it only succeeded to exacerbate the problem(s). I also noticed that I tended to bring the paddle further back on my left side before exiting the water then I did on the right - another contributing factor. And then I confess I kept losing center on my paddle. So its not the wobble in the skeg, its the wobble in the pilot!
Have to take some of you with me next year so I can get “on the spot” correction!
Auntie…re back pain
for what it is worth:
I had similiar pain (left side) for quite a while in my Tempet when I first got it. turns out that is wa caused by being too locked into the boat. I had my feet firmly on the pegs, knees firmly on the braces, and back firmly on the backrest. As i started loosening all of these things the pain went away…especially the backband.
the comment about the footbraces being off an inch is a good one too. Say your backband is not quite parallel with the angle of the footbraces and you are inadvertently at a very slight angle in the boat…this could account for some of the tracking issues but more importantly, would aggravate the sciatic nerve issue.
My solution was to just loosen the backband as much as possible and to relax my rigid contact all around so that when I flexed I was locked in but otherwise comfortably loose.
You might find that this would make it a lot easier to wet exit also.
Just my two cents.
More re sciatic thing
A couple of things that may help reduce the sciatic problem - mine happens to be on my left but it’s the same. First, about every hour of paddling drop your legs out of having presure against anything for 5-10 minutes. Just that little relief will hold it off for a while.
Second, see if you can find some way to increase the real estate that your feet are against. Either look for something that goes over or affixes to the footpegs and gives you a large block to purchase against - people here have done things like affix pieces of wood across between the two - or add foam in and have your feet against that rather than those skinny little pegs.
It’ll greatly reduce the tension that is causing the sciatic nerve to kick by relieving the sense that you have to steadily hold pressure against one small area in the balls of your feet.
As to the wet exit - you may want to add some real thin minicell to the underside of the thigh braces if it’s not there already. DAP Weldwood cement to hold it on. And maybe practice a few wet exits where you pull the skirt and slide a smidge back and down out of the seat in a straight line, at least for the first part. That should reduce the battle scars. Wear the rest with honor - it beats the heck out of a nursing home.
Glad you had a great time. Was in Baja myself twice recently, and it’s a fun spot.
Here’s what I am wondering, based on having had a Mystic in my fleet for smaller folk. The skeg on mine developed a warp that was quite significant. I subsequently machined a new blade and replaced the cable with NiTi wire. All was good. Now, I can’t say that the warped skeg blade made the boat go weird, as I didn’t paddle it much. I just noticed it and changed it when the cable got kinked.
Composite boats, unlike poly boats, aren’t prone to twisting, so as others have pointed out, you may take a close look at the seat. A seat that is off will have an effect.
It’s a fine little boat that is, as you found out very “efficient”. Take care.
The actual cause of weathercocking…
…has to do with water pressure on the hull, which is why, as a general rule it only happens when the boat is moving or it at least becomes more acute in a moving boat.
When you’re paddling forward, high pressure is created at the bow where it splits the water. At the stern, the water merges back together, but it creates a lower pressure area than at the bow. The effect is that the bow is somewhat locked into the water and the stern is relatively free to move when wind pushes on the side of the boat. The center of lateral resistance on the boat is well forward of the paddler, so as you stated, the paddler and the rest of the boat aft of the CLR act as a sail of sorts.
The reason a small skeg can compensate is that water is much denser than air, so any change to the lateral surface presented to the water has a much greater affect than it would in air. A skeg moves the CLR of the boat aft. Once it’s in balance the boat stops weathercocking. If it’s moved too far aft, it starts leecocking.
Adjusting the trim of the boat does the same thing. By adding weight to the stern, more of the aft hull is in the water and the CLR is moved aft.