Winter "sand"

I have been paddling in Lake Michigan and around Galviston and in both places the winter waves have make the sand more rocky, it is the perfect size when you are in the surf zone to wedge itself into the skeg box nearly every time you turn around near the beach. One pebble will effectively wedge the skeg either in or out, depending on the skeg position.

I have resorted to taping off the skeg box in these conditions, losing the use of the skeg, often in windy conditions. This happens with both my Avocet and Zephyr.

Has anybody had the nerve to sand or otherwise widen up the skeg box. when you look inside the area looks pretty thick, but I know if I destroy a skeg box, that is way over my repair skills. I have tried putting the soft half of velcro on the sides of the skeg box to try to make it thinner, that just holds the fine sand inside of the skeg box, freezing the system.

All you have to do is drill a hole in the skeg and put a small loop of cord through it. That way you can dislodge if it gets stuck. I’ll try to find a picture.

Here you go

Jam-free design ought to be built
As often as people have trouble with this, I often wonder why some kayak builders don’t offer a design which won’t have that problem. I’m sure some people would gladly pay a little more to have a skeg that can’t get jammed by coarse sand or gravel. A long time back, one of our resident experts chewed me out and called me ignorant for even suggesting such a thing, saying it wasn’t possible, but believe me, it would not only be possible, but quite easy (and he’s usually a pretty sensible guy, too). I bet the demand would be there once it became available.

I will try it on my Z next week!

Three solutions, one is to mount the skeg off center, keeps it up away from the bottom so it’s less likely to get in contact with sand and gravel.

Second is to mount the skeg behind the cockpit, much further forward than the traditional location, also less likely to see sand.

Third, launch and retrieve the kayak away from the beach, it’s not “that” hard, takes practice.

The first one works fine but is difficult to mold for a production boat and adds at least one extra mold which adds to the cost.

The second one works too, one builder builds all their boats with skegs that way, but paddlers are hard to convince that something different is ok.

Third one is free, just training.

Bill H.

If the builder goes to that much trouble

– Last Updated: Dec-17-15 10:58 AM EST –

, ... why not build a skeg box that won't allow jamming in the first place? Again, there's at least one workable solution that would be easy, and totally effective (relatively easy, meaning not as easy as the amazingly crude method that's standard right now).

Mount the skeg so that it pivots on a sturdy shaft and bushing, so that it no longer relies on the sides of the box for lateral support. Make the box two or three inches wide, but close off the opening to a width that's barely wider than the skeg, using a material having about the same thickness and consistency as a medium-duty rubber mud flap. Build an indented surface around the boundaries of the box so that the rubber coverings that form the box's narrow opening are flush with the hull, and install threaded inserts in the hull so these coverings can easily be replaced if necessary.

Large gravel, big enough to get jammed inside the skeg box, will simply not be able to get in there. Medium gravel that gets forced through that opening will simply rattle around in the box and cause no interference (and it can be removed later just by flexing open the stiff rubber borders of the skeg opening). Any fine gravel that's the right size to jam within the opening itself, or between one edge of the opening and the skeg, will simply fall out when light effort is used to raise or lower the skeg, because there's only about 1/4" of edge thickness right at the opening, and because the sides of the opening can flex a little bit. Sand can get in, but it will do no harm, and will simply slosh out again while you are paddling.

Thinking outside the skeg box!

Launch stern out
Launch with the skeg box out and already floating, and as soon as you get in the boat check the skeg to make sure it’s working. If it’s jammed hop out clear it and try again. I’d keep the cable well lubed to minimize friction in the system. Also maybe adjust it so it’s a tad “proud” so hopefully less likely to get jammed.

My Fix
I bought a cheap table knife and keep it in my tool kit. It’s long enough to reach those pebbles.

preaching to the choir here
I could not agree more. From the opening to the deck slider mechanism, this really is an old design that needs revisiting.

I wonder…
… if it’s because boat designers are prone to concentrating on hull design or the process of working with hull-making materials, but tend not to be people who enjoy thinking about mechanical things. I love mechanical stuff, and the first time I saw how skeg boxes were designed, my first thought was “how can they put something so incredibly cheesy on a boat that costs $3,000?” I’m sure many others have an equally harsh opinion. I think as soon as someone comes from a background like the bike industry and goes into boat building, the ridiculous skeg-box design that’s out there right now will be obsolete in a heartbeat.

I wouldn’t be surprised
As you say, it’s a mechanical puzzle asking to be solved. That may take a different mindset. It’s also a specialized element on a specialized product (with a relatively small market).

There’s got to be a better mousetrap.