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Adding a skeg to a kayak might just make it easier to paddle if you find yourself in rough conditions. But what exactly is a skeg and is it really necessary?
We’ve put together some information to help you decide whether or not a skeg might be a good addition to your vessel. We’ll explain what a skeg is, how it can help and show you how you can attach your own.
So, What Is A Skeg And Why Would I Need One?
A skeg is a tool that can help with tracking. You may find that some kayaks will already have a skeg installed. But with vessels that don’t, you may or may not want to add one separately.
A skeg is usually found under the hull towards the stern of your vessel at the center of the keel. It is a usually a fin shaped tool that can either be fixed in place or be able to be raised into the hull when it’s not not needed.
What’s It For?
Having a skeg on your yak can help you if you’re paddling in open water or in windy conditions. This is because it can help to anchor the stern of your vessel, making it easier for you to control the direction of your craft and help you head straight.
Skegs tend to be found more on touring yaks, as they can be beneficial for long distance paddling. This is because in windy conditions or open water, yaks tend to face into the wind, known as weather-cocking. A skeg can help to combat this by keeping your bow facing in the direction you’re heading.
Therefore if you simply plan on using your yak for recreational paddling, you may not always need one. And if you have a skeg deployed in shallow or rocky waters it could get damaged, which can make them unsuitable for creek or whitewater paddling.
Is A Skeg Different From A Rudder?
The simple answer is yes.
A skeg is not the same as a rudder but they can both be useful when paddling in open water.
The main difference is that a rudder system is usually mounted to the stern and can be operated from the cockpit, either by hand or foot controls. It features a longer style of fin and has the ability to move from side to side and can also often be moved up or down, giving you the opportunity to deploy it when you need to.
The Right Way To Use Rudders Or Skegs
A skeg, on the other hand, cannot move from side to side. It can only be pulled up to the hull some or all of the way when not in use, provided that it’s adjustable. If it’s a fixed skeg it won’t be able to move at all.
What About Canoes Or Small Boats?
Although it’s not common to see canoes with skegs, it may be possible to customize a canoe by adding one to the keel. However, because of the design of a canoe, a skeg may or may not be helpful.
For other types of small boats, it may be a case of personal preference and may depend on the shape of the hull at the keel. As with both canoes and small boats, it may increase the amount of drag, which can make it more of an effort to paddle.
3 Recommended Skegs For Kayaks And Canoes
1: Kayak Skeg Tracking Fin (unbranded)
This skeg is designed for both kayaks and canoes. It features a mounting platform and an 8 inch fin that slides and locks into the mount. This means you can remove the fin and should be able to keep the mounting point in place on the keel of your craft when you don’t need it.
The PVC skeg is designed to be mounted to the hull of your vessel without the need for tools, as it’s recommended that you use a marine glue to attach it. Just make sure the glue you choose will work with PVC.
2: Small Kayak Skeg (unbranded)
This kayak skeg is designed to be mounted to the keel of your vessel using marine glue, so you shouldn’t need to use screws. It comes with mounting attachments and a 4 inch fin.
The two mounting bases can be secured with PVC safe marine glue and then the skeg slots into the mounts. This means you have the option of removing the fin when you don’t need it, which can be helpful during transportation and storage.
3: MAYMII Mini Kayak Skeg
The MAYMII skeg is a smaller style skeg, with a 2.75 inch fin. The shorter length could be beneficial if you tend to paddle in shallower waters but still want the added benefit of improved tracking.
It’s designed to fit most kayaks and can also be mounted to a canoe. It requires no tools for installation and can be mounted using marine glue. However, the fin and the mounting base are both attached to each other so it’s not possible to remove just the fin.
How To Add A Skeg To A Kayak
This method should work with most kayaks, canoes and small boats.
What You Will Need
- Cloth or rag
- Marine glue
- Hair dryer or heat torch (optional)
- Paddle leash (optional)
- Drill (optional)
Step 1: Choose Mounting Location
Before you start attaching anything, turn your yak upside down and locate the best place on the keel for it to go. This will likely differ depending on the shape of your hull or the type of vessel you have but should be in the center of your keel at the stern.
Step 2: Sand Surface
Using your sandpaper, sand the area where you plan to mount the skeg. Sanding it will allow for the adhesive to attach better.
Video: Pelican Catch 120 Kayak Skeg Install
Step 3: Remove Dust
Next, you want to use your cloth to get rid of any dust left over from your sanding.
Step 4: (Optional) Heat Hull
You may or may not want to heat the area where you plan to mount the skeg. In some cases, or polyethylene vessels, it may help the glue to bond.
Step 5: Apply Marine Adhesive
Now that the area of the keel is prepared, apply the marine glue to attach the mounting base (or bases) to the hull. Push down on the base or use a weighted object to help apply pressure. This should give you a secure bond between the hull and your skeg base.
Step 6: Attach Fin (if necessary)
After you’ve waited for the glue to dry you can then slide or attach the fin to the base (if the fin is a separate piece).
Step 7: Attach Leash (optional)
If you find that you may want some added security for your skeg, you could drill a small hole in the back of the fin. This can allow you to attach a paddle leash so that if you hit a rock or riverbed the fin won’t get lost if it gets detached from the base.
Skegs On Inflatable Kayaks?
For inflatable kayaks, the above method can be useful.
There are some skegs that are designed for inflatable yaks that don’t require gluing. They simply attach using existing mounting points.
Now that you’re clued up on kayak skegs you’ve probably decided whether or not a skeg might be useful on your next paddling trip. If you paddle a lot in open water, where you encounter crosswinds, a skeg may come in handy when it comes to staying on track.
If you’ve found this helpful, share it with your followers and leave us a comment to let us know if you prefer to paddle with or without a skeg.