Paddling a kayak in rough conditions can be tough. For example, when paddling in a crosswind, the kayak won’t want to keep running straight. Instead, it will want to turn with the wind. Adding a skeg to a kayak can help solve this problem.
If you have never added a kayak fin to your vessel before, you may not be familiar with the process you need to follow when adding a skeg to a kayak. This article will help you decide whether a skeg is an ideal addition to your best kayak. We will also show you the ideal process for adding a skeg to a kayak.
What Exactly is a Skeg?
A skeg is an ideal tool for tracking. Tracking, in this case, refers to keeping the bow in a straight line while you paddle the ocean kayak. Some kayaks come with the skeg installed. If your kayak does not have one, you may consider adding the kayak fin to your vessel separately.
A skeg is generally installed under the vessel’s hull, towards the stern, at the center of the keel. You can either fix the fin-shaped tool in place or install one that can be pulled up to the vessel’s hull whenever you do not need it.
Why is Adding a Skeg to a Kayak Important?
The kayak fin becomes crucial when you are paddling your tandem kayak in either windy conditions or open water. A skeg can help anchor your vessel’s stern. This will make controlling the direction of your sit-on-top kayak much easier. The kayak fin will help ensure you are heading straight.
While kayak fins can be installed on all types of kayaks, they tend to be installed more on touring kayaks. This is because they are beneficial for long-distance paddling.
When paddling with a crosswind, the kayak will want to turn into the wind. Among kayakers, this is referred to as weather-cocking. The kayak fin will help fight the kayak’s desire to turn into the wind. It will ensure the bow is facing in the direction you are paddling towards.
If you plan to use your kayak for recreational paddling, a kayak fin may not be necessary. Also, if you do set your kayak for fishing in shallow waters or you often paddle in rocky waters, adding a skeg to a kayak may not be a good idea. Your paddling conditions may end up damaging the kayak fin. This means that a kayak fin may be unsuitable for both whitewater and creek paddling.
Is the Skeg Different from the Rudder?
The skeg is not the same as the rudder. However, they both can be useful when you are paddling in open waters.
The rudder system is generally mounted to the kayak’s stern. You can operate the rudder system from your cockpit, using either foot or hand controls.
The rudder features a longer fin that can move from side to side. It can also move up or down. This allows the paddler to deploy it only when it is needed.
On the other hand, the skeg does not move from side to side. You can only pull the kayak skeg up to the hull when you are not using it. It is worth noting that this will generally depend on whether the installed skeg is adjustable or not. If the skeg is fixed, moving it may be impossible.
Can You Add a Skeg to Your Small Boat or Canoe?
It is rare to find canoes with skegs. However, you can customize your canoe by adding a skeg to its keel. Because of the canoe’s design, however, it is worth noting there is no guarantee that the skeg will be helpful.
For small boats, whether you add the skeg will be largely dependent on your preference. The hull’s shape at the keel may also determine whether you can add the skeg. With small boats and canoes, the skeg may increase the drag amount. This could increase the effort needed when paddling.
Top 3 Kayak Fins
1. MAYMII 8-inch Kayak Skeg
This kayak fin is ideal for both canoes and kayaks. The skeg features an 8-inch fin and a mounting platform. Sliding and locking this skeg into the mount is very easy. When you do not need the kayak fin, you will have the ability to remove it and keep the mounting point on the vessel’s keel.
The PVC kayak fin can be mounted to the kayak’s hull without tools. You will only need to use marine glue to attach the skeg to your kayak. The glue, however, has to work with PVC.
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2. Kayak Skeg Tracking Fin
When mounting this skeg to your kayak, you won’t have to use screws. The kayak fin is designed to be mounted to the kayak’s keel using marine glue. The skeg comes with an 8-inch fin and mounting platform.
When installing the kayak fin, you will only need to secure the mounting base and then slide the skeg into the base. Whenever you don’t need the kayak fin, you can easily remove it. This means that the skeg won’t bother you during storage and transportation.
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3. MAYMII Mini Kayak Skeg
This skeg features a 2.75-inch kayak fin. The shorter fin-length makes the skeg ideal for kayakers who prefer paddling in shallower waters but want to improve tracking.
The skeg can be mounted on canoes and most kayaks. You can mount it using marine glue. This means that tools are not necessary when installing the skeg to your kayak. Since both the mounting base and the fin are attached, you won’t have the ability to remove the fin alone.
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The Steps You Need to Follow When Adding a Skeg to a Kayak
This method is ideal for most kayaks, small boats, and canoes.
1. Material Checklist
Similar to when you are conducting kayak care and maintenance, when adding a skeg to a kayak, you need to have access to the needed equipment. The following are the required equipment.
- Heat torch or hairdryer (optional)
- Drill (optional)
- Paddle leash (optional)
- Marine glue
- Rag or cloth
2. Select the Mounting Location
Take your kayak and turn it upside down. Locate the most ideal place to attach the kayak fin on the vessel’s keel. The ideal attachment location will differ depending on the type of the craft or the shape of the hull. However, it should be in the keel’s center, at the stern.
3. Sand the Surface
Grab the sandpaper and then sand the location where you would like to attach the skeg. Sanding ensures that the adhesive attaches to the kayak in a better way.
4. Remove the Dust
Grab your cloth and remove the dust generated by the sanding.
5. Heat the Hull
This step is optional. You may or may not heat the area where you intend to mount your skeg. In some instances, or when attaching the skeg to polyethylene vessels, heating the mounting area can help the marine glue bond.
6. Apply the Marine Glue
Apply the marine adhesive to the already prepared area where you intend to mount the kayak fin bases. After adding the glue, mount the bases. Push down on the bases or use a weighted object to apply pressure. The pressure is necessary to ensure that a secure bond between the skeg base and the hull is achieved.
7. Attach the Fin
After attaching the kayak fin base, you can attach the kayak fin. This is if the base and the fin are separate pieces. If you just wanted to have the skeg base in place and you are not planning an overnight kayaking trip, you may not have to attach the kayak fin.
8. Attach the Leash
This step is optional. If you do need some added security for the skeg, you can drill a hole at the back of the kayak fin. You can then use this hole to attach a paddle leash. This will ensure that even if you hit the riverbed or a rock, you won’t lose your fin if it detaches from the base.
Can I Find Skegs for Inflatable Kayaks?
The method described above can work for inflatable kayaks. However, it is worth noting that there are some skegs designed for use on inflatable kayaks. The skegs won’t require gluing. They attach using the existing mounting points.
Globo Surf Overview
If you have paddled your kayak in rough conditions in the past, you already know that keeping the vessel running straight is not easy. Weather-cocking can make the whole paddling experience too tiring. Adding a skeg to a kayak can make paddling in rough conditions much easier.
If you have never added a skeg to a kayak before, this article has everything you need to know. To make things easier for you when you are selecting a kayak skeg, we have included the top 3 kayak skegs in this guide.
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