A skeg, unlike the rudder, is a fixed blade which is found at the bottom of the hull, usually behind the cockpit. Skegs can also be deployed using a control cable and actuator, and they’re usually added to a kayak in order to compensate for poor trim or give some newer paddlers added assistance. A skilled paddler, however, can compensate for the stern being pushed sideways by deploying a skeg, because the skeg itself adds a lot of resistance to the sideways motion. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of such a system.
- Less moving parts and connection points than a rudder.
- When stowed, it doesn’t affect the wind.
- No muscle groups are required to steer.
- If you strike something, they usually fold in the skeg box.
- They’re cheaper to install.
- They don’t provide any yaw control.
- Skegs take up too much space in the storage compartment.
- A skeg box will create more drag than a clean hull.
- They’re not good for novice paddlers as they require skill in order to be able to turn and control the kayak.
- Rocks and pebbles may jam them if you drag the kayak down the beach.
- They’re easily damaged if something strikes them sideways.
Aftermarket Kayak Rudder/Skeg Options
There are a few options out there for people that already have a rudderless kayak and want to install their own. Usually these do require some installation so you can do one of two things, pay a professional handyman or do it yourself. There are a few reputable brands out there and kits that offer a clean install, these include sets from Pygmy, Kayak Sports, Sealine, , Wildwasser, Feathercraft, Mirage and Ocean kayak as well as other less known brands.
A final option is creating your own, this is usually much easier with skegs, with rudders you may battle a bit since you have to include the moving parts of the foot pedals for rotating the skeg.