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A Guide to Kayak’s Skeg: What Is A Skeg On A Kayak?

Skeg – What is it?

A skeg is a nice contraption that helps kayakers track better. It’s consists of a mounting and a fin that attach under your vessel on the keel. Many models on the market come with pre-installed skegs but many others don’t. So, for those of us who don’t have one already installed in their vessels, it’s worthwhile to dive a little into its functions before making any purchase decision.

In terms of location, a skeg goes under the hull, on the stern side of your vessel, at keel’s center. It is shaped like a fin which is either immovable or can be retracted back into the hull in times when it’s not required.

So, What Purpose Does A Skeg Serve?

A Skeg helps to anchor the stern (the rear end) of your vessel which makes it easier to control the heading of kayak and keeps it moving straight ahead. This becomes very useful when you’re paddling on open waters or when strong winds are blowing. Usually, skegs come with kayaks designed for touring or long excursions. This is because when winds are strong or when the kayak is cruising on open water bodies, kayaks can often come to sail against the wind. A skeg on a kayak can offset this effect by keeping your bow (the front end of your craft) facing the direction you’re heading. This means if you mostly indulge in recreational kayaking, having a skeg attached to your kayak may not be necessary. And especially if the waters your frequent are shallow, or rocky, or both – having a skeg is not recommended because these environments pose additional risks to your skeg. What this means is a skeg-loaded craft is unsuitable for creek or whitewater paddling.

Are Rudder & Skeg The Same? Rudder Vs Skeg

The differences lie in the design and the points they’re attached to a kayak. While both are located on the stern side of the craft, a rudder system is usually operated from the cockpit, through either hand or foot. The fin here is much more elongated and can be rotated – even moved vertically. Additionally, a rudder allows the user the flexibility to deploy or retract it according to need.

A skeg, in contrast, cannot be moved sideways – though it can be pulled up to the hull to different degrees when not it’s not needed. But that’s true only for adjustable kayaks. For fixed skeg designs, it can’t be moved at all.

So, in summary, while skeg and a rudder are two distinct parts of a vessel – they are both useful. And the question of whether skeg is a worthy addition to any craft depends upon kayak’s environment.

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