This retractable skeg designed by Nick Schade of Guillemot Kayaks is the result of experimentation and testing. It has an efficient surfboard-fin shape and a reliable mechanism that has proven itself over many years of hard use.
Although most sea kayaks perform well without a skeg, there are times when a little more tracking – and less manoeuvrability – will give you greater control over the boat, with less effort required to stay on course. A retractable skeg can make long crossings easier without making your kayak any less manoeuvrable when you aren't using the skeg.
Unfortunately, most production skegs are prone to jamming and cable kinking and this often goes unnoticed till you want to actually use it and find it won't move. This skeg has been designed to eliminate that weakness.
The control cable is supported along its length, so that it won't buckle and kink if the skeg is forced up. There are no external lines exposed to tangling or snagging on deck.
The skeg is designed to be offset slightly to one side of the boat. This doesn't affect its performance, but helps to keep sand and gravel out of the mechanism when landing and launching. Additionally, the only tight spots where the skeg could jam are either safely high-up in the skeg box or at the pivot point where there is plenty of leverage to overcome friction.
In the unlikely event that you need to remove the skeg to free it, you only have to loosen one grub screw.
Most production skegs are notorious for jamming and cable kinking and generally proving unreliable. I can't count the number of times I've launched from a beach after lunch and then gone around dunking my arm in the water to pull other people's skeg free.
A skeg should just work. This skeg has proven itself reliable time after time. It just works.
Nick Schade, designer
Another difference from production skegs is that this one has just a small blade with an efficient foil shape inspired by surfboard fins. Although you can extend the skeg just as much as you need, it is designed to work well fully-extended, unlike most skegs, which are so large that nobody ever uses the whole length. The skeg is controlled by a recessed slider, fitted close to the cockpit.
This retractable skeg should fit a wide range of kayaks, wooden or composite. Nick originally designed it for his Petrel, which has a low back deck. The control cable enters the skeg box from the front instead of the top so, as long as there is enough height under the deck for the skeg box, there should be room for the whole system. The skeg box requires 140 mm (5½″) clearance under the deck.
This retractable skeg kit comes as standard with the Petrel SG kit and the skeg plans are included in the Petrel SG Plans.
The kit includes:
All metal parts are marine-grade stainless steel.
Please note that epoxy is not included. Only a small amount will be needed so, if you are building a kayak, you will probably have enough left to build the skeg as well.
The plans contain sufficient information to construct the retractable skeg from scratch rather than a kit. They include full size drawings of all major parts and a detailed step-by-step manual with more than 120 photographs and illustrations.