The Boy has spent much of the day happily breaking down my old PC into its smallest constituent parts. I, on the other hand, have spent much of the day trying to make parts…
I mentioned that the kayak I bought needed some TLC; one of the items requiring my attention was the kayak’s drop skeg. A skeg is a little centrally-aligned fin on the stern of the boat. That little hook-shaped fin on the tail end of a surfboard? Skeg. The little fin on the bottom of an outboard motor? Skeg.
The skeg assists with keeping the craft pointing forwards, helping it ‘track’. In this case, it is called a drop skeg because the fin retracts into the hull of the kayak; if it didn’t retract, it would be called a fixed skeg. When retracted, this particular ‘yak is extremely nimble; the downside to having a kayak that’s quite so nimble is that when the wind picks up the kayak wants to point its bow into the wind, or ‘weathercock’. At that point, you would release the skeg, and your craft should straighten out against the wind.
The problem with the drop skeg of this particular ‘yak was that it had, in fact, dropped. Off. Gone, kaput, vanished, adios, buh-bye. I bought it that way – if you look at the picture, you can sorta see the space where the skeg isn’t – but the guy I bought it from thought I’d be able to replace the skeg for $100 or so. After the purchase I began googling the internets for a replacement.
I got bupkus. My Google-fu is usually pretty strong, so this was not encouraging. I decided to try asking around – the local kayak shop, a shop out on the Olympic Peninsula that sells aftermarket rudder & skeg kits, the manufacturer.
Turns out that this particular kayak’s skeg is, as they say, no longer supported. Those aftermarket skeg kits? Won’t fit. Those aftermarket rudder kits? They retail starting at $250 – assuming I install it entirely myself. While I’m probably going to have to learn at least the basics of working with fiberglass, this didn’t seem like the best starter project.
So I decided to make a replacement. Fairly soon after I bought it, I made some measurements, jammed some cardboard into the housing of the skeg to get an idea of the dimensions I was looking at, and began to sketch out what it should look like. Last weekend I ordered some aluminum plate, and I spent much of today finalizing the design, trying out some cardboard mockups, and roughing out what will become my skeg.