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I am making a 17' Night Heron with Adam Bolonsky's expert guidance not to mention his wealth of patience with me--I would like to add a skeg to my boat but Nick (the designer of the boat) has not completed a skeg design or skeg kit for the Night Heron--can anyone suggest a skeg kit I could purchase or the type of skeg best suited for my wooden boat--for example, wood skeg versus metal skeg--does anyone have any info or insight regarding putting a skeg into a wooden kayak would also be most helpful and much appreciated--Are there special considerations for adding a skeg to a 17 foot boat versus an 18 foot boat--I am only interested in skegs that are inserted in the hull of the boat not skegs that are mounted on deck -- les

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The standard VCP skeg (slider version) is available as a kit from Great River Outfitters for $165. Check to make sure they send you the version with the new heavier cable that supposedly prevents kinking.


An article on retrofitting a skeg in an existing boat was published in Sea Kayaker Magazine a number of years ago. If I remember correctly, it showed how to build the housing and fabricate a skeg in fiberglas, glass it into the boat, and rig the cable--all relevant to either installing a VCP kit or building your own from scratch. The back issue with the article is available from Sea Kayaker for $7.50.

The article you want is: Issue 46, June 1995, page 19: “Getting on Track” by Jamie Brown: Do-It-Yourself, Skegs, Construction and installation.

http://www.seakayakermag.com and click on Back Issues under On-Line Store.

Other than that, you could talk to some of our build-your-own types or consult our own Mr. Fix-it (aka Brian).

The main consideration for a 17' boat is that all internal skegs take up room in the compartment, and you have less to work with in a 17' vs. an 18' boat. The skeg will work in either case, just less room for storage.

As for materials, the VCP is a battle-tested design, not without its drawbacks, but crafted for long life. The layout is easy, there are models to follow and parts are available for repairs. The plastic skeg seems to me to a better alternative than wood (no maintenance, won't break) or metal (could bend, might cut your hands)--BUT having never used (nor seen) either a wood or metal skeg am speculating here. A VCP skeg adds about 2 pounds to your boat.

Good luck.


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Hi Leslie,

I have two skeg boxes and skeg designs made of marine grade plywood. You could do the same in strips. Send me your address and I'll send you what I got. One of them I got off of kayakforum.com. I'll look for that lead later today. I haven't made the control mechanism yet but I've got some ideas on paper I could send you. It uses a SST cable within a hydraulic hose. Bit of overkill I think.

Gary B.

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I've paddled both the strip built and S&G versions of the Night Heron and have found them to be very well balanced in the wind. They're also very responsive and easy to turn, which makes correcting course quite easy. Unless your experience with test paddling them has been different, I would forego the skeg for now. Although it's a bit more work a skeg can be added after the boat is completed, if necessary. On a Night Heron, I would think a small, fixed skeg would be all that's necessary if you find that you need to trim the handling a bit.

There have been several posts on the Kayak Building Bulleting Board at www.kayakforum.com on constructing retractable skeg systems. Consider building your own, since you're building the boat and a wood/glass skeg would be more "in character". The blade and box are easily constructed from the same material as your boat (okoume plywood). If you want a cable skeg, tubing and fittings for such a system are available at Home Depot and most hardware stores. The cable itself can be found at West Marine. Rope skeg systems similar to the VCP rope skeg are even easier to duplicate.

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