shearwater skeg

im building a shearwater 17   im 180 lbs  i usualy wont be have any cargo  and i'll be paddling in  open water should i add a skeg or not ?

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RE: shearwater skeg

I have a Shearwater and have been spending a lot of time in it. I do not know what a skeg will do for you, the boat already tracks straight. I could see if you wanted to add a rudder so you wouldn't have to make corrective strokes in heavy wind and current but paddling becomes second nature and although my first kayak had a rudder, I am not looking to add one to my Shearwater.

I can tell you this boat excels in a small chop and into a headwind.

I am 165 pounds and load the boat lightly for day trips. Been out in nice weather and out in 20 knots winds and whitecaps. I honestly think the boat is fine the way it is. Took me getting used to as this is not a beginners kayak but it does not take long to acquire the needed skills. I even had no problem doing a wet entry with this hull.

Real nice kayak. I like it a lot.

RE: shearwater skeg

Hi Greg, I drive a Merganser which is the older brother of the Shearwater with a very similar hull. Like fish said it handles well in most conditions with well practiced corrective strokes and edging. However above 15-20 knot wiinds when in a following quartering winds and waves my merganser wants to turn back to 90 degrees to the wind and waves. I'm able to compensate well but on a long passage I'm not sure I could maintain it for more then 30-40 minutes.

I email Eric (the designer of the Merganser / Shearwater) about this. He replied the Shearwater has a bit looser feel then the merganser with a softer entry at the bow / keel which should reduce the problem I mentioned. So on my last re-fit  I decided not to add a sked  instead I softened that transition  at the front stem to keel on my Merganser and it did improve the weathervaining to a noticable degree. In your case I'd say your on the fence as to need for a skeg. Above 20 knot winds your in real heavy water anyway and wouldn't expect the average paddler to be going any distance.

I would not think a rudder is needed as the boat handles very well in all conditions I've encountered including very tight creeks and swamps.  


RE: shearwater skeg

Hi Greg,

I built a 2006 Shearwater 16 (21 in beam) last year and included a skeg in the process.  At first, I thought that I might just be prolonging the building process and using up valuable cargo space, but I have really grown to appreciate the skeg.  Most of my paddling if off the Georgia coast and on tidal rivers and I frequently deal with 15-20 knot cross winds.  The skeg keeps the shearwater tracking straight, aids with surfing, and I am able to fit cargo around the skeg box.  I use the skeg much more than I anticipated and plan to include one in my future builds.  I highly recommend it if you plan to paddle in open waters.


RE: shearwater skeg

thanks for the input .i went ahead and ordered the skeg otherwise i'd always be wondering if i should have. i had a skeg on my pax 20 but i dont think i was using it correctly.if i figure if i dont need it most of the time it stays retracted and the only thing i have to lose is a little extra weight

RE: shearwater skeg


If I may ask, which skeg did you order? I am also building a SH17 and I would prefer to include a skeg up front, just in case.



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