Retro Fitting a Skeg to my Nadgee [59]

By Kim Vandyke

I ordered a skeg kit from David Winkworth to retro fit to my Nadgee. The kayak actually tracks very well but I wanted the skeg just in case. I believe the skeg design is such that it could fit any kayak. Importantly, the quality of the product is first rate. David supplies detailed instructions on how to fit the kayak however I was looking for a fast installation. The following is how I did it. If you are thinking about a skeg, it will all make sense. If you aren’t – move on to the next article.

I supported the kayak keel up on two saw horses above the floor, marked the spot for the skeg then masked the area. I used a surform to flatten out the keel till a few mm’s wide then drew a pencil line down the centre and again marked the slot length. I used a hand drill to make a slot for a jig saw blade (metal cutting) to cut a thin slot. I kept surforming / filing / sanding down the keel ever so slowly until the slot was the correct size to accept the skeg box firmly when inserted from inside the hull.

I turned the kayak right side up and made sure it was sitting squarely on the supports. I used a level across the cockpit to check it was level port/starboard. I locked the kayak in place using my Thule racks and straps. I passed the skeg through the rear hatch and positioned it in the slot. David supplies a “keeper” for the skeg box to ensure it does not contract when glassing. The skeg was now in place with its opening facing down to the floor. I inserted another piece of timber (same thickness) but about 2 feet long at 90 deg to the skeg / keel line when viewed side on. This meant I had a long protrusion hanging down that I could eyeball and check for vertical positioning of the skeg (as the skeg is inside the kayak it’s a bit hard to see if it is vertical). Remember, I had the timber pointing down from the skeg toward the floor. I used my carpenter’s level to create a level timber beam on the concrete floor of the garage at right angles to the keel line. I used my carpenter’s right angle square to check that the angle between the skeg protusion pointing down to the floor and the beam on the floor was 90 degrees. I did all of this to make sure the alignment was correct before sloshing the gelcoat in around the skeg – it went off nicely and locked the skeg in. On reflection I think I would use 5 minute epoxy next time just to locate the skeg and then mask & brush gelcoat on from the outside to cover up for later wet rubbing.

Having experienced how tricky it was to work a brush with gelcoat around the skeg down inside the back of the kayak, I was clearly going to have some fun with glass and resin notwithstanding the curves etc of the keel. I had purchased the resin and glass etc but thought a bit more about it.

What I did was resort to some marine epoxy and ephispheres (super light filler) which I had in my box of tricks. I used gaffa tape (strong) to create a dam about 10 mm from each end of the skeg. I mixed up a super light porridge of epoxy and ephispheres and poured it into the dam. It went off – very effective.

Now for the slider that lives on the deck. I placed it on the right side of the boat. I made a cardboard template of the underneath of the slider. I masked this to the deck then cut the hole. Then I masked the deck area before sanding the gel coat – I used 5 minute epoxy to attach the slider with flange onto the deck – I held it while it went off – I pulled the tape off while the epoxy was still “green” – again it worked well.

I have layers of foam for my knees under the deck which took some time to put in and I didn’t want to remove them for the skeg cable so I simply pushed a 6mm steel rod through the foam where I wanted the cable to run – couldn’t have been easier.

The skeg cable is housed in a plastic tube, the cable and tube run from the box in the hatch, through the slider and toward the front bulkhead, along this run the tube is separated by the slider. Both exposed ends of tubing in the slider need to be fluted; I achieved this by heating it lightly with a ciggy lighter and then inserting a Phillips head screwdriver. The tubing is now threaded into the slider, one aft to the skeg – the other forward. To prevent the short forward tubing moving back and forth as the cable moved I put an oversize piece of hose (held with zip ties) on the tube up against the forward face of the slider under the deck. To give myself friction on the cable, I placed some gaffa tape on the cable (short end toward bow) before I threaded the cable into the tube.

In hindsight the skeg was easy to install – I took the long weekend to do mine but the next one will be a cinch.