Dagger Seeker rudder

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by David Cowell, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. David Cowell

    David Cowell New Member

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    OK, I'm brand new to a sea kayak.
    A little history so you know where I'm coming from as I try to learn and become proficient at this amazing hobby.
    I've been paddling a cheap recreational fishing kayak for about a year. I bought it as a first kayak so I could learn what I wanted to do. I have loved every minute on the water and I have switched my focus from my next boat being a nice fishing kayak to a touring boat of some sort. After lots of reading and watching videos I've figured out how much I don't know, so to that end I ended up buying an inexpensive Dagger Seeker poly boat. She's old but solid. Surprisingly the foam bulkheads are even intact, the neoprene hatch seals are good and so on. I'm going to replace all the deck rigging and rudder lines and call it a winner! My only intentions with this boat are to put a lot of miles under it in lots of scenarios, have some adventures and figure out what I want. Somewhere between a Jackson Journey day trip boat and a Kevlar sea kayak. Direction to be determined after I see what I think will work best for what I end up doing.
    Enough background. This boat has a rudder. My lacking of actual experience had me wanting a skeg, but what do you do? It was an inexpensive boat and it's not like I actually know what I want yet.
    My first observation is that after having sat in some boats at the store and seeing what it's like to fit the boat and feel solidly locked up in there without having to constantly work at it, the sliding rudder pedals seem to make it impossible to get that solid connection feel. I know that some of the modern boats have foot braces that you can lock in place, then they pivot to control the rudder. Is this a conversion that can be done to an older boat like this?
    I've been in this boat twice after work so far. Yesterday I noticed that my left butt cheek and leg were pretty much numb after an hour or so! I chalk this up largely to needing a pad for the seat and some fitment adjustment, but probably because with the rudder I can't get solid into the boat.
    Thanks!
     
  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    David:
    Welcome to WCP!

    Sliding rudder footpegs do make it more difficult to use leg drive when paddling, when the rudder is down.
    You are correct in your impression.

    When I first started kayaking, I had a lot of trouble with my legs 'going to sleep' while paddling - a few times I stumbled when getting out of the boat. Once I started using more leg drive and rotation when forward paddling, this problem went away. So, with your sliding pedals and the difficulty of using leg drive, it's not surprising to me that you are experiencing numbness.
    Some of my friends have found that more (or less!) padding at the front of the seat helps, so you can experiment with that.

    About the commercial 'gas pedal' footpegs, there are a few issues:
    1) Some folks find it difficult to steer with their 'tiptoes', being accustomed to driving off the balls of their feet. Adjusting the movable part of the pedal can sometimes help with that.
    2)The height of the pedal above the cockpit sole is more critical with the gas pedal type. There are adapter plates to lower the footpeg rail that are commercially available, or you could DIY something.
    3)The bolt spacing for attaching the rails to your kayak may be different - check yours against the specs for the new ones. In a glass boat, it's easy to plug holes and re-drill - more complicated with a poly boat, I think.

    If you want to read lots of arguments against rudders, particularly the sliding footpeg type, see the Design section at marinerkayaks.com

    Also, if you haven't done so already , getting some lessons from a pro would probably be a good idea to help you get the most out of your new boat.
     
  3. David Cowell

    David Cowell New Member

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    John;

    First off, thanks for the quick reply with good info.
    Glad to hear your opinion and experience with the numbness. Gives me a direction to go to try and get to my comfort for extended paddling.
    I am going to a "spring paddle fest" tomorrow where I'll try out some boats, figure out the paddle that fits best and with a little luck I will get my first critique of what I'm up to from the manufacturer reps that are showing the boats. Should be a good day of paddling a variety of boats.
    I do plan on getting some training.
    As for the argument against rudders, I don't know enough yet to say that rudders or skegs are better for me, but I am firmly bias towards a skeg. Simple, only movement is up and down, not a sail when not in use and I hope to land on a boat that's got good touring characteristics, but still playful. The inexpensive boat I got has a rudder so that's what I've got for my learning boat. I'm planning to use the rudder as little as possible so that I can learn actual paddling skills, which was one of the big purposes of this boat. I just think that paddling without the rudder would be easier with foot braces since my peddles are certainly not braces!
    I've tried setting the rudder and leaving it, like a skeg, but it's damn near impossible to leave it when your feet belong on the peddles. I also think that the fact that my feet are on the peddles (plus my inexperience) causes constant movement of the rudder, even if it's slight. This translates into resistance. Resistance is the enemy of long days of paddling.
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Your sensible approach combined with John's knowledgable advice is really all you need to assess your issue.
    I can only add a few miniscules:
    - that the Sealect rudder brace bolt spacing that I have is 14 1/2",
    - that there's no reason not to take off a rudder if you don't like/need it [saves wt too],
    - that if you have a rudder it might make sense to play/learn with it's use,
    - that skegs and rudders are both mechanical and mechanicals fail at times therefore a little upkeep needed
    - seams don't flex too much so a thickened epoxy 'rivet' shape will likely be fine for sealing unused holes - otherwise G-flex epoxy would work.
    - one thought I've often had is to just add a set of foot braces below a slider setup and see if that'd work. It's all toe control, right?
    - poly boats are made to be beaten up!
     
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  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Mick's points are excellent.
    David - In the skeg vs rudder conversation (note: Mariner kayaks have neither), there are drawbacks to both.
    So don't get too 'down' on rudders. Think Freya Hoffmeister... :)
    It's probably a good idea to try paddling your boat with, and without using the rudder. I hear people say: "I don't use the rudder unless it gets really rough and windy". That's OK, but not the time to learn the technique of using a rudder. The first time I paddled a rudder boat in any sort of wind, my group got caught in a strong offshore wind. I really really struggled to get the boat turned into the wind so I could get closer to shore. Rudder hard over, and just paddling on one side, I got the boat turned eventually (a couple of minutes; seemed longer!). If I had just pulled the rudder up, the boat would have spun into the wind on it's own if I kept paddling. ("Turn upwind, rudder up" rule..)
    So Mick's advice about playing/learning with the rudder brought back memories to me!
    A rudder is probably easier to repair while on a trip, if you have cable or rudder line like Q-Powerline (like the surfskis use) in your repair kit.
    I think rudders are probably more reliable and trouble-free than skegs; it would be rare to find a paddler who hasn't had a skeg problem at some point - though often it's just a matter of grit/pebble in the skeg box.
    Rudders don't put a hole in the bottom of the boat (skeg boxes can and sometimes do leak) and don't get in the way when stowing gear.
    With a good rudder (one that stays in the water), you can usually just keep on paddling forward without wasting energy on 'correction strokes', which can get tedious.

    There are good (IMO) boats with rudders (Telkwa), skegs (Romany) and neither (Mariner Max/Express/Coaster).
     
  6. David Cowell

    David Cowell New Member

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    Thanks for all the thoughts. Really things to think about and consider are exactly what I need rather than peoples absolutes. Pros and cons to anything and tradeoffs to whatever we choose.
    I actually want to do most of my paddling without the rudder so I can learn my basic skills, but to be honest the rudder is probably going to keep me on the water more during the learning curve. On my first trip out in the boat I think I would have been hard pressed in the wind to have anything resembling control without it. I'm just used to a rec kayak and paddling like a skiff.
    Mick, I really like your idea of foot braces AND the rudder controls. Might be an easier thing to do than changing the system to new pedals that may or may not go easy. When I look at the pivoting pedal kits, I'm left wondering if there is enough movement to get even half the travel of the rudder without figuring out some sort of pulley change to give it essentially a gear ratio that creates more movement at the back of the boat than at my toes.
    John, I definitely plan on playing with the rudder and without. The rudder may be very helpful in some of the skinny estuaries that I like to go into, especially up until I am comfortable edging, which comfort in steep edging probably won't happen until I learn to roll the boat reliably. The entire purpose of this boat was to be a learning tool. I have no idea of the size boat I am going to end up with, skeg or rudder, something that is agile enough for rock gardening or something that is long and designed for efficient paddling for long trips. I have some ideas for trips in mind. Simple starting trips like the Columbia from Portland to the mouth at Ilwaco port, or the Clark Fork between Missoula and Saint Regis Montana when this boat gets comfortable with me and I learn a few more important things, but even those could be done in a day touring boat with compact light hiking gear, but I may decide that trips longer than a weekend are all I want to gear up for.
    As long as the boat can handle some weather and maybe a little surfing! I grew up on the coast so hitting some waves seems fun, and like a great way to learn to deal with the waves.
    I know that whatever I do, it's all incredibly fun. The paddling, the learning and the people I meet.
    Thanks again for sharing all your experience and knowledge with me. Actual people sharing their experience is so much better for learning than the magazines, web sites and videos I've been checking out, although I'm still going to spend countless hours on the videos learning technique.
     
  7. designer

    designer Paddler

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    David, I'll leave the discussion of Rudder vs Skeg (vs none) to others as my boat (Mariner) has neither. My recommendation is to learn the phrase, "I meant to do that." Then go out in your boat with the rudder up - not in use. spend the time (easier on flat still lake water, or calm part of a river) paddling until you can move the kayak straight with just your technique and knee raise correction (to lean the boat, not you). Once mastered slow, try for more speed. Many times along this path, your boat will start to circle left or right. You can continue the turn ending up paddling in your intended direction, but backwards. That's when you proclaim to anyone watching, "I meant to do that."

    As I understand the lore, mechanical reliability issues aside, when rudders started to become popular, they were somewhat demonized because they added additional drag (i.e. effort) to paddling. After a few years, observation sharpened and the current thought is, the effort to make corrections strokes (when required by contrary currents) takes more effort than whatever drag the rudder adds. In other words, it is easier to set the rudder to compensate for drift so you can continue to paddle straight then it is to paddle without a rudder but have to make additional strokes on one side to correct for the current push.

    It's important to "bond" with your boat so you can paddle it straight without the rudder and turn with boat leans and strokes. Then you just need to use the rudder to compensate when you get in current that without a rudder, would require a lot of compensation strokes on one side. Also, you'll know that should some mechanical issue appear, you can still control your boat. This takes lots of TIB (time in boat). There is no substitution for it.The good news is it is mostly enjoyable.
     
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  8. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I have no idea how the footbrace plus slider would work ergonomically in a straightforward manner in a poly boat. I wouldn't recommend trying it as you might have to move it around a whole bunch to get it right [lots of holes!] - a composite boat would be way easier to fill all of them. Plus I've never heard of anyone else doing it - it's just an interesting question. If one was actually to do it, it'd be a hassle as you'd have to readjust the rudder line settings for each peg location [unless you unhooked the line, put a pulley on the end of the slider and a pulley on the peg and tied off the line at the front of the pegrack]. I might bungee the slider to the top of the peg so it didn't get out of place and would semi-return to ctr.

    So like designer infers, you have a great opportunity right now to just take the lousy slider/rudder system off and learn rudderless [no matter how the boat tracks - it's irrelevant to your learning] while you make up your mind at your leisure about how or if to fit you new system.

    This is an opportunity. The boat I was just in tonight will turn 180deg in an instant with a soft incorrect stroke but will behave acceptably done otherwise - I'm sure yours will be way more controllable. And when you're out there, who's the ref anyway?
     
  9. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    David, when you talk about wanting something between a day trip boat and a sea kayak, something that’s got good touring characteristics but is still playful, agile enough for rock gardening but designed to be efficient for long trips, with enough cargo room to gear right up and that can handle weather and surfing, and the fact you’re biased against rudders, I kept thinking of the Mariner Coaster. They aren’t made anymore and don’t show up too often on the used market, but they fit all those requirements. http://www.marinerkayaks.com/Coasterw.html

    The (only?) drawback is that they lack a front bulkhead and are designed for use with a sea sock and inflatable flotation. They can be modified to have a front bulkhead and hatch, but that does add expense and weight. Otherwise they’re often described as the “perfect” boat — one that’s in between all the categories but that isn’t a compromise in any sense.

    There’s one for sale right now up in Seattle for quite a good price (I’ve seen them for more than twice this price): https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/boa/d/seattle-mariner-coaster-kayak/6872115226.html

    You sound like you’ve got the bug pretty good. Unless your finances are severely constrained you’ll probably end up with multiple boats for different purposes, and go through a few as your skills evolve.

    I will echo Mick’s statement that your attitude and the way you approach this gives you a huge leg up in skills building: self-awareness is key.

    I’ll also echo John’s suggestion of a lesson or two in stroke technique. I took one lesson focusing on forward stroke a couple years ago, and it’s still working its way through me. Incredible value.

    How was the paddle fest? What boats did you try, and what were your thoughts on them?
     
  10. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    When I started paddling I thought my leg numbness was due to my seat. It's what people told me.
    At a visit to my chiropractor I mentioned this and he suggested I work on my hamstring flexibility. I did and no longer have leg/feet numbness problems.
    I discovered that I have to do a bit of training to be able to be comfortable for hours in the kayak.
     
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  11. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Just a note that the Coaster mentioned for sale has a rear bulkhead. Mariner made a few that way on request. My Express has a rear bulkhead as does my Max. The rear bulkhead adds safety as you always have an air chamber.

    I might still use the sea sock because it keeps things cleaner and adds additional safety. But it is also more "stuff", more weight, and inhibits storing "need to get to" items behind the seat. KayakersGoCoastal in Tacoma have an expedition size Mariner XL with electric pump that costs about a third of the asking price of the Coaster.

    My legs/butt would get sore too, but they adapt and you'll learn to take a leg off the braces and stretch it a little. If you do, don't keep pushing on the other peddle.
     
  12. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    This is off-topic a bit. I agree that a glass 'victim boat' is better for experiments that involve drilling holes in the hull. :)
    Not all sliding footpeg systems are the same.
    One type is what I saw on a Telkwa recently - a fixed footpeg on a slider that adjusts to the rudder cable with a webbing buckle.
    Another (better) system was on the Necky Tesla I worked on a few weeks ago - the aluminum slider bar is directly attached to the rudder cable, and a 'normal' Keepers footpeg rail -with footpeg that clicks into stops- is bolted to the slider bar.
    The Necky didn't have 'retainer' shock cords, so I added them to the slider bars.
     
  13. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I find that even sliding rudder footpegs are quite solid when the rudder is 'up', if it is the typical rudder that sits in a V-block on the deck (or V-recess in the deck). I don't see the point of removing the rudder; just don't use it when practicing some techniques, then repeat the practice with the rudder down.

    People are funny - I've had comments from other paddlers about working across eddy lines and rolling with skeg down or rudder in the water...in 'real paddling' (not training), 'stuff' will happen with those fins in the water, so better to practice that way.

    I find it amusing when I hear a paddler in a (Brit) boat with upswept ends (and sometimes a foam paddlefloat on the aft deck) commenting on the windage of a rudder on deck. I don't think it's a big issue unless it gets quite windy, and when that happens the rudder will probably be in the water, not on deck...and I'll be looking to get off the water!
    Rudders do get in the way when doing some self-rescues and they are a scratch hazard to other boats - so not all positive.
     
  14. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I really like my Coaster - great boat and you can trip in it if you pack sensibly.
    Many Coaster paddlers don't use a sea sock - the flotation bag up front will do the job on its own.
    Having a rear bulkhead is a big advantage when dumping water out of the boat.
    Replacement neoprene hatch covers are available from Snapdragon.
    BTW, don't be fooled - under that neo cover is a hard lid, held to the hatch rim with a length of flexible edge trim with metal reinforcement. Make sure your Mariner has that lid and the trim strip (available from KayakAcademy)- One Coaster I bought didn't have it at all....

    My favourite Coaster pic is of John Lull in rough conditions.
    mini-John Lull Rescues Cover.jpeg
     
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  15. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I just don't like putting all that pressure on the rudder lines and their rudder attachment.
     
  16. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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  17. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I 'second that emotion' :) but in practice it doesn't seem to be a problem with my paddling friends. That 1/16 SS cable with good swages is pretty strong.
    IMO a footboard with pivoting top pedals (surfski style) is far preferable to any side footpeg system.
    Drive off your heels, steer with your toes.
     
  18. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    It's the swages that are the weak link, unless you use the purpose-made swaging tool. I borrow the one from the local marine supply, as they close, and return it when they open the next morning. Practice a few times on scraps of the cable.
     
  19. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I agree.

    BTW, the Smart Track 'Cool Rudder Wedgie' (CRM) doesn't need a swage at the rudder end of the cable.
    https://www.clcboats.com/modules/ca...ootbraces-rudders&code=cool_rudder_wedgie_kit

    It could probably be retrofitted to many non-Smart Track rudders.
    A spare cable with the cockpit end fitted with a loop/swage could go in the repair kit on trips.
    The 'wedgie' also works with spectra (surfski-type) rudder line, though I tie knots in the line as well.

    Smart Track Cool Rudder Wedgie.JPG
     
  20. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019