Another opinion and question about rudders...

JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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Victoria, BC
Did the issue [rudder caused leecocking] in John's post #11 not happen as he thought?
**
The locale for that incident was the mouth of Roberts Bay (Sidney BC) with a stiff wind blowing right off the land (westerly). I had been paddling south and I was trying to turn the boat though the eye of the wind so I could turn north to seek the shelter of Tsehum harbour. When I eventually did get there, a sailor told me that his masthead anemometer had been registering 35-38 knots throughout the whole episode. In less wind I wouldn't have learned the lesson about boat handling so well!
How we got into that situation was a classic 'groupthink' cavalcade - a story for another day.
 

JKA

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Jul 25, 2016
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Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
Another data point:

A couple of days ago we had a good blast come through, straight from Antarctica. As I like to do when a gale comes, I went for a paddle into the wind until I was stopped by a good squall. I estimated the wind strength at 40 knots plus, from the williwaws and spray produced. I was broached and had to surf downwind. NDK Romany, no rudder or skeq.

The weather station 3 kilometres directly downwind recorded 55 knots at the time!

Even with no rudder, I wasn't paddling up into that! :oops:

Photos are from a helmet-mounted GoPro; I was a tad busy to take pics.

Windy13-1.jpg
Windy16-1.jpg
Windy3-1.jpg
Windy4-1.jpg
Wind29Jun21.jpg
 

AndyM

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Mar 20, 2016
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18
No real preference, except for long trips.
I currently have ruddered and skegged kayaks.
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My first paddle up the Australia coast, I paddled a Caffyn designed kayak ('Arctic Raider', a ruddered, Nordkappish' design).
Was getting along fine until one nasty experience in the surf breakout one morning.
I got flipped going out, tried rolling several times each side, finally successful (reason of difficulty another story).
In all this commotion, the rudder somehow deployed and got 'stuck'.
I did not want to go back in (in the surf), so decided to paddle the day with a deployed, unadjustable rudder (at a bad angle).
I had a very difficult crossing of a large bay (much paddling on one side).
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On that stretch of coast (east coast Aus.) at that time of year (southern hemisphere fall season), there is a predominant SE trade wind, so, heading north with a strong, quartering tailwind, a rudder or skeg is desirable (to the alternative - neither).
On my next trip up that coast, I paddled an NDK Explorer, with a (rope) skeg.
I'm not real handy with fixing stuff, so the simpler the better for me.
With a rudder, lots of stuff can go wrong. With a skeg, the cable can go wrong. That's why I preferred the 'rope' skeg, it was something even I could repair if something went wrong (held up by a bungee, deployed when bungee released (or vice-versa, I forget)).
 

SWriverstone

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Jun 22, 2021
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Eugene, OR
One of the most important lessons I learned in whitewater paddling was this: to maneuver a boat well, you MUST be going faster than the water around you.

It seems like this is a pretty obvious statement, but in whitewater anyway (and I suspect possibly sea kayaking) you'd be amazed at how many people ignore it. :)

It's even true in mountain biking on dry land: momentum is KEY! To get through rocks, over small logs, etc. you must be moving fast—slow down, and you'll be stopped in a heartbeat.
 

Mac50L

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Aug 18, 2014
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South Island, New Zealand
I paddled a Caffyn designed kayak ('Arctic Raider', a ruddered, Nordkappish' design).
Just a note - Arctic Raider - actually a Sission designed variant of the Nordkapp. Though Paul was given one I'm not sure he ever paddled it and stuck to his Sission built Nordkapps.

As for JKA's pictures, try handling a 30' yacht in those conditions, in the middle of a race, about 2 miles ahead and to the left. Yes, laid down on her beam ends as they say and with the smallest jib and deepest reef. The owner wasn't with us that day and turned up (by car) as it eased off and we were sailing into the mooring !!!
 

cougarmeat

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Sep 17, 2012
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Bend OR USA
Some sellers will tell you that one of the motivation for “features” is marketing - like that “day” hatch behind the seat that you have to be a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to reach. Now it’s difficult to find a boat without a skeg or rudder.

I paddle Mariners so have neither. I did learn about load balance. Mine don’t have the sliding seat. On one launch I was rushed and instead of working to put a large-ish bag in the rear, I just shoved it amidships. Wow, did that boat ever handle better in the wind. So weight in the rear is good but not to the extreme.

In the olden days, rudders were talked about in terms of turning the boat and were denigrated for added drag. All sorts of calculations were made showing how much distance you’d loose on a long paddle when “dragging” a rudder. Then people realized all the energy it took to make correcting strokes. Now it feels like people know how to turn a boat in more traditional ways and the rudder’s job is more to allow a straight track against wind/wave forces. So you set the rudder to offset an off course push and continue with your forward stroke, minimizing correcting strokes.

Also back in those days the rudder peddles moved in and out. They had a spongy feel. If your foot came off one peddle while you were pushing on the other, you’d have little to brace on. But then the “gas pedal” design arrived. Those are set at a fixed distance. They moved with the rocking of your foot (toe push) rather than moving your leg in and out.

As I understand it, the skeg can also be more involved that just up or down. I recall reading that you lower it just enough to correct the off course tendency. Any lower and it just presents more drag or possibly over-corrects. If you get a boat with a skeg, remember to tie a cord to the blade (there is usually a small hole for that) that you can use to pull the skeg down if a small rock gets it jammed up.

I’ll admit a twinge of jealously if I’m paddling into a cantankerous wind and my rudder/skeg friends are paddling straight ahead while I’m in “starboard, port, port, port, starboard, port, port, port” mode. But then, I don’t have to bring a set of craftsman tools as repair backup.
 
Last edited:

kayakwriter

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I’ll admit a twinge of jealously if I’m paddling into a cantankerous wind and my rudder/skeg friends are paddling straight ahead while I’m in “starboard, port, port, port, starboard, port, port, port” mode. But then, I don’t have to bring a set of craftsman tools as repair backup.
There is something to be said for "What ain't there can't break."
 

Mac50L

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Aug 18, 2014
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South Island, New Zealand
Also back in those days the rudder peddles moved in and out. They had a spongy feel. If your foot came off one peddle while you were pushing on the other, you’d have little to brace on. But then the “gas peddle” design arrived. Those are set at a fixed distance. They moved with the rocking of your foot (toe push) rather than moving your leg in and out.
Spelling - Pedal
I think you will find the gas-pedal type (Laurie Ford, Tasmania 1970s, British designs 1960s) was well before the sliding ones. It appears the sliding ones came from America. They certainly were fitted to Puffins.

Note that proper gas-pedal type aren't toe operated, they are foot operated with the whole foot supported by the hinged pedal.

I’ll admit a twinge of jealously if I’m paddling into a cantankerous wind and my rudder/skeg friends..... But then, I don’t have to bring a set of craftsman tools as repair backup.
Tools? What for? Ask Paul Caffyn if he has ever carried tools to fix his rudders over 10s of thousands of miles. I certainly haven't over the past 4 decades.
 

SalishSeaNior

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Nov 15, 2020
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Okanagan Valley, Canada
I got flipped going out, tried rolling several times each side, finally successful (reason of difficulty another story).
In all this commotion, the rudder somehow deployed and got 'stuck'.
I did not want to go back in (in the surf), so decided to paddle the day with a deployed, unadjustable rudder (at a bad angle).
I had a very difficult crossing of a large bay (much paddling on one side).
If I recall correctly, Seaward Kayaks puts a bungee keeper on their rudder equiped kayaks that goes over the tip of the rudder when it is stowed. I expect this concept was originally to keep the rudder stowed in the slot while you sped to the put in at 110 KMH. However, it would also work to keep the rudder from deploying in the situation AndyM describes above me thinks.
 

cougarmeat

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Sep 17, 2012
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Mac50L I will always honor a NewZealander’s opinions about water/sea issues over mine. And thank you for the spelling correction. Spelling isn’t my strong suit (actually a hearing issue) so I appreciate the corrections. My worst when went I meant to say skeg in one post and it came out sag - it was a contextual thing. So it isn’t the first and won’t be the last. I can only edit until my edit window closes.

However, on the toe vs foot issue. The last “gas pedal” rudder I saw had a fixed bar positioned about where a foot’s mid-arch would be. A pedal pivoted around that bar. The pivot was done by pushing with the ball of the foot (i.e. toe). Definitely not the same as the sliding pedals in the Dagger Vesper. Those were pushed forward with the whole foot - though it was usually also just the ball of the foot, depending upon how your foot fit on the pedal. Some vendors were peddling those pedals so people could push a pedal to turn perpendicular while paddling.
 

SWriverstone

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Jun 22, 2021
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Eugene, OR
If I recall correctly, Seaward Kayaks puts a bungee keeper on their rudder equiped kayaks that goes over the tip of the rudder when it is stowed. I expect this concept was originally to keep the rudder stowed in the slot while you sped to the put in at 110 KMH. However, it would also work to keep the rudder from deploying in the situation AndyM describes above me thinks.
My Wilderness Systems Tsunami has one of these—it's great, but there's no reaching it to unhook/hook it once you're on the water.

Re: day hatches, I have one and don't have any trouble reaching it, though admittedly I grab things from there by feel (I can't really look down the hatch to get something, LOL). Still, I find it's easier to stow things behind my seat—much easier to reach back there (again by feel) to grab binoculars, a water bottle, etc.)
 

SWriverstone

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Jun 22, 2021
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Eugene, OR
It appears the sliding ones came from America.
I'm sure the sliding foot brace rudder pedals were probably just an offshoot of typical whitewater kayak footbraces—they were made from the same hardware used for footbraces (so yeah, cheaper for the manufacturers).

Nowadays most whitewater kayaks have just gone to no footbraces (paddlers just shove their toes down at the pointed bow of a boat) or a foam bulkhead to brace against.
 
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