Years ago I remember when the value of fitting packraft rear skegs was debated. Then, the now common longer sterns (introduced by Alpacka) positioned the paddler more centrally and greatly reduced excessive bow yawing.
On a packraft you’d think a skeg under the bow would eliminate the yawing endemic to short, wide rafts but turning agility would be lost. In fact, I wonder whether a packraft might yaw nearly as much at the back but you never notice. Like one of those Turkish dervishes, you’re actually pivoting from the middle of the paddle shaft, or perhaps a bit behind, at the centre of mass.
Rear skegs certainly improve tracking on IKs; you can manage without, but with a skeg you can paddle harder without constant micro-correctioning. On rivers I’ve found solo packrafts paddle fine without a rear skeg; or they’re too short to demonstrate noticeable improvements. There’s a bit of nodding as you move off which soon settles down with some momentum. Even my symmetrical Rebel 2K (left; stern identical to bow, not extended) paddled fine down the Wye without a skeg. But when getting pushed around by the swell or on sea lochs (especially when sailing) fitting a skeg was worthwhile.
Either way, rear skegs are a thing now with packrafts even if you don’t have to fit them every time. Certainly on my longer TXL I like to think the stock rear skeg aids coastal paddles; though we found a brief stint with no skeg was only slightly noticeable, paddling into the wind in a sheltered loch (no swell). Anyway, I’ve been curious to see what effect a frontal skeg has, so on buying my TXL I ordered a spare skeg and patch which Anfibio also sell separately for €21 + €6.
Gluing on a skeg patch
As stick-ons go, this is not a mission critical job but you want to line it up dead straight which I now see is better done with the boat inflated. I just used the rear seam, hoping it was along the middle line. Anfibio recommend Helaplast which they can’t post outside of Germany but which you can buy on ebay.uk (from Germany…) for €7 for 50ml.
There must be something similar in the UK, but the problem is identifying it against something that provenly works. I had some Goop contact adhesive, but whatever the ‘Automotive’ variant is, it did not stick at all. So I decided to try some Aquasure+FD, leaving it to cure for half an hour before sending in the roller. That seems to have worked.
Part of me likes to think I’ll be using my nippy TXL the way I use my IK: fair weather open-water transits rarely more than a mile from shore. As this might require sustained periods of paddling I figured some thigh straps would help, as they do in my IK. It’s not so much for hardcore bracing or even rolling, the way they’re used in white water, but just to lock-out the legs so the core is more responsive and you can get good drive, as with knees pressed up under the deck of a hardshell sea kayak.
Anfibio sent me their latest 5-point thigh straps which I tried and liked on the Revo (left). But to make full use of them would require gluing on up to 8 extra patches (if not ideally the ladder patch; left).
I decided my old Anfibio 3P straps which I’ve used for years in my IK would be OK for my low-tension, flatwater use, and require adding just one pair of loop straps. I could have got away with the unused flat patch by the seat, but the direction on tension was off centre and would eventually wear, stretch and maybe break. These small patches are not really designed for such loads and now my Helaplast has arrived I decided to try it. An old post on the Anfibio blog explains how to use Helaplast:
- mark off area on hull
- mix hardener 20:1
- clean surfaces with solvent
- apply a thin layer to both surfaces and wait 30 minutes
- apply another thin layer and wait another 10 minutes
- Position patch; it won’t adhere properly
- Heat with hair dryer to reactivate glue and press down hard (it’s better if the boat is deflated to do this on a hard surface).
The heat reactivation trick was not one I’ve heard of before with glues (except to loosen stuff), but you could see it worked. Where the positioned patch was lamely stuck to the boat, a bit of heat saw it bond down well with some some added rolling. You can tell when something looks well glued and this feels like it, though I’m sure glad I didn’t have to do that another six times.
Having paddled about with the straps a bit, they work OK, but the front mounts need to be lower to hook well over the knees without using the cross-link strap to pull each strap inward (not what they were intended for). I did this a few days later.