Optional skeg on Tenderly/Lake Union Swift

I'm building a Lake Union Swift, which has the same hull shape as the Tenderly.  Both boats have a pretty significant (to my eye, at least) skeg, but it's listed in the Swift manual as an "optional skeg for rowing."  

I've confirmed with CLC staff that it can be omitted if the boat is primarily used for sailing, which will indeed be the case for me.  But there are times when I will row.  I'll be sailing on midwest (U.S.) inland lakes, where the winds are fickle and oars will be how I'll get back to my launch site when the wind fails.  And I don't want to rule out rowing for pleasure/exercise on some occasions.

That said, I expect to be sailing at least 80-90% of the time I'm out on the boat, and want the best sailing performance possible.

So some questions:

  • Is there much of a performance penalty when sailing from the extra drag and wetted surface of the skeg?
  • If I leave off the skeg, will rowing be frustrating due to a lack of directional stability? 
  • If yes, is keeping the rudder deployed and the tiller lashed a suitable alternative to regain that stability?  Or a partially deployed centerboard?  (The latter is probably farther forward than ideal for this purpose, but maybe still effective?)

Thanks for any insights on this issue.


3 replies:

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RE: Optional skeg on Tenderly/Lake Union Swift

Hi Jack,

Unless you're a cutthroat racer the skeg is not an issue for sailing. But since you're building the Lake Union Swift instead of the Tenderly, I'm guessing that you at least have aspirations to be a cutthroat racer :-)

On the other side, the worst rowing experiences I've had were skegless boats with wide-ish sterns, especially in a crosswind.

For good stability the appendages shou;d be behind the rower, so you're probably right about the centerboard being too far forward, but the rudder should help stabilize the boat for rowing in the wind, as long as the water is deep enough for the rudder.

If it was me, I'd build with the skeg, but I'm the world's most casual sailor and it's your boat, not mine.

Have fun,


RE: Optional skeg on Tenderly/Lake Union Swift

   "Cutthroat Racer Wannabe" is a pretty accurate description, since most of my previous sailing experience was spent trying to milk every bit of boat speed possible.  And even though I don't expect to be formally racing the Swift, the inner joy that comes from overtaking other sailing craft is still almost ineffable.

So I think I'll leave the skeg off and try other means to be able to row in straight line.  I'm now thinking about a removable skeg that can be installed in the gudgeons if I ever want to go for a serious row (as opposed to just getting back to the dock).  I'll save the skeg wood, though, to keep the option of fitting it at a later date if I feel the need for more directional stability.

RE: Optional skeg on Tenderly/Lake Union Swift

The Goat Island Skiff is primarily a sailboat but can also be used for rowing.  Because the hull has significant rocker and no skeg, it is not very directionally stable while rowing.  The common technique in the GIS world is to lash the tiller centered and put the rudder down into the water just a few inches.  This works well for the GIS and may also work for your LUS.

Picture is the one time that I rowed the boat without the rudder.  I won't do that again.


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