Small Boat Design

Discussions around designing small boats including kayaks and canoes.

chine runners

I have been playing with ideas for modifying my Ellesmere by Boreal Design. The boat is my play boat for rolling, surfing, just having fun.

The Ellesmere is a hard chine boat with a rounded bottom rather than a shallow V. It's initial stability is very low but it is a pleasure to roll and surf. It actually feels more stable the rougher the water gets. It's tracking isn't that great without the skeg down and could be a problem if the skeg failed at the wrong time. It turns on a dime, better than any other boat I have seen.

I have been building boats and paddling for a while so I like to tweak things. In fact it is a disease, I have to tweak things. So I began noodling what I could do to "improve" this boat. Someone said they added a permanent skeg at the stern to their Ellesmere but I think it would affect the turning ability too much which I really like in the boat. Other ideas... rudder.... no... fatten the retractable skeg... no, still depending on a skeg.

Then one night as I was falling asleep imagining water flowing across the hull and I got the idea of double skegs about 2 inches in from the chines, maybe an inch or so high and extending about 4', parallel to the centerline and roughly centered fore and aft on the cockpit. I believe they are called chine runners since I googled on the design and thats the closest thing I could find. I have never seen it on a kayak.

So I mocked up a couple, duct taped them on and went for a paddle. There was a noticeable improvement in initial stability and tracking even without the skeg down. Tracking in surf seemed better too. Best of all the turning ability was unaffected, she still turned on a dime exactly like it originally did. Plus there was no noticeable increase in drag.

Seemed like a winner but I figured I may be biased and seeing what I wanted to see, so I let my wife and a friend paddle it first without the runners and then with them attached. I didn't mention my observations and after the test we compared notes and they both said they observed exactly what I had seen.

Still playing with ideas like should they be perpendicular to the keel line like the skeg or to the curve of the hull where they attach. Ideally I'd like to make them removable but I haven't quite figured that part out yet.

This was last fall and now that spring is here the project has come back into focus. I guess I am just looking for feedback. Am I crazy to do this to the boat? Has anyone has ever tried this or can anyone think of a compelling reason not to do it.

So if you have any ideas... comments.

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chine runners
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