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 Adding a skeg to the WK250

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WK 727 Posted - 04/17/2022 : 09:27:47
I added a skeg to my 250 this past winter. It is made out of Divinycell. The hull was sanded down to the fiberglass for the proper adhesion. The skeg dimension is 6"H x 2"W x 48"L. Wrapped in two layers of fiberglass cloth and then tabbed with two strips of fiberglass on each side 2"W and then 4"W strips of cloth. After fairing I applied the white Totalboat epoxy barrier coating (10 mils). The rudder is the factory fiberglass/foam filled rudder that I reshaped/reinforced a few years back in another post to improve performance.

25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
DavidCrosby Posted - 04/17/2024 : 11:47:46
Originally posted by slacker

This looked like a worth while winter project so I gave it a try. I should mention that I didnt post pics because they look exactley the original pics except for different paint. ( copper VC 17 ). Next winter I hope to upgrade the wheel upgrade that was floating around the site a few years back.
Looking forward to putting the skeg to the test !

I am looking forward to reading your comments after you get out sailing.
slacker Posted - 04/16/2024 : 13:29:27
This looked like a worth while winter project so I gave it a try. I should mention that I didnt post pics because they look exactley the original pics except for different paint. ( copper VC 17 ). Next winter I hope to upgrade the wheel upgrade that was floating around the site a few years back.
Looking forward to putting the skeg to the test !
WK 727 Posted - 06/27/2023 : 15:09:23
David, my hat's off to you and Gary. It looks great. I am glad to hear that in whitecaps, you felt a difference. Beautiful craftsmanship.
DavidCrosby Posted - 05/21/2023 : 21:24:45
I took my C250 out for a sail this weekend in a good breeze. We did have whitecaps. I would have to say that with the addition of the skeg, there is noticeably less weather helm. I had a friend on board who has sailed my boat a lot. He concurred that there is definitely a difference in the helm (less weather helm).
Steve Milby Posted - 05/02/2023 : 09:08:35
My C&C 35 rudder and skeg were configured just like yours, and C&C's solution to prevent weeds and lines from getting caught in there was to embed a short ss rod, about 3-4" long, and about 1/8" diameter, in the skeg, a couple inches in front of the rudder. It wasn't perfectly foolproof, because a crab trap line got caught in there once, but I'm sure it must have stopped a lot over the years.
DavidCrosby Posted - 05/02/2023 : 08:37:41
There is now another C250wk with a skeg.

I know I am going to get comments about the large gap below the skeg and that things are going to get caught in there. I unfortunately need the large gap to get the rudder on and off. Prior to adding the skeg and now, I can not turn the rudder far enough to lift it up and off the gudgeons with a minimal gap (hits the ladder on the port side and outboard powerlift on the starboard side). I do intend to build a removable filler piece to close up the gap. That will be a "later this year" project. I am not concerned at this time, my home lake does not have crab pots or weeds to worry about.

This project actually started with me cutting my rudder last fall so that I could easily remove it. The rudder needed work done to it anyhow (so why not just cut it some more?).

I was discussing John's post about adding a skeg with my brother. He took a look at the post and said, "I have a piece of Divinycell laying around the garage that is the right size to do this. Do you want me to make one for you?" With that yes response he got to work. I needed to apply new bottom paint this year, so it was a good time to grind the gelcoat off that section of the hull.

I am not going to go into a write up of how I did this. Basically, I followed John's instructions in this thread. Although, I did not lower the gudgeons. I need the height to remain as is since I have a tiller. Thank you John for the detailed information. And, a big thank you to my brother Gary. He played a big part in getting this project done.

The boat went into the water this morning. After I have sailed with this new addition for awhile, I will report any differences in boat behavior.

Below is a picture:

WK 727 Posted - 10/29/2022 : 09:35:45
Our season is over and the boat is out of the water. Time to reflect on the season. I'll try to break it down into three categories for my modifications this year.

1) Edson steering quadrant - huge improvement to sensitivity. The boat now handles like a true wheel steering vessel with two revolutions of the wheel. The cables stayed in tension throughout the range, vast improvement. See previous post.

2) Everyone needs to inspect their rudder for symmetry for both sides. Mine was totally flat on one side and had a reasonable shape on the other. Fairing is simple, cheap and an immediate improvement to handling. I did drop the gudgeons two inches on the transom, lowering the entire rudder by 2". The rudder needed to be notched for the 6" skeg and I only notched it 4" by dropping the entire assembly by 2", fyi.

3) The skeg did exactly what I was hoping for. The boat tracks straight with neutral rudder up to the need for reefing. I don't reef under 15 knots of wind, so immediate improvement on the lead. I race/teach with other ASA instructors on J boats and spent most of my evaluation watching them helm my C250. They had nothing negative to say, but everyone had a great experience helming the C250 in all conditions. Huge success and I highly recommend it to others.

The verdict for me is better tracking in the marina or light air with reduced weather helm once healed and pushing the boat through its paces.
zeil Posted - 10/13/2022 : 10:07:45
Originally posted by WK 727

I plan on putting it thru the paces this season and I'll put out more information in October, but so far, it was worth the effort to me.

John... We look forward to your findings, sailing performance and details of the skeg as well as your rudder reinforcement modifications mentioned earlier

RPLieser Posted - 07/08/2022 : 17:56:15
I got this image from Gerry Douglas whilst I was working on my "Below the Waterline" project and article. I don't recall it being previously posted, but could have easily missed it. This is a 1997 Catalina Yacht's drawing showing inserting a stop in the keel trunk to add a bit of aft rake.

WK 727 Posted - 06/02/2022 : 12:31:41

My mast has always been tuned, I didn't take it down over the winter or need any adjustments this spring.

I have not suffered severe weather helm since I faired the rudder (see prior post NACA 0012).

Two C25s in dry storage were used to determine the size. Both are 6" tall and are 2" wide at the tip. The main difference is the radius between the keel and skeg which is much more gradual on the C25 (it is about 3" wide at the keel).

Current results:
Sailed in small white caps and upper teens and it handled perfectly and confidently. Only one sailboat stayed out in the rough conditions with us. Single reef in the main and full jib (125). We had fun.

Sailed yesterday in about 10 knots, calm water and it tracked so well I didn't need to keep my hand on the wheel. 5.5 knots SOG and full sails. Sailed like a dream.

Handling in the marina was probably the best improvement. It wasn't squirrely like it used to be. (I haven't experienced a strong cross breeze that can wreak havoc on our high freeboard design).

I plan on putting it thru the paces this season and I'll put out more information in October, but so far, it was worth the effort to me.
Voyager Posted - 04/28/2022 : 09:42:28
I like the pin idea on the skeg ahead of the rudder. I wonder whether a simple pin would work as well as a triangular shaped appendage hanging down just ahead of the rudder, maybe stainless steel?
slacker Posted - 04/26/2022 : 09:43:24
Please do a follow up after you've had time to assess the results.
Russ.Johnson Posted - 04/21/2022 : 09:17:06
Hi Kemp,

It's nice to hear from you again.
Just to clarify for everyone else about the C250 rudders.
There are several rudder versions.

C250WB Generation-1 Rudder
The original 1995 rudder was quickly replaced (1996?).
I heard 1995 owners were offered a free replacement (unconfirmed?).

C250WB/WK Generation-2 Rudder
There is a fixed rudder and a kick-up rudder version.
Standard from 1996 to 2003 (rough dates).
Because the water-ballast has a shallow draft when the centerboard is raised, it uses a shorter rudder.
I think the fixed was for the wing-keel and kick-up for water-ballast

C250WB/WK Generation-3 Rudder
The last rudder and standard after 2003
This a balanced rudder.
The water-ballast is 5-foot long, while the wing-keel version is 6-foot long.
John's photo is the longer 6-foot rudder.

I have replaced my 3rd-gen WB "short" rudder with a 2nd-gen kick-up rudder.
The replacement rudder works much better for me.
I agree with Kemp, the rudder plays a role, but John's boat has different hardware.
The reason I bring this up is for readers who aren't aware their hardware may differ from this project.

Russ.Johnson Posted - 04/21/2022 : 08:53:46

You clearly have spent a lot of time and thought to add a skeg to your C250WK.
I'm impressed by your project in general and your execution in particular.
Thank you for posting your photos.

Other members have "discussed" a skeg, but yours is the first one I've seen completed.
Here's an archived post from our former C250 technical editor.
He owned one of the first C250WB and is no longer active on the forum.
Unfortunately, his website is no longer available, so the links to his photos are broken.

Arlyn Stewart
More boat handling stuff (long)

k3fuller Posted - 04/21/2022 : 07:28:58
This is certainly an interesting discussion. On my 2004WB the centerboard does not go straight down but has a slight aft angle to it when fully down. I also usually have a slight tension on the lifting cable when sailing as well, though it vibrates/hums at 5+ knots. I also have a 135 genny. I run the mast plumb straight with no rake. It would seem to me also that one's rudder would come into play with the weather helm as well. My boat had the Gen3 short rudder where the WK's I understand have a longer Gen1 or Gen2 rudder. I put an aftermarket Ruddercraft 'blue water' naca foil kick up rudder which I think is about 13" longer than the Gen3 stock rudder. It's excellent. No weather or lee helm on my boat and she sails well even in 18-20 knots.
Steve Milby Posted - 04/19/2022 : 08:29:33
Dave, I think the pin was original. Whether it works depends on what you hit. If you hit something like a crab pot, with a float attached, the float will pull upwards, and the line might jump over the pin and get caught in the rudder. If you hit a weighted fishing line, or something that exerts a downwards pull, then the line might slide down the leading edge of the rudder and fall away. It isn't foolproof, but it improves your odds of avoiding a problem.
Steve Milby Posted - 04/19/2022 : 08:14:44
If you go to sailboatdata and compare the side view of the C250 WB with the side view of the C250 FK and WK, it's immediately apparent that the WB keel is farther forward than the FK and WK. All sailboats rotate on their axis. Their axis is situated in their keel. Their axis is the Center of lateral resistance. If you move the keel forward, you also move the CLR forward. That means, to achieve optimum performance, you have to tune the WB rig differently from the other versions.

For WB owners, I'd suggest they begin by the procedure I described above. When you sail it with the mast plumb, if the boat has lee helm, first try adjusting the centerboard so that it rotates aft about 6 inches, and mark that adjustment somehow, so you can reproduce it. If the boat still has lee helm, then rake the mast about one inch and test-sail it again. If it still has lee helm, rake the mast another inch. The idea is that the WB has one adjustment that can be made to move the CLR and one adjustment that can be made to move the CE. Alternately use them both to find the optimum adjustment.

This sounds like a bit of a hassle, but it doesn't take that long, and once you find the optimum settings, and can reproduce them, your boat will sail better for as long as you own it.
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/18/2022 : 21:43:51
Originally posted by Steve Milby

...if you add a 135% genoa to any of the C250 versions, you should reduce the mast rake, probably by a fairly significant amount, to move the CE forward. If you don't, you can expect to have increased weather helm.
I was referring to the 135% on the wing keel model--the keel on which (and presumably the CLR) is significantly farther aft. The CE of the 135% headsail itself will be somewhat farther aft, but the amount of the effort on that sail will be greater, which is part of the overall CE calculation for the rig.

My recollection is the early complaints about excessive weather helm on the C-250 were almost exclusively about the WB model, which I believe was the first version to be released, so got the early reviews. Catalina should have modified it to not lower the centerboard to vertical, like the rake of the C-25 swing keel, which is centered much farther aft relative to the sail-plan when lowered, even though the C-25's mast is also farther aft. The C-25 skeg is very small--it probably contributes more to directional stability at speed than to the CLR.

I wonder if that pin was added by a P.O. or was an original feature. I've never seen that...
Steve Milby Posted - 04/18/2022 : 12:56:38
If the WB centerboard rotates aft and up, like the C25 SK, then raising it some would move the CLR aft and reduce weather helm.

The CLR on the WB is almost directly under the mast. An overlapping jib would add sail area aft of the CLR, and that would increase weather helm. I hadn't thought about it before, but, if you add a 135% genoa to any of the C250 versions, you should reduce the mast rake, probably by a fairly significant amount, to move the CE forward. If you don't, you can expect to have increased weather helm.

If I was tuning a C250 rig with a 135% genoa, I'd start with the mast plumb, and then sail the boat in 8-10 kt winds. If it had lee helm, I'd increase the rake a little and sail it again. What you're looking for is a light, comfortable weather helm. Rake the mast about an inch at a time until you find the sweet spot.

The pin was set 2-3" forward of the rudder.
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/18/2022 : 11:58:41
C-250 WB boats were especially notorious for weather helm, which people found they could reduce by pulling the centerboard back (up) a little. That moved the CLR back. I hadn't heard many complaints about the WK version--comparing the drawings of the two models made clear to me the difference in the CLRs, and the 135% headsail more common on WKs might have helped by moving the CE a bit forward. I hope the skeg helps...

Steve's pin sounds like a good idea for people sailing anywhere around pots. How far forward of the rudder was it? The risk from step on the balanced rudder is obvious from the photo above--the tighter the gap under the skeg, the tighter a pot warp is likely to be jammed inside it. With the pin, the warp might slow you down temporarily until the marker buoy slides under the hull, but it "might" not get jammed on the rudder. (Then again.....)
Steve Milby Posted - 04/17/2022 : 19:24:17
When I first started sailing C25s in 1980, they were notorious for having a very heavy weather helm. That notion changed as owners learned how to reduce weather helm by tuning the rig.

I've never tuned a C250, but the typical way to reduce weather helm is to adjust the relationship between the CE and CLR by tilting the rig more nearly plumb (reducing the mast rake). I tuned my C25 with very little rake, and I tuned my Cal 25 with a virtually plumb rig, and their weather helm was light enough that I could make the helm neutral by sail trimming.

The C250 owner's manual recommends a 4" rake in the mast, but that isn't a "commandment." By reducing some or all of that rake, you could make a massive reduction in weather helm.

I don't know if it's necessary to add a skeg to a C250 to achieve a nice, light helm. It might be. But owners should first try to achieve it by tuning their rig.
WK 727 Posted - 04/17/2022 : 15:36:42
It has to do with lead. The center of lateral resistance is too far forward on the C250. This was pointed out in 1996 in the first review of the boat. I wish Catalina had addressed it back then.

The lead impacts the ability to reduce weather helm. Ask a Catalina 25 owner if weather helm is a problem. Of course not because it has the correct amount of lead, created in part by the skeg on it.

Hope this helps,
islander Posted - 04/17/2022 : 11:56:11
My guess, To aid in tracking.
Steve Milby Posted - 04/17/2022 : 11:45:42
The usual purposes of a skeg are to protect the rudder and prop, or to help the boat track straighter. My first guess is that it was primarily to deflect crab pot lines and debris from snagging in his balanced rudder, but I'm curious whether there were any other particular considerations.

My C&C 35 had a very similar rudder/skeg arrangement, but it also had a pin, about 2 1/2" long, that I assume was stainless steel, that was set in the skeg about 2-3" forward of the rudder. Its purpose was to deflect any thin lines from getting caught in the little slot between the skeg and the rudder. It wasn't foolproof, because a line still got caught there once, but I have no way of knowing how many lines were deflected by that pin through the years.
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/17/2022 : 11:12:33
Originally posted by Steve Milby

What is the purpose of the skeg?

I'll take a guess: To counteract rocker.

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