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skeg


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The short length of keel, normally tapered or cut to a step, which in the days of sail used to project aft beyond a ship's sternpost. Its purpose was to protect the rudder if a ship went aground and attempts were made to get it off stern first. The skeg did not last long as a shipbuilding practice as it was soon found that it was liable to snap off, and by 1630 it had gone out of fashion. However, with the introduction of steam propulsion, the skeg came back as an extension of the deadwood to prevent a ship's propellers digging into the ground if it went ashore. The rudders of many modern yachts are fitted to an after skeg. Tugs often also have one fitted aft to give them extra directional stability.

Subjects: Maritime History.


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