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VIDEO: sea kayak sailing

I have edited a short video of the best footage of sea kayak sailing: http://youtu.be/P21uMgpWs3g

I have been sea kayak sailing for 10 years and the last 4 with Flat Earth Sails.
I find the simplicity and reliability of Flat Earth sails suit my needs for sailing with kayaks that are rudderless ( I used to sail with rudder kayaks too but now prefer skeg kayaks).
My favorite sail for winds above 15 knots is the 0.8 m² while the larger 1.0m² is slightly faster only with lighter breezes.
I no longer dread windy days and actually prefer a bit of a breeze since with Flat Earth sails I can sail out and back (wind on the beam, from the side) and not need to paddle at all, if I don't want to.
On longer trips I find that the sail alleviates fatigue and I can paddle greater distances.


  • Nice video and...
    the sculling and roll with the deployed sail was most impressive.

    I've been playing around with kayak sailing for a few months now using a WindPaddle Adventure. Fun for downwind runnin' and I can get about 60 degrees off with it. That Flat Earth rig looks very efficient but probably out of my sailing league. I like the lack of permanent mods to my kayak and the WindPaddle is giving me a bunch of bang-for-buck with my recreational use of the kit.

    Thanks for posting this.
  • neat
    As always knarlydog does nice videos.

    My only concern would be if you get completely rolled over. It looked like you went only onto your side and sculled up. I wasn't sure from the video if you went completely over or not If so Iam guessing you cant do a regular sweep roll but a sculling roll as its much slower is your only option?

    Oh I went to Flat earths website and clicked on order for usa/Canada and blank page comes up. I was curious how much they cost? If I click on UK or Australia you get a page with info but nothing for USA/Canada.
  • Savannah Canoe and Kayak
    -- Last Updated: Nov-12-13 3:33 PM EST --

    listed them in stock late October. Nigel and Kristen will fix you up. They also had G-Dog's video up then too.

  • rolling with sail
    quote: "It looked like you went only onto your side and sculled up. I wasn't sure from the video if you went completely over or not"

    In the video I fell in on the port side and came back up sculling on the starboard side.
    However there is no need to scull with the sail deployed and most times if I get tipped over I release the uphaul (the rope that holds the mast up) to let the sail loose and then just roll up with very little resistance. I just have to remember to remain calm and grab the little rope in front of me out of the cleat before rolling/sculling.
    Depending on the kayak, sails usually make my paddling more stable than not, in choppy conditions.
  • Skeg up or skeg down?
    I'm guessing down, but I'd be interested to know your experience here.
  • "sea kayak" sailing
    I have nothing against hoisting a sail while you are in your sea kayak. It can be great fun. But it is not "paddling". I only raise this issue because of a recent article in Sea Kayaker magazine about a sea kayaking trip that included significant sailing. As far as I am concerned you cannot say "I paddled around X Island" if you put up a sail. You can say I paddled and sailed around X Island. Sailing is sailing no matter what vessel the sail is attached to.
  • true: kayaking is not kayaking
    if not only by propelled by paddle alone if a score is kept.
    If one paddles for fun (as I do) kayak sailing ads so much fun, really.
    I don't have a GPS, I don't keep a log and I don't boast my "achievements" to a virtual crowd that might care (or not) about my goals.
    If one however is driven to get the record of a particular journey/crossing/feat then the aid of a sail might not be totally kosher if fame is to be claimed :-)
    Of course, to each their own.
    Unless one has tried kayak sailing it is hard to understand what fun can it really be.
  • skeg and sailing
    I presume that you ask how much skeg is used while sailing?
    It depends.
    On a well balanced kayak (with sail set up) I use the same amount as I would without a sail. On a beam wind I have about half skeg (depending on model of sea kayak) and usually full skeg when sailing down wind.
    On kayaks that lee cock I use little to no skeg on beam wind, on kayaks that weather cock I use skeg.
    Edging and weight transfer also aid to direction of kayak across wind.
  • There are many ways to...
    kayak and sailing is certainly one of them. Canoeists have been sailing for years and its becoming more popular with the decked boat enthusiasts now.

    I went out again today to play in the afternoon wind. Sunny skies, 55F, water at 43F and 20 mph fun breeze.

    Used a GP today instead of the Werner and quite liked it. Less fiddly in the wind and easier to rudder with.

    I've rigged my WindPaddle with a combing harness and separate sheets so I'm not stuck holding a looped sheet in my hands.

    All the while today I was pondering the Flat Earth CZ70 with its advantages and versatility. Think I might just order one and give it a whirl. I'll keep the WindPaddle for friends who want to try their hand at ridin' the wind.

    I've got a WS Zephyr 155 (RM) that I've already modified quite a bit so what's a few more holes here and there!
  • Cool!
    I always thought a rudder was pretty much a prerequisite for kayak sailing. I'm not a rudder guy. Gives me hope that the sail thing might be something I could get into. Many thanks.
  • Might
    Look into a Falcon Sail. http://falconsails.com/

    Made in the USA.

    Best Wishes
  • Flat Earth 0.7
    I just recently added a 0.7m² sail to my collection and found it as fast as the larger ones in a stiff breeze. Where once I used to think bigger is better a kayak speed is dictated by its hull speed (maximum speed achievable on that particular hull design) and a larger sail will not make it go faster. Of course in lighter breezes that is not the case, as long as kayak speed is below hull speed.
    A 07m² also suits shorter kayaks since the smaller sail will not intrude over the cockpit area.
    Setting up the sail properly is however the key to successful sailing. My initial sloppy work resulted in frustration...
  • Nice!
    Thanks for posting.
    Been looking forward to giving this a try!
  • That looks like too much fun
    Very impressive boating, and there was lots of smiling going on. That sailing rig looks like a nice design, being not too cumbersome and pretty versatile.
  • homemade rig
    Thanks for the vid gnarlydog!

    I made a sailing rig this fall with the help of the DIY instructions on your website. I used an old ski pole for the mast and boom, sewed up a sail with some scrap nylon, and bought a Ronstan tiller extension joint for the mast base. I'm having fun with it, but the tiller joint is just not cutting it, too floppy. Which brand is used in the flat earth rig?
  • mast base joint
    I use Riley tiller extension as I found the Ronstan a bit too flexible. Not sure if the Riley is available internationally as it is an Australian product: https://www.whitworths.com.au/main_itemdetail.asp?item=87977&search123=tiller+extension&intAbsolutePage=1

    However the latest mast design from Mick at Flat Earth is way better than having all the pressure on the rubbery joint. I have retrofitted all my sails with this new style documented here: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/gear-sea-kayak-sailupdate.html
  • simplicity is key
    I find Flat Earth sails the simplest and yet still extremely efficient sails for sea kayaking.
    I have seen rigs that might sail better but the set up is no longer something that I regard safe in a sea kayak.
    Adding ropes on deck ads to the risk in case of capsize: I like to keep those the the minimum. Adding dagger board just seems too complicate the rigging before launch and in reality I still want my kayak to fell like one, not transform into a small dingy.
  • Very, very cool.
    But I dare say, upwind sailing back the way you came was completely out of the question(Especially without a rudder.) My own kayak sailing adventures have revealed this fact time and again: One will always paddle upwind much quicker than one can tack any kayak;-)

    Great vid!

  • upwind sailing
    my experience with rudder kayaks and skeg ones is that realistically I can make very little progress tacking against the wind.
    A sea kayak lacks a keel that a proper sailing boat might have (at least a dagger board) and I notice that while the kayak might be pointing at 45 degrees into the wind and travelling at a decent pace the drift usually negates most of the ground that I could gain going against the wind by tacking.
    If my destination is directly into the wind (or 20 degrees off it) I don't deploy the sail but paddle into it instead. Often sailing is aided by my paddling anyway as it alleviates drift and ads to speed. In quartering winds (coming from behind/side) I don't have to paddle at all if there is enough wind to be able to surf from wave to wave. There will be a rare outing where the conditions will be perfect (I tend to have tidal flows to deal with) where I can just sail alone unless I don't care of destination and I am just happy to go out and back just for the fun of sailing.
  • Kayak Sailing
    If you are afraid to kayak sail because there will be a asterisk next to your resume item, for your macho kayaking achievement, you should consider swimming your next adventure. :)

    You can go further and faster with a sail. Us kayak sailors usually go further and faster than our paddle only kayaking friends. Its not to prove anything. It is because we are having a blast. Even though we are faster we are almost always the last ones off the water. We just do not want the day to end.

    Really kayak sailing is a skill that is above and beyond kayaking. It requires sailing knowledge, more advanced decision making skills, paddling skills way beyond what is necessary for normal paddling.

    A beginner paddler can kayak sail, but it requires reducing the conditions they are willing to go out in. Eventually kayak sailors are so drawn to windy days, that their paddling skills grow way beyond where they where before they paddle sail.

    Here is s video of a sail some friends and I did last week end.

    It is not smartly edited like ND's is and it is not tropical either. In any case, we had absolute blast.
    One girl in our group went for her very first paddle sail. I knew she was a very good paddler so I let here use one of my boats and rigs.

  • using a skeg
    I am happy to sail without a rudder as well.

    I adjust my skeg quite a bit when I am paddling.

    If I my boat is balanced and staying on course, I leave the skeg where it is.

    If my boat is turning into the wind, I put the skeg down a bit. If my boat is turning down wind on me, I put the skeg up.

    So I put the skeg up when I want to go more up wind than the boat wants to go, and down when I want to go more down wind than the boat wants to go.

    If am am happy with my course, and decide to turn down wind, I might put the skeg down a little to encourage the boat down wind and vise versa for a change of course up wind.
  • mast universal joint
    As the designer of Falcon Kayak Sails, I have looked extensive at every universal joint I could find.

    I was not happy with any of them for various reasons. My biggest concern was some just pop off when put under stress.

    A tiller extension joint is designed to be a tiller extension joint, not a mast universal joint. Any that stay on well, are a pain to put on or take off at the launch site and have easy to loose clevis pins and cotter pins. I think they are a little ugly.

    We have engineered and produced a purpose made universal joint that is designed specifically for compact sail rigs.
    You can see pictures of what we did here.

    It is solid as a rock, simplistic, easy to install, and looks great.
    There is nothing else available on the market even close to our patent pending design.
  • paddle sailing up wind
    I have been sailing my entire life.

    Even with a boat purpose designed to sail, some times going dead up wind is just more work than it is worth & it is time to start the engine.

    If you enjoy sailing paddle sailing and working your way up wind is a lot of fun. Generally if my destination is straight up wind, and I am out on a typical paddle, I put the sail down.

    The more you practice going up wind, the better you will be able to do it.

    When everything is just right, I gain useful propulsion to within 30 degrees of straight up wind.

    If conditions are good, I can take a beginner paddle sailor and have them make no paddling up wind progress.

    It is a subject a little deep for one posting on a discussion board. I wrote a bit about it on falconsails.com on this page.

  • maybe not
    quote: "Really kayak sailing is a skill that is above and beyond kayaking. It requires sailing knowledge, more advanced decision making skills, paddling skills way beyond what is necessary for normal paddling."

    My findings are different.
    Most sea kayakers when they try to use Flat Earth sails are thrilled right from the start and get they head around things within one hour. Very few that borrowed my Flat Earth fitted kayaks had prior sailing experience. A few quick instructions on the beach before launching and they usually are sailing straight away.
    While this is a private video (was not intended for publication) here is an example of last week sailing of a person that has been sea kayaking for a short time and tried Flat Earth sails for the very first time: http://youtu.be/F8KFNFyaNUg
  • again, I beg to differ
    while the tiller extension on its own might not be the very best mast base (in concept it is very similar to a windsurfing mast base) when used inside the mast and not stressed to vertical loads it is a brilliant inexpensive solution (refer to my blog article).
    The Riley tiller extension takes a whole 3 seconds (not an exaggeration) to fit or remove.
    But I am sure some other tiller extensions are not as good and some take much longer to fit. I tried the two Ronstan ones, (the rubber and the stainless steel ones) and found them not as good.
  • it
    certainly looks like you were having fun
  • Upwind sailing dagger boards
    I forgot where exactly I saw that video, but I have seen a sail rig that includes dual dagger boards that can be deployed (or not) at both sides of where the mast is. They go down on each side of the kayak hull, thus offering great resistance to sliding sideways. That rig appeared to do pretty good tacking upwind...

    It was a man and a woman team in the video (mostly in separate single kayaks). If I find it, I'll put a link.
  • This may be...
    the sailing system you're thinking of:

  • proper mast universal joint.

    You wont really know the difference until you try it.

    Enjoy your summer down under and have some great paddle sails.

    Falcon Sails

  • Yes, This One
  • This has me thinking
    I'm thinking it might be really fun to get something like a Lazer, or a Force 5 sailboat and learning how to paddle it.
  • Sailing = Fun
    I’m a complete sailing novice, but I’ve used my buddy’s Falcon Sail and took to it pretty quick. I would say I’m a very comfortable advanced sea kayaker with a bomb-proof roll. That being said I didn’t have reservations with heeling over and bracing hard on the downwind runs. It didn’t take long to “feel” when I needed to tack and make sail adjustments. It was hardest for me to get into the rhythm of changing direction, bracing, pulling in or letting out some line so the sails are properly filled. As someone who doesn’t have a sailing background, learning to sail in a kayak was fun and easy. You comfort level in a sea kayak will shorten your leaning curve. I've done it both with a skeg boat and a skeg+rudder boat and while I initially thought adding a rudder to the mix would complicate matters even more, I appreciated the rudder and it helped me hold a line on a hard cross wind/down wind run.

    Fast is an understatement. With enough wind I had enough speed to curl my hair and then some. I’ve also been out in pretty rough small craft warning conditions and we caught swells with ease, the surfing was especially fun. I have been upside down a couple of times (mostly my fault) and like Gnarly mentions you take a second to gather yourself, loosen your mast line, set up and roll. A quick yank on the mast line and the sail pops and you’re off. From a fit and finish stand point the Falcon is impressive and it does have more of an “engineered” look to the deck connections then the photos shows on his FE sail. It looks like both fold and compact for regular paddling, which I appreciated when struggling to go up wind.
  • Kayak Sailing
    Based on your idea (maybe humor) of paddling a sail boat, I guess you think paddle sailing is not a practical thing to do.

    When I started kayaking over 13 years ago, it led to one of my boats sitting at the dock all summer long, and my trailer sailor (a carpi 14) sat in the garage all season not used. Then I pretty much put my life time passion of sailing on a shelf.

    I loved the fact I did not have to find a crew any more, was not limited in locations by the fact my keel boat could not be trailer-ed, I was not dependent on the wind for a good time, and my water sport expenses where cut to a fraction of what they where. When somebody said I should get a kayak sail, I thought it was one of the stupidest ideas I ever heard of. I though I will just buy another sail boat if I want to sail.

    Then on a whim I bought a sail rig for my kayak, and was amazed at the performance and how much fun it was.

    Now I know conventional wisdom about sailing leads to many dead wrong assumptions about kayak sailing. Kayak sailing is a sport in itself. The performance exceeds most peoples expectations. But at the same time kayak sailing is a simple option you can add to any boat.

    Your idea of paddling any sail boat does defy conventional wisdom again. I am sure paddling any sail only sail boat will not paddle 1/10th as well as any kayak will sail. I am very sure you would be amazed at how well any kayak can sail if you put a proper rig on it. Anybody who tries paddle sailing in decent conditions ( moderate winds of 10mph are plenty ) is likely to be hooked on it. The beauty of being able to pop up a sail when the wind comes, is an awesome option. It adds a whole new dimension to kayaking.

    Just like you should try new foods, you should try new things in paddling. Your horizons will expand a lot faster that way.
  • Of course he was joking
    I once "rescued" a sailboat that had ended up becalmed out on the lake when the wind died down. It was a very small boat only capable of carrying two or three people. I was rowing and had lots of reserve power, or so I thought. Good grief, what a beast that thing was to tow. Progress was terribly, painfully slow. I'll never do anything like that again simply to be a nice guy (I would if there were some more compelling reason). So yeah, trying paddle even a very small sailboat, even a one-person boat, isn't something anybody would do by choice.
  • the offer still stands
    the offer still stands from last time: I am happy to test one of your sails and then I will really know how good they are. As long as I don't have to modify my kayaks too much (hopefully stay anchors and mast base holes line up with existing ones) I am sure I could manage one of your sails. Let me know...
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