Canoe Sailing info?

I’m getting ready to rig my Explorer for sailing.

I found this

with quite a few good links but I’d like to learn more about different rigs and what makes them better or worse as well as specific set ups with dimensions, sail geometry, lee board design, you know, everything.

I’m interested in cruising/camping. I would like a rig that is light, simple, will sail well into the wind and can be reefed from within the boat without standing up. I’m not worried about speed or sailing in light air.

Right now I’m leaning towards a balanced lug, roughly 40 sqr foot with one reef, a single lee board and using a paddle for a rudder.

Does anybody sail with a “throw over” Lee board?



Here’s another good Sailing Site
I didn’t see this one linked on the site you found, but I have found good information here:

Canoe Sailing

– Last Updated: Mar-02-06 6:02 PM EST –

Hi Tommy,

You might also want to join the Yahoo sailing canoe group at

I sail an Explorer with a 37 sq. ft. Optimist Pram sail (pictures in Yahoo sailing canoes group Files section under Opti Sail) and have been pretty pleased with it. The spars are short too (8' or less) and easy to stow. It's not an easily reefable sail but there are ways to deal with it that will get you home. My understanding is that it's pretty difficult to set up a good, reliable system that allows reefing while on the water. I think most people head for shallow water to reduce sail.

I use a leeboard mount that clamps onto the yoke and a single leeboard. It's very simple to build one of these and the single leeboard seems to work fine.

Using a paddle for a rudder works fine until you get into heavier wind where it becomes a lot more work. I have a clamp-on rudder I use now but still enjoy using the paddle in light air.

If you're interested in using an Opti sail let me know and I can give you dimensions for the set up

- Rob

that’s my "wilderness rig"
I used a 38 sq ft balanced lug with 2 reefs on the lower Missinaibi. We sailed over 100 miles to James Bay!

The balanced lug works great on a canoe,low aspect it can’t pinch as tight upwind, but will tack within 45 degrees each way.

For the Missinaibi I made an adjustable portage yoke/leeboard thwart that uses a paddle for the board.

You can view pics of my rig at:

Nice pics. Thanks.
Here is a couple of my rig. Store-bought sail rig and home-built rudder system:

In ans to your question
I tried the throw over leeboard once. Didn’t care for the way it would rise up without any pressure on the board. Good for close hauled only. Anything from the beam back it is useless.

There are some who say you don’t need a leeboard for anything behind the beam, reaches or runs, but I have found it gives the canoe a feeling of stability when running downwind. Without it the canoe develops a “roll” and can even broach. On sailboats this is called a “death roll” .

Thanks to all! Questions for Jose
Jose, I’ve been inspired by your postings here and elsewhere.

If you don’t mind I have a few more questions.

Did your paddle leeboard work out? If so it seems that might be a good way to save weight and space.

Your Missinaibi sail was made from tyvek while your Batwing is polytarp which I’m guessing is heavier. Is that because of durability or stretch or some other reason?

For a trip like the Missinaibi would you go back to the Ballanced Lug or would you use the Batwing?

heres mine if you’re starting from scratch i’d recommend the aca 44 sf lateen ‘cruising class’ sail. trying to sail upwind while steering with a paddle is difficult when the wind builds because its hard (impossible?) to hike out and steer.