Kayak Sailing--Is it worth it?

Anyone with experience kayak sailing?
How is the experience? Did it exceed your expectations or fall flat?
I’ve been looking at sails just to augment the experience, but before I sink $400 + dollars on such a niche addition, I’d like to hear from some that have gone before me.

I have no such experience, but two people I did a long trip with brought simple sails. I think they used them only once, and with a tailwind. They stopped paddling and sailed, while the other paddler and I, who were not as strong as those two, easily passed them as we kept paddling.

I asked them would it not be more advantageous for paddling AGAINST the wind instead? They said they would need a more complex sail set-up to use in an adverse wind.

Do you already know how to sail? Maybe it’d be worth taking a few sailing lessons to answer your question.

I am a sailor. Sailed small boats (like lazers) as a kid. Currently member of a keel boat sailing school/club and take out 30-45’ boats once a month of more.

I have some of the downwind kayak sails. Mine are by Wind Paddle, but that company might have gone out of business. This type of sail: https://amzn.to/32Kq9JE. That said, I don’t use them. First, they are downwind only, so you need to paddle up to a place and then ride back. This seems of limited use. Plus my boats are all skeg boats, and this wold be much easier with a rudder boat (you can use a paddle as a rudder, but that gets challenging to do with also needing to hold the sail control lines).

A friend works at a shop that sells Hobie and we have taken out their demo Adventure Island boats. These were fun and if they weren’t so expensive I might consider getting one.

Flat Earth Sails seems to be a brand that many like that allows some going across the wind (without a keel or dagger board, it would be limited how up into the wind one could go). Here is a video from Ginni Callahan, a high level guide/instructor from the West Cast at a symposium talking about kayak sailing https://youtu.be/aCPsYPo6As8

Kayak sailing is popular in Australia. Here is an exciting short video.

My CT(FLA Circumnavigation Trail) friends us similar rigs with rudders for broad reaches and runs. They report 8mph runs in the ICW when conditions “right”.

Although I have not gotten involved sea kayak sailing it is a growing sport. It ranges from a simple hand held downwind sail, (my wife has one) to more elaborate sail rigs with masts that act more like a conventional sailboat. With all sail rigs you will generally want a kayak with a rudder as you need your hands free to tend the sail.

With masted sail rigs, I know a number of people that have them and they all have either dagger boards or outriggers that allow you to sail like a regular sailboat. A friend and his wife have a pair of Krugers and they have devised a rig that turns them into a catamaran. Without something like these I don’t see how you could sail much off a downwind or unwind track in a sea kayak without being blown over in all but the lightest winds without bracing with the paddle as an outrigger. After all a strong enough unexpected gust of wind on the beam can blow you over even without a 5’ mast and sail mounted on your deck.

However, not my area of expertise.

It depends on what you want to use it for.

Simple downwind sailing just takes a rudder and mast boot.

To go upwind, or cross wind, you will need lee boards and, probably, outriggers. Going any less is an invitation to disaster, because wind conditions change by the hour.

Klepper boats sail fairly well because they use large air tubes along each freeboard to tighten up the skin. These work almost like an outrigger would, still need leeboards, though.

Hmmm, maybe I should pass. Seems like it might be nice to play around with, but maybe a bit underwhelming.
Not sure if I’ll the $400 down. Maybe I’ll see about creating my own to play around with first to see if I enjoy it.

If you just want to play around with an inexpensive downwind sail there are small round ones that are handheld. They fold and unfold quickly an can be stored under a bungee. They start under $20. They are very popular on Paddle Florida’s Marathon to Key West trip where the prevailing winds are often out of the ENE at that time of the year.

Just search for “Kayak sail downwind”.

It’s a lot of fun!

I’ve used the SeaDog Commander 0.8sq.m on a variety of kayaks.

To test the waters, take a sturdy golf umbrella with you and experiment. You can always let go if the wind kicks up too much and pick it up wherever it lands.

See you on the water,
Marshall Seddon
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY. 12538
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On a trip down the Allegheny, one time the conditions were good for it, I took my raincoat and held it up in front of me. Used the rudder blind but made pretty good time.
It was fun, but unless you are going to go with a real sail and a outrigger, that is about what it is, fun.

If anybody within driving range of SW Pennsylvania has a yen to try a very unique kayak sailing rig I have one that creates a catamaran, with a central carbon fiber deck and about a 60 square foot sail on a 15’ mast and a huge rudder, from any pair of similar sized hardshell kayaks,: come and get it!!

I bought it from the engineer/inventor about 7 years ago (he reported that the setup was so fast that all of his paddling buddies were too terrified to use it with him). Never used it myself and have divested myself of all but one hardshell so I am not likely to do so. And the parts are clogging up my basement.

The inventor used marine grade treated lumber for the structures and stainless sailboat fittings. The big H frame straps onto the kayaks (the deck is a carbon fiber operating room gurney platform that he scavenged from a hospital where he was an operating engineer) and there are dual skegs, which need to have some sort of more permanent attachment rig added. I gathered the guy was one of those inventors who is really only interesting in the process of creation and/or solving a problem. And once the objective is achieved, he wants to move on to the next one. Constructive OCD/ ADD.

Before I cut this huge contraption up to build a workbench, somebody should come and haul it away intact. I can even deliver within 50 miles of my home (east end Pittsburgh).

[quote=“willowleaf, post:12, topic:101679, full:true”]
If anybody has a yen to try a very unique kayak sailing rig I have one

Hi willowleaf I sent you a message. I was messing around with my boats today. I have an old Folbot Super rig that I was seeing if I could adapt it to a two piece dingy I have. I will be redoing the varnish on the wood parts of my Folbot soon, and pulled out the sail rig.

I don’t have a photo (gasp) of my Folbot with it’s sailing rig so here is a photo from the web of what my Super looks like with the sail.

Heres an easy rig the can go cross wind and down wind that an Englishman made to sail his canoe.

I once hit 22 mph sailing my kayak, scared the crap out of me. On another occasion a bunch of us were at Asateague and sailed 10 miles, that was awesome!

Hobi kayaks are often set up for sailing. This video should give you an idea of how sailing works.

I have always enjoyed this video – a pair of Pakboat XT-15 folding kayaks with KayakSailor rigs on a windy passage in Oregon.

Another video from the same folks. Does this look “worth it”?? The pups at around 1:45 sure look happy.

I’ve seen people just carry a golf umbrella as a cheap downwind rig… :sunglasses:

Yeah, this does look like fun.