Kayak Sailing

Just finished a 20 mile crossing from Kingville, Ontario to West Dock on Pele Island. Used my Cape Charles with a batwing sail and BSD outriggers. My equipment performed great. I made the crossing in 4 hours. Had a 15 knot tailwind; so I did alot of surfing. This is my fourth crossing to Pele Island. Three under sail and one paddling. This is my analysis of the pros and cons of kayak sailing. Please comment.

Kayak Sailing


  1. Great for downwind long distance crossings.
  2. Speeds of 5 mph and greater.
  3. No work.
  4. Fun surfing.

  5. Upwind always a challenge.
  6. A lot more gear to deal with.
  7. Hard to find companions.
  8. Hard to putter around.
  9. Landing is always a challenge.

Sounds like you had a good run!
To putin at Kingsville made your trip even longer and more challenging-seems like you did more than 20 miles though. I’ve been thinking of sailrigging my QCC…

I use a spirit upwind sail rig I can sail upwind you should check it out no out riggers or lines to get in the way.

Do you do crossings
Or just day sailing with the spirit rig (and no outriggers)?

Spirit sail
I’ve been using their larger rig to help with downwind runs in canoes on large lakes. I probably don’t get anywhere near the speed you get with your kayaks but I often paddle or row while sailing to bump up the travel speeds (because it’s so much easier with wind aid). I’ve been thinking of mounting the base on a swivel seat bearing for turning it incrementally for best wind capture. If I use the leeboards and rudder from my lateen rig, I could see it being able to slowly make headway “upwind” … but since it has less than 20 sq. ft. of sail (and spills gusts over the top), it’s never going to be as effective that way as the 44 foot lateen. How are you managing to use your Spirit sail “upwind” ? Is your kayak low enough in the water that sideslip (sorry, don’t know sailing terminology) is negligible ? I think the best features of the Spirit sail are it’s unstayed simplicity and safety (battens flexing forward to relieve stresses). When I want to take it along, there’s not as much hassle and gear to stow as with the lateen (which needs leeboards and rudder, etc.). being able to tap wind aid as an “adjunct” rather than “primary” source of power is what interests me for wilderness travel. Now, if I can rig it for directional tuning and instant decommissioning, it will perform even better in more varied conditions. Keep up the sailing in small paddle/row vessels … it’s pure fun on a budget !!!

Upwind rig?
I checked Spirit Sail’s website (http://www.spiritsails.com) but couldn’t find an “upwind” sail rig. Have they possibly discontinued this product?

  • Jasen.