kayak sails

I see these things advertised. Never done it myself. Other than the story of Brian Schultz almost hitting a whale, are there any other stories out there (horror and otherwise)? Seems like a handful and I can’t imagine sailing without a centerboard/keel. What have your results been?

unless you are on open water
I wouldn’t bother. Without a centerboard or keel, you are limited to sailing downwind, which is tons of fun till you have to paddle back upwind. I built a sailing rig this summer, and used it for a while, but wind tends to send you sideways without any keel. If you did have a keel, it might be different.

If you do decide to try it, best to keep the sail fairly low, it helps with tippiness.

I bought a cheap tent footprint for $9 and cut it up to make my sail. If you want to give it a try, the tent footprint made a great sail.

Outriggers and sail
in the album below, you can see the first boat and the second generation outriggers I built from scratch…the outriggers keep you from tipping over in wind, but do not keep you from being pushed sideways, so they are mainly for stability, although the setup allowed for the use of quartering winds to some degree…

The old Carolina 14.5 is gone now, replaced with a Perception Eclipse, but I built a new set of outriggers in Blue to match it’s color…I intend to add a Pacific Action type sail to the boat soon, they require less hardware and rigging, the masted sail worked but it was complicated in it’s use.

The Hawaiian sailing canoes in the first two photos were the inspiration for the attempt…it was entertaining and fun, and I will continue to sail…I’m just moving forward in my experiments…


Got one
A few years ago at Raystown, Mike McCrea and I decided to try our sails. Mike’s boat is very stable and he used a Spirit sail, he also had a rudder. My boat is 18 feet long and 21 inches wide and I had a Pacific action sail and no rudder and I my wing paddle.

We paddled upwind, until we got into the lee of a mountaiun that blocked the wind. We both set up and slowly took off. As soon as I hit the main thrust of the wind, my boat took off. According to my GPS I hit 22 mph at one point. I had no control, couldn’t pull the sail down and after a mile finally managed to lean into a turn so I could pull the sail down. That ride scared the hell out of me. I’ve since bought a rudder and put it on when sailing.

My boat and sail…



The footprint’s a good idea.
I never thought about that. I am planning on giving it a try. I bought a sail on ebay (http://tinyurl.com/yjeav4l) for $25 which might be a little bigger than I need/want. You do need leeboards and a rudder or you get too much leeway.

I got some good ideas at topkayaker.net. It helps to have some sailing experience I’m sure. Hopefully by next spring I’ll be on the water with sails.

sounds like quite a ride

Canoe sails
I’ve been messing about with sails for a few years now.


If you want to sail up into the wind you will want some fairly sophisticated gear with a good sail and leeboard as minimum. Those can be almost as much fun as a real sailboat. A rudder and even outriggers are often used as well.

Lately I’ve been paddle sailing.

For that I prefer a light weight downwind sail that goes up and down quickly and doesn’t interfere with paddling, no leeboards, rudders or outriggers.

With no boards, boats that track harder and are reasonably well loaded will resist side slipping and let you sail further off the wind than boats that are looser and/or lightly loaded.

no centreboard and no rudder
on my skegged kayaks.

I have outfitted several kayaks with sails of my own design with great success.

I usually manage to use a window of 180 degrees.

Downwind sailing is half as much fun as reaching.

For a detailed article on how to make your own efficient sail check out http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/03/shop-diy-sea-kayak-sail.html

Couldn’t pull the sail down?
I remember you telling this story before but I can’t remember why you couldn’t drop the sail.

The thing I like about the PA sail is that it’s easy to raise and lower. But I never used one I’ve only watched others.

So how come you couldn’t drop the sail?

Wind was blowing too hard
and I was using my paddle to stay upright, I needed two hands to pull it down. I started hunching over to the right to get my boat to turn left. When I finally got it nearly perpindicular to the wind, the sail started flapping and I was able to pull it down.