Kayak Sails

Another question from the old guy.

I have a new Old Town Loon 126 and love it. We do recreational kayaking only. We also live on a river and it seems that the wind is either going straight up river or straight down river. I’ve looked at pictures of “kayak sails”.

Do they work?

Are they OK or a PITA?

Can I make my own? (I love to sew)



yes, they do work

– Last Updated: Jul-28-16 11:47 PM EST –

There are countless models of sails that you can buy or make. They range from the basic "parachute" type round sails to fully rigged mast and boom versions. Some examples:





WindPaddle Scout Sail
I really like this one.

WindPaddle Scout Sail

I’d love to make my own.

Thanks for the links.

I have a WindPaddle
and its a PITA.

Tried to use it over a dozen times, total useful sailing time about 10 minutes. You need constant, no gust, wind blowing in the direction you want to go.

Under ideal conditions it does move the boat.

you can make a sail
You can make a sail better than many you can buy. The Windpaddle is not as good as a well rigged golf umbrella.

There are lots of sail designs out there and many folks making their own. There are also many excellent rigs to buy. Check out Flat Earth Sails and other like them.

I wrote more about the available rigs here:


"Do they work?

Are they OK or a PITA?"

They do work, to various degrees. They’re all a PITA, the ones I’ve seen in action.

At least not the SeaDog sails. Similar to the mast arrangement on Flat Earth, P&H and Falcon.

Mine is a breeze to use and way fun to go faster, farther with less paddling.

SeaDog Commander 0.8m




See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Very different experience here

– Last Updated: Jul-29-16 5:25 PM EST –

I have the bigger model of Wind Paddle sail. A few weeks ago a friend and I used it for going upstream on the Wisconsin River in a real barge of a tandem canoe (Mad River Eclipse). Our speed was much faster than we could ever do just by paddling. The wind was strong and we had some control issues since I was manipulating the sail from the back of the boat (the sail was near the center and control is easier when the sail is closer to the front), and I would operate the sail and perform ruddering at the stern to steer and maintain a heading. It's true you need a steady wind - no surprise there. I think the kayak version of their sail is pretty small so you'd need a decent wind, but who would want to use a sail when the wind isn't blowing that hard anyway? I'm sure they chose a size that doesn't become unmanageable in strong wind.

Anyone remember MagooNS? He once described having all kinds of fun sailing his kayak with just an umbrella. The kayak version of the Wind Paddle sail is no smaller than an umbrella, so it ought to work about as well.

Second the golf umbrella it’s cheapest
way to see if you like it. A piece of pool noodle will will keep it from sinking if a gust forces you to drop it.

I have a Pacific Action sail and am, happy with it, it does pretty well in quartering wind and is easy to stow when not needed. With a little planning you may not have to make permanent modifications.



photos at last

– Last Updated: Aug-04-16 3:01 PM EST –

1 - please promise not to laugh
2 - total investment $3.00 and about 15 minutes sewing
3 - value - priceless, it was like being a 12 year old again.


Yes they work, and yes …
you can make your own.

When we did the 300 mile Everglades challenge, we didn’t have a sail, and the ones with the sails left us far behind.

There are several outfits that make them.

If I wanted one I would have my wife make it.

A good friend is well on his way to fabricating a good one.

He started with an umbrella, and if you want some fun, experiment with one.

He then moved on to a home made sail using his paddle as a mast.

From there he went to a thin telescoping mast attached to a bracket mounted on his deck.

He has perfected it so well that now he has a square cut out with a clear plastic piece, (a clear table cloth from Wally world) sewed in for forward vision.

Just have to be quick lowering it if a squall comes up, or you’ll end up swimming.

Jack L

I was thinking of one for my Libra good to see you sell them. Working 10 hr days x 6 plus traveling this year the kayaks are dry all summer along with the Boston Whaler.

"Just have to be quick lowering it if a squall comes up, or you’ll end up swimming."

Scared the hell out of me just watching one guy in our group fighting changing wind direction.

All I can think of was “if he flips, he won’t be able to swim free of all those lines”!!!

He didn’t flip but came close a couple times when the wind shifted momentarily. I wasn’t going to rescue him. Not with all those lines hanging all over the boat!

The 2nd time I saw him fiddling with the sail was also the last time I paddled with him.

Our sail kit works very well

– Last Updated: Aug-07-16 8:15 AM EST –

One of our boats is a Tributary Tandem IK. It sits rolled up in the garage most of the year. We recently purchased the Sailboats to Go Sail Kit to try with it. What a lot of fun! The combo works very well. Our IK will be getting a lot more use. Sailboats to Go has DIY plans. I was going to go that route, but wife said as payback for kitchen remodel to order the ready made kit. I would not try to accommodate the sail rig on a paddling trip, but for a different kind of day out on the water, the sail rig is really fun.....