Now that the rivers are frozen solid and will be for 3 - 4 months, have been thinking of making a sail for my kayak. Don’t want one bad enough to spend money buying one, but may be fun to build one and use it. Was going to use some aluminum piping and small amount of material, maybe C clamps to hold it to the hull until I decide if I like it or not.

Anyone out there tried this and succeeded?

Any one out there build one and immediatly discard it as a bad idea?


Simple sail
There used to be a sail called a Quiver Sail which I have not seen marketed recently. It consisted of two hand-held “masts” arranged in a V shape. You simply held the two masts in your hands for downwind running, and could angle them for mild tacking. Easy to use and stow. One thing in its favor (IMHO) was that it did not require any boat-mounted hardware. A similar sail would be easy to fabricate.


Sailing canoes on Yahoo

plenty of kayaks as well despite the name.

have fun,


Pacific Action Sail photos

This may help in giving you some ideas.


I made a couple
Neither worked very well. One was 3’ x 3’ and slid over the paddle, but a full paddle was to tall and using half of your spare left no access to the paddle to brace.

The other was made from an old tent fly with a PVC mast. It was okay but not enough speed to justify the hassle.

Then at last years Canoecopia I got an unbelievable bargain on a Pacific Action sale. It’s pretty easy to rig and drop when not needed and leaves your hands free to paddle. I use it once in awhile when the winds are favorable but generally it’s not worth the trouble unless you just want to go to a lake to sail.



Try this link

– Last Updated: Jan-13-07 4:43 PM EST –

Very similiar to the PAcific Sails mentioned above!!!

I made a test sail out of poly tarp using this design. Some modifications though. I was able to attach it to a WS Tsunami 140 w/rudder without any permanent attachment modifications.

Nice thing about this design is that it is hands free. You can paddle and brace with no interference from the sail. One other thing is that in a really strong gust from the side, the whole thing would tip and spill the air. This is fairly important in a kayak!

I had it out once and it worked well. I had nothing to measure the wind speed, but I was going dead down wind at an easy paddle speed.
It will sail across the wind with some slippage (no keel).

The rudder was nice to have, but I think that you could manage with a paddle.

Next step will be to make the sail out of rip stop nylon and work on making it a better fit when not deployed. I had the supports tucked under my arm. they interfered with paddling when the sail was not deployed. I am also looking at other material besides the PVC tubing. Extendable pool poles (used with vacumn and skimmer) or those bendable take apart fiberglass tent poles. This woudl allow them to be shorter and out of the way.

Just be warned that with this design, if you fall out of the kayak it will sail away without you!!! Remember the nice thing statement above?? Hands free = paddler free also!!!

I have been thinking of a way to cut the rear support line in an emergency.

Have fun!!

Tasmanian Sails
Here is a link to some Tasmanian sail designs. I personally use a Pacific Action sail but I know some people who have switched from the PA sail to the Tasmanian style and prefer them.


Good point about safety
Plenty of sailors have died after falling off the boat. I don’t wanna’ imagine what it would be like to be in cold, deep water watching your boat sail away.

I haven’t sailed my XFactor w/ Spirit Sail rig yet, but here are my safety plans:

My sail doesn’t use the paddle, so a beefy paddle leash is a first line of defense.

A leash from the yak to my PFD. I know that’s a no-no in the surf or whitewater, but I don’t see a problem for flatwater sailing.

A drift sock, tied off at the stern, and tucked in my lap or PFD if I’m really worried about losing the boat. Falling overboard would basically deploy the drift sock, which I hope would slow the yak enough to be able to swim back to it, even under sail. I will test that theory next summer.

Lastly, a nonfolding knife worn around the neck or on the PFD (mine=Buck Tiburon, by Ed Gillette) to cut away any of these various lines in case of tangles, and in an extreme situation I could slice right down the sail, Errol Flynn style.

Feel free to ridicule any of this, when it comes to safety all input is valid.

Happy sailing.

thanks for the info…
…and cautions. If I do get one built, will be very careful. One thing I am going to keep in mind is some way to bring it down quickly should I get in trouble. I checked out the Pacific site and they look good.

Happy paddling to those who still can.


Drift Sock
Would it be better to tie the drift sock to the bow, that way when it was deployed the kayak would turn into the wind and spill the wind from the sails? Has anyone ever tried this?

So far I’ve just relied on my outfitting locking me into the boat, I can recover from a 90 degree knock down without any likelihood of coming out of the kayak so if conditions are ok for sailing I don’t think I’m likely to swim.


A drift sock on the bow
sounds like it would just fine.

I’ll have to test that out when the water here reverts back to liquid form.

More about safety
1. You can’t roll with a sail on

2. In a long skinny kayak (like mine 18’3" X 21.5") be ready to spill the sail quickly

3. Paddle leash is a damn good idea

4. Leash your GPS (almost lost mine)

5. Keep your deck clear, so you don’t encumber the lines

6. Too windy is not fun with a sail on a kayak (max 15 mph) anything more is really scary…

7. Adjusting the skeg helps trim the boat, experiement (don’t have rudder, that’s what the paddle is for)

I have had mine up to 10.2 mph on a slight reach