Sailing Canoes

-- Last Updated: Sep-14-04 10:07 PM EST --

Was wondering if anyone here sails canoes? Any pointers for a newbe sailor?


There are several canoe sailors here.
Probably the most serious one is jjoven. He has made rigs and sailed most of his canoes. He ha seriously studied and understands the technicalities of setting up a canoe and sailing it better than most others I know. Another good bet would be the racers from the WaterTribe races. Look up their site.


Watch the leeward side for jetskis.

Try this link
I’ve sailed em’ quite a few times. I have a loose footed spritsail rig (47 sq. ft) on a penobscot 16.

For some good info start by trying this link. Hope this helps ya.

What Mick said…
I sail my canoes, and am currently building a stitch and glue decked sailor. Lots of fun.

Do a google on “Craigs Cheap pages”. More info there than you need. Also check pics of one of my rigs at :

Another good resource is Todd Bradshaws’ book, “Canoe Rig, the Art and the Essence”. Plenty of theroy, designs and beautiful illustrations.

The yahoo group dthompson lists is good also.

If you have any specific questions feel free to e-mail me.

heres pics of mine

Thanks guys
It’ll take me a few days to digest all that.

I have the boat and rig, I was mostly looking for tips/tricks to sailing. I’ve only been out twice with it in very moderate wind. Was able to pretty much go where I wanted and get back upwind and was happy with that for only ever sailing these two times. It seems like it will be scary fast with some real wind though. This brings up a concern if I dump. Can you do a self rescue in a sail canoe?


Solidly lash in as much floatation as possible if you’re concerned with righting & re-entry.

Don’t cleat the sheet
In high gusty winds keep the sheet in your hand. When you feel the boat start to go over ease the line or just let it go. The sail will spill wind and the canoe will pop back up.

Can you reef? It is better to throw in a reef than to fight an unmanageable canoe with too much sail.

I have yet to dump. ;-{ But I hear a self rescue is possible. Tie floatation in the canoe.

I don’t have as much sailing talent as caution. I have been out in force 4-5 winds but had my sail reefed down to 15 sq ft!

Can you reef?
Not sure. How do you do that?

I’m guessin’ with a 75 sq.ft. sail this could be handy.

I have been wanting to get out and play with this all week, but no wind. I fear Ivan will provide just the opposite. It’s funny, when I want to work on my freestyle it’s windy, when I want to sail it’s calm.



– Last Updated: Sep-15-04 8:22 PM EST –

means cutting down the sq ftge of the sail. Usually with a row of ties along the sail. What kind of sail do you have?

Lateen sail

JJoven, I love the pics of your rig. I too have that boat. No matter how much floatation is in the boat I can not remount it in deep water alone.


– Last Updated: Sep-17-04 8:56 AM EST –

well a 75 sq ft lanteen is a big sail indeed! You must be very accomplised to handle that large a spread. Do you have outriggers?

There are usually no reef points on a lanteen though it can be done. As you reef a lanteen it starts to get horizontal and the halyard should be retied higher up the spar.

all the more reason
NOT to dump in the middle of the lake!

Large sail
I have been poking around here and there and that is what I have gathered, that a 75sq.ft. sail is a large sail for a canoe.

Very acomplished, heck I’ve only had it out twice.

My wife did get me some books at the library, so I am getting some background. Heck, soon I be ready for the seven sea’s.

Thanks, Mike

Some pix of my rig under sail

– Last Updated: Sep-29-04 6:52 PM EST –

A home made stowable rig.
Spars, sail, & leeboards = 14 lbs.

Here’s a REAL sailing canoe
This is me in WANDA, a 1917 Old Town.

Ever tried
Ever tried lashing an oar to the mast and across the gunwale to give you the leverage you need? I’ve done some sailing, never in a canoe, but that was the first thing that popped into my mind. In a centerboard boat the centerboard provides the leverage you need to right, but obviously you don’t have that in a canoe rig. So I figure, why not add that leverage. Could work…

another option
This comes from a friend who reads, but doesn’t post on this site:

Tie a 6’ piece of rope or webbing to a thwart. Stow it somehow. When the canoe capsizes, get this rope/webbing and toss it over the bottom of the canoe.* Go around to the other side, grab the rope and pull the canoe over. If you can’t get it upright easily, put your feet against the side of the canoe and try it again. This is how whitewater rafters flip their rafts when they end up upside down. It works so well it’ll make you laugh, besides saving a lot of precious time and energy.

  • It should be noted this is for a canoe that has “turned turtle” and is completely upside down. (A situation that may not happen in a sailing canoe as the mast, spars and sail should keep the boat floating on it’s side. If so the rope shold be thrown over the side not bottom. It is also good to release and secure the mast,sail and spars prior to starting the recover proceedure.)