sailing downwind

Dumb question about kayak sailing. I’m considering a Primex rig for my new Tarpon 160. If you take advantage of a strong downwind sail which should be quite fun isn’t it a pain to get back? The reason I ask is that I normally would not paddle downwind for great distances to avoid the return struggle into the wind. But with this great sail rig I might find myself enjoying the ride only to realize I’m now downwind 5 or 10 miles with a tough trip back. I guess the only obvious remedy is to have a sail rig that can sail into the wind as well. Any kayak sailors with regrets about their downwind rigs before I order mine?

Kayak Sailing
In some areas you can time your trip to maximize the offshore/ onshore phenominum when close to shore in afternoon/ evening. As you will be on more of a reach without a centerboard, than a downwind run, it will be much slower but steady. I yak to relax in our small lake.

Never having had the experience of rigging my kayak with a sail, I can only speak to my experience in a sailboat. In a sailboat you sail upwind in a series of short tacks moving back and forth across the face of the wind, until you arrive at your destination.

It may be that with a kayak sail, you just rely on the change of direection with onshore/offshore winds to carry you to your destination.


NO you won’t be able to go anywhere near “into the wind” or need to tack, as you won’t have a centerboard to offset side slippage, or fine sail control. But a modified or softened “broad reach” with a hand held sail, will give you more flexibility than pure “downwind” wind at your back. This flexibility and carefully planning your course along with knowing the time of on/off normal wind shift in the area, means you can sail slowly in both directions. But The Wind Direction sets your course. And sometimes with a major wind change be prepared to paddle.

Captain Lou
An upwind sail rig would not help much. It is generally easier to stow your sail and paddle upwind. An upwind sail rig just makes it harder to stow the sail.

When possible I plan for an upwind shuttle. Depending on the wind direction, I will sail to a downwind island that has a ferryboat back; or take the ferry to the island and sail downwind back. I am currently working on a trip that has good camping on both the mainland and island, that way I can camp and wait for the wind shifts. Captain Lou always says, “it’s not a wind thing, it’s a time thing.”