Sailing Kayak Recommendations

I’m currently paddling a Stellar S14 on Southern New England bays and coastal rivers, and as I also sail local bays, sometimes find myself wanting to sail my yak in a light breeze, so I’d like to learn more about sailing kayaks that can go upwind as well as downwind. However, I haven’t seen much info on yaks that can sail upwind, though there seems to be some info on kayaks that can be sailed downwind (which by comparison is easier for a yak to do since you don’t have to have a keel to prevent leeward movement). Does anyone in this community have experience with sailing their kayak? Thanks!

Welcome to the neighborhood. Our resident expert in sailing kayaks is @Brodie

While she’s prepping for the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge which starts March 5, perhaps she’ll stop by and share her experience.

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Not an expert on kayak sailing, but some basics in order to go sideways (beam reach) or somewhat into the wind (close reach):

  • you need a “sloop” style sail on a mast, not the parachute sails
  • you’ll want a dagger or lee board of some sort.
  • capsizing becomes a significant concern

If I was going to go the sailing kayak route, Id probably go for a Hobie Adventure Island.

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There are several kits that can be added to many kayaks to make then capable of sailing upwind. Balogh sails and Chesapeake Light Craft come to mind but there are probably others. Keep in mind that adding all of the paraphernalia needed to sail upwind will inhibit your ability to effectively paddle the kayak - this is why I chose to use a downwind only rig (Sea Dog 0.8 m2 sail) as I intend to primarily paddle with the sail as an assist. It’s up to you to decide how much of a sailboat and less of a kayak you want yo make your boat.

With no leeboards I can still sail relatively close to the wind especially in light air and combined with paddling - maybe as high as 60 degrees apparent. As the wind strength picks up trying to sail upwind gets less effective.

I am usually still paddling while the sail is up but have had a couple of times when the wind was strong enough that paddling wasn’t necessary. The kayak I use (a Mirage 580) is quite stable so I don’t have to constantly worry about flipping.

All kayaks will require reinforcement of the deck to take the loads from the rig. Be especially careful with the cored deck on your Stellar as water intrusion will eventually cause delamination.

I have had a blast with the sailing rig on the Mirage for the few months I have had it. I have been sailing for 30+ years so there was very little learning curve for me but these are simple rigs that are not hard to figure out with sone practice.