Sailing kayaks/canoes

The “have to be with my wife” thread got me to thinking about the Hobie Adventure Island. It sort of seems like a less expensive, more user friendly version of the Easy Rider systems that often were advertised on the back cover of Canoe and Kayak. That discontinued Hobie hydrofoil looks like great fun too.

Who else builds and sells canoes/kayaks that are specifically designed for sailing. I’m not talking about the add-on kits for Grummans, or the various downwind only sails - but a purpose-built sailing vessl that could easily be paddled.



Canoe/Kayak Sailing
Hi, Might check out this site. They have a good friendly forum too. Lots of “interesting”, and more conventional craft.

Safe paddling and sailing. R


But you don’t have to go that far.

lots of sailing canoes
Kayaksailor builds rigs that will take you up wind.

Balog Sail Designs has been making sailing rigs for different paddlecraft for years.

The Windrider 17 can be paddled but mostly it is a small sailing trimaran.

Flat Earth Kayak sails makes excellent sails that will go upwind if you have the proper hull shape or rig a leeboard.

I’ve found that I can always paddle upwind faster than I can sail upwind so I make sails without lee boards and only reach a little bit upwind. After all good kayaks like good rowboats are not the best hull shapes for upwind sailing.

sailing kayak
I’m not sure they even make these anymore but I liked the look of them …

Tai fighter?

– Last Updated: Mar-02-11 11:51 PM EST –

Nope, that's just the Triak - they were redesigned recently and look pretty cool. The sail rig looks improved.

I like the looks of the Warren Little Wing 15.5 Sail rig too:

PS - you may have to trade in a car for either of these....

One more - you have to check out this antique Rushton sailing canoe with a telescoping, nested brass centerboard - stupendous!

I want one!
I want that Rushton Radix folding centerboard. Only I want mine to be made out of titanium. Pretty great!

purpose-built sailing vessle…
They are called “SAIL BOATS”. If you want a kayak, USE a kayak! If you weant a canoe, USE a canoe! If you want to sail, GET A SAIL BOAT!

Paddle easy,


Canoe Sailing
Some of the most outstanding expeditions in UK waters have involved canoe sailing, including a classic up the west coast of Scotland from Crinan to Portree - stunning, and with rigs in conventional open canoes.

For that example see

The important thing is having a decent rig that allows sailing close to the wind: that doesn’t require anything big (a well designed 24 or 36 square foot expedition rig and tiny, clip on leeboard will work)… but it does take something more sophisticated (i.e. better shaped) than an overgrown flag on a pole!

More serious canoe-sailing might involve a lugsail or two (certainly not the only option) and then on up the scale to a bermudan rig… with 44-50 square feet being enough to drive a decent tandem canoe as well as many small dinghies, and a good reefing system allowing upwind sailing into force 6+ winds.

Beyond that, you’re into the realm of the dedicated sailing canoe, whether that’s an expedition version (for extended tripping) or performance version (such as the International 10 Square Metre Sailing Canoe, which is one of the fastest and most high performance classes of sailing craft available.

Good links: and

In England

– Last Updated: Mar-03-11 8:58 AM EST –

Lots of good stuff here.
Makes me wish they had a US branch.

Seems like there's quite a few canoe sailors over there.

Ha Snowgoose You posted while I was typing. Good stuff!

Hugh Hornton’s Bufflehead
If I had the money and time for another hobby I’d be looking hard at building the Bufflehead.

Either that or, since Hugh told me the Bufflehead is more tuned to sailing and less to paddling, I’d cut down and deck a Starfire like Hugh and the Gougeon brothers did before the Bufflehead came to be.

Small, light, seaworthy
I do like sailboats as well, but I was thinking about something that would be capable of carrying some camping gear, and also capable of being easily handled/beached/cartopped by one person, and also safe in open water.

Possibly even something that could be portaged would be nice. I made a trimaran out of a canoe and a sunfish rig and it worked fairly well, but I needed more lateral resistance, I think. Upwind performance was quite poor.

Sailing a Canoe vs Sailing Canoes
What’s most alive here in the UK is probably messing around with flags on sticks :frowning:

Our conditions do tend to be more changeable than is common throughout much of the US… and some of our coastal areas can be challenging places to sail… so you’ll find a hard core of exemplary canoe sailers over here showing the rest of us what’s possible.

Fortunately, several of the leading lights contribute regularly on the OCSG Facebook pages:

Scroll down the “wall” and you’ll find a stunning photo that Gavin’s put up of sailing in a force 6 (gusting 7) in 3’ waves in one of the busiest shipping areas in the UK - stunning stuff!!!

We’ve also, very recently, managed to get a dedicated canoe-sailing forum going on SongofthePaddle: see

Ps. The guys at Solway Dory are great, and will ship rigs internationally… though (getting back on topic) I hadn’t heard of them sending any of their dedicated sailing canoes across the pond yet!

“American” canoes
My cousin in Michigan, an “off the grid” woodworker, bark and strip canoe builder and sailboat restorer, was contracted a few years ago by a wealthy collector to repair and restore the guy’s large antique collection of what he called “American canoes”, small one man sailing vessels that looked like canoe/kayak hybrids. I saw several of these works in progress in his shop and believe they were of the type shown in this article:

Interesting craft.

In Japan
They got the Aquamuse.

I like the built in flotation almost as much as the name! But I wouldn’t want to paddle it too far.

Ron Sell
Ron is another, like Hugh Hornton, who builds decks and other mods turn stock boats into sailing Canoes. I believe Marty who posts here ocaisionally has a Bell Northstar done up by Ron. IIRC he speaks highly of both the boat and Ron.

Canoeing sailboat
This may strike some as funny, or maybe stupid…

I bought a Snark sailboat (actually, a sailing dinghy) a couple years ago, with the idea to use the sail rig on a canoe. Got it dirt cheap. Not a very efficient sailboat, but it does okay.

Turns out - if you drop the sail and pull up the daggerboard and rudder, it paddles like what the hull shape suggests…a short and wide shallow-arch tandem canoe. In fact, it responds pretty well to “Canadian style” paddling.

Hull weight is about 45lbs(?) and the rigging is pretty light too. Unsinkable and easily car-topped. Dunno about portaging. Canoe-ish interior allows room for gear. Could make an interesting solo-tripper in the right hands on the right water, though neither an efficient sailboat nor paddlecraft. There’s a pile of 'em out there that can be had for cheap. Even Coffee should appreciate that.

Or you could build your own…

Sea Snarks
Aha! Now there’s a blast from the past: the first watercraft I ever bought was a Snark, actually one that was marketed as a promo with the “Kool” cigarettes logo on the sail (collected empty packs for the coupons from the parking lot at the convenience store where I worked during college). It was great to haul – light to lift and it fit right on the cheap XC ski rack on my Datsun B210 (the pole/sail held with the black rubber ski bungees.) Not so great to sail – you had to keep ducking under the boom when the wind shifted and it was so light (100% styrofoam) it was squirrelly even with the daggerboard and rudder. But one hot day it heeled over and swamped to within a few inches of the gunwales and I discovered it handled a lot better with that extra ballast (I only weighed 120 back then). Plus sitting in the water felt nice and cool so I sailed for the rest of the day in my swamped foam “bathtub.” After that, I carried several gallon water bottles tied in the hull so it would track better.

So, I think loaded down with some gear (or a hefty paddling buddy) a Snark could be a handy little rowing or paddling dinghy. Maybe you could tow one with a kayak to carry the beer and dogs on group outings?

I think I paid $39.95 (and ten Kool coupons) for mine in the mid-70’s – used it off and on for 10 years and then sold it for $75. Last used it at a back yard barbeque, filled with ice and cans of beer and soda. Have seen them occasionally for a couple $100 in the past couple of years. A true proletariat sailing craft.