Is it advisable /prudent to consider a sail as an accessory for my 16" sea kayak that does not have a rudder? It does have a skeg.

Rudder-skeg has nothing to do with it

– Last Updated: Oct-29-15 7:11 PM EST –

Sails can be great for going downwind or in a direction that's close to downwind. For sailing crosswise to the wind, and especially for tacking into the wind, you need some kind of fin-like "water grabber" extending well below the center of the boat. You need to provide the boat with an ability to resist sideways forces (prevent skidding) to sail crosswise to the wind or to tack. All sailboats have such a thing, and for canoes rigged for sailing, it's usually a leeboard. For unmodified paddle craft, compact, hand-controlled sails are used mostly for downwind sailing for this very reason.

If you are concerned about steering while sailing downwind, your paddle will do the trick just fine.


– Last Updated: Oct-30-15 11:30 AM EST –

It's a blast. A skeg works fine as you'll probably keep paddling, albeit easier, by you'll go a lot faster down wind or quartering winds. On stronger beam winds you'll be slid sideways a bit from your course.

The mast/boom arrangement of the P&H / FEKS / Falcon sails works better than the twin vee mast arrangement of the Pacific Action or Spirit Sails and have only passing experience with the Wind Paddle parachute style sails for which I did not like the shroud circling behind my back, being in the way of my paddle stroke. Just my experience.

Some video clips of a P&H 1m in use on a Watertribe event.

Have fun!

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY

I am with you - rudder is better
I am with you - a ruddered boat is better. I have a windpaddle sail, which is basically a parachute you put in front of you. Clips to deck lines and you hold on to the top line to keep it from blowing out. Holding that line doesn’t really let you paddle, and makes it hard to use your paddle as a rudder (but it can be done). If you tied off the line somewhere, then you free up your hands, but that adds risk of a wind gist catching you.

Much easier if you have a ruddered boat.

Quick release

– Last Updated: Oct-30-15 7:50 AM EST –

Necessity is the mother of invention. Don't tie off the main support line. Rig up a quick release to a waist belt that will "let go" with a light swat of your hand. Basically, it's a metal hook that goes into a metal anchor ring, but the hook is a 90-degree bend. Variations in the shape of the hooking part, and even the shank, will allow further adjustment in whether it is easier or harder to release.

Or, I bet you can buy something that's even better. I just haven't checked.

WindPaddle Sail
I also have a WindPaddle sail, and a ruddered boat. I agree completely that having a rudder greatly simplifies sailing a sea kayak. Regarding the cord that holds the sail upright and deployed, I rest the cord against the back of my head while running downwind, leaving my hands free to use the paddle as desired. The cord stays there, resting on the back of my head, held by the tension of the deployed sail, and in an emergency, all I need do is nod my head down to release the cord and the sail instantly collapses. But I am a careful soul, and do not use the sail in marginal conditions because it is ungainly when down on deck, and could easily “catch water” until it is properly stowed. It is not easy to compress back into its storage configuration, so care must be exercised in its use.

thanks all
think I’ll wait until I get a kayak with a rudder. I do appreciate the feedback.

kayak sailing
Even with a rudder you really can’t sail much except for running with the wind, unless you have a lee board or dagger board. A rudder only helps your steering. It adds nothing that your paddle cannot do.

I understand
quite a bit about sailing- I’ve owned and sailed a Hobiecat 16 for numerous years… However, only two hands on a paddle and trying to hold the line(s) and the only steering to be made is with kayak lean and paddle adjust, it just seems as though it may be more trouble than I want to risk as a solo kayaker in the Gulf and large coastal rivers. I have also windsurfed for years and the idea of locking down a line is rather unnerving. I’ve been sea kayaking since "98. Was out with a strong downwind and thought how much a sail would help but at this juncture, without a rudder, the risk outweighs the benefit…but I was hoping I was missing something…

can sail when the wind is moderate…don’t have to do all or none.

get a good Harken cam clete to use for quick release and then practice in quiet water.

I have a Falcon sail no rudder …works fine

I don’t however sail when the wind is gusty or at a hurricane status.

Best Wishes


Paddle and Sail?
Are you able to perform a high-angle, big rotation, forward stroke with the cord behind your neck, or does the cord get in the way? I have read conflicting things about the WindPaddle concerning paddling and sailing at the same time.

Most long-distance WaterTribers uses the Falcon or Feks sail designs.

That said, I do like the simplicity of the WindPaddle, but not being able to perform a normal stroke would be a deal-breaker, if that’s truly the case.

Greg Stamer

windpaddle sail
Been looking at them, are they worth the bread and time deploying them? Are they more hinderance than help? If you had to do over would you purchase one again?Sorry about all the questions but I’m on the fence with this one. Thinking about getting one for Christmas but don’t know much about them.Thanks

no rudder needed, at all
I had the same concern when I bought a skeg kayak without a rudder: will I be able to sail?

Now, 8 sea kayaks later, all without a rudder I can say that rudders are NOT necessary to sail in a sea kayak.

Here is one video of running with the waves:

And here is a video of high wind beam wind sailing:

@gstamer: I have had no problems with forward stroke paddling while using the Windpaddle sail with the cord resting on the back of my head. But I use the sail only when running downwind back to the launch site after a long day, when the Windpaddle offers an option to ease and speed the trip back. Since I really enjoy the act of paddling, a sail for me is of very minor importance overall in my kayaking experience, and I only bring it out from below deck and rig it when I anticipate using it for that long run back at end of day.

thanks again for the input
Will have to try it out if given the opportunity. The sail would come in handy in long crossings/stretches off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico, especially on the return trips of the day.