I’ve never been too excited about live picture/video capturing. Have always considered myself a “still image” type of guy. Looks like that may change…
Marko had recently acquired a GoPro Hero4 Session camera and attached Ram Mount hardpoints where to install the camera on his kayak.
The GoPro Hero4 Session is a camera produces to my uneducated eye actually pretty decent net worthy video! Also it is pretty darn small!! In addition it has only TWO buttons to operate!! This is borderline limit for my feeble mind to comprehend. Sounds like something I may learn to use?
Also the Camera can be operated with a separately sold remote control, OR a smart phone app. So if the camera is further away from the operator, one can still start and stop the filming! This can be handy on a kayak!
I have the understanding that these GoPro Devices are reasonably robust and actually may operate successfully in marine conditions.. so this might be working formula!
The 1 inch ram mount B- size balls are reasonably low in profile, yet sturdy for intended use , particularly this small camera and has a large selection of adapters, gadgets etc available and whats best these were all available from Finland without complicated, unsure, expensive “order from abroad and pay taxes” spiel!
I acquired the necessary parts from local company nearby with excellent service and which pretty much covers the whole Ram Mount catalog of parts available: Yepnet. Whats best, the whole package was under 100€!! This hardly ever happens in Finland anymore!
Installation of the hardpoints was easy/hard. I used SS M4 Hardware + White SikaFlex 291i to attach the Ram Mount balls on the bow and stern. Evereything else was easy apart from holding back the nuts while tightening the screws. Here and additional pair of hands was necessary.
So.. now I have another toy to play around with.. and if all goes well I might actually have some videos to post at a later date.. Ofcourse before that I will have to try to learn the complex world of digtalvideo editing! 😉
I’ve used a couple different set ups for my kayak sail sheet pulleys. First off, the term is a bit misleading as I don’t actually have a ‘pulley’ in any of the installs! On a couple installs the sheet line passes thru a plastic pad-eye on the deck and on the other install the ‘pulley’ is actually a SS thimble knotted. I don’t see any added advantage of having an actual pulley ! Thus far my systems have been adequate.
However the thimble approach is a bit clunky in my mind. Maybe it’s because I’ve used a knot instead of splicing the thimble eye nicely into the line.. or maybe it’s just too.. Clunky!??
Anyhoo, some while back whilst surfing boatchandlers websites I noticed a very inneresting product. Something made by Antal, a lowfriction ring. Whats more, they have a product called a soft link, which at least looked aesthetically nicer than my self made unspliced thimbles!!!
“Must have” me thinks! That is, until I saw the price! The soft link with the smallest sized (7mm)low friction ring was slightly over 31€ + postage !! Ofcourse Finland is known for generally overpriced everything when it comes to yachting products.. but 31€ is just ridiculous!!
OK.. so time passes by and every time I see the clunky thimble on the deck in front of me, it annoys me ever so slightly.. which with time just gets worse. So then I get to thinking that mayhaps, I’ll buy one of those darn low-friction rings and a bit of 4mm dyneema line and make the rest meself! The ring itself costs 11€ which in my mind still IS highway robbery.. but fortunately I’ll need just the one for now (Imagine the poor yachtie who’ll need 10, 20 or more.. oh wait.. there is no such thing as a POOR yachtie… Haahaa!)
I did contemplate trying to fabricate a ring myself out of several materials.. aluminium coated with epoxy+graphite powder, or laminate something with CarbonFiber+Graphite powder etc etc etc.. And in the end the highway robbery of 11€ seemed quite decent! After all , I’ll just need the one! 🙂
So finally when the mail arrived (well, actually I had to pick the mail from the store 2 km’s from home.. but that’s Finland for ya, and another story) I was a happy and eager new owner of some 4mm dyneema line, a D-Splicer F15 .. splicer thingy, a couple Antal 7mm lowfriction rings. Add to the mix some semi sharpish scissors, splicing yarn , needle, some odds and ends. Finally armed with knowledge gleaned from a confusing dutch language instructional online videos: here, I was ready for the real deal.
First attempt, I cut the total length 35 cm.. which was way too short! Repeat after me.. 35 cm is TOO SHORT!..
Second time around.. I cut the initial dyneema line to a length of 45 cm, which at first seemed 5 cm too long but now that the first self made softlink is at hand.. it maybe just right?
How well will this work? Dunno. A couple questions that will be answered in due time:
Is the polyester line for splicing was proper?
Is is spliced properly?
Is two loops around deck line enough to keep the softlink from sliding and following the sail, left and right across the deck? It might need the three as in a proper Prusik knot…
Time will tell. Needs to be tested in use and go from there.. well hopefully sail from there!
Making a modern dyneema spliced loop was surprisingly easy and quick work with the proper tools! Making the closed loop, on second attempt took less than 10 minutes! Doing the splicing with string took about the same. Overall time was probably approx 30 minutes. I kinda liked it.
If working with Dyneema , good sharp scissors preferably ones meant for the job is a must. Making one or two soft links will go wit a sharpish household scissors.. sort of. but it will nut “cut it” in the long run! 😉
Atleast this version looks nicer than the previous version! 😉
The time had come to make my Beaufort even better than it was ! Time for a sail ! A kayak without a sail is boring.. sorry I had to say it! Now its out there. 😉
I had ordered the SeaDog Commander sail last year with the primary thought of using it on the coastal paddle and since the Beaufort is the chosen kayak for the trip, I needed to modify the Beaufort accordingly!
There are several ways to install a SeaDogstyle sail onto a kayak. Heres a very rough categorization of what I have found online:
3 stays +1 uphaul the most common method: 2 lateral side stays, 1 aft stay and 1 uphaul opposite the backstay. A good set of instructions
4 stays + 1 uphaul : 2 lateral sidestays, 2 diagonal back stays and 1 uphaul : Some excellent advise by Douglas Wilcox
I’m sure there are several variations of the above mentioned set-ups all have their merits and faults, heck I have used a sail set up which differs from all the above mentioned methods.. which works “ok” , I might share it hereabouts at a later date..
Currently my preferred installation method is the last of the three described: 2 lateral side stays and 2 diagonal back stays +uphaul. Ofcourse this adds the amount of itsy-bitsy strings on-deck.. but the fun of sailing over-rides the negatives of them strings..
The installation of the sail can be divided into the following bits:
Mast base plate installation
Back stay points
Sheet cam cleat
Basicly the method for sail installation described here will probably work with most kayaks. The biggest difference would be the use/need for the mast baseplate adapter to mate it on the deck, as was done here.
Mast Base plate Installation
Due to the Beauforts peculiar deck profile: a semiround groove running down the lenght of the deck from bow to stern, this adds some challenge to make a sturdy and water proof installation for the mast. I had to prefabricate a mast base plate adaptor. The actual installation was ALOT easier than making the adaptor, thankfully so.
Side stay points
The sidestay hardpoints needed more drilling thru the hull. One would normally want to use the existing installed “Recessed Deck Fittings” (RDF) .. and that would be fine BUT.. Usually the installed RDFs have not been installed with the pressures/stresses that a sail will put on it in mind. Without extra re-inforcement there have been cases where a RDFs has been pulled off/thu the deck causing a pretty big hole on the deck! Not to mention annoying extra work to fix it! The Sidestays will have considerable load stresses when sailing beam reach or close reach… So its better to install the sidestay hardpoints on the side of the hull rather than “topside”. Also the fact that the Beaufort has nice 50mm Aramid/Kevlar tape running along the hull deck seam on the inside, gives a good (solid) place to install the hardpoints. The hardpoints were drilled approx 792mm aft of the bow tip..
Back stay points
Contrary to what I said previously about NOT using the existing RDF’s, for the backstay hardpoints I decided to use the existing RDF’s !!! Woo twisted logic!
The logic here is that the RDFs. are so far back that the pull angle is shallow PLUS I will be using TWO points that hopefully will share the load! This is all theory at this point. However I’m confident that this set up will work – time will tell!
The big plus side of using the existng RDF’s is that I dont need to do any thru-deck drilling. Just add a 2mm dyneema loop thru each RDF for the quick-snap-shackles!
Sheet cam cleat
To lock the sheet line, I use the smallest cam-cleat available, with a wire gate of sorts. This allows for reasonable fine-tune-control of the sheet line, especially when tightening the line, but it still reasonably easy to loosen as well.
Since the uphaul line basicly has two clear positions: Mast DOWN and Mast UP, then a simple clam-cleat would be enough! Another added bonus of using a CLAMcleat compared to a CAM-Cleat (as with the sheetline) is that the CLAMcleat is lower in profile, thus less likely to be on the way of anything: paddle, knuckles, lines otherkayaks etc. !
Now most of the big dirty work, ie drilling is over.. hopefully! Some final tweaking of knots and lines.
Adjusting the mast tilt/angle
Getting the mast just right will take a couple sessions on the water testing and tweaking.. for this the right type of knot is essential, recently Douglas Wilcox (Again !) has come up with a suitable looking knot the adjustable grip hitch. At the writing of this post I haven’t personally tested the knot in action but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work..? This is the knot I have used on this particular installation! Seems GOOD!
Some final words..
Adding a sail onto a kayak adds to the fun but there is also added risk of things going wrong. Maybe even REALLY wrong! The writer will assume no responsibility if something goes drastically wrong with this set up! Common sense “laws” should and will apply here. Each does as each sees fit with each own responsibility!
That said, after I started kayak sailing a paddling/emergency knife became a permanent fixture on my PFD! For those extra lines…
One of the most obvious features on the Beaufort made by Skimkayaks is the some 80mm wide, semi-circular groove running centrally fore-to-aft on the deck. Its purpose is to stiffen the kayak all the while keeping the amount of fiber and resin used to a reasonable minimum and thus keeping weight down. Makes sense!
As an added bonus this groove feature also provides a nifty place to stow, items such as a waterpump, water bottle, gps, etc. A nice one!
However there is a little minus from this groove. Not a big one, but there it is: It adds extra challenge in the installation of a deck compass and mast base plate. Like I said, it isn’t really a big minus. If you don’t kayak sail, then the mast base installation point is moot. Also if you don’t use/need a deck compass, other than the bungee cord quick installation type (Silva 58 Kayak or Suunto Orca ), then these “minus” points will not affect you! Win-Win! 😀
Personally I prefer to have a permanently installed deck compass on all of my “long haul” expedition kayaks. Up til now I have predominantly used the Silva 70P (Whisper and Willow). However the groove would require some form of a baseplate/cup, installation set up-custom-modification-geegaag-thing-ama-jiggie to make the installation of the 70P sit nicely , work well and look good. Since I’m unaware of any ready made solution on the markets for said purpose, all this would require some form of extra spurt in my imagination aka brain synapses ! In other words I would have to come up with some DIY solution and then make it. At this time I’m not THAT motivated!
While pondering my conundrum, I remembered another Silva compass model, the 70UNE, (and its non-illuminated version 70 UN). This is more expensive than the previous two models mentioned. It does have an extra bonus that it can be easily removed from its holder (and stolen!) and used as an hand-compass on land. Uptil now the high cost, easy removability (without tools) characteristics have been reason why I have shied away from this model. Also the deck holder of the compass feels a tad “flimsy” in my mind. A careless, tired whack in cold weather with a paddle onto the holder may be enough to break it?.. maybe? Plausible..?
Anyhoo.. at this stage the only available quality option for a semi-permanent deck compass installation for the Skim Kayaks Beaufort would appear to be the Silva 70 UNE. One big nice plus for this model is that it has a red led light for night illumination.. which can be really nice on night paddles! This adds to the “COOL” factor nicely!
After doling out the required amount of cash for a Silva 70 UNE. I went home to see if the compass would actually fit the deck groove? I was lucky I hadn’t paid for nothing. The compass actually fit quite snugly in the groove! As a nice extra extra bonus, the compass holder sat within the groove and thus would be protected from random whacks by paddles,other kayaks or hostile objects ! Nice!!!
Then it was just a matter of some DIY magic. Hopefully the following picture show is self-explanatory. 🙂
Fittings used were Stainless steel M4 x 25 sized bolts, flat head
A paddle design I’ve exclusively used the past 3 years. The first prototype I built and used during the summer of 2013. It performed well but due to the materials used; maple, alder and pine, was slightly on the heavy side ( 1500+ gms), but booy, oh boy is it robust!
For the coast of Finland kayaking trip in 2014, I built a second prototype from lighter materials (total weight in the 950g range): Western Red Cedar (WRC), nordic pine and alder. I’ve used that paddle now for two consequetive summers and some 2500+ kms of touring. It still needs improvement but still its the best paddle I have made. While its not the lightest paddle out there, it IS strong enough for touring/expedition use! NO question! It has slight flex, just enough to let you know there is flex, But it is sturdy for serious heavy duty use! I’m not sure it will withstand the greenland definition of a multi-use-dependable paddle = “one can use it as a pull up bar”, but it’ll come very close!
The dimensions of the paddle prototype# 2 are: Length 220cm, Loom length 55cm, Blade max width 92mm. The loom cross-section is a mix between a Tri-oval and egg shape, kinda asymmerical oval. The loom cross-section dimensions are: width 28mm and thickness 32mm.
Marko, who will be paddling the Finnish coast during the summer 2016, asked me to make him a similar paddle with slightly tweaked dimensions to suit him. Here’s a quick and dirty photo-album (part 1) of “How, what and possibly why?”
Part – 2 will follow once I get the paddle made… and mayhaps later of how it all worked out? Or did it?
At the writing of this article, I have installed SeaDog sails on three different kayaks. Each installation has been different due to differing circumstances. Each installation, while requiring some extra work, has been reasonably easy and straight forward. In this article I will concentrate on making an adapter for the mast baseplate on a Skimkayaks Beaufort.
The Beaufort however, with its negative groove (or gutter) running down the center of the deck is the most demanding installation thus far. The negative groove will require an adapter for the mast base plate. The flat bottom of the plate needs to be mated with the bottom of the groove. Otherwise this may cause pressure ridges onto the deck groove which may later cause cracking. Also the mast base plate needs to be slightly higher to allow enough counterclockwise rotation of the mast attachment piece!
More about the actual installation process of the mast will follow…
Now be honest! Have you ever fantasized, in a following wind, under a heavy load , somehow .. harnessing that wonderful wind to help you get along….? Now don’t lie! I suspect EVERY sea kayaker has in one point or another thought like this. 😀
Springtime 2015 I found myself trying out something completely new. GnarlyDog convinced me to give kayak sailing a try. Uptil now I’d only tried using windpaddle sail briefly, but did not like the concept at all as it is strictly downwind sailing and while it does not require a rudder equipped kayak, it works better with one… And I’m not going to install a rudder on my kayaks. End of discussion! Also it ties ones hands to operating the sail…
Gnarly suggested SeaDog Sails, whom I contacted and some weeks later I received my first SeaDog Sail ! Its been fun ever since! It was early may 2015 when I was able to go out and start learning to use the sail.
About the sail, it is surprisingly smart set up. Contrary to common beliefs it DOES not require a rudder for installation! A skeg would be nice to have but basicly one can sail decently without a skeg installed, however here one will need to use corrective strokes or a paddle rudder quite often. That said I will be retrofitting a skeg in all of my kayaks!
The sail basicly operates as follows: When you want to sail. You release it from “Stowed on deck” configuration, pop the mast into its “mast up” configuration, cleat the up haul line and “Voila” ready to sail! If the going gets rough or you need to go into the wind, then you reverse the previously described operation and your kayak is back in its “pure kayak – mast down” mode. Quite simple! With a little practice each operation takes no-more than 5-7 seconds to perform.
While under sail, one can still use the paddle for correcting strokes, stern rudder or bracing… or not! So the sail does not tie the hands while sailing. Only during mast uphaul or downhaul, and tweaking the sail angle with the cam-cleat, ones’ hands will be doing other than paddling. This last feature is one of my favourites!
Another misconception is that this sail is purely for downwind sailing. Not true! Depending on the sail set up, kayak configuration and your sailing skills one can sail beam reach and perhaps even close reach. My rough best estimate has been to sail maybe 25 degrees into the wind, on a sharply chined kayak and quite a bit of edging…
However there are some little requirements or rather common sense suggestions before one should start installing a sail on ones kayak!
One should be a confident and able kayaker. Minimum requirement (in my mind ) for kayak sailing is that one should be able to do self rescues, braces + some kind of eskimo roll. I haven’t had to do a single roll or self rescue under sail, but the fact that I know I can perform these gives me all the more confidence to handle the kayak under sail… me hopes ! 😉
Some understanding about the concept of sailing comes handy.. though starting with light winds and an instructor close-by one can be self taught quite quickly to kayak sail! I’ve had two “experimental students” to test this claim and both are still alive and breathing and in friendly terms with me.. 😉
While kayak sailing isn’t for the first or second time, “beginner” kayaker it does open a whole new world for the more experienced confident kayaker- A world of fun if nothing else!
At the writing of this I have logged some 360 kms with sail, of which approximately half have been under touring/expedition conditions. Most if not every km has been either fun or educational and thus very interesting! Introducing the sailing concept into kayaking also opens the world of sailing and wind in a new way to the kayaker.
I will not dwell into sail installation in this post, that will come later. However there are a couple of excellent blogs that covers sail installation: Douglas Wilcox’s site and GnarlyDog News
Contrary to common beliefs.. A kayak sail will not make the kayak go faster! Well THAT fast. Usually the defining factor is the maximum hull speed. But it does help make the kayak go at hull speed with minimal paddling! Going above hull speed will require high winds and following seas.. and that while is FUN as anything, it does add certain risks. I’ve usually been able to clock 9-11 km/h in winds of approx 10m/s. This wind speed I have found to be the maximum safe wind speed. Any higher than 10 m/s one needs to be on ones toes, alert, awake and accept the fact of a cold bath. I think the strongest winds I’ve encountered and still stay upright was in the 14 m/s range. The highest speeds that my GPS have logged momentarily under sail, high winds+following waves have been 16.4km/h and 17 km/h. This was with the Guillemot Expedition Single without any load.
Under full expedition load I have been able to coast along at 6-7.5 km/h in a run or a broad reach, using the paddle as a rudder only. With light assisting strokes I have been moving about 8-9.5km/h.
The newest SeaDog sail , the Commander is my favorite, the added reefing points add more versatility to the sail. The sail is more efficient sailing into the wind than the previous models. The older Code Zero Black Diamond maybe easier to handle for a beginner than the Commander, but the commander has the reefing option so this changes the balance quite nicely. I have ordered the sail with the lower panel with Clearview panel, giving me some forward visibility, which can be useful in narrow (and congested) waterways.
All of the SeaDog sails I have used thus far have excellent work quality!
Here’s a couple of my favorite sailing videos that I’ve found online – from downunder. Courtesy of GnarlyDog The first one shows how the sail works.
And some just sailing that brings a smile on your face..
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