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..
This post doesn’t have any kayaking.. but it still has something to do with kayaking ! Orkney is one awesome destination for sea-kayaking and it is my sincere wish, hope, plan, nay a master-plan to go kayaking there someday… hence this post and hopefully pictures will explain more!
Last summer, during a 10 day visit to Orkney I was strictly on land and while watching the waves, came to the conclusion that when the day comes to go kayaking there.. I should know more, be more experienced and hopefully have some local expert to teach the quick low down.. ie. “where not to be and when..? ”
I bought the local sea chart of the Orkney area waters… and I must admit there were some new markings and timetables to learn. I gathered that they have something to do with the tidal flows, waves , BIG water thing-ama-jigs! .. yikes – Crikey!
There was something in the rugged, windswept look in and around Orkney that I found alluring. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but somehow it felt like a place I might like. The most foreign feature in Orkney was the distinct lack of forests! Very very rare occurrence! For someone who works with wood and lives in a country where there are like a zillion trees.. this was very Veird! Takes abit to getting used to.
In the meanwhile, enjoy some pictures from Orkney! It’s s surprisingly nice place! 🙂
Some pictures AND a map of last summers paddling trip in /around of Åland archipelago.
We started from the Ferry stop of Vuosnainen, Finland. The trip lasted some 2 weeks. The planned one day of rest in Maarianhamn, grew to two days! It was such a nice town to see! Much recommended! We finished at the ferry stop in Parainen, Finland.
Overall it was a great trip, but we had to keep a constant watch on the changing weather and plan and re-plan our routes accordingly. Fortunately we were able to come up with alternate routes in the labyrintine passages of the archipelago and weren’t held ashore due to bad weather. We were lucky in that respect.
Paddlingwise, year 2015 was kinda lazy. Not as much touring as the previous two years. I spent only about a total of 5 weeks “out” kujuking. The trips weren’t as long as I’d hoped either, but still 2015 had some definite highlights.
Paddling around the Åland isles was one definite highlight, another highlight was getting started in kayak sailing!
Paddling in and around Åland had been something I had been putting off for some time now. Mainly due to the fact that the isles “were out there”, at least from my limited experience/perspective. After reading and hearing many trip reports, not to mention photo blogs of said isles, I decided “what the heck” and went for it. It was a great trip, at times somewhat demanding due to weather conditions but we got through. Lotsa places seen and explored, yet (thankfully) many more left to be explored at later tripS.
The second “super-duper-I’am-So-EXCITED-I just can’t hide it!” highlight of the year was: kayak sailing!!!
Kayak Sailing had been something I’d read and heard about and always thought that “maybe some day” I’ll give it a try. Then with some coaxing from Gnarlydog, (it really didn’t take that much), I ordered my first kayak sail , from Sea Dog Sails, and that “some day was” here ! Its been great ever since! Kayak Sailing has brought many new aspects to sea kayaking. With some 360 kms of sail assisted kayaking/sailing logged for year 2015,n salt waters as well as fresh, it is safe to say I will have a sail installed on all of my kayaks eventually! One might be as bold to say that kayak sailing is just about the best thing to do with one’s pants on!
Whenever there are fair winds to enjoy – Up goes the sail! 😀
Learning to sail in slightly rougher conditions, has been very rewarding and helpful in finding ( some of ) my limits.
Didn’t build that many new paddles but just enough to keep the interest going. A couple, (well a bunch really) of prototypes are on their way for 2016 paddling season as well.
Kayak building was quiet, but I did manage to build one kayak. ‘Viatrix‘, a Guillemot designed Night Heron “Stitch and Glue” kayak, was first afloat almost as soon as the waters were free from ice, also she was the first one to have a sail installed on her. On her own a very fine kayak for waves and light touring BUT excellent fun with a sail !! Best overall kayak I’ve built thus far…
Already many new kayaking adventures are on the drawing board for 2016 (and beyond) ! Here’s hoping that I will learn to be a bit more diligent in my blog postings as well….