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PaddleWise Discussion on Kayak Sails

The following discussion occurred on the PaddleWise mailing list. All original comments are presented in their entirety. Some quoting of previous posts copied into subsequent replies are excluded from those replies to improve readability and reduce redundancy. Full archives may be retrieved by PaddleWise members from the PaddleWise digest by sending a message to with the word "index" included in the body of the message. These posts may not be reproduced or redistributed without the author's permission.

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 20:34:11 EST
From: DMon707
Subject: [Paddlewise] Sails

My partner and I have Feathercraft K-1's and we're considering using sails for
the Sea of Cortez this winter. On our Mulege to Loreto paddle last year, Nike
golf umbrellas were sweet, but they didn't last out the year. Our K-1's have
sail fixtures, I assume, for the feathercraft sail, about which I know
nothing. Ralph Diaz mentions BSD Batwings. Any K-1 sailors out there have any
experience, gossip, etc., about different sails? Weight and size are critical,
since flying the kayaks, gear and food down to Loreto is already a grunt.
Doug Montgomery
San Francisco

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 23:53:56 -0800 From: rdiaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sails Since my name has come up, I thought I would elaborate some. The K-1 can and has been rigged by several individuals to use the Balogh Batwing sail. That is a sail rig able to point into or sail into the wind. The first was a fellow from Ontario who used just about the smallest Batwing (I think 18 sq ft if my memory serves me well). He took the special fitting that Feathercraft will fit in the deck top bar for using the Feathercraft Genoa sail and used it for the Balogh mast. The sail had a slight forward pitch due to the angle of the bow deck bar. For stability in sailing he counted on two things. 1) he had the boat full of camping gear...he was sailing north in the Canadian Arctic and had lots of it and 2) he used SeaWing sponsons. This was a quick approach to the task. It used the detached blades of the 4-piece paddle as leeboards. 2) The second setup was by a fellow in Georgia who put in the full Batwing rig, about 28 sq ft or bigger with the BOSS outriggers, large standard leeboard, the works. It required some welding and specially engineered pieces to beef up the front frame as well as holes in the deck to support the struts holding the outrigger bar. He is an engineer and designed this himself plus had the equipment and materials from his job to make this custom job himself. Both worked well. The first fellow has since, I understand, moved toward something like the second fellow's. The second fellow recently sold his K-1 and Batwing and basically gotten out of kayaking. He advertised it in my newsletter but I don't know if it sold through it or via some other means. These are the only two such upwind setups that I am aware of for the K-1. Both were fully written up in my newsletter and I would be happy to fax the articles to any one who is interested. Feathercraft is in the process, or already has, developed an upwind sail. I am not certain where it is at exactly. The Genoa and kites and other such rigs will give you a nice boost if you are going with the wind or on a broad reach. Some setups can come around to just about a beam reach but you need a leeboard to prevent your boat from sliding across the water sideways when attempt that beam reach. ralph diaz - -- - ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Ralph Diaz . . . Folding Kayaker newsletter PO Box 0754, New York, NY 10024 Tel: 212-724-5069; "Where's your sea kayak?"----"It's in the bag." - -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 23:36:37 -0700 From: Philip Wylie Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sails For sailing info in general check out these fabulous guys at the MAATSUYKER CANOE CLUB- Sailing Rigs for Tasmanian Sea Kayaks They have some great info available and you will want to visit their web page and spend an hour enjoying there wonderful photo album. Great stuff! Best Regards, Philip Wylie

From: [Ralph Diaz] Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 09:38:21 -0800 Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sail vs. paddle? Jim Holman wrote: > I've been starting to do some reading and research on folding kayaks. > I'm interested in the fact that it is possible to sail in one, but > I have a few basic questions: > > 1) How well do single-seaters sail compared to dual-seaters? The two seaters, especially the ones with a single large cockpit, tend to be better sailing vessels. More room for dealing with the sheets, several options on where to place the mast (forward or in mid-cockpit, etc. That is not to say that the singles are not suited for sailing. They are. > 2) Is it "fun" to sail a kayak, or a hassle, or difficult? Depends on your attitude. I think a person is either a sailor or a paddler. You don't find too many who bridge both worlds well. Most of the good sailors I know haven't the foggiest idea how to paddle except for the few strokes needed to get away from a dock or pull into a boat ramp. Try asking one whether he feathers his paddle and you will get a look of puzzlement that suggests they think you are asking about sticking feathers in it. It can be a hassle. It does require a lot of concentration. You are thinking, wind direction, ruddering, tacking, amount of wind in sail, etc. I think it is relatively unsafe to be sailing a kayak in heavily trafficked waters as it takes away too much attention from things going on around you. > 3) How effective are the upwind sails vs. downwind only? Well, depends on what direction you want to go. A downwind sail is not going to go into the wind. If you mean, which is more efficient in doing what they are supposed to do, the downwind ones are better going downwind than the upwinds are going upwind. There isn't enough momentum in such a light vessel as a kayak to sail efficiently upwind. It can be done, but it is quite slow and requires such wide, frequent tacks, that you are better off pulling out your paddle and paddling. Or doing what is called power paddling, which is basically sailing on upwind tacks while also using your paddle to get more wind into your sail. But for that you need a front passenger to do the paddling. Upwind sails are best on a beam reach, i.e. perpendicular to the wind or slightly pointing upwind 10 degrees from perpendicular. Then they fly like bats out of hell. > 4) When all is said and done, are sails worth the cost? If you have > sails, would you buy them again? If you don't have sails, do you wish > you did? Again it depends on your attitude and outlook. Those who sail can't get enough of them. You often see people in double Kleppers, Folbots, etc. adding another sail to their boats creating a schooner rig. I have even seen someone have a jib and two mainsails (of slightly different square area). It is addictive. I don't like sailing BTW although I do hang out around a lot with sailing kayakers and have been at every one of the sailing conventions in North Carolina each fall run by Balogh Sail Designs, the premier sail maker and designer for kayak sailing. And I believe that my folding kayak book is the only sea kayaking book that really discusses sails plus gives fairly long description of sailing tips regarding the 3 or 4 principal type of sail rigs. There is a whole chapter on how to sail these various rigs and sections of other chapters in selecting sails. > 5) How much total cost do upwind or downwind sails add, all things considered? Assuming you have a rudder, figure around US$1200-1400 for an upwind sail that would include leeboard and outriggers (Balogh), around US$1100 for the Klepper S-4 rig (leeboards, no outriggers) and about US$300 to $400 for downwind sails. You haven't asked about kite sails...that's another story and issue. > Thanks in advance for any insights. I know a couple of people with kayaks, but > no one who sails in one. Well, I don't sail as you can see from my responses. I learned enough about them to write about them and pass on information since sailing is a big part of the appeal of folding kayaks. But I rather be paddling. :-) ralph diaz --

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 1999 09:48:10 -0800 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] sail rigs Matt Broze wrote: SNIPPED > they we no faster than us. However, they soon resorted just using the jib > and stowing all the rest. We would leave them far behind with the spinaker > and have to wait for them again. I am glad someone brought up sailing with the Klepper jib alone, although it did not seem to work all that well for Matt's fellow kayak sailors. In my experience, and from what I know from other sources, jib sailing can be a very effective sail even for beam reaching (90 degrees to the direction of the wind) and works well on a broad reach (45 degrees or so off downwind) and straight downwind running. I have not done much sailing, just enough to know how to write about it with the help of good friends like Mark Balogh. But I do recall my first week of sailing in which going on a broad reach with a jib in which my wife and I in a double Klepper were able to keep up with a smallish Batwing on a double Klepper. Other factors may have accounted for this other than sail. Perhaps the expert sailor in the other boat wasn't all that expert with this particular sail. Also the other boat had the group's leader in it who besides possessing a heavy ego also had a disproportionately high amount of the groups gear, not that my wife and I in our Klepper double were not carrying a load as well. We knew next to nothing about sailing (I still don't; she knows a lot more). But we operated as an effective team. She worked the jib sheet (sheet is sailing parlance for the line controlling a sail) to perfection with a subtle touch on keeping the jib filled with just the right amount of wind. And me? I was controlling the rudder. I figured that the expert sailor in the other Klepper knew how to get the most out of the wind. All I had to do was to make certain that our boat was always on a parallel line with his heading. As he varied his heading, I duplicated it like a monkey mimicing human gestures. We went for several miles that way. The leader never turned around all that time convinced that he had pulled out well ahead of the group (In his defense it was the last day of an 8 day trip and he may have been tired of dealing with our motley group). Meanwhile we were holding our position about 100 feet behind him, a respectable distance for observing his movements. When he came close to the takeout beach and finally turned around, the look of surprise to see us just behind him was priceless. It was "Where the hell did these non-sailing bozos come from?" Jib sailing a Klepper offers a lot of advantages. Less setup time. Less complex. Smaller package to take with you when travelling and to stow away in your boat. And less liable to tip over than the full Klepper S-4 rig which has a soft pocket up high on the mast which can flip you if a gust hits up there with you unawares (listen to Ralph talk as if actually knows anything about this!:-)) I know that Gail Ferris was very big on the idea of jib sailing in her northern trips. She even cut down the sail area of the jib because she was afraid too much area might tip her single Klepper. ralph diaz

Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000 17:17:29 EDT From: Paul Raymond Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Kayak Sail Patterns [Evan_Dallas]: > Anyone know where I might find a pattern for a make-it-yerself kayak sail? > I'm only interested in the go-straight-ahead-only pocket-type sail (I'm > not sure of the correct terminology here), as opposed to the windsurfer > or sailboat style where you can actually go into the wind. I bookmarked these links from a previous thread. Haven't gotten far enough on the kayak I'm building to try them yet. The first two have sketches of downward sails. Also try the Kayak Sailing mailing list at They have a links page also. Good luck, Paul.
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