This Summer we traveled to northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia to do some exploring. It’s an amazing place to paddle-sail with vast amounts of protected water and abundant sea life.
Sailing with the humpback whales was a completely new experience for us. Witnessing the sheer size and power of these amazing creatures, especially in such beautiful surroundings, left us in awe and profoundly changed.
I’ll try to describe the experience, even though my words can’t do it justice.
You are paddle-sailing in a beautiful deep bay. We’re surrounded by the distant cry of gulls, and the gentle, rhythmic sound, of sea water, lapping against the hull. The sky is a soft hazy blue. Around us, are gently rounded evergreen mountains that seem to be reaching up to the cottony clouds, which appear to be slowly moving from west to east. The weather is mild, tee shirt weather. The sun is on your cheek and you are very comfortable, sitting in your kayak, happily sailing along, intermittently humming that tune that’s been stuck in your head ever since hearing it this morning.
To your left, you notice some movement. A bald eagle leaps off a high tree limb, causing it to spring back with the release of its substantial weight. It flies along the shoreline with powerful wings flapping intermittently. The glide is graceful with wings, outstretched. It may be searching for a salmon, or heading back to the nest. you don’t know, but as it soars, your eyes follow, and across the water, in the distance, you think you see the lingering spout of a whale. A faint misty-white line that shoots high into the air, slightly swirling at the top. It looks just like that drawing of the whale you remember seeing as a child. That’s pretty cool. Which way is it moving? Then, searching for another, you see something on the surface of the water near Patti’s boat. A log? The head of a sea-lion? Maybe a harbor seal — you can’t tell. Then it disappears without a ripple. Probably a seal, you think. Patti shouts, “Did you see that seal? It was checking me out. I think she is curious about the sail. She’s been following me for a little while”.
A steady breeze has been blowing for the last several minutes and you’re holding an nice beam reach of about five knots. It’s easy sailing. The air is warm. It smells slightly of brine. Just then . . . you feel . . . a sensation. It’s primal, like the feeling you get when you know that you are being watched, and look up just in time to see someone staring at you. Suddenly, the surface of the water bulges to your left and a huge whale rises from the depths and blasts out a loud, long exhalation of breath. PHOOOOOOOH!! A powerful breath, a mammal’s breath, a really big! mammal’s breath. You’re startled, frozen in a moment of shock, not sure what to do even if you could do anything. The breath sounds oddly familiar, almost human, like the sound you make when coming up to the surface, after trying to swim the entire length of the pool underwater, only it’s much louder, and deeper. The moment passes in slow motion. Then, the inhalation, the blowhole closes, and the creature gracefully submerges. Wow!! is all you can say. Wow!… Wow.. Did you… see that..? Did you see that? Did the whole world see that?!! We look at each other and smile in amazement. Wow. Awesome.
Experiences like this shock us into connection with our surroundings, instantly transporting us to a place where we are aware. We look at the birds and the trees, and everything for that matter, with new eyes.
I’ve thought much about our whale experiences in British Columbia. After researching the topic, and in retrospect, we probably should have made more of an effort to avoid being in the path of the whales, for their protection as well as ours. We have since learned that staying a minimum distance of 200 yards away is prudent. It’s actually a law in Canadian waters.
Even though these are baleen whales, which feed on very small sea creatures by sifting water through the baleen filter, I could not help thinking of the Jonah story, especially when one would surface nearby with its mouth wide open!
The thought of a whale the size of a bus lifting our boats into the air is not very appealing. But in truth, we never felt threatened by these intelligent creatures, though more than once they unexpectedly surfaced near enough that it indeed caused a startle.
When immersed in the sounds made by the rippling water being parted by the bow, or feeling the sensations of the sea breeze quietly whispering in your ear in a way that only the sea air can, you feel you are observing the true nature of things. Which is, of course, that we are part of a bizarre, energy-filled, and incredibly beautiful system.
Natural environments seem to have a way of conveying this. While the gentle breeze whispers it to you, finding a whale next to your boat shouts it loud and clear!
Click on the image below to see a little video we made of the trip. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
Please feel free to leave a comment. We love hearing from you.
Springtime has finally arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Even though it has been a relatively mild La Nina Winter in Oregon, with some spectacularly sunny days mixed in with the normal clouds and misty rain of our wet season, we welcome the sun and warmth with open arms.
It has been quite a while since my last blog post so I will do my best to fill you in on what we have been up to.
Patti's truck with Spring back orders ready to ship
Patti and I have been hard at work answering e-mails and building sailing rigs for kind people all over the world. We thank each and every one of you for your support. People are starting to find out about us!
On the weekends and after work we’ve been trying to squeeze in as much paddle-sailing as possible.
Orchard in bloom
You may not know that the sail loft is located in the lower half of an old farm house. We rent the house from a local orchardist and live upstairs. The place is surrounded by thirty beautiful acres of pear trees, and for a few weeks each Spring the blossoms transport us into a magical wonderland of cottony beauty. We enjoy this time of year very much. As an added bonus, the loft is only a few minutes from a terrific launch site on the Columbia River.
Patti and I have been having fun paddle-sailing in the Columbia. Our new skin boats are a real pleasure to sail.
For some reason Springtime seems to activate an instinctual fishing gene in some people. I’m not sure why, but the vernal change has this effect on me as well. On Saturday, while Patti dug up soil in our food garden, I felt compelled to head up to our local mountain lake for some trolling.
This small but lovely body of water holds a healthy population of rainbow and native bull trout, both of which respond well to trolled flies.
One of the tricks to trolling under sail is being able to control ones boat speed. It’s often easiest to regulate the speed of trolled baits while sailing to windward. By turning a boat up-wind and sailing on a very close reach, the boat speed will decrease. To pull the bait faster, one just needs to bear off the wind until the desired speed is reached. For trolling on a beam reach, a simple adjustment to the main sheet is often all that is required. The sheet may need to be let all the way out in order to keep the boats speed slow enough for trolling. I find that sheeting the sail all the way in, and effectively stalling the foil, can also be a good way to reduce speed, especially if heading down wind. This “stall” technique goes against most sailboat racer’s instincts, but for fishing, especially for slower fresh water fish, a slow speed is often needed.
Can you see the nest?
Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day with a clear sky and unseasonably mild temperature. One of the attributes of this little lake is an audible purity that results from a total absence of motorized craft. The only sounds that I could hear was the gentle swish my paddle blade dipping into the water, the occasional trout splashing on the surface, and a chirping song of ospreys (fish hawks). I could clearly hear what sounded like two baby ospreys calling from a nest high in a tree on the west bank. It seems that some ambitious bird lover had somehow climbed to the top of this incredibly tall tree and nailed together a wooden nesting platform for them.
What a relaxing day. There was one tense moment though. It happened just after I hooked a fish. It’s funny how crazy things seem to happen at the moment of hook up. I can remember several occasions while flats fishing in the Keys, when a hungry shark would apear as soon as I hooked into a big fish. And then there was the time my pants fell down while fighting a big bluefish on Long Island, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, back to Saturday. Where was I, oh yeah, so I turned the boat into the wind and had just started reeling in this nice little trout when, with the corner of my eye, I saw momma osprey diving down from a nearby tree top with her wings folded back and talons extended, aiming for my fish! In a moment of heightened awareness I thought, oh no! she is going to take off with the fish! I immediately called out in an alarming yell, YAAH! YAAH!, in an attempt to break her concentration. At the very same moment I was trying to push away the thought of trying to reel in a fish hovering several meters above my head. Luckily, the scare tactic worked and she broke off her dive at the last possible moment. Whew.. That was too close. The fish came to the boat quickly and I released it back into the clear blue depths. Needless to say we were both relieved.
After a leisurely drive home I arrived to find Patti covered head to toe in soil with a big smile on her face.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
By the way, we plan on taking some fun high wind paddle-sailing videos this season and maybe even some paddle-sailing instructional videos, so stay tuned. And, please feel free to subscribe to this blog if you haven’t done so already. There is a subscription link in the right hand column.
As some of you may know, in addition to sail design Patti and I also like to design and build kayaks.
While waiting for our aluminum Kayaksailor parts to arrive, we decided to take a trip to beautiful Anacortes, Washington to visit our friend Corey at his traditional skin boat shop, The Skin Boat School. Patti wanted to reshape her boat by giving it more rocker, adding sheer and taking out some of the volume and I wanted to make mine a little less beamy and also take out some volume. We originally built these high volume boats for extended paddle-sailing trips but as it turns out, we use them mostly for day sailing.
Building a skin-on-frame kayak or “qajaq” is the original, and some consider best, method of kayak building. Many think that this form of boat building has likely been practiced for several thousands of years. Our boats have urethane coated nylon for skin and waxed polyester twine for lashings. The Inuit peoples used seal skin and sinew, but aside from these differences, the basic building technique is remarkably similar.
Skin boats are really cool. The Inuit craftsmen were very skilled and developed these incredibly sophisticated boats with limited resources. Not only was the qajaq an essential tool for the Inuit hunter, enabling them to bring food home in the extremely harsh environment of the far north, but the boats had a spiritual element to them as well. A qajaq is more than a boat. It can be viewed as an animal of sorts with a back bone, ribs and skin. When the paddler, or paddle-sailor in our case, enters their boat, they become the spirit of the animal. Working together as one.
The advantages of skin-on-frame boats are many, but probably one of the most alluring is the weight. A sixteen to seventeen foot boat can weigh as little as twenty five pounds! or about 11.3 Kg. Patti can pick up her boat with one hand. Try doing that with most modern plastic boat! On second thought, don’t try it.
During our stay we lived in the school’s lovely skin-on-frame tree house. It’s a very peaceful and friendly place.
At night we heard Coyotes jibbering and a pack of wolves howling on the distance. Corey says that the wolves belong to a neighbor who breeds them in captivity. He says they all are confined, but I have to say that the sound of a howling wolf pack is a powerful and a hair raising experience. I now understand the level of respect first peoples gave them. We think that we are on top of the food chain, Ha.!
The first order of business was to peel off the skin. We used a heat gun to release the parts of the skin that were stuck to the frame.
Next we cut the lashings and went to work removing and adjusting the ribs, trimming the gunwales, and repositioning the keelson to adjust the rocker. We shape our boats the traditional way, “by eye” and “feel”. I had to cut the deck beams on mine to reduce the boat’s beam.
The frames are pegged and lashed together. No metal fasteners here, just artificial sinew and knots. Lots and lots of knots!
At night it dropped below freezing a few times and Patti dressed our older companion Charlee-girl in her fleece shirt to stay warm. Charlee is looking down the stairs of the tree house trying to figure out a game plan to get down. She can still negotiate those stairs!
Once we finished reshaping the boats, it was time to put on the skin. Knowing when to stop tweaking the design of the frame is always a problem for me. I always want it to be perfect. It’s so easy to make a little adjustment here or there. I’ll just keep adjusting until Patti tells me to stop. We give each other balance.Sewing the skin is simultaneously tedious and therapeutic. It takes some practice to get a nice smooth, tight stitch. The Inuit would wet their seal skins while sewing but luckily we can work our cloth dry.
Patti uses a beautiful more traditional Maligiaq stitch, while I use a rolled cross stitch.
We put our heart and souls into all our creations, And with skin boats, a little blood at times.
These are some of Patti’s cells decorating her bow. It’s always good to keep track of where the pointy end of the needle is.
We chose to remove the rudder and change the stern shape of our boats. Since she purchased her Squamish, Patti has been getting back into rudderless sailing. I think that I will join her. It takes a little more skill, but that’s good, it’s all fun!
Here the cockpit is waiting for attention.
The coaming is the last thing to be sewn in place. The front rests in the curved masik and the rear rests on the flat deck beam.
After work, we explored some of the shoreline of the Island of Fildago on which Anacortes resides. A glorious full moon illuminated the evening sky. This is a spectacular part of the world, and so many beautiful boats in the harbor! Below are some classic pulling boats we came across. I can’t resist admiring the sweet lines of a well designed hull.
After the sewing was finished, we dyed and urethaned the skin. Here Patti shows her skills spreading the two part urethane “goop” with a spatula. It takes multiple thin coats and a steady hand to get that mirror shine.
Most people use tan color dye to give their boat a traditional skin color. Patti and I like to take the path less traveled. We chose different colors for our boats. Paddle-sailing traditional skin-on-frames isn’t the norm either, but it sure is fun! The mix of the modern with the traditional brings something new. I painted a wavy blue dye design on my boat. It won’t be easy to see on the water but it has a cool organic feel to it.
Patti chose a beautiful blue green. Her boat has feminine curves that are pleasant to the eye. This shot shows the results of Patti’s remarkably smooth urethane finishing job.
I always like the view from inside the cockpit. The white cord seen running fore and aft goes through a primitive pulley in the bow and is used to pull the forward float bag into position. The only metal hardware used in the boat are the stainless screws that hold the adjustable foot pegs in position.
While the urethane cured, we went hiking on a beautiful trail about ten minutes from the shop. The rain forest is a remarkable place to explore. Lots of rain and lots of life! Even in winter the amount and variety of vegetation is warming to the soul.
It’s easy to feel connected to the environment here. The humidity holds the sweet organic aroma in the air.
We need to come back here and sail this coastline. There are so many cool places to explore. Deception pass is just around the corner. Even though the tidal current rips at times, our sails can definitely help fight it in case we miscalculate a tidal change.
The water is very clear and stays at a nearly constant 8.8 to 11.3 degrees Celsius (48-51 Fahrenheit) year round. It’s cold but definitely doable with proper thermal protection.
A short distance away is Rosario beach. A pole sculpture depicts the spirit of Ko-Kwal-alwoot, “The Maiden of Deception Pass”. If you want to learn her story, e-mail me and I will gladly send it to you.
When we arrived back from the hike, the urethane was cured enough for us to strap the boats to our trusty pickup so we could start the five hour drive south to Hood River. We love how the light shines through the hulls giving them a stained glass appearance. In this shot you can see the swedeform shape of my hull with the cockpit positioned aft of center. Also visible is the center foredeck stringer on which the Kayaksailor main body tube will rest.
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In an act of spontaneity, Patti and I took a drive to the coast. Every now and again we need to get our gills wet in the salt water. There is something about the sea that helps us feel connected. Grounded so to speak, except for without the ground. ;D
The Oregon coastline is a notoriously rough place for small craft with few protected bays and harbors to escape the pounding surf. There are a few though. This day we decided to explore a protected place called Netarts Bay. I’s just a few miles south of the town of Tillamook.
What a glorious Autumn day! We arrived and immediately set out to find a good launching spot. One was found just inside the mouth of the bay and since the tide was just beginning to ebb and a strong outbound current was building, we decided to work against the current into the bay instead of heading out to the mouth. Tidal rips can be amazingly strong here in the Pacific Northwest and a thorough respect for them is essential for safe navigation.
We are always hoping for good wind and today looked perfect. But, as luck would have it, as soon as the boats were slid into the water the breeze died off almost completely, Oh well.. We always have the paddle. Actually, we really love paddling, especially when the water is flat calm and has a mirror finish on it. Paddle-sailing just has a special place in our hearts.
The boats glided silently in the clear water. Scallops could be seen on the bottom and occasionally small fish spooked from the gently swaying eel grass beds as we passed overhead. A variety of diving ducks and sea lions performed their disappearing acts around us and all was quiet except for a distant rumble of surf and the occasional call of a gull.
It was truly a delightful afternoon and we are happy to share it with you. Hope you enjoy the video.
Several savvy paddle-sailors are utilizing marine rail mount and accessory mount hardware to attach their Kayaksailors.
Some of the notable features of these mounts are that they can be found in many marine stores, offer a convenient quick release option, and are designed to withstand the rigors of the marine environment.
Here is an example of a Rail/Bimini mount:
Ron Waclawik shares these photos of his Prion touring kayak outfitted with stainless steel rail and bimini mounting hardware. He purchased them online from marinepartsdepot.com
Quick release pins make for easy removal.
The mount raises the rig up for convenient access to the storage hatch.
Here is a view of the mounts without the rig.
Note the safety lanyard for the release pin
Care should always be taken when drilling into the bottom of the main body tube. It’s important to avoid hitting the thru hull pulley or the mast car bungee with the drill bit. The forward mount can often be positioned farther aft to avoid the pulley and a drill bit spacer can be utilized to limit the drill bit penetration.
Below is a good example of a marine accessory mount. These are often used to attach fishing rod holders and electronic equipment to boats.
Trevor Lowe, owner of Yakattack NZ Ltd. in Auckland, New Zealand shares these photos of his personal boat outfitted with marine accessory mounts from Railblaza.
Here is a view of the cross tube mount.
For the front he added an aluminum channel for the main body tube to rest in.
It’s a technical and sophisticated looking mount,
and also has a clean look when removed.
If you have any photos of your own Kayaksailor mount that you would like to share, please send them!
Having a destination or goal and holding a course to reach it is an essential part of sailing as well as an essential part of navigating our own lives.
Sailing teaches us many important things about life – respect, persistence, and the ability to adapt to changing situations just to name a few. But one of the most important is learning about choosing a destination and understanding the steps necessary to get there. The Roman philosopher Seneca is reported to have said:
If man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.
This quote obviously speaks of the benefits of having goals in life, but part of the significance and power of this eloquence is that it is based on an aspect of sailing reality. If sailors haphazardly change the direction of their craft, the wind always appears to be coming from different angles, and therefore the sails are always in the wrong state of trim. This requires maddening sail trim adjustments and can make it appear to the poor helmsman that the wind is always working against them.
The idea of having a destination and choosing a course to get there is a simple one, but to many novices at the helm, a myriad of distractions make it easy to lose focus of the intended direction of travel. Wind gusts, currents, boat traffic, among others can often be happening simultaneously and require extra focus.
Not only is it important to have a destination goal but one often needs several sub-destination goals to get there. Sailing to a windward destination may require several close reaches on different tacks to reach the desired destination. Each of these tacks requires a different course to be held. An ideal destination or goal should be something fixed, like a house on shore, or an anchored buoy. It’s easier to steer and trim sails while one is traveling towards a non-moving target. Destination goals should also be realistic and within reach, no pun intended.
As in life, courses often need to be adjusted on-the-fly – winds shift, tides change, storms occur, etc. Skilled sailors are able to make smart rapid course adjustment decisions easily. For example, they will instantly recognize a wind shift and use it to their advantage to bring them to a windward destination by either changing tacks or by using the shift to allow them to point closer to their destination. Adapting to change is part of the fun dynamic nature of sailing.
Destinations and courses are important keys to sailing and to living life, but to people who truly enjoy both, the real joy comes not from the reaching of the destination, but from the process of traveling to it. So, keeping that in mind, let’s all get out there, set a course and have some fun!
Every now and again we all come across a really nice boat that someone is selling for a song. We found ourselves in this situation the other day and, like most boat junkies, couldn’t let this one go.
This gem is an older (pre 2004) Current Designs Squamish Touring boat. She is in excellent condition and has a nice looking hull shape . Basically she is a smaller British style boat with soft chines, full rocker and a retractable skeg. Because she is roto molded she is a bit heavy compared to our skin-on-frame boats. Durability certainly won’t be an issue. She’ll make a fun rough water boat and a lively swell rider.
We brought her home and immediately started outfitting. Of course the first order of business was to mount the sail! Because this boat has moderate amount of foredeck sheer, I decided to support the underside of the main body tube with a pair of minimalist channel blocks that attach to the foredeck with small stainless machine screws backed by washers and nuts. They were easy to make and look good on the boat.Not only do these micro blocks support the underside of the rig, but they also allow the main body tube to be slid fore and aft so the rig position can be changed depending on the reach of the paddler. The other nice thing about this system is that since the front of the rig is held in place by the mount, attaching eyes traps to the bow was not necessary. Only the eye straps located under the cross tube were needed to hold the rig down. This also makes it easier to put the sail cover on the rig, an added bonus.
Patti outfitted the inside of the cockpit with custom shaped foam supports and a comfortable back band. She also removed the aft deck bungee and replaced it with some spectra line and a pair of Inuit style wooden toggle slides to hold her paddle firmly in place during capsize recovery.Inserting the paddle and pulling apart the toggles creates an “outrigger like” stabilizing device that makes a reentry a breeze. This system works incredibly well. It’s amazing that Kayak manufacturers don’t offer this system on all their sea kayaks. More on this in a later post…
In the evening we happily slid the boat into the water. Even though there wasn’t much of a breeze, we were able to see how nicely the boat performed in light air.Patti loves how this kayak behaves and steers while under sail. Patti, by the way, is really good at rudderless sailing. I think I have her convinced to do a blog post on the subject. I can’t wait, it should be very informative. Enough writing, it’s time to get back out on the water. The wind is up!
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Recently, our friends Debbie and Keith twisted our arms and dragged us out of the loft to do some camping. We took our sails and boats and headed up to a beautiful mountain lake in the Cascade range of Washington State named Lake Wenachee. It’s been so incredibly windy on the Columbia River lately that we thought it would be a good opportunity to get away, test our prototype headsail, and enjoy the company of friends. These are some photos from the trip. Hope you enjoy.
We took our folding Pakboats, strapped them up to the racks, and started driving.
We traversed through the beautiful, hot, high desert prairie of of Eastern Washington State’s Yakima Valley before entering back into the cool Cascades.
Keith and Debbie, who arrived a day early, found a fabulous waterfront campsite complete with a small beach for the boats!
As our luck would have it, a frontal system pushed in from the Pacific and brought some moisture.
A surreal procession of cottony clouds caressed the mountain sides and reflected their beauty on the lake.
It’s mesmerizing and peaceful the way our thoughts seem to melt into the water.
It is really important to dress for the water temperature. This lake is crystal clear and very cold. We suited up and set out to explore the lake.
We popped up the sails every now and again when a breeze was felt, but mostly propelled ourselves by paddle.
Isn’t it funny how the farther away from civilization we get, the nicer the scenery. Hmmm… Maybe there is something to reflect on here.
It sure is nice to paddle on glassy water. After sailing in the extreme winds of the Gorge, the silence of stillness is wonderful and a little odd at the same time.
What a beautiful afternoon for a sail.
Back at the camp Charlee Girl and Debbie communicate with each other in a special way .
A small boat on a lake
allows us to take
a break from the push and the shove…
Sails filled with wind
and the company of friends
take us to places we love.
Recently, Patti and I have been developing and refining an accessory headsail for the Kayaksailor.
For those new to sailing terminology, a headsail on a boat is commonly referred to as a jib or a genoa (named for the city in Italy). The main difference between a jib and a genoa or “jenny”, is the overall sail size and it’s position in relation to the main sail. A genoa is larger than a jib and overlaps the mast with it’s leech when close hauled. Genoas are typically used to maximize overall sail area and are commonly seen in use on sailboats in light winds. They often make boats faster and more powerful not only because of the increased overall sail area but because of the synergistic relationship between the two sails. When pointing close to the wind a properly designed and trimmed head sail allows the main sail to work at a higher angle to the wind without stalling, making reaches to windward more effective. Another nice feature of head sails, especially genoas, is their low aspect ratio shape. The center of effort is low making them powerful with minimal heeling making it easy to control from the cockpit.
Our headsail project is something that has been in the works for a while now. With the Columbia Gorge springtime winds kicking in, research and development is in full swing.
The Columbia River Gorge is North America’s natural wind tunnel and dishes out some truly amazing winds. We get everything from two to thirty plus knots (and often higher!) on a regular basis, daily depending on the location, making this an ideal location for extreme sailing and putting prototypes through their paces.
This little headsail has us pretty excited! We’ve made several prototypes to determine an effective size and shape and are currently working on refining the foil profiles for maximum efficiency.
The original plan was for a small self-tacking jib that could be controlled by the main sheet but we soon found that a larger genoa was simpler and way more fun to sail with, even with the main reefed. Our current prototype has three millimeter genoa sheets that lead through micro blocks on the cross tube and run back to a pair of small jam cleats located within easy reach of the sailor. The rig still folds and unfolds normally but the wind moves the little jenny around a bit on the foredeck when the rig is folded. I would really like to build a micro or nano furller that would allow the sail to roll around itself. I have some basic drawings for a system but it is going to take some time to develop. A furller would be a nice addition, but for all practical purposes, my sails are up most of the time. Generally the only time we fold the rig is for capsize recovery, launching and landing and when the wind dies completely. I think I can live with a somewhat loose headsail on the foredeck at these times, at least until I start playing with a roller.
If you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to this blog, I am happy to post new developments.
While sailing a friends kayak the other day, I discovered something very cool. His rig was mounted a bit close to me and I found my paddle blade knocking into the leeboard control rods every now and again. It wasn’t a big deal until I slid the paddle blade between the control rod and the gunwale on one particular forward stroke and it took an awkward maneuver to remove the trapped paddle blade. Now for the cool part, I sat there in the cockpit pondering the situation when it hit me, attach the control rod from the underside of the leeboard head!
View from the cockpit
This effectively lowers the leeboard control rods and allows them to run flush against the hull. They are now completely out of the way. Wow, sometimes the answers are so simple. I love it! The only thing that takes a little getting used to is that the leeboard controls are reversed, meaning to lower the leeboard, one must now push on the control rod instead of pulling on it. I really like this new rigging technique and urge you to give it a try.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” (Carl Jung)
Creativity is something that we all have. This precious gift is little used by some and more highly developed in others. Kayak-sailors are quite creative, so are young children for that matter. Maybe this explains our immaturity, always wanting to go paddle-sailing instead of doing chores. Kidding aside, OK maybe I’m not kidding, I’m always amazed at how creative and clever people are when it comes to developing mounting systems for their rigs.
People enjoy creating their own mounts. Whether for aesthetics, functionality, or both, the variety of systems is truly impressive. The Kayaksailor fits many boats right out of the box, just strap it on and you are good to go, but some boats can use a little help. Interesting foredeck shapes, prominent hatch covers, fishing gear, tall cockpit coamings, are all possible reasons why one would build a custom mount.
Probably the most common mounting aid is the cross tube block. They are constructed from a variety of materials but most often from high density foam or wood. Cross tube blocks are typically used to help secure the rig on a peaked or scooped (concave surface from bow to cockpit) foredeck, but are also often used to raise the rig in order to clear deck gear or hatch covers. They can be used to level a rig or to raise the aft end of a rig to help open space beneath the boom for increased paddle efficiency when using large faced paddle blades.
The yellow one above I made myself from a small scrap piece of 2×4 pine that was laying around the garage. The bottom shape was determined by bending a wire coat hanger over the top of the foredeck. Using this wire as a template, a line was drawn on the side of the block and a jig saw was used to cut the bottom shape. The top has a groove, made by a router, for the cross tube to sit in. A Velcro strap could have been used instead to hold the cross tube in place. A little sand paper and some yellow paint gave it a nice finish that matched the boat.
Check out these beautiful mounting blocks made by Timothy Dunlap in Maryland. He attached the front block from below.
Some Kayaksailor enthusiasts like to make custom mounting brackets for their rig. Below, is a beautiful example of this style of mount made by Kimo Hogan in Calfornia for his Wilderness Systems Tarpon 12. The cross tube is held in place with an aluminum cap and machine screws, eliminating the need for cam-lock buckles and cinch straps. These brackets are made from machined aluminum, but I have seen some made from both wood and plastic. The front of the main body tube can also be held in a bracket. Check out this extremely cool front bracket decorated with wings that came off a 1937 Hudson Teraplane. Now that’s super Creative!
Custom mounts can also be made for folding craft. Here is a nice example of a clean mounting system for a Folbot Aleut, made by Gary G. from Massachusetts. He uses a longitudinal support to keep the rig supported slightly above the foredeck. The rig is held to the support with Velcro and D-ring patches are used instead of pad-eyes for securing the mounting straps to the hull.
Below is a very clever mount for a folder that Gerald Grace from Klepper America developed for securing the rig to the forward cockpit coaming of the Klepper. It’s unique cantilever design definitely shows thought and creativity.
Seeing creativity in action is truly inspiring, and these are just a very small sample of the cool mounts people have come up with. Now that your play instinct is stimulated, imagine yourself creating a custom mount for your own boat. Picture it ….What materials would you use?.. What would it look like?.. When you finish making it, send a photo or two. We would love to see it!
Here are some photos we took during our trip to the Southwest Sea Kayak Symposium in San Diego California March 25-27. This is a first-rate event put on by Aqua Adventures. http://www.aqua-adventures.com/
The wind we scheduled weeks before arrived right on time and we paddle-sailed with some of the nicest people on the planet!
Hope you enjoy the photos.
Winter sailing here in Oregon is somewhat limited due to the cold. Even in dry suits it can be chilly.
So, I decided to put together a short video to remind us of summer sailing.
This movie shows Patti, myself and Mark Hall from Delta Kayaks, performing sea trials with the Kayaksailor 1.4m² and Mark’s own Delta 15.5.
We spent a glorious afternoon filming last summer at Pitt Lake near Mark’s home in Vancouver, British Columbia. There is something about sailing near large mountains that really appeals to me. Perhaps it comes from spending a lifetime of sailing in places that were, let’s say….. geologically compromised.
As you probably already know from watching our instructional videos, we recommend attaching the rig with the under-the-hull strap and some packaging tape for doing the sea trials. You can see the tape and strap in some of the shots.
The sailing was spectacular, what a nice hull/sail combination. The boat is comfortable, stable and maneuverable, a real treat to sail. She is very fast for her size and seems to move through the water effortlessly. There is also that prominent eye-catching sheer line, which in my mind adds to her visual appeal.
A jibe (gybe) is a sailing maneuver that occurs when a vessel is steered off the wind (down wind) until the sail flips from one side of the vessel to the other.
Of all the sailing maneuvers, the jibe is the most exciting and challenging. In addition to being a functional way of transitioning the sail, a properly executed jibe is beautiful and fun to watch. That said, a poorly executed one is clumsy and can leave one swimming in the water scratching their head, wondering what went wrong.
Many sailors are uncomfortable with jibes because they react to the jibe instead of preparing and controlling it.
If the helmsman of a small craft allows the sail to jibe on its own, they find themselves in a situation where they must shift their weight quickly in order to stabilize their craft. This is especially true in adverse wind and sea conditions.
A simple solution is to initiate the jibe before it occurs on its own.
It may be helpful to think of a sailor and their sail as ballroom dance partners.
When dancing, one takes the lead and the other follows. The lead takes control and guides their partner through the moves. The result is an almost magical series of transitions where two appear to move as one.
When jibing, take the lead role! Guide the sail through the jibe by choosing the exact moment the sail will cross to the other side. This way there is ample time to prepare to shift one’s body weight prior to the sail’s transition.
Here are the steps:
1) Prepare for the jibe by taking the main sheet in your hand, un-cleating it, and letting the sail out as far as it will go.
2) Steer the craft off the wind until the bow is just a few degrees past the downwind position.
3) In one quick, fluid step, pull the sheet in and let it out on the other side as far as it will go.
In this last step, the speed at which the sail is sheeted in and let out is crucial. Stronger winds require faster motions.
Using this technique will result in a graceful choreographed maneuver.
Have some fun and dance!
For all you big boat sailors out there, you may have noticed that the technique for jibing a kayak or canoe is a little different than jibing a larger sailing vessel. On larger vessels the method for jibing involves sheeting in the sail prior to the jibe and then letting it out on the other side only after the sheeted sail has filled with wind. This is not only done to keep crew member’s heads on top of their shoulders, but it is also an important way to reduce the amount of stress subjected to the rigging. Since the boom on the Kayaksailor is located in front of the paddler and the rigging is robust, there isn’t a need to use this technique. Plus, using it often results in unwanted heeling. With the Kayaksailor, the easiest way to keep the boat stable during a jibe is to pull the sail quickly from one side to the other.
Having a balanced life is a key to happiness. Having a balanced rig is a key to happy sailing.
Sailing a properly balanced rig is a wonderful experience. Holding a course becomes easy, steering is predictable, controlled and requires little effort.
So, what is a balanced rig?
Balance is the relationship between the center of effort in the sail and the center of lateral resistance in the keel, centerboard, or in this case leeboards.
If you are not familiar with these terms, the center of effort is a site on the sail that represents the center of the total sail area. It is the spot that the sail pulls from when it is full of wind. The center of lateral resistance is the center of the leeboard surface area that is underwater. Since the leeboards are pivoted fore and aft, the center of lateral resistance can be moved fore and aft.
This is where balancing comes in.
Balancing the leeboards basically involves setting the angle of the leeboards so that the center of resistance lines up with the sails center of effort.
If the leeboards are too far forward, the center of effort of the sail will be behind the leeboard’s center of resistance, causing the stern of the vessel to slide down wind. The result is that the boat will want to turn into the wind. A sailor at the helm refers to this unbalance as “weather helm”. On the other hand, If the leeboards are too far back, the center of effort of the sail will be forward of the leeboard’s center of resistance, causing the bow of the boat to be pulled downwind. A vessel having this downwind unbalance is said to have “lee helm”.
A properly balanced rig will allow a non heeling craft to sail in a straight line with minimal input from the helmsman.
A certain amount of steering can also be accomplished by changing the leeboard’s position. To steer upwind, the leeboard is moved forward. To steer down wind, the leeboard is moved aft. This is especially useful if a craft does not have a rudder or skeg. Leeboard steering is most effective when sailing on a beam reach (90 degrees to the wind) or on any reach closer to the wind, and least effective on reaches off the wind. When running directly down wind, leeboard steering will not work at all.
On the Kayaksailor, the balanced position occurs on most hulls when the leeboards are pivoted back about 25 degrees from vertical.
So, the next time you are out on the water, play with the leeboard position and try using the boards to help you steer.
Most of all, find time to kayak-sail more often. Remember, balance is the key!
On Sunday we paddle-sailed nine miles down wind on the Columbia from Viento State Park to Hood River. Here is a short video. We are both using a Pakboats XT-15 with a reefed 1.4. Lots of super fun swell rides! I need to work on some sort of helmet camera mount, so I can paddle into the swells and film at the same time. Enjoy the ride.
The Next Adventure Demo day in Portland was lots of fun. One of the things that we really like about the Kayaksailor is that it seems to be a magnet for cool people. If you are in Portland, stop by the shop and see the rigs.
Proper sail trim is an important part of sailing. It allows your sail to work efficiently, so you can make the most of the wind. Pulling in the mainsheet or “Sheeting in” too much will stall the sail, causing it to loose power. This leads to slower boat speed and increased heeling. On the other hand, not sheeting in enough will allow too much wind to spill from the sail also resulting in slower boat speeds. So, How do you know if a sail is sheeted in properly?
For “soft” sails, or sails that don’t have full length battens, the basic procedure is relatively simple. Hold your boat on course, then sheet in the sail in until the leading edge of the sail, called the “luff”, stops fluttering or “luffing”.
With fully battened sails that don’t flutter, like the one supplied with the Kayaksailor, determining proper sail trim can be a bit tricky. An experienced sailor can trim the sail until it “feels” right. But even they can have difficulty when the wind is light or shifty. This is why we now include a set of telltales with each rig. These are the small lengths of red and green wool yarn attached to the sail.
By learning how to read the telltales and adjusting the mainsheet accordingly, it’s easy to find proper sail trim. You can’t actually see the wind, so the telltales allow you to see the effect of the wind as it moves around the sail. The wind should flow smoothly on both sides of the sail. So, if the sail is trimmed properly, the telltales should also flow smoothly on both sides of the sail.
Patti and I recently returned home from a trip to coastal British Columbia.
Let me just say that this is a beautiful part of the world, snow -capped mountain peaks, terrific wind and endless opportunities to paddle-sail. We brought our Necky Eskia and our new Pakboat XT-15 along for the ride. After crossing the border, we headed north toward Squamish, a town situated at the end of scenic Howe Sound.
It’s a windy place in the summer and a popular destination for windsurfers, kite- boarders and sailboat cruisers looking for excitement. We found it similar to our home town of Hood River in this respect.
The paddle-sailing in Howe sound was wonderful. Glacial runoff gives the water a blue-green tint. It kind of reminded me of the water color in the Florida Keys after a strong wind has stirred up the coral sediments. The tide and the wind were in the same direction causing us to paddle sail close hauled much of the time but the scenery is breath-taking and the broad reaches home were a blast. After a fun-filled day on the water, we spent the night camped in Porteau Cove Provincial Park.
D-rings patches are a convenient way to add mounting points to your inflatable or skin-on-frame craft. These patches are strong, easy to apply, and are commonly used by whitewater rafting outfitters to attach a variety of gear to their boats. They are purchased from outfitting retailers like NRS in the U.S. as well as from fabric boat manufacturers such as AIRE and Pakboats.
We recently purchased and installed some on our Pakboats XT-15 folding kayaks. These patches are typically glued to the outside of the hull, but can also be attached to the inside surface of many skin-on-frame boats.
Our initial intention was to glue the patches to the outside of the hull, but after a lengthy discussion with Alv Elvestad, the owner of Pakboats, we were encouraged to glue them to the inside of the hull and have the D-ring extend through the skin to the outside. He said it would create a nice clean look with only the D-ring seen from the outside. Since this procedure involves making an incision in the skin, I admit, I was a bit concerned. He assured us that the area would remain strong and watertight.
We started by marking the area on the outside of the hull, where the D-ring would be located. We chose an area underneath the under-the-hull strap and not too far from the deck.
Next, we measured the width of the D-ring and marked this distance on the hull.
Then came the fun part. With a pocket knife, we made an opening in the skin and tested the size by pushing the D-ring through.
With a marking pen, we drew a circle on the inside of the skin slightly larger than the patch. This circle is used as guide for applying the adhesive.
Both the patch and the skin should be cleaned with some alcohol.
Next, we applied the vinyl adhesive that came with the Pakboat’s repair kit, to both the patch and the skin and let it dry to the touch.
We pushed the patch onto the skin making sure to squeeze out any trapped air bubbles.
After allowing the adhesive to cure, we skinned the hull. For a final touch, some Aquaseal polyurethane sealant was applied to the outside of the skin where it meets the D-ring webbing.
Here are some photos of the finished product. It was easy, straight forward and took about 30 min. to complete.
We’ve discovered the perfect lubricant for the Kayaksailor. This product is a dry PFTE lube that will make your Kayaksailor work better than ever. There have been some issues with the silicone lubricant we recommended in our user manual. Since the silicone remains wet, it has a tendency to accumulate grit and sand in the mast track. Since this product dries hard, it won’t have the grit build up and the mast car will slide much easier. Prior to applying SailKote, remove any residual silicone with soap and water and allow to dry. Avoid spraying the leeboard assembly and your mainsheet! It also works great on rudders, peddles and just about everything that moves on your kayak. Since this product is solvent based, it’s best to spray it on the sail rig outside or in a well ventilated area.