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Columbia River kayak sailing is great fun

A Beautiful Evening for Paddle-Sailing

September 19th, 2011 by

I just want to share with you this little video we put together that shows how nicely Patti’s new boat sails.

The footage was taken on the Columbia River at our local sailing site in 5-12 knots of wind.

It truly was a beautiful evening for a paddle-sail!   Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

Outfitting our new boat

September 6th, 2011 by

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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Camping in the Northern Cascades

August 31st, 2011 by

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Messing About With Headsails

June 7th, 2011 by

Messing About With Jibs

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.

Leeboard Rigging Tip

June 7th, 2011 by

Leeboard control rod attachment

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.

David

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