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New Video Yaaay!

April 21st, 2020 by

Hey there Kayaksailors! Here is a short video showing us kayak-sailing the Florida Keys. Click the “What’s New” link in the left to see it.

How Fast Is Your Kayak?

March 7th, 2018 by

Hi Everyone!  Below is a little video showing some fun kayak-sailing footage from Saint Joe Bay, Florida.  

Our good friend Joel is seen here moving right along in his Ocean Kayak Prowler 13. Fast? Indeed! The sailing performance is impressive.

It just goes to show how with the right rig, and in the right conditions, a relatively wide, roto-molded, plastic fishing kayak can cruise alongside a couple of composite sea kayaks. Normally on a paddling-only excursion, a boat like this would surely struggle to keep up. This is is just one of the many cool things about performance kayak-sailing.

I left the clip unedited so that you could get a better look at the rig, and how nicely it works. If you look closely at the main, you can see the tell-tales flying perfectly together, indicating proper sail trim. The camera angle shows the ample draft in the sail which is responsible for generating much of the power. The foiled leeboards are both angled back to shed seagrass. Also notice how he rigged his leeboard pushrods. Inserting them into the leading edge allows the rods to stay close to the gunnels. And, at the end of the clip you can see the main sail tuned with substantial head twist to lower the sail’s center of effort and make the rig more forgiving and easier to control.

On this day Patti, myself, and Joel sailed about eight miles in total, crossing the shallow, south end of Saint Joe bay. It was exceedingly fun with two extra long beam reaches! With a 12-18 knot south wind, the water remained protected by the peninsula’s lee shore and made for the perfect environment for some speedy paddle-sailing.

Joel’s rig is the all-white, polyester ripstop, Kayaksailor 1.6m² with genoa, mounted with the Railblaza, mounting kit. His boat is the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13.

You can see Patti off in the background, sailing her 1.4m², reefed, with genoa. Patti’s boat is the Tahe Reval Mini LC.

Of course you can’t see me because I’m filming while sailing my Tahe Ocean Spirit. It was a bit challenging trying to keep the camera still while sailing in and out of Joel’s wind shadow, but I loved every second of it!

I hope you enjoyed the results. : )

Feel free to leave a comment.

Six Ways of Steering Your Sailing-Kayak

July 21st, 2016 by

A happy green 6. Initially used for an IPv6 presentation.

Six Ways of Steering Your Sailing-Kayak

Six, really?  Yep… and perhaps with a better understanding of quantum physics we’ll even find a few more, but for now six is all I can come up with.

While an entire book can be written on the topic of steering a sailing-kayak, I’ll do my best to keep this as short as I can and at the same time try not to leave anything out.

First, you should know that in order to have a nicely steering kayak one should begin with having a balanced boat.  I’m referring to fore-and-aft balance, and if you would like to learn more about this topic here is a blog post on the subject.

Steering a sailing kayak is nearly identical to steering a non-sailing kayak.  The only difference is well… the sailing aspect.  And because sailors are always thinking about the wind, they think of steering in this way as well.  A non-sailing kayaker might say “let’s turn into that bay” While a kayak-sailor might say “Let’s reach upwind and then bear-off into that bay.”  The motion of the craft is nearly always considered in relation to the wind, either upwind or downwind.  So keeping this in mind, let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

There are six basic ways to steer your kayak: (1) paddle steering, (2) rudder steering, (3) hull steering, (4) leeboard steering, (5) skeg steering, and (6) sail steering.

These can be classified into four categories:  Steering that moves the boat by redirecting water around blades.  Steering that changes the “footprint” that the boat makes in the water.  Steering that moves the location of the boat’s center of lateral resistance.  And, steering that moves the center of effort in the sails.

Sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t.  It’s easy!

Let’s begin with steering that moves the boat by redirecting water around blades.  (1) Paddle steering and (2) rudder steering both fall into this category.  Paddle steering a sailing kayak is probably the most common method of steering and is accomplished using two basic strokes, the forward sweeping stroke and the stern rudder stroke.  For upwind sailing rigs like the Kayaksailor with leeboards near the bow, the bow rudder stroke is less effective, so I won’t go into it here.

To perform the forward sweeping stroke, simply reach forward, insert the paddle blade alongside the hull, sweep it out and back in a wide arc.  This will have the effect of pushing the bow in the opposite direction of the sweep.  So, in order to move the boat to the left, make your sweep on the right side of the boat; and to move it to the right, sweep on the left.  Even though sweeping strokes are very effective, you may need to use multiple strokes to get the job done.

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Here I am initiating for a forward sweeping stroke on the right side of the boat in order to move the bow to the left.

To perform a stern rudder stroke, simply insert your paddle blade in the water alongside the stern and angle it so that water is being directed away from the stern.  In contrast to the forward sweep, you will want to put the blade in the water on the same side as the turn, meaning that if you want to turn left, put the blade in the water on the left side of the stern.  Generally, only one rudder stroke is needed to alter the boat’s direction.  And for the stroke to be effective, the boat needs to be already moving forward.

Reach for it

In this early Kayaksailor photo, Patti is not only adjusting the brim of her hat, but she is also using a stern rudder stroke to steer her boat downwind. Notice that the paddle blade in the water is behind her and on the downwind or “lee” side of the boat.

An important difference between the two strokes is that a forward sweeping stroke will generate forward boat speed, while a stern rudder stroke will create drag and slow the boat down.  For this reason paddle-sailors often use sweeping strokes while sailing to windward when forward efficiency is most important, and rudder strokes while sailing off-the-wind when boat speed comes more easily.  A rudder stroke can also be quite effective for very tight turns, as well as for slowing the boat down to avoid collisions.  It’s also a useful method for initiating a jibe.

Next is rudder steering.  Rudder steering is probably the easiest method of steering so I won’t spend too much time on it here.  Basically if your boat has a rudder installed, pushing on the right foot pedal will turn the rudder and make the boat will go to the right, and pushing on the left pedal will make the boat will go the left.  Simple.  Like the stern rudder stroke, forward motion is necessary to make the boat turn.  And, also like the stern rudder stroke, pushing it too hard will create excessive drag and slow the boat down.  For this reason, employing small rudder movements are preferred for small course corrections.  But reducing speed isn’t always a bad thing, especially for collision avoidance, so if you really need to slow down, by pushing the rudder all the way from side to side it will act as a water-brake and will help to slow forward motion.

The next type of steering is one of the most useful methods, yet least understood by the novice paddler.  I’m referring to (3) hull steering.  Hull steering is remarkably simple.  You lean the boat in the opposite direction of the turn.  Want to go left?  Lean the boat to the right.  Want to go right?  Lean the boat to the left.  Easy.  Like using a rudder or performing a rudder stroke, the boat needs to be moving in order for the boat to turn.

Most sailboat sailors know that when a sailboat is heeled over excessively it wants to turn away from the heel and round up into the wind.  Hull steering is one of the main reasons for this.

Some boats hull steer better than others, and to explain why, it’s important to understand how hull steering works.  It works by changing the shape of the boat’s footprint in the water.  Since most kayaks, and sailboats for that matter, have narrow bows, wider middles, and narrow sterns, they create a footprint in the water that looks something like this:

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(Please excuse the crude diagram.)

A boat will make this symmetrical shape as long as it is sitting flat in the water.  And when the water moves around this footprint, it will move symmetrically around the curves on each side, allowing the boat to travel in a straight line.

What happens when you lean the boat to the right, is that the footprint in the water will change to look something more or less like this:Version 2

Now the footprint takes on an asymmetrical shape with the right side maintaining the hull’s curved shape, while the inside changes to more of a straight line.  An asymmetrically curved shape like this wants to move through the water in the direction dictated by the hull’s curve.  In this case to the left.

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Here I am demonstrating a sharp left turn by significantly leaning my kayak to the right.

Below is what the footprint looks like when the boat is leaned to the left:

P1070481Of course now the left leaning boat will make a footprint curve that curves to the right and so the boat will want to steer to the right.

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Here Patti executes a subtle right turn by gently leaning her kayak to the left.

A  tip for aggressively hull steering in gusty wind conditions is to always lean the boat (and your body) away from the sail.  This puts your body weight in a better position to counter balance the sudden heeling force in the sail.

It should now make sense that the very best hull steering boats have very curved hulls.  I like to think of these as “feminine” boats, boats with “hips.”   Some of the worst hull steerers are the masculine ones with long, nearly straight sides.  Though this type of hull can be quite fast, it can also be very difficult to turn.

Let’s move on to methods of steering that change the boat’s center of lateral resistance.  (4) Skeg steering and (5) leeboard steering fall into this category.  First let’s look at skeg steering.

A retractable skeg is a non-turning fin normally located under the stern.  It is typically found on sit-inside touring kayaks, but can also be found on some recreational kayaks.  There are two types of skegs, fixed and adjustable.  The adjustable skeg retracts up inside the hull, and since these are the most useful for steering we will concentrate on this type.

The photos below shows a skeg both retracted and deployed.

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But before we delve into how to skeg steer, it’s helpful to understand the concept of a boat’s center of lateral resistance.

The following is a simple way to visualize it; Imagine yourself standing in knee deep water, and with one hand, you push your kayak sideways through the water.  Suppose that the boat is moving perfectly sideways, with the bow and stern traveling exactly the same distance;  That exact place where your hand touches the boat is just above the boat’s center of lateral resistance.  If instead you were to have put your hand closer to the bow and pushed, the bow would have moved farther than the stern, and therefore your hand would have been forward of the boat’s center of lateral resistance.

Now, instead of you pushing sideways on the boat, imagine the wind is pushing sideways on the boat and you are sitting in the cockpit.  If you were to drop a skeg down into the water under the stern, what would happen is that since the skeg has its own lateral resistance, the boat’s overall resistance would be shifted back toward the stern and the bow would be pushed downwind.

So, basically, the way to skeg steer is to drop the skeg down when you want to turn the boat downwind, and to raise it up when you want to steer upwind.

Most retractable skegs have a sliding control knob along side the cockpit, allowing for precise control of how much skeg extends down into the water.

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On a balanced kayak, it usually takes only a small skeg adjustment down to make the boat turn downwind.  It should be noted here that if you have both a skeg and a rudder, as we do on our composite boats, having the skeg too far down will reduce the efficiency of the rudder because it keeps the stern from moving sideways.

Next is leeboard steering.  This too changes a boat’s center of lateral resistance, except in this case instead of the adding resistance to the stern with a skeg, you are now adding it forward on the bow.  By dropping the leeboards down, the bow will be prevented from sliding downwind.

So if you want to turn downwind, raise the leeboards up a little, and if you want to turn upwind, lower them down.

Balancing your leeboards to the sail is very important for upwind kayak-sailing, so if you haven’t read the post “Balancing the Leeboards” yet, please take a moment to read it.

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The sailor above has his leeboards mostly down and is in the process of slowly turning upwind.

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For sailing downwind, you can even raise the boards up and out of the water completely and still maintain directional balance, as our friend Dan demonstrates.

Finally, the last type of steering, (6) sail steering, is steering that moves a sail’s center of effort.  This steering method is used on boats with fore and aft sails, and, in the case of the Kayaksailor is only used when the rig has the genoa added.  By trimming each sail independently, the overall sideways pulling force in the sails can be moved either in front of or behind the leeboards.  Unbalancing the rig in this way will turn the boat either downwind or upwind.

So, for instance, if you are on a beam reach with the wind coming from the side and your sails both have wind in them, by loosening the mainsheet and spilling all the power from the main, the genoa will now have all the power, and because the genoa is located forward of the leeboards, it will pull the bow downwind.

In general, if your intention is to turn downwind, try easing the mainsheet.  Conversely, if you want to turn upwind, loosen the genoa sheet and spill all the power from in front of the leeboards.  Now the mainsail’s power will be aft of leeboards, causing the stern to slide downwind, allowing the bow to head up into the wind.

Sail steering only works when the wind is coming over the side of the kayak and works on some points of sail better than others.  It is very effective on a beam reach, mostly effective on a close reach, not so effective on a broad reach, and doesn’t work at all on a dead run.

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Patti is seen here sailing her self built skin-on-frame Greenland kayak, effortlessly steering without skeg or rudder.

So now that you know the six different ways of steering — paddle, rudder, hull, leeboard, skeg, and sail — you have six useful tools at your disposal to make your boat turn.

While any one of these can make a boat change direction, an experienced kayak-sailor will often use combinations of these tools to efficiently steer their craft.  What combinations work best for you and your boat is up to you to find out.

Fair winds and happy sailing!

Please feel free to leave a comment.

For Kayaksailor inquiries please contact us via e-mail info@kayaksailor.com

 

To Rudder, Or Not To Rudder, That Is The Question.

December 3rd, 2015 by

There has been a crazy rudder debate going on among certain kayakers for decades.  In case you are not aware of it, I’ll fill you in on the issues.

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On one side there are the kayaking purists that say “A well designed kayak should be easily steered by hull steering and paddle strokes, and that kayak makers add rudders to their boats simply to compensate for design flaws.”  Basically, “A real kayak doesn’t need a rudder.”  Many of these purists do however acknowledge the benefits of using a retractable skeg (a non-turning fin located near the stern) in certain conditions to improve tracking, especially on rockered kayaks, in quartering seas and on off-the-wind legs.  But essentially, they say “no” to rudders.

On the other side of the debate are rudder lovers who say “ Additional steering?  Sure!  I’m in!  Where do I get one”.

So… why all the fuss about rudders?  Human nature, I guess.  It seems that if we don’t have anything to debate about we can’t prove how dominant we are and life becomes boring.  I’m pretty sure it’s just a “guy” thing.

But there must be more to it than that, you say.  Well… sure.  Let’s dig deeper into the topic and carefully look at both the disadvantages and the advantages of rudders.

First the disadvantages:

Rudders are mechanical things that can fail.  True.  They also require periodic inspection to make sure all the parts, especially the cables, are in good working condition.  They are expensive.  No argument there.  They can be a pain to install.  That’s for sure.  I once spent the better part of a day fitting out a kayak with pedal controls and a rudder.  They add drag that can slow you down.  True.  The fact is that anything you hang off your boat is going to create at least some drag.  Plus, if the rudder is compensating for an unbalanced or poorly designed boat, or, if the helmsman is heavy footed with the pedals, the amount of drag will be increased.  It’s also true that rudders are often found on unruly boats, and that beginners tend to push the pedals too much.  Additionally, some rudder control pedals need so much leg motion that they prevent the paddler from feeling “locked in” to the thigh braces, resulting in less hull control.  And lastly, rudders often have a way of looking out of place on a traditional kayaks.  True enough.

Hmm… Have I left anything out?  Probably… but let’s move on.

Now for the advantages of rudders:

They provide additional steering by using your feet!  You have to admit, it’s a pretty cool idea.  By steering with your feet at least one hand can be removed from the paddle and put to other uses like handling a fishing rod, taking photos, eating lunch, tending the sails, holding a VHF, etc.  It’s a simple mechanical device that has proven over the years to be amazingly reliable.  While they do add drag, it should also be noted that rudders can effectively reduce or even eliminate “yaw” (the side to side motion of the bow with each paddle stroke) thereby increasing the forward efficiency of each stroke.  And on long kayaks, especially in quartering seas, a rudder will help the boat stay on course without applying extra, energy robbing, corrective strokes.  On most big tandem kayaks, a rudder is almost a necessity.  It can often be difficult to coordinate the necessary strokes needed to turn the craft (They don’t call em’ divorce doubles for nothing!).  Also, when used on short “squirrely” (erratically moving) kayaks, or on heavily rockered (banana shaped) kayaks, a rudder can dramatically improve the tracking.  And when used on extremely long, fast kayaks having little rocker, a rudder can transform an extremely difficult boat to turn into one that will… well…at least give you some hint of steering.  As for the rudder pedals, it’s true that many pedal mechanisms allow one’s leg to slip out of the thigh braces, but it should be noted that there are very good mechanisms out there (like the Smarttrack System) that allow a fixed pedal position so one can retain that “locked in” feeling of control.

Regarding rudders and kayak-sailing, I like using them.  Others, like Patti, prefer to use them only intermittently when they need to have their hands free, or not at all.

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Are they necessary?  Well… no and yes.  They are only necessary if you feel they are necessary.  Some boats sail beautifully without a rudder.  Typically these are well-designed, well-behaved paddling boats to begin with.  Others can definitely benefit from a rudder.  Each boat has its own “personality”.

Most people would agree that a rudder makes learning to kayak-sail much easier.  By keeping the boat on course with one’s feet, it’s easier to concentrate on sail handling.

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With the Kayaksailor rig, the leeboards can be balanced to the center of effort in the sail, maintaining the directional stability of the boat, and on well-designed hulls, rudders normally aren’t necessary. That said, I sail a nicely designed boat, and still like using a rudder for a variety of reasons, mainly for fishing and photography, but also for just kicking back and enjoying the ride.  I also like to use it for swell riding to keep the bow heading down the line of the wave.

In my mind, the decision of whether or not to use a rudder really boils down to the “fun” factor.  If it’s more fun to use a rudder, use one.  If it’s more fun without it, don’t use one.  Because when you really get right down to it, it’s all about having fun on the water.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

And Happy Sailing!

If you would like more information about kayak-sailing, feel free to contact us at info@kayaksailor.com

The next post will be on the six ways of steering a sailing kayak.  Stay tuned…

 

Kayak Sailing the Florida Keys

October 5th, 2015 by

Here is another kayak sailing video for your viewing pleasure!    We hope you enjoy it.  🙂

Feel free to leave a comment.

This is Kayak Sailing!

September 24th, 2015 by

Hi Everyone!

Here is a fun little video I put it together just to get my feet wet using a new editing software (Final Cut Pro X).

A simple enough edit, though I did need to add some image stabilization.  As you can imagine it can be a bit challenging to hold the camera still while sailing (and smiling!) at the same time.

Patti is seen here sailing rudderless with the leeboards in perfect balance, nicely trimmed, with tell-tales flying.  Just cruising in the groove!

She is sailing her 1.4m² with the genoa on her Tahe, Reval Mini LC (490cm x 54cm beam).   And I’m filming (in her wind shadow) riding my Tahe, Ocean Spirit, also with a 1.4/genoa combination.  The location is the bayside of Cudjoe Key and we’re crossing Kemp Channel, heading out toward the Content Keys.

One of the amazing things about the Lower Key’s backcountry is the scarcity of boats.  Primarily it’s due to the vast amounts of shallow water and unmarked channels. You normally just see a few flats fishing guides and locals who know the water well enough to feel comfortable out there.  If you look closely during the beginning of the clip you can see a flats skiff off to the right slowing down to check us out.

What a day!  Perfectly steady twelve knots out of the NE, extra long beam reaches, and amazingly fun rides.

This is Kayak Sailing!

Coastal Oregon Fun

October 23rd, 2014 by

Hi everyone!
This is a transition month here in Hood River.  The predictably strong westerlies that sweep through the gorge all summer, begin to give way to the more variable winds of winter.

This is the time of year that Patti and I like to go camping on the Oregon coast.  While the weather is often unpredictable, the scenery is spectacular and always well worth the drive.   Below are some photos taken from a recent trip to Netarts and Nahelam bays.  These lovely bodies of water are about a two and a half hour drive from Hood River.  If we do our homework and time the tides correctly, the paddle-sailing can be amazing.  An incoming tide is the ticket.

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Here is Patti’s sweet new boat, beached a Nehalem State Park.  It’s a Tahe, Reval Mini LC.   Lots of rocker and  very lively under sail!

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Following Patti on a starboard tack across the bay.

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A dramatic rain squall descends on Netarts Bay.

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This is the sandy western shore of Nehalem bay.  Deb is in the water cooling off.   A dry suit is a wonderful piece of safety equipment, but it can sometimes get hot when the sun comes out.

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Pelicans and gulls just “chillin” on the Netarts Jetty.  A fancy house is seen in the background.

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There are few things more pleasant than gliding across a bay.

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Dan is seen here eeking out a very light breath of air near the boat ramp of Nehalem State Park.  You can’t see it in the photo, but giant Chinook salmon were jumping all around us.  It is the time of year that these mighty fish migrate up the rivers in huge schools to spawn.

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Yours truly, inside of the mouth of Nehalem inlet.  The surf was quite large this day.  Breaking over the inlet bar, the waves created large fields of sea foam to play in.   It’s kind of like kayaking in a giant bubble bath!

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Here we are sailing on a close reach across Netarts.  We saw the fog in the distance rolling, like waves in from the ocean, blanketing the southern end of the bay.

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This was the perfect spot to take a  lunch break, just inside Nehalem inlet.

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Sea life and salt air.  Ahh…

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The drive home.  Daisy is keeping an eye out for chipmunks on the road.  It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.  🙂

We hope  you enjoyed the photos.

Fair Winds and Happy sailing!

Sun Dreams

December 18th, 2013 by

Hi everyone!  Here is a new video.   Yaaay!!

If you haven’t tried creating a video with movie making software yet, we highly recommend it.  It’s super fun.

Patti and I always try to have a camera on us while we are out on the water.  It’s amazing how often we see beautiful things while sailing.   Whether it’s simply sea creatures going about their day, or the way reflections of light dance on the ripples, being on the water seems to capture the imagination.  At least it’s this way for us.

Several companies make small, affordable, waterproof cameras that are easy to use.  Most people have seen the GoPros but there are many models available to choose from.  We like to use cameras with an easy to see LCD screen on the back so we can see what we are shooting.    Ours reside inside the chest pocket of our PFDs, where they’re leashed with a thin bungee cord to that little clip that is designed to hold your car keys.  And, since our sails do most of the work, we can set our paddles down and capture that special image or scene with just a moments notice.

We hope you enjoy watching this video and look forward to seeing yours soon!

Feel free to leave a comment.

If you’d  like, subscribe to the blog in the right hand column to receive our new posts via e-mail the moment we post them.

Smiles,

David and Patti

Sailing with Leviathans

November 21st, 2012 by

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!

 

 

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
Please feel free to leave a comment.  We love hearing from you.

Fair winds and happy sailing!

Springtime in the Gorge

May 15th, 2012 by

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.

Cheers!

 

A Day on Netarts Bay

November 3rd, 2011 by

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.

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.