April 21st, 2020 by David
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.
March 7th, 2018 by David
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.
December 3rd, 2015 by David
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The next post will be on the six ways of steering a sailing kayak. Stay tuned…
October 27th, 2015 by David
Kayak-sailing 102 Load Balance And Directional Stability.
Prerequisite for this class is Balancing the Leeboards.
Most people are aware that placing weight in the very bottom of a boat acts as ballast and stabilizes a craft, and that adding a weight high above the waterline will make the boat less stable, but it is not so widely understood how the distribution of weight fore and aft affects the boat’s directional stability.
What I mean by directional stability is how controlled a boat will track through the water. A directionally stable craft will hold a steady course with little input from the helmsman. A directionally unstable one will change directions on its own, often without warning and can be difficult to steer.
Probably the most important feature of a well-balanced kayak is a properly designed hull. The overall length of craft, as well as how much rocker the hull has (hull curvature from bow to stern) both play very important roles in regards to directional stability, but so does cargo placement, specifically, how and where this weight is distributed throughout the hull.
Typically in a small craft such as a kayak, the paddler makes up most of the cargo weight. And in well designed kayaks, the seating position should allow the boat to sit relatively level in the water, allowing it to track through the water in a controlled manner. So it’s important to know that having a seat too far forward or too far aft will alter the way the boat handles.
An unbalanced kayak with too much weight forward will have a bow that rides too deeply in the water and a stern that rides too high. In a bow-heavy boat, the bow will effectively act as a keel, biting deeply into the water, thereby reducing the sideways sliding motion of the bow. At the same time, the stern will loose it’s keel-like effect and slide sideways through the water too easily. Patti and I call this action “bow-keeling”.
While a limited amount of bow keeling can be beneficial in a sailing kayak by allowing the bow to track to windward more efficiently, too much weight forward can make the kayak want to “weather-cock” or turn into the wind on its own, requiring near constant corrective strokes to stay on course. Anyone who has been in one of these boats knows that they can be frustratingly difficult to steer. Once a directional change is initiated either by paddle stroke or hull steering, the stern will want to slide out toward the outside of the turn, requiring a quick corrective stroke to bring it back in line. Then, typically, the corrective stroke will cause the stern to slide back in the opposite direction, past the desired position, and require another corrective stroke. You see where this is going.
On the other side of the scale, an unbalanced kayak with too much weight in the stern will have its own control issues. In this case the bow will ride high above the water, allowing it to slide sideways, and the stern will sit too deep, acting like the keel. Though a stern-heavy kayak can be difficult to steer, it is usually easier to deal with. The two main control problems with boats having overly heavy sterns are, a difficulty in making tight turns due to the stern tracking too well, and a situation where the boat is constantly wanting to turn downwind because the bow is sliding away too easily.
So… how does one correct an unbalanced kayak?
Shifting cargo either fore or aft is an easy way to do it. Also if the kayak has an adjustable seat, sliding the seat either fore or aft can be a quick fix.
The next thing to try is adding weight to a compartment in the boat. Since it’s generally desirable to keep a boat as light as possible, the position of weight, as well as the type of weight used should be considered.
By positioning the weight as close to the bow or stern as possible, one can minimize the amount of weight needed.
As for what kind of weight to use, a good option is to add safety gear such as: dry clothing (in a dry bag), a first aid kit, a water bottle, food, a kayak repair kit, etc. Being prepared for emergencies is always smart. And while basic safety gear should always be onboard, another option is to add water weight. Water is desirable not only because it is dense and requires very little space, but perhaps more importantly it remains neutrally buoyant when submerged. Added benefits include being able to rinse the salt off at the end of the day, and even drink it if need be.
Patti and I sometimes correct for a bow-heavy boat by adding a small solar shower (basically a water bag with a plastic shower head attached to it) to the aft compartment, and placing it as far back in the hull as possible.
Below is a list of three common symptoms of an unbalanced kayak and how to fix them.
1) The kayak is tracking poorly and difficult to steer, especially when going off the wind (downwind). It may be bow-heavy. Try lightening the bow by shifting gear aft, shifting the seat aft, and/or adding weight to the stern compartment.
2) The kayak is constantly wanting to turn up into the wind. Again, it may be bow-heavy. Try lightening the bow by shifting gear aft, shifting the seat aft, and/or adding weight to the stern compartment.
3) The kayak is constantly wanting to turn downwind. It may be stern-heavy. Try lightening the stern by shifting gear forward, shifting the seat forward, and/or adding weight to the bow.
4) The kayak turns sluggishly, tracks like an arrow while traveling directly downwind, and may also be difficult to turn into the wind. Again, it may be stern-heavy. Try lightening the stern by shifting gear forward, shifting the seat forward, and/or adding weight to the bow.
Finally, it should be noted that some boats are just not well designed and will have poor handling characteristics no matter how you balance them. Even though balancing is always desirable, and will likely improve the overall handling, let’s face it, adding all the cream and sugar in the world into a bad cup of instant coffee will not miraculously change it into a fresh cup of gourmet java.
That said, if you have one of these instant coffee kayaks you can always add a rudder to improve the handling. Rudders can often compensate for severely unbalanced boats and greatly improve their directional control, but they too can have their issues. More about rudders in the next post.
I hope this information proves useful.
Please feel free to subscribe to this blog if you would like to receive e-mail notifications of new posts.
October 5th, 2015 by David
Here is another kayak sailing video for your viewing pleasure! We hope you enjoy it. 🙂
Feel free to leave a comment.
September 24th, 2015 by David
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!
October 23rd, 2014 by David
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.
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!
Following Patti on a starboard tack across the bay.
A dramatic rain squall descends on Netarts Bay.
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.
Pelicans and gulls just “chillin” on the Netarts Jetty. A fancy house is seen in the background.
There are few things more pleasant than gliding across a bay.
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.
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!
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.
This was the perfect spot to take a lunch break, just inside Nehalem inlet.
Sea life and salt air. Ahh…
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!
December 18th, 2013 by David
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.
David and Patti
September 17th, 2013 by David
Patti and I would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting the Kayaksailor project. Your kindness and friendship is wonderful. We have been super busy building sail rigs, answering e-mails, and of course paddle-sailing as often as possible! Its been an amazing year.
Our work shop in full summer mode
Patti at the Kayaksailor control center
One of the great things about kayak-sailing is taking our boats to interesting places. Just the other day we took a wonderful kayak-sailing/ camping trip to Waldo lake Wilderness Area.
“A “is home (Hood River) “B” is Waldo Lake
Where in the world is Waldo Lake you say?
This gem is nestled high in the Cascade mountains of south central Oregon, about a two hour drive south-east of Eugene and about four and a half hours south of Hood River. 314km (195mi)
Waldo is the second largest lake in Oregon with 25.9km of surface area (about 10mi). It’s not huge by any means, but it’s pretty special, partly because it’s said to be one of the clearest lakes in the world with underwater visibility as much as 37 meters (120′) on a clear day. Apparently, it holds the world’s record for lake visibility at, 47.9m (157′). The reason for the clarity is that the dissolved nutrient levels are extremely low, due to a lack of significant inlet streams.
Considered an alpine lake, Waldo is about 1.76km (5800′) above sea level. Most say that the best time to go is in the late summer or early autumn, when the cooler air temperatures subdue the pesky mosquito population.
Thankfully, authorities banned the use of gasoline outboards on the lake, so it has become something of a west coast paddlers mecca. And, since we had never been there, it was high on our to-do list!
After discussing the adventure with our friends Dan and Deb, we all decided to hit the road for an extended weekend.
The drive there became unusual when this amazing thunder/hail storm passed over the Cascades just as we entered Redmond and shook our little pickup truck like a child’s toy.
Oregon storms can be strong!
Outside Redmond we stopped to refuel. Parked next to us was this huge monster vehicle. Oregon is such a crazy place. It’s filled with so many naturalists who enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors, and others who just thrive on noise and mayhem. Welcome to the the wild west! Wonder what this thing would look like with kayaks strapped to the roof?!
The skies began to clear up a bit as we left the town of Bend and the remainder of the drive was quite pleasant.
We arrived at the lake, met Dan and Deb, and chose a camp site. As luck would have it, the clouds returned and we ended up pitching the tent in the rain 🙁 Thankfully, Patti fired up the propane stove and cooked us a delicious hot meal. 🙂 Yum!
Nearly every tree surrounding the lake is covered with a hairy lichen (Bryoria Capillaris) which gives them a somewhat eerie appearance, especially in the late evening. During the day however, the forest takes on a more whimsical appearance, like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.
Charlee-girl came along and was in dog heaven sniffing for chipmunks. Not to worry, she’s too old and slow to bother them much.
Sunny skies and a light southwest breeze greeted us the next morning. After breakfast, we headed out to explore the lake! Even with the cloud cover, the water reflected the characteristic blue hue normally reserved for open oceans.
Even though it was only blowing about five knots, we were able to traverse the large northern section of the lake with ease. Dan and Deb decided to paddle the shoreline, while Patti and I ventured out into the deeper water where the wind was a little stronger.
In certain sections, the lake’s depth it’s over 122 meters (400′). That’s pretty deep! even for coastal standards.
Back at camp Dan showed us his cool little wood cooking stove that he made from recycled tin cans. It is very efficient and fun to stoke. It will boil a pot of water quickly, and you can even roast marshmallows over it after supper!
The next morning brought picture postcard skies and amazing glass calm conditions. The absence of sound and clarity of the water, as well as the sheer beauty of the day made for a spectacular paddling experience. Some days are just perfect for paddling. Please take a moment to click on the photos below to see the enlarged images. It was truly amazing!
There were times when the reflected clouds seemed more real than the ones in the sky. The enveloping silence was complete. Our boats glided over the surface of the water and our hearts were lifted.
We wish you were here to share the experience with us. Is that a postcard cliche?
The water clarity is all that we expected, and more. Shadows from our boats on the lake bottom could easily be seen many meters down and at times gave us all the odd sensation of floating in air.
It was fun to look down in the depths, wave, and see our shadow waving back.
It seemed odd that we didn’t see a single fish. They say the lack of nutrients in the water severely limits all aquatic life, but I thought we would have seen at least a minnow.
At the the far south end of the lake we all stopped to rest on this beautiful little beach. Dan and Deb cooked lunch over their wood stove, while Patti and I stretched our legs and explored a bit of the shoreline.
Gazing out over the lake, it struck me how few people there were out enjoying the water. I mean, here it is, a gorgeous summer weekend, the weather’s perfect, and there’s nobody in sight. What a treat!
After lunch, as we kicked back, a gentle south wind began to blow. It seemed to be whispering to us: come out and play! Answering the call, we returned to the boats, and headed back across the lake.
Patti and I sailed across a sea of perfect azure blue. Actually, she glided faster than I did. Intermittent paddle strokes were needed to keep up with her. Her slender skin-boat, with it’s reduced wetted surface area, slips through the water easier than my “fat” plastic kayak. Did I just say fat? I meant “big boned”. It would have been nice to have had the 1.6m², but I forgot to bring it. Oh well. I guess I’ll take the back seat this time.
These are some pics from the trip back.
I’m trying to catch up to her.
Hmm… She’s moving fast!
Finally I’m able to paddle beneath her to get into some clean air. But I felt lazy and didn’t stay there for long.
I think Patti likes sailing faster than me.
The breeze eased up a bit as we approached shore.
What a day!
At night we gazed up at the sky and watched for shooting stars. Then we crawled into our sleeping bags and let sleep overcome us.
We packed up and drove across the high desert prairie in the morning. All the way back to Hood River.
The contrast of the mountain moisture to the dry desert is striking. It’s a beautiful drive.
Fair winds and happy sailing!
Please feel free to leave a comment!
November 21st, 2012 by David
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!
May 15th, 2012 by David
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.
December 26th, 2011 by David
Just thought that you might like to see a couple of pics of Patti’s newly redesigned boat.
It weighs about 35 lbs (15.9 Kg) complete with Kayaksailor rig and paddle!
These shots were taken on the winter solstice. It was unseasonably warm and a beautiful day to be out on the water.
No wind for sailing, but what a sweet setup!
Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
David and Patti
November 3rd, 2011 by David
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.
October 23rd, 2011 by David
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!
Happy paddle-sailing. 🙂
October 6th, 2011 by David
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!
September 19th, 2011 by David
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.
August 31st, 2011 by David
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.
June 7th, 2011 by David
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.
June 7th, 2011 by David
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.
Hope that you enjoy watching the video.
July 24th, 2010 by David
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.
April 22nd, 2010 by David
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.
Click Here for a link to their website.
Happy Sailing, Dave and Patti