Sailing your kayak. Stories, tips and tricks.

Since some of the members here, myself included, have taken a new, or renewed, interest in sailing our paddlecraft, I thought it would be proper to dedicate a thread to our rigs, and share mods, tips, mistakes and other general knowledge as we seek to maximize the potential of our gasless, plastic conveyances.

Maybe a mod can even make it a sticky so he *cough*Jcanracer*cough* doesn't have to sneak off to the Hobiecat forum to get his sailing fix.

Just sayin'.

Been on and around motorboats my whole life but only in the past two years have I gotten into kayak fishing almost by necessity: I don't have enough room on either side of the house to park a trailer in the back yard and the HOA doesn't allow them on the side or front, and I ain't paying to store one somewhere. It was only last year that for the first time in my over 4 decades, I went out on a sailboat (Hobie Getaway) and had an absolute blast.

Well I've got this little yellow OK Scrambler that I was eyeballin' to merge the two hobbies together with, when I kinda fell into an older Hobie Outback. With the molded in mast step, it was just begging to be fitted out with a sail. Being the cheapskate handyguy that I am, I decided to make my own, and came to realize that it's not that difficult. Even for a guy who's better at improving on designs than starting from scratch. There really is a lot of work that goes into R&D, with all the trial and error, that makes you appreciate your end result moreso than the person that just sees a good working finished product.

Here is my first creation. And I thought what better sail color than camo to go with the old moss green yak. Yes, I went "full redneck" on this one:

Right off the bat, I made a jib to go with it to make sure it would sail upwind even in a slight breeze, and it did.
Each sail had its own furler so it could be brought in or out to varying degrees based upon wind conditions all from the seat.
What a thrill to be able to sail upwind with something you made yourself, completely from scratch. I took it out several times since that maiden voyage and learned something new, and made improvements every time. Lil' greenie didn't last too long in my possession, but I quickly procured this upgraded little jewel:

Now while the camo still matched the color scheme, the newer outback was a bit too refined, IMO for the camo sails. So I was planning on the new sails. this time in silver tarp, and add all the upgrades that sailing it was revealing would improve the design. But, alas. While the tan outback was an '09 hull with all the latest Hobie features, and in immaculate condition, my excitement turned to reservation at the thought of getting it all scratched up, and drilled out, when I knew there was someone out there that would love to slowly add wear and tear to a like new kayak themselves. So yes. I sold it also. That leaves me still in the quest for the perfect flats/ sailing platform that there is out there, and I know I'll find it soon. And when I do, version 3.0 of the sails will be tight.

One tip that I'll share is that too much of a good thing can sometimes be too much. The mast is an aluminum pole
that I reinforced at the bottom with a piece of metal conduit after my sailing buddy pleaded that all the flexing would eventually cause it to break right above the step. It was also secured with 4 stays. Two were attached to padeyes for the carry handles front and back, and two were attached to two new padeyes that I put even with the mast step, on the top, outside curve of the hull, well above the waterline. Non stretch paracord was used.

I did not want the mast to flex. And it didn't. And that created a problem. A kayak is a small boat, and any puff or increase in wind would cause it to heel fairly violently. And while I never went over due to diligently depowering the sail at the slightest hint of heeling, it did not make for good sailing, constantly depowering, and restarting.

So I now appreciate the flex built into the factory masts that act as a "shock absorber" to keep the boat much steadier, and able to sail right through those otherwise pesky and all too frequent wind gusts.

I know there are different schools of thought, and some folks here would never dream of putting something on their boat, much less a Hobie, that didn't have a factory logo on it. And that's all good. It certainly has more eye appeal and functionality is top notch. But I've had a blast making this from scratch and seeing it actually work, and work well.

So whether you're a logo man or a DIY'er, I hope you're inspired to add or improve a new dimension to your kayaking experience.


  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    Haha you got me man.

    Not all of you know, but I have been cheating on the fishing with my newfound fascination with sailing. It originated with the desire to extend my range offshore and maybe highspeed troll artificials for kings and hoos. So I bought a sail kit from member Pro-Yak and the trials and tribulations began.

    When I set up the Hobie sail on my Revolution 11, I noticed that the sail lines would definitely interfere with the factory rod holders and my other fishing gear:

    I later confirmed this with one trip off Dania. There was no way I could handle all those lines and I could not troll anything while focusing on the sail. I also learned that day that this kayak is **** tippy.

    So I put the sail away for a while, but I picked it up again when the offshore weather was snotty this "winter" and started to try it out in Biscayne Bay (Morningside). This time I stripped the deck of anything I didn't want to fall overboard. I thought I was doing better:

    But I got over confident one windy day and...

    If you want to laugh at it, I got it on video (fwd to 8 minute mark to start the lols). I actually bent the mast after righting the kayak the second time and could no longer furl the sail.

    I have since repaired the mast, reinforced it slightly with a wooden dowel, and have run new lines for the mainsheet and furler. I've also invested in some amas which should be arriving this weekend. Pictures to follow.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    That first spill was funny. But the second one was hilarious!

    You'll get the rigging figured out. That's half the fun. While the extra stability will come in handy fishing, it's worth noting that you were keeping up with your buddy that had the stabilizers. Also that it was gross user error that caused you to go in the drink, not the"tippy" nature of the Revo.

    Jibes are nasty!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    Very true. I noticed in that video that I didn't change direction at all until that unfortunate moment, whereas in the previous sailing photo I had circumnavigated the islands by Morningside Park in lighter winds. So I do know how to tack and gybe, but had never done so in such strong wind. 100% user error.
    Silver Lining: I was just as fast as the Revolution 13 in the video which was equipped with Hobie sidekicks. My gps showed a [shortly held] top speed of around 3.8-4mph.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    I know there are members who sail with the Pacific Action sail (or homemade version thereof), I would like to see some detailed experiences from them!
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    My amas came in the mail last week and I was test fitting on the weekend:

    The colors from Spring Creek on their amas are not an exact match for Hobie kayak colors, but close enough. Form follows function, and these floats will provide stability for sailing with minimal drag. I'll finish the mounting this week and test this weekend if the weather is optimal.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • PottymouthPottymouth Posts: 1,547 Officer
    The video that the started it................. :grin

  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    I remember when you pulled out the sail that time we were paddling away from the Submarine exercises at Dania beach. It worked pretty well!
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • PESCAHOLICPESCAHOLIC Posts: 98 Greenhorn
    I have a long post for this. I'll gather some photos...
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    PESCAHOLIC wrote: »
    I have a long post for this. I'll gather some photos...
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • PESCAHOLICPESCAHOLIC Posts: 98 Greenhorn
    I have to find some photos that aren't too big. Most of my good stuff is taken off the gopro, but it's too big to transfer here
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    jcanracer wrote: »
    My amas came in the mail last week and I was test fitting on the weekend:

    The colors from Spring Creek on their amas are not an exact match for Hobie kayak colors, but close enough. Form follows function, and these floats will provide stability for sailing with minimal drag. I'll finish the mounting this week and test this weekend if the weather is optimal.

    You sea trial those sponsons yet?
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    Doing so in a few hrs. Biscayne Bay will be the training grounds, I'll only do offshore when I am more experienced/confident.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    Review of the Spring Creek Stabilizers:

    I felt completely stable in 10-15knots today. Even when the amas dip below the water's surface, they are doing their job quite well and it didn't feel like a significant amount of drag either. As I noted in the video though, you gotta clamp those arms down tight to prevent the floats from rotating under force (waves/turns).

    Working on a highlight video (of the actual sailing) with music later.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    A video of highlights from that sailing trip:
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • RollbarRollbar Posts: 151 Officer
    Ascend FS128T "The Yacht" :cool:
    MotorGuide 30lb Thrust Trolling Motor

    14' StumpNocker Skiff Tiller
    New Port Vessels 62lb Thrust Trolling Motor

    CCA Florida Member

    '74 CJ5; '80 CJ7; '84 CJ8; '86 CJ7
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    jcanracer wrote: »
    A video of highlights from that sailing trip:

    Great vids. Are you ready for big ble yet? Any plans to kit it on the outback?

    It goes without saying this has opened up a bunch of options/ possibilities. How well do you think it will troll?
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    I plan to do a proper sea trial as soon as the weather (and my schedule) permits. The ultimate goal is to be stable and fast enough to troll for Mackerel & Kingfish along the third reef line at Dania. I'm not there yet, but getting closer.

    I actually do not plan to kit up the Outback for sailing. Its my dedicated offshore fishing kayak, and I need the deck clear for rods and landing big fish. PLUS, rumor has it that the 2015 Outback will have some upgrades, and I may want to trade up to that early next year.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    My new ride. I doesn't exactly feel like a "purist" kayak, but I may get over that. Been shakin' it down at a local lake and I can't wait to get it offshore to do some sailing/ trolling/ fishing out of it.

    Took the pontoons and the sail off and went for a spin, and though I've never rolled either, the stability felt pretty close to the outback. I was very surprised cause it is a bit narrower. By itself the adventure feels very sturdy. I have not had it out in anything more than 20+ gusts with virtually no waves to speak of.

    Working on getting it the NMZ treatment this weekend.

    More to come.
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    Congrats on the new kayak!
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    I'm reviving this thread and adding a link to Dude-on-a-kayak's Pro Angler kitted out for sailing:
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jbdba01jbdba01 Posts: 144 Deckhand
    Here's a summary of a canoe sail effort from years ago. The canoe is from the 1970's - I used to fish out of her in Miami. She's not a pretty boat, but she'll do.

    Useful links:

    duckworks - sailing and kayak rigging and misc
    racelite - sailing rigging
    kayakfishinggear - sponsor; misc items padeyes, rivets

    For obvious reasons I'm thinking about calling her "The Lady Lamont". (Since then ammended to "The Fine Lady Lamont".)

    12/19/2010 - started on getting the gundeons attached.
    12/20/2010 - gundeons finalized.
    12/21/2010 - order Sunfish sail - great deal at $110 from here; can always put it on ebay. Created stencil, transfered to wood, cut wood.
    12/22/2010 - routed, sanded, stained leeboards. using hammersnipe won ebay auction for fiberglass rudder at $35
    12/23/2010 - urethaned/sealed leeboards
    12/26/2010 - trimmed, stained leeboard thwart, more urethane for leeboards
    12/28/2010 - bought 2 piece 15' (can always cut it) high tech poly-carbon mast for $20 off craigslist - got some wet suits to boot
    01/01/2011 - built sacrificial rudder
    01/02/2011 - leeboard thwart hardware/mock attachment
    01/09/2011 - tiller attached to rudder, attached leeboard thwart to gunnels
    01/16/2011 - mast step and thwarts installed
    01/23/2011 - ordered blocks and cleats from duckworks
    01/30/2011 - built spars using emt with pvc covers for sail
    02/06/2011 - stained/urethaned mast thwarts; finalized outrigger design
    02/13/2011 - attached spars, raised the main, and attached blocks
    02/20/2011 - outriggers
    02/27/2011 - outhauls and pond-trials (epic fail)
    03/06/2011 - outriggers installed and tested; leeboard tension adjustment
    03/19/2011 - sailed and stress tested mast step with eventual failure
    04/10/2011 - rebuilt maststep with epoxy and red oak

    Couple inline photos - use link above to see entire project


    Raw Leeboards

    Finished Leeboards

    Urethaned leeboards



    Sacrifical Rudder

    Leeboard Thwart

    Tiller and leeboard thwart attached

    Mast Step and thwarts

    Mast Installed

    Spars & Sail

    Stained mast thwart

    Raised the main



    Outriggers Installed and Tested

    Prototype - Alpha

    New maststep

    After 4 months of prototyping, building, and rebuilding I can put closure to the effort.

    Executive Summary
    We set sail from Simmons Park and sailed for 5 hours in fairly calm winds (5-12 knots estimate). We sailed for roughly 8 miles and our top sped was 6.4 mph. We also managed to get a variety of looks and almost ran over a manatee.


    Our next goal is to sail from Apollo Beach to the Skyway. We're not quite sure why we want to do that, but it's what we do.

    The collage below kinda gives a feel for the day.


    Youtube video below...not sure why it's not embedded.
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,344 Moderator
    I like! It screams function over form, and it shows that you put a lot of thought into it.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
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