How To Use Sea Kayak Sails

Do you want to know how to use sea kayak sails? When going on longer kayaking trips, having the chance to take a brake from paddling is great. If you are traversing areas with steady winds, you can attach a small sail to your kayak. Depending on the kayak´s size and shape you can use a bigger or smaller sail, but any help will be good when it comes to move forward with little effort.

What you need to use sea kayak sails is:

  • A sea kayak with a rudder.
  • A kayak sail

The steps to use sea kayak sails are:

  1. Make sure the conditions are safe for setting the sail. Given the kayak's characteristics, you wont be able to sail against the wind. More likely, you will be sailing always downwind, with more or less rudder effort to keep a regular heading.
  2. Place the mast or masts on the kayak body, and bind it or them tightly. The force of the wind will be transmitted to the kayak through the mast's base, so this is a critical point.
  3. Open the sail once the kayak is positioned with the right heading. The wind must blow almost exactly towards your heading. You can use the rudder to maintain a few degrees of inclination, but too much difference in heading will not be sustainable for long. Remember that a kayak's rudder system is usually fragile.
  4. Don't fight conditions, or your kayak will flip. Remember that the sail pushes from a point above the kayak's gravity center, so don't push it or you'll get wet.
  5. Maintain the sail pushing constantly. With slight course corrections you'll be able to keep the sail pushing, saving you a lot of paddling. In some conditions, going a greater distance but mostly pushed by the wind will be more efficient than travelling a straight line paddling most of the time.
  6. If the wind force increases too much, disassemble the sail and continue paddling. Wind bursts at water level tend to be quite unstable and irregular, so keeping the sail up for too long when conditions worsen can be dangerous.
  7. When not in use, both sail and mast must be properly stored. In the heat of the battle, you might find yourself tearing the sail down too fast to store it properly. But taking a little more time and effort can prevent both equipment loss and discomfort.

When going out sea kayaking, always do it with someone else. Soloing is not recommended for such an isolated environment as the sea.

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