Resail: Grafting a New(ish) Sail Onto An Old Kayak

Regular readers know my fondness for sticking sails onto anything that floats. I even fitted a Hobie Mirage sail and Side Kick Amas onto my previous single sea kayak. As the pic below shows, the combination was a hoot for zipping around on daytrips. However, it proved too bulky to stow easily on or in the boat when not in use, so it was never very practical for touring. That’s why when I replaced my single kayak, I opted for a Falcon Sail. But that left me with a perfectly serviceable sail and outriggers crying out to be used.  A single sea kayak equipped with a Hobie sail and amas.

The solution was to retrofit them to my ancient double sea kayak, an Easy Rider 22-6 I bought years ago for a northern expedition. Like her owner, she carries plenty of patches and scars from her adventures. And like her owner, she’s still got lots of miles left in her.

Easy Rider themselves make some very sophisticated sails and outriggers for their kayaks. But you need to bring the boat to their factory for installation, and it didn’t seem worth investing in brand new accessories for an old boat. Besides, while the Hobie sail and amas had been too big to fit inside my previous single kayak, they do pack on and in the double, a big plus for touring. Because there are some situations when it’s best to stow all sailing gear, let the hull ride unimpeded on the seas, and concentrate purely on paddling.

Home made plastic washer for bracing the kayak sail pass-through.For the point where the mast passes through the deck, I used a Scotty flush deck rod holder mount. With the tang inside the tube filed off, it was exactly the right diameter for the mast. I used keyhole saws to cut oversized reinforcing “washers” out of plastic cutting boards, and slipped them on the mount above and below the deck to disperse the load.

Scotty fixture and oak plank as a mast cup for a kayak sailFor the mast cup, I screwed a regular Scotty deck mount into a piece of oak plank, then drilled a mast-diameter hole about half way through the plank under it. For better adhesion, I  roughened the underside of the oak with a wire wheel before gluing it into the bottom of the boat using Marine-Tex White Putty.

Two moulded deck features intended for Easy Rider’s own sails and outriggers greatly simplified adapting the Hobie gear. First, a level circular area behind the front cockpit was perfect for the mast pass-through fixture. It also made it easy to orient the mast vertically (which can be really challenging on peaked and curved decks). Second, a moulded groove meant for an Easy Rider outrigger pole perfectly fit the centre tube of the Hobie ama kit, and ensured the outrigger arms were at right angles to the keel line.

the broken ferrule on the outrigger armSpeaking of the outrigger arms (or aka, as the Micronesians call them), I’d already modded them when they’d been mounted on my single kayak. At their original length, they’d put the amas directly in the way of the recovery phases of my forward paddle strokes. So I added cut-down shaft sections from broken paddles to extend them. Moving the amas further out from the boat’s sides not only got them out of the way of my paddle, it gave them more leverage to keep the boat from tipping. And put more torque on the plastic ferrules connecting the arms to the centre tube.

replacement oak ferrules for outrigger armsSure enough, the inevitable had happened one day as I was racing along under two sails: a ferrule had snapped and dumped me into the drink. So I’d replaced both hollow ferrules with solid oak dowel inserts and the spring-loaded connection buttons with sturdy stainless steel pins.

"tossed" leeboard hanging off side of kayakI also transferred another bit of low tech from my old single sea kayak: a tossed leeboard. This flat aluminum slat has no pivots or arms; it simply hangs off a loop of line on the downwind side of the boat, held in place by gravity and water pressure. Since water can’t flow around both sides along its full submerged length it’s not quite as effective as a leeboard that’s mounted out from the hull. On the plus side, if it hits bottom in shallow water it just twists up on its lines, rather than ripping out bits of boat I’d prefer to leave in place.

The curve of the double kayak’s hull means the leeboard doesn’t hang perfectly parallel to the keel-line; it’s mildly pigeon-toed, with the leading edge bow-in. I’m hoping this will be A Good Thing, in that it will steer the bow a bit to windward and let me sail higher.

On the old single, I’d had a home-brew furling drum for the sail. For the double, I upgraded to an accessory Hobie recently started making: a furler assembly that’s both lower profile and uses a single closed loop of rope, so there aren’t any long loose tails of line flailing around the deck.double kayak fitted with Hobie Mirage sail and Sidekick amas

Putting all this together has been a fun winter project. All I need now is some dry weather and moderate winds for the sea trails. Plus a daring test copilot for the front cockpit.




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