Life events and some (non life-threatening) medical issues have kept me out of my sea kayak for a couple of months – the longest absence from paddling I’ve had in decades.
Earlier this week I took my hopefully rehabbed body out for some sea trials. My standard voyage is a straight shot from English Bay Beach to the Jericho Sailing Association, about 45 minutes of brisk paddling against the stiff breeze of the afternoon inflow. Since I was testing my recovery, I raised the sail and did a series of paddle-sailing broad tacks up either side of the wind, adding some distance and about twenty minutes to my crossing time, but reducing the load on my body to about half of paddling directly upwind. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
My prior experience with commercially-made kayak sails has been mostly with the Pacific Action sail and the Spirit Sail. I used them both for more than a decade on my previous kayak, and loved the versatility of being able to raise either or both so I could sail in anything from strong winds to gentle breezes. They were especially fast on broad reaches. But they are functionally square rigs, optimized for downwind sailing. On my new kayak, I wanted better across-the-wind performance and some upwind ability. So I upgraded to a Falcon Sail.
I’ve been messing about with commercial and home-brew kayak sails for more than a decade, using them for both day trips and expeditions. After owning a Falcon Sail for nearly a year, here’s my take on the installation process (I’ll cover the sail’s performance in another post.)
To help you put my experiences in context, let me cop up front to being mechanically declined; I do a lot of hacks and mods to my kayaks, but I rarely get things exactly right the first time. So my first attempts at installing the sail involved many loud curses along the lines of “Come on, you Falcon thing!”
The wind had been whipping in from the Strait of Georgia at 20 knots for several hours, carving the water into a bouncy succession of blue and white furrows. That made for a bit of a grunt paddling my sea kayak from English Bay out towards Point Grey, but also for a lively ride as my bow cleaved through each oncoming wave and slammed down into its following trough.
It’s been way too long since I’ve spent a night in a sleeping bag, so last Saturday afternoon I launched my kayak onto Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Park.
The inflowing anabatic wind was funnelled and accelerated into a strong breeze by the lakeside mountains. So I was able to sail and paddle-sail my way to the lake’s north end in about three leisurely hours. With blue skies above and the soft sighs of cats-paws on the water, it was lovely going. Continue reading →
Apparent wind speed — the wind you actually experience — is the real wind speed, plus or minus your speed against or away from it. So if I paddle my kayak at 3 knots* into a 9 knot headwind, I feel the resistance of a 12 knot wind working against me. “That’s OK”, I used to think. “I’m only paddling into it until I stop for lunch. Then I’ll be heading back, and I’ll get as much push home as I had drag on the way out.”